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Penetrating emerging markets is not for faint-hearted.

Mumbai commuters

Mayo: We are so used to lauding India's new high-tech economy, appreciating the financial power of its burgeoning middle class and analysing its impact in world software and BPO markets, that it was sobering to hear a chorus of European entrepreneurs bemoan the fact that they have still not been paid for work they did at the last Commonwealth games. You'll be forgiven for forgetting that the games were hosted by Delhi. In 2010.

But that is exactly the story told by a recent edition of BBC Radio 4's esteemed programme From Our Own Correspondent. One businessman, who claims he is owed $350,000, says India stands for "I'll Not Do It Again", and his experience is clearly not unique; Transparency International, the global corruption watchdog, this month demoted India from 87th to 95th place on its corruption index (though the World Bank has India at 134 of 183 countries).

India's lower house of parliament this week passed the Lokpal anti-corruption bill. The new bill will be welcomed by the international business community, despite widespread criticism in India that it is a toothless PR stunt.

For India, read China. Or Brazil. Or Russia. And the irony is that as the Eurozone implodes, and the US and UK bump along the bottom of a slump, there is more of an imperative for consulting firms to look to new markets than ever before.

Last week we reported Germany's strategy consulting house Roland Berger opening new offices in Dubai, Lagos and Jakarta; a high-profile case in point.

The week before, new research from The Management Consultancies Association (MCA) concluded that increasingly, UK firms will be trying to build business in new and emerging markets around the world.

But as consultants rush for their passports and phrasebooks in 2012, perhaps they should be wary. The fact is that doing business in so-called "emerging markets" is not for the faint-hearted.

The MCA says that collaboration with its international peers will be one of its priorities next year. It hopes to circulate advice about the practicalities of doing business in new markets and disseminate best practice of European firms competing successfully outside their western comfort zone.

Given the Commonwealth games experience, that will be a timely contribution.

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