Chinese business culture

Chinese business culture

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Key facts:

  • Strong governmental intervention
  • 1.3 billion inhabitants
  • Many words have additional meanings
  • Asian cultures focus on market share
    • Qualitative approach
  • China is getting westernised

”All Chinese think business”

Names in brackets are the dimensions’ (marked in italic) creator.

Communication style

  • High context (Hall)
    • Chinese is a vague language
    • Different understanding of honesty compared to Western cultures
    • ”Self” not independent, but so called relational
    • Neutral comm. style (Trompenaars)
      • Affective
      • Low-contact
      • Moderate eye-contact
    • Saying no
      • ”Two objections means disagreement”
      • The Chinese do not say no the way we do
  • Neutral (Trompenaars)
    • Low expression of emotions

Management style

  • Very high power distance (Hofstede)
    • Hierarchy important
    • Very ascriptive, but appreciation for success
    • Decisions based on what is working
    • Very little delegation of authority

Attitude to time

  • Short-term focus, does not believe in that you can predict the future
    • truth depends on situation, context and time
    • pragmatic
      • high power distance & ascription versus practical know-how and importance of success
      • Young achievers can climb quickly
      • Contradicts Hofstede/Trompenaars dimensions
  • Synchronic (Trompenaars)

Ethics – right or wrong

  • Particular (Trompenaars)

Values – attitude to work

  • Middle, between masculine and feminine (Hofstede)
    • More women in higher positions
    • Love to eat and enjoy life
    • Love to work

Impact of outer influence

  • Outer-directed (Trompenaars)

Social identity

  • Collectivism (Hofstede)
    • Individualism implies selfishness


  • Ascription (Trompenaars)

Attitude to risk

  • Middle between high uncertainty avoidance and low uncertainty avoidance (Hofstede)
    • mostly low score on uncertainty avoidance
    • Truth may be relative
    • immediate social circles
    • adherence to laws and rules may be flexible
    • adaptable and entrepreneurial

Business orientation

  • Relationship focus (Gesteland)
    • Relationships prioritized
      • Particularism
      • re-opens contracts if circumstances change
    • Chinese are group-oriented
    • reciprocity
      • responding to a positive action with another positive action
    • obligation
    • indebtedness
    • Guanxi <- important!
      • to network, get a relationship with another
      • Family is the strongest relationship
      • Absolutely necessary to be able to cooperate
      • Two-way loyalty
    • Face
      • you and your family’s dignity/honour/respect
      • very important
    • Negotiations start when contract is finished
    • Very competitive
    • Keep promises
    • Joint venture likeable


  • Mostly formal (Gesteland)
    • Important with titles, last name
    • Conservative dress code
    • Business cards
    • Punctuality
    • Exchange gifts

Attitude to personal space

  • ”You might find that if you take a step back, they will take a step closer to you.”
  • Differentiated
    • Mostly reserved
Erik Persson

Om mig:

Arbetar med MRM, webb-orienterade projekt så som SEO och webb-utveckling samt läser till en Bachelor i Business Administration på Handelshøyskolen BI i Oslo.

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