Joint Misadventures

Once giddy about doing deals, Western firms discover that their Soviet partners are not always on the line

After the U.S.S.R. put out the welcome mat two years ago to attract joint ventures with Western firms, hundreds of business executives rushed to Moscow. Many of them inked deals to produce such wares as shoes and pizza, computer software and fertilizer. But doing business in the Soviet Union has presented more challenges than capitalists imagined. The road to perestroika's pot of gold is filled with bureaucratic potholes.

IGNORE THEM, AND MAYBE THEY'LL GO AWAY. Soviet employees are a bit lackadaisical when it comes to customer relations. Said a U.S. executive: "The phone would ring, and our Soviet managers wouldn't answer...

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