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How to succeed in China - An introduction to Chinese business culture Alexandra Anastasia Kvan Edman, Alexandra Robitu & Marta Garcia-Urgeles

A workshop for Fluffy Orange PR

Business communication

Leadership - Open minded and willing to learn -

How to be a good leader • Know how to instruct effectively • The importance of the hierarchy

Leadership differences • The leadership position  The authority • Delegation can lead to scandal

• Decision making takes longer time

Customs Time

• Decision making • Apologizing • Punctuality

Meeting Policy

• Punctuality • Announce that you are leaving • Thank you for spending your time!

Business cards

• Formally exchanged • Respect – the card is the man

Long-term commitment

• Long term goals and objectives






Respect for elderly



Family closeness




Self sacrifice






Resistance to corruption

Respect for hierarchy


Sense of duty



Gratitude for favours

5 Basic relationships to ethical behaviour

Confucianism beliefs • • • • • • • •

Unequal relationships family = prototype People form a group “Face” must be maintained. Education and hard-work must be prized Be modest Avoid extremes Stay calmed and safe

Chinese Work Values

Collectivism • The group is more important than the individual • Values and goals are directed to the “greater good” (Biddle, 2012) • The chinese belong to four basic groups (Family, Work unit (danwei), School, community) • Lack of mobility

Other influencing factors:



Ancestor worship

Feng shui

Herbal medicine and acupuncture

Animal years


Jackson, 1998 pp288


• “Language is a tool of communication, delivering a message – but it is much more than that: it has strengths and weaknesses which project national character and even philosophy.” Lewis, R., 2010

Problems that may arise • Language barrier • Chinese people’s inability to say no • Body language interpretation • Take a long time to make a decision

Communication pattern • Courteous and considerate interlocutors • Known for their use of sayings and proverbs • More important is what is not said, rather than what is

CHINA- Reactive culture • Listen before they take a decision • Focus on what is being said/ don’t let their minds wander • Very rarely interrupt a presentation • Look for a way to communicate their disagreement with something in a nice way

Behaviour at meetings and negotiations • Formal meetings; comfortable dress • Great respect and attention towards the senior man • Meeting is principally for information gathering • The real decisions are made elsewhere

Manners and Taboos • Very welcoming people • Sit-down dinners are the usual ~ 2 hours • You have to try everything and leave all dishes empty • Meetings – 2 or 3 weeks in advance with officials - only a day with antrepreneurs • Punctuality is apreciated • Courtesy is very important • TABOOS: egotism, loudness, arrogance, lack of consideration for others and any form of boasting

Audience expectations during presentations US:


• • • • • • • •

• GOOD PRICE • USP • Synergy with corporate image • Harmony • Politeness • Respect for their company • Good name of your company • Quiet presentation

HUMOUR Joking Modernity Gimmicks Slogans Catch phrases Hard sell Attention span: 30 mins

Tips and Advices • • • • • •

Show humility and give face Respect values Observe Buddhist and Confucian behaviour Show compassion for Chinese difficulties Save face Be careful with the concept of truth

Tips and Advices • • • •

Know Chinese History Behave according to your “rank” Show reliability Combine affability with arm’s length politeness • Read between lines • Gift-giving • Buyer comes first

TIPS AND ADVICES • Cover the same ground twice • Remember that they will never give you a straight no • Match their patience • Importance of punctuality • Be generous

• Long commitment

Good luck!

References •

Annon. (2012). Chinese Management Style. Available: Last accessed 6th January 2013.

Biddle, C., 2012. Individualism vs. Collectivism: Our Future, Our Choice. Available: Last accessed 6th Jan 2013.

Fan, M., 2007. Confucius Making a Comeback In Money-Driven Modern China. Available: Last accessed 7th Jan 2013.

Jackson, T., 1998. Foreign companies and Chinese workers: employee motivation in the People’s Republic of China. Available: %25E7%25AE%25A1%25E7%2590. Last accessed 5th Jan 2013.

LEWIS, R., 2006. When cultures collide: Leading across cultures.3rd edition. London: Nicholas Brealey International.

China - Communication Workshop  

Workshop that will brief the management teams dealing with opening a new branch in China on the main barriers to intercultural communication...

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