Guanxi (The Art of Relationships) : Microsoft, China, and Bill Gates’s Plan to Win the Road Ahead


May 9, 2006


Bob Buderi and Greg Huang


Bob and Greg will be at Microsoft discussing their new book on Microsoft Research’s Asia Lab.

Half a world away from the calm beauty of Puget Sound, there’s a lab where Bill Gates’s software dreams come true. . . . So begins Guanxi, the on-the-scenes tale of the allure of China today – and of a unique partnership between the world’s most famous capitalist and the world’s largest communist nation that showcases what it takes to compete in the age of global innovation. Guanxi (gwan-shee), the Chinese term for mutually beneficial relationships essential to success in the Middle Kingdom, tells the story of the juggernaut research lab that underpins Microsoft’s relationship building in China. Unfurled through a narrative that moves between Beijing and Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, it follows the lab’s emergence as a mecca for Chinese computer-science talent – a place where 10,000 résumés arrive in a month, written exams are farmed out to eleven cities to screen applicants, and interns sleep on cots next to their cubicles. So far, the company has invested well over $100 million and hired more than 400 of China’s best and brightest to turn the outpost into an important window on the future of computing and a training ground to uplift the state of Chinese computer science – creating dramatic payoffs for both Microsoft and its host country that are helping the company overcome many of the challenges of China.


Bob Buderi and Greg Huang

Robert Buderi, a Research Fellow in MIT’s Center for International Studies, is the author of two acclaimed books, Engines of Tomorrow, about corporate innovation, and The Invention That Changed the World, about a secret lab at MIT during World War II. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Gregory T. Huang is a features editor at New Scientist who holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT. His work has appeared in Nature, Wired, and Technology Review, among other publications. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.