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Are Chinese factories naturally disorganized?

by Renaud Anjoran in 'Quality Inspection Blog'

I heard this comment from many buyers:

Chinese factories are so disorganized!

Who tends to make this type of observation? Importers who chase low prices and/or who purchase low quantities (and whose production ends up in small factories). And, in their case, they are very right.

Small manufacturers in China often forget about some of the orders they have received. They often forget to push their sub-suppliers. They often pay salaries late. They often ship late. In short, they drive their customers crazy!

Why is that? As I wrote a few weeks back, they have no management system, let alone an IT system. But that’s not the real cause.

There are two opposite trends:

  1. Chinese people can be totally disorganized, apparently unable of planning anything, and constantly putting out fires.
  2. They can also be very strict and extremely detail-oriented in all their activities.

What makes the difference? The leadership and the structure:

  • Go to a huge company whose boss was trained in the army (like Huawei, for example), and you’ll likely be impressed by how regimented the staff is. Yesterday I was in a facility that was part of a huge conglomerate, and the whole staff gathered on the grass at 4:00pm for a fire drill. Wow!
  • Go to most small operations, and you’ll have to be careful not to walk on semi-finished goods. Sometimes, no one in the workshop is capable of finding the products we should inspect, until they call the right manager. I did several inspections in the owner’s office, because there was no other desk available!

Conclusion: don’t over-generalize about Chinese society (it is full of apparent contradictions). Just make sure you work with the right people.


Renaud Anjoran is the founder of Sofeast Quality Control and helps importers to improve and secure their product quality in China. He writes advice for importers on the Quality Inspection blog. He lives full time in Shenzhen, China. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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