Project Proposal

The beginning stages of this research project has proved far more challenging than I had initially expected.  While I was most intimidated by the project’s open-ended nature at first, I am now beginning to come across other obstacles I hadn’t originally anticipated.  Establishing contact with people in China has been extremely difficult (no success thus far).

This past Thursday the Career Center hosted mock interviews for incoming Business Majors.  These interviewers were real recruiters helping to develop our interview skills and expose us to the interview process.  Anyways, my interviewer worked with MeadWestVaco, which I soon learned is a global packaging solutions company.  I was excited to learn, later on in my interview, that MeadWestVaco has a company located in Beijing.  I met with David Lapinski soon after my interview, and learned that he is traveling to China this summer to establish relations at a list of target companies- one of those being MeadWestVaco.  Other target companies included Lincoln International, Dollar Tree, Mandarin Oriental, CMA CGM, and more.  I asked if he would try to contact the alumni that he plans to be working with this summer to see if I would be able to perform my fieldwork research at one of those companies; he has not received any word back from them yet.

In the meantime, I’ve been doing research on these companies to see if these would be realistic sites for me to gather appropriate observational and tangible data from.  Some of these companies, while located in Beijing, are pretty far from Tsinghua University.  For others, I was completely unable to see where they were located as I was sometimes redirected to a website which was written in Chinese characters for example. With the little concrete information I know, I have further brainstormed exactly what I want to learn and take away from my project.  The questions I wish to address may change if I get in touch with one of these companies, as I may wish to adjust my questions to be more company specific.

China is a country of extremes.  Doing business in China is undoubtedly a completely different ball game than it is in Western nations. (I found an interesting CNN article that scraped the surface regarding these difference).  I would like to look into these differences in more depth.  How do Western businesses tap into the Chinese market?  The Chinese market is particularly diverse, comprising varying cultures, income gaps, etc.  Companies need to remain flexible and innovative, while understanding how their company would fit into each specific market. China’s economy also dances between communism and capitalism.  How do American businesses adapt to meet this difference?

I will draft a project proposal that may be feasible if I can get in contact with Lutz Hanckles, a man that is related to someone my Dad used to do business with.  He recently moved to Beijing, to work at Johnson & Johnson there.  I looked up their specific location, and it seems to be roughly 20 minutes away from Tsinghua University.  Hopefully it would take less time to get there if I learn to navigate Beijing’s subway system. The address for Johnson & Johnson in Beijing is below:


Johnson & Johnson

14F, Tower 3
China Central Place, No. 77
Jian Guo Road
Chaoyang District
Beijing 100025, China
Phone #: 010-58218888


Knowing that it would be unrealistic to think there was no chance that Johnson & Johnson may not work out, I have formed more general questions to guide my research project. I wish to look at who exactly make purchasing decisions for particular products.  By looking at who in society makes purchasing decisions for specific things, companies can better cater their marketing to target the right consumers.  Additionally, I wish to look at how American companies adjust to many of the restrictions that Chinese businesses face that are not present in the United States.  For example, how do web restrictions in China impact marketing strategies.  Are online advertisements a common method to market products? How common is online shopping in China?

I look forward to hearing back from one of these companies so I can begin to refine my research topic.  I am eager to do more specific research once I finally learn where my field site will be in Beijing.