Exploring Corporate Governance Around the World

By Allison Garrett, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Oklahoma Christian University

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Son's New Job

A couple of days ago NPR did a story on Mitch Moxley's article Rent a White Guy: Confessions of a Fake Businessman in China in the July Atlantic Monthly. This story has inspired me to suggest an alternate career path for my son, who is currently an accounting major in college. Even with tuition covered by scholarships, college is pretty expensive and now it seems that he could have a career as a fake businessman in China with no more than a decent suit. He has a couple of suits and also some ties -- check. If you can speak in public, all the better; you might be asked to read a speech someone else has written for you on a topic about which you know nothing. Literacy -- check. Did I mention that my son was voted "best hair" in high school? That ought to count for something, too.

Moxley's article about his experiences wearing a suit, touring factories and sitting in an office is enlightening and, frankly, scary. Doing business in another country is difficult, without also having to worry about whether the people with whom you are interacting are just actors playing the role of executive. Checking references on those with whom you are meeting and on the company with which you are dealing is extremely important!

And before impersonating a businessman in China, here are a couple of things to think about:

1. The death penalty is much more common in China than in the U.S. Corporate executives can be sentenced to death for the criminal actions of their companies. Remember the tainted milk case? Three Chinese executives were sentenced to death.
2. Though I don't know much about Chinese law, my guess is that fraud is illegal there, just as it is elsewhere. And in most countries, fraud can be criminal as well as civil. I'm not saying Moxley and others participated in a fraud, but serving as a prop in a business transaction that you don't know anything about in a language you may not understand sounds like a dangerous game (but makes for great journalism!).

On second thought, college still seems like the best path for my son. Maybe he can use those suits for interviews in a couple of years.

1 comment:

Berlin Fang said...

I vote "college" for your son:-) I do hear of stories like this once in a while when an ordinary westerner was asked to assume a job they weren't actually trained to do. When I was at college, all foreign teachers were housed in a fancy "foreign expert" apartment complex, though many of them just hold bachelor's degrees, have neither working experience nor the qualifications to teach. By the way, I am waiting for a day someone want to rent a Chinese guy for something. I am ready.