Successful business in China (part II)
Although modern times are catching up quickly within the cities of
China, understanding the roots of this ancient and complex culture is
essential when doing business there. In part II of 'doing business in
China' Nannette Ripmeester takes a closer look at some of the cultural
nuances your expats in China need to be aware of.
When Dutch Jenny van Baden visited China for
a holiday from her expat location in Taiwan she
was struck by the fascinating developments in
the country. "When you are out of Shanghai
for one week, a new building or highway might
have popped up in front of your window when
you return," she says.
Although modern times are catching up quickly
within the cities of China, "understanding their history is essential to comprehend
the Chinese and the way they respond to things." says van Baden, who works for
ASML in Shanghai.
Hierarchy in management culture
Take for instance hierarchy. Due to Confucianism, Chinese have a strong devotion
to their hierarchical system. Everyone has a social rank in the Chinese
"management" culture, and all are expected to know where they fit into the
hierarchy and to behave accordingly.
There are diverse manners in which hierarchy is continually reaffirmed in Chinese
management culture. For example, hierarchy is very clear when entering a
business meeting with a group. The highest-ranking person should lead the
group, and the most senior member of the Chinese and foreign team should head
the discussion. If other members of the group interfere, the Chinese people
present might be shocked.
Furthermore hierarchy also determines
introductions in meetings and seating
arrangements, which makes it very important for
you to find out where your counterparts fit into his
or her hierarchy.
Likewise you need to understand your position
within your hierarchy and your status relative to
your Chinese counterparts. If you are in a lower status in relationship to the
person you are meeting, keep in min