The report will explore the business and cultural differences between the United States and China; they have history and practices, they can overcome the cultural shock and develop healthy business relationships to improve profits and productivity by adapting to Chinese cultural and workplace values.
The purpose of this report is to explore and identify the cultural and business differences between Amerian and China and to find ways to remove barriers to promote flourishing business relationships; both countries hold a significant importance in the world economy.
Introduction and Background
Different cultures have different values, it can be easy to think about American business style and practices as the most effective in the world, but what might be considered effective in the United States may be a bit insulting in countries like China. By understanding the differences between the two cultures, it is easy for businessmen to adapt to the styles of each country in business. To adapt to the business styles and market values is a way to gain the trust of stakeholders and attract customers from the foreign market. The business can only grow if the clients are happy and the business does not follow any rules of practices that offend clients. (Thompson, 2017)
The style of American business world is different from Chinese business culture. The differences exist in the ways to build relationships, style of communication, contracts, gifts and entertaining and logical reasoning. (Thompson, 2017) China has grown its business market worldwide and has emerged as a true superpower in the recent years, America is it’s the biggest competitor in the line of superpowers. But these two countries also have similar goals and ambitions for dominating the business economy of the world. The two countries are located in East and West, a large number of Chinese workers love to work in America, and similarly, a large number American workers are attracted to work and live in China. China has opened its door the world for business investment, and Americans are most interested; however, a lot of Americans are shocked initially by the differences in the two countries. The most common differences between the two cultures are individualism, communication style, concepts of humility and self-promotion, professional Vs personal life, On saving face and Authority Hierarchy. (Ian, 2015)
American and Chinse values are unique and beautiful in the own ways, but a misunderstanding or friction may sometimes occur due to the different cultures of east and west. The gaps can still be bridged despite all the culture differences to promote a healthy business relationship through cooperation. As advocates of harmony and justice, the Americans can build strong business relationships with Chinese. China has a lot to offer to the United States; it can make a difference in the lives of many American students and professionals. They can begin their adventure of doing business in China and studying their culture to become a part of the fastest growing economy in the world in the 21st century. (Ian, 2015)
As more American workers are going to China for seeking employment and lucrative jobs, more they get a chance to work side by side. The most lucrative jobs for Americans in China are engineering, Information Technology, and Teaching jobs. The cross-cultural partnerships can bring positive results for both countries, the tensions exist due to differences in culture, but still, a growing number of young Americans in the 20s and 30s are heading for China. The Chinese-American pairing in the science and business is the most important collaboration in the world; two groups were raised differently in east and west and had different exposure to business markets and principles. So the workplace becomes a unique learning place for both nationals for the process of development and progress to achieve their American dream. Let us deeply explore what cultural and business differences exist between Chinese and Americans and how they can handle them to build fruitful business relationships to achieve two-way prosperity in the growing economy? (Ian, 2015)
Differences in Values and beliefs
The business market of China has evolved to a more free market from the government regulated market in the past; the Chinese workers often land in their jobs without much preparation and hand on experience. They do not have much understanding of client services initially. They usually do not do internships in schools, and colleges like the Americans do, but the mangers still them who are paid significantly less than the American who had foreign experience and they also earn 10 to 15% higher. (Ian, 2015) Chinses have a very polite nature, so they do not like to speak loudly or argue directly with their employees. The imbalance goes notices in the Chinese workers; the Americans are paid more for the same work for their experience. (Ian, 2015)
The value of foreign knowledge and experience is appreciated in China; the Chinese companies will be willing to pay more the U.S workers if they have knowledge of the west. Despite that they do not have the deeper understanding and knowledge of communism like the Chinse workers, they are still preferred to hold the management positions in the organizations. That is a part of China’s culture and economy. Americans, however, need to adjust to the culture and rich traditions of China to reduce the workforce issues. The multinational companies are operating in Asia that attracts a huge number of tech-savvy Americans. (Ian, 2015)
Comparison of Business Culture
There is an obvious difference between the cultural foundations and business ethics of Americans and Chinese. Both foundations are based on the Western Socio-theological and Judeo-Christian principles. Both Christian workers consider God is the sovereign moral authority, they abide by the natural laws and believe in the principles of developing a healthy life. Americans strongly believe in the justice, liberty, and pursuit of happiness principles; it is a part of their constitution and culture to promote equality among various ethnic groups and genders. Individual’s rights to choice are consistent with the market economy, the functioning of a free market economy can be described as the nexus of contracts.
1. Notion of Harmony
In China, the culture represents that everything is in harmony. The change is often viewed as disruptive, and the United States believe in the principle of effectivity and efficiency. They can sacrifice harmony for the sake of profits and get quick results. They focus more on the result than the beginning and consider logical reasoning and critical thinking in solving the everyday business problems. They believe change is not disruptive and they bring any change to get the desired business results. (Ian, 2015)
2. Importance of Relationship
In China, there are four important social groups existing in the society; they are schoolmates, relatives, personal friends and the indirect relationships. The constitution of United States guarantee the rights to everyone, and they have a history to protect their citizens working aboard. They stress on the personal achievement and individual progress as well. China used to be an agriculture state who had small mentality and community working in the high tech industry back in the 20th century. The privacy is still the highly valued attribute for the Chinese, Americans have singled out individualism more than the Chinese. The Americans believe in increased tolerance on diversity issues and like to separate their professional and personal relationships separate. The Americans like to friendly at all places, and they like making friends with the foreigners. Friendship can be dissolved quickly whereas China is built more on subtlety, they like to reduce confrontation as much as they can and not very outspoken as the Americans. (Seligson, 2009)
Chinese people in the business like to develop business relationships with the people they buy and sell with. The value of transaction comes first to Americans. However, they believe in strong business relationships and do not mix them with personal relationships. The relationships for Chinese are more important than the Americans, that is why they want to get often to know the person who they are doing business with and like doing face to face meetings with them. In Chinese culture, trust has a premium value, and they are not hesitated to ask someone about their personal lives and finances. This is not a sign of rudeness or disrespect for the foreign community for them; this is a sign of interest in other people’s lives. (Chorn.com, 2017)
3. Style of Communication
The business culture of America is dominant in the world and also the most competitive and tough. They take pride in being tough as compared to Chinese who value a lot slower and less aggressive business style. They usually do not rush for their business, and they have ample time to conduct their business properly. They like to communicate the risks and interests of their business with the other parties in detail and do not like to deal with tough negotiations. They have a very tender and helping nature, in fact, the American style is considered as aggressive in China and not favored in the business environment. Therefore the aggressive Americans do not often like the Chinese business culture as they like it back home. A Chinese can see an aggressive American as highly disrespectful or unprofessional (Chorn.com, 2017)
The U.S people like to be more open and frank in their work and discussions. As the Chinese business culture tend to value careful contemplation, therefore, they do not prefer to do contracts, unlike Americans who value contracts as premium. In China, it is possible to many businesses to conduct business by a handshake, and no contract needs to be signed. The does not be immediately even if a contract is signed; the ongoing social relationships are the key to the success of the business deal in the presence of absence of the contract.
5. Gifts and Entertainment
It is more common in the United States to take a client to dinner or having a party with them. They can discuss business on the dinner table or at a restaurant table, but entertaining the clients is not a goal to conduct the successful business. Successful business individuals constantly entertain themselves, they do not need to feel the pressure of the business deals and do not force the clients to discuss the business points or problems during the entertainment events or dinner. However gifts are high values and praised in the business culture of China, they feel pride by offering the token of appreciation to their business partners by giving gifts. The gift also reflects the culture and values fo Chinese people to reflect a high level of respect and care for their clients. (Seligson, 2009)
6. Cultural Differences in Business
As the business grows, the diverse groups of employees enter the business in the Chinese culture; the Americans are one of the most welcomed employees for the employers in China. The workforce culture and diversity is evident in both China and America where people from various ethnic groups, race, color, religion, and backgrounds work together for one goal to promote the economy. It can also bring a host of complications to the workplace. The cultural difference also become a reason for creating the conflicts among employees and interfere with their productivity goals. If the issues become serious, the stereotypes about the Chinse culture can also lead to instability in the Ameican workers who find it difficult to work as a team. (Chorn.com, 2017)
In America and Europe, it is not a strange tradition to kiss a business associate on both cheeks and shake hands with the ladies. This is a way of greeting for them, Americans are more comfortable to shake hands and to stand shoulder to shoulder with Chinese associates. The female colleagues, however, do not walk arm in arm with Americans in China and do not develop more personal or sexual relationships easily like in Russia and Europe. (Chorn.com, 2017)
Western and Eastern cues have substantially different meanings in business. The word “yes,” for example, usually means the agreement in Western cultures.The Chinese culture is high context culture where the yes more often means that the party understands the meaning of another party. For an Ameican, the period of silence during a meeting or negotiations may be rude or displeasing because they believe in frank openness. The western culture is more straight forward and open than the eastern culture of India, China, and Sri Lanka. Chinese culture places more value to avoid disrespectful responses and avoid confrontation in the business. (Chorn.com, 2017)
The Western culture is highly based on the value-relationship based marketing and business practices. The long term friendship and family ties are a great part of the business relationships in the eastern culture. The direct referrals from the close friends are also considered valuable, the judgments made in business are a result of mutual trust and friendship. This is the oriental culture and acupuncture, Americans believe that everyone in the business should deserve an equal opportunity and they value integrity and honesty which is a common trait of Chinses and Americans in the business deals and relationships. The unique qualities of equality, fairness and getting the best deal is the key to success rather than relying on the previous history and background checks. (chorn.com, 2017)
7. Language Barriers
In Germany and United States, it is not uncommon to speak loudly and be more aggressive or assertive at the workplace. They like to speak loud when giving directions or sharing ideas for the sake of clarity.This tradition, however, may not be considered very pleasant in cultures like China where lowering your voice and speaking with normal tone is more considered ethical. Chinese like to speak in the neutral tone while talking to the business people from diverse cultures like the United States, their political leaders also like to speak politely with the world leaders in the international meetings. This helps them to foster a better business communication in the end. (chorn.com, 2017)
8. Target Audience
While launching a new marketing or advertising campaign, the members of Chinese culture and America culture have to interact with each other. They often research the target market before starting a campaign between the gender views and conservatism vary in two different cultures. The target audience may feel insulted if the marketing campaign is not in line with the cultural norms of the Chinese people. Introducing a new product that is not of significance for the Chinese culture does not appeal to the people who do not like the western products. It can hinder their marketing campaign greatly and fail the business. The target audience can be narrowed down by the American marketing professionals by observing the cultural norms of China which help them to make better decisions. In Japan and China, men make most of the purchasing decisions while in Europe, women make most of the purchasing decisions.
9. Technology Issues
Through the advanced technology and innovative inventions of the 21st century, now the business in China and United States is done through the intervention of technology. Technology is enabling Chinese and Americans to come close to each other and made the world into a global village. But there are rules for using the technology, and there are time zone differences that need to be kept in mind for making communication through technology. There are different rules for using the technology as well in the United States and China. The availability of executive for a meeting overseas can be affected by the cultural differences, Chinese like to get up early in the morning, but some American executives may like to work at night and sleep in the day. Therefore scheduling a conference call in the middle of the day might be a problem for the American executive. Moreover, the Chinese like to take longer lunch breaks than Americans; every minute is equivalent to one dollar lost for the Americans. Therefore to avoid the confusion through the use of technology, asking for availability is the best option.
The influence of politics in the business relationships of Americans and Chinese is also very important. It affects the way companies or businesses operate; Chinse culture has a strong sense of government pride and nationalism; so they like to purchase with Americans who also have good backing from the government. If there are several on-going political disputes between the business parties based on politics, the businesses are not going to flourish. The best solution is to avoid discussing the political matters at the workplace and do not repeat the history of countries if they had some political problems in the past. The interoffice relationships are greatly hampered by discussing politics.(chorn.com, 2017)
11. Individualism and Collectivism
As far as autonomy and individualism is concerned, Americans put a lot of emphasis on them. The goals of an individuals are more prioritized over the goals of a group. Therefore the Western culture is full of individuals who are more ambitious, and they use their skills and ambitions to achieve greater success. Americans also like the idea of being different; however the Chinese people base their decisions on the way others perceive them. They will first consider their family, friends, and colleagues who are affected by their decisions and then think collectively. The AIEF reports says that Chinese people more often than not for the greater good of society and groups than to support the interest of an individual.
In China, it is more important to discuss the problems of each other and discuss success by not hurting the feelings of others. This is an indication of humility and respect for the human beings in the society, Americans sometimes have to apologize for hurting the feelings of Chinese by displaying a slightly lower level of humility and empathy for others during the business relationships. Sometimes Chinese do not discuss the problems at all who do not involve humility; bragging may be considered a norm in the United States culture, and it is acceptable in business communication. Americans also like to discuss and speak about success openly. Some Americans have a notion that humility is a weakness that makes you vulnerable and it is not always a virtue. (Tan, 2015)
2. Economics Vs Relationships
The Chinese people are very keen and fond of building social networks and relationships wth their business clients or employees. This is refered to as ‘guanxi’ in Chinese, and they like to socialize while conducting business. To them, relationships come. Next, they sign a deal with them and become friends. They trust the business relationships with their clients and follow their instincts to develop family relationships with them. This is however contrary to how Americans perform their business practices day to day. A greater emphasis is put on the speed and efficiency by the Americans for achieving a target during work. They believe in more casual and easy going social interactions.
3. Professional Vs Personal Life
In American culture, the personal life and professional lives are not mixed with each other more often. They keep them separate by not overlapping the two things. Offices, however, sponsor trips and functions for the employee’s nd give them a chance to mingle and build friendly relationships, but they do not want to mix their business or professional life with their personal life. They have to leave their family and personal issues at home while they come to the office. Many of the Americans do not like to personally socialize with each other during the work timings and only do it in social gatherings and outside office hours. (Tan, 2015)
The ‘guanxi’ in China plays a huge role in their professional and personal life. They love to know those closely whom they are working with to foster a genuine trust among them. Their bosses and managers are keen to ask their junior about their personal lives and bast experiences.
4. On-Saving Face
The Chinese hate losing face and have a history of humiliations and hurt feelings; they tend to take things too seriously and more personally then Americans. They hate to see them called a fool or someone with low self-control. This is also one of the reasons why Chinese hide their feelings from the people and do not open up frequently. They are not known to express themselves more often like Americans who express their feelings openly in the public even if they are on worldwide television. Americans are not afraid of making mistakes; they don’t mind being human and they consider a part of learning process. In Chinese classrooms, the environment is not totally like in the American classrooms; the government needs to change the school level environment to make the international students more at home.
5. Hierarchy and Authority
In China, a hierarchy dictated authority, they interact with each other through a hierarchy, and it defines their communication. In the family, the members who are juniors have a tradition to listen and value the opinions of older members of the family, this social structure of hierarchy has also extended itself to the workplace where the person or employee with the highest power of authority will be responsible for making the highest decisions. If we observe the parent-child relationships in the American culture, there is a lot of fluidity in their relationships. This trend has also extended to siblings, employees, and managers in the offices. They like to make decisions together and like to go to comprehensive debates before making the decisions in the office or business place. The final decision is made with the mutual understanding of all the employees involved in the meeting, and it makes their culture unique and beautiful for caring the interest of wider groups than of an individual. (Tan, 2015)
Cultural Differences Affect Business Communication
For the successful operation and daily deals, the businesses in America and China depend on the effective communication like the rest of the world. Understanding cultural differences and overcoming language barriers are some of the considerations people should have when dealing with the business with people of various cultures. When the parties involved in the business fail to understand each other and do not communicate effectively, they do not remain in business for a long time.
For example, if we take an example of a salesperson who approaches a customer in China with his full background knowledge, then an American salesman can better perform in the Chinese market with his body language and confident gestures. Understanding the cultural differences is the key to business success in both countries; an American can better suit the Chinese market if he or she adapts to the cultural values and understand the nature of their Chinese clients. (chorn.com, 2017)
Cultural Adaption in Chinese Marketplace
The business practices of many Asian and African countries may be acceptable in the American culture of a business environment. Therefore the cultural adaption is the most important thing to consider for the businesses who do business with the advanced countries like America. China has a different culture than America, and they have to operate in the foreign market with a different culture. In a company which has a large amount of diverse multicultural employees must address these issues in all major departments of its business. The language is the culture of every country, the official language of China is Chinse and English. However, English is widely used in many higher institutions and offices as a medium of communication in the diverse culture. With the involvement of local people or translators, the English speaking Americans may have to seek assistance at some places where they have to go out for marketing and Chinese do not understand English. Moreover, they must also not develop the products for the Chinese consumers which offend them with presentation or design. In America, the colors and shapes may mean different things than in Chinese culture. The material and tools common to the Chinese and American markets must be utilized to ensure a better growth and productivity of the businesses. (chorn.com, 2017)
The Workplace Authority and Respect
The Chinse environment is robust, and it is based on the culture that promotes learning and enthusiasm without aggression and confrontation. They Americans are more open to question the authority and outspoken personalities, this widely affects the workplace communication in China. Working as a female sales executive in a multinational company in Bejing is not always easy for Ameican ladies; they observe that their Chinese colleagues are sometimes hesitant to share their inner views and feelings with them which is the norm of their culture. In China, many foreigner men are in higher positions in the multinational companies due to their better knowledge, education, and exposure to the foreign environment. They possessed incredibly strong decision making and managerial skills as compared to the local Chinese workers and paid higher salaries. The Chinese people sometimes fear them and do not confront them directly; they like to remain polite with them and respect them in all situations. A female worker may feel embarrassed if her American boss tells her directly what she was doing? The indirect ways of communication are more suitable for Chinese which are a part of Asian tradition in many countries neighboring China. (Selingson, 2009)
The Americans who perceive Chinese as indecisive do not adore their communication styles at the workplaces. They may consider them less confident at various positions and do not regard them as tough human beings, although Chinese have a culture of doing exercise early in the morning like Americans, they do not like to build muscular bodies and dress fancy in many situations. Chinse may see Americans as rude people and inconsiderate of the feelings of others. It can easily lead to conflicts and misunderstandings, and it affects the promotions of the employees. The Americans like to assign the tough talks to people who are more vibrant, vigilant and quick in their delivery of work. The Americans appreciate perfection and also give a chance to employees to improve their mistakes. (Selingson, 2009)
The young Chinese feel that there are barriers in the Chinse economy that are hard to pass in the presence of foreign workforce. Most of the expatriates do not speak Chinese which is their local and family language, therefore the chances of getting a promotion or raise become low for the expatriates. (Selingson, 2009)
Ways to Improve the Cultural Tension
In the business and workplace where the people of two nations mix and form a business team; it is natural that conflicts may arise due to the above mentioned cultural differences. The foreigners can still make China their home and feel comfortable doing business with Chinese if they make an effort to adapt their cultural values and respect them at all times. For example, eating something that displeases a Chinese boss or coworker should be avoided; whistling in public or speaking fast will not help Americans to get appreciation form Chinese people. To do successful business with the Chinese, it is mandatory to make them feel comfortable and adjust in their society by accepting their norms and ways of communications.
It is not hard to adust o the cultural norms of China if American businessmen and workers take their jobs seriously and develop trustful relationships with them. Discussing, their problems with the Chinese will never hurt them because they are full of passion and empathy to help their coworkers. The Americans must not do or say anything at the workplace that offends any make or female employee. Developing unethical relationships with them will ruin their integrity and moral values; Chinese prefer those who prove to be reliable and trustworthy in the long run to build their economy.
Despite the differences in culture, values, language, norms, and perceptions, the Chinese-Amercian pairing is beneficial for both nations to promote the political and economical growth for the progress of people. Both country highly values the progress of their nation; they want their people to thrive and make a difference in the world. The tensions grow in the workplace and business world when Chinese and American cultures collide; there are ways to reduce those tensions among the white American employees who work at the higher and junior level positions in various multinational companies in China. The cultures of west and east mingle with each other, and they have an excellent opportunity to understand each other’s values and priorities. The likes and dislikes of Chinese and Americans are different in many areas of life.
Being the largest exporting country in the world, China also provides goods and services to the American economy. The best way to avoid confrontations with Chinese at the workplace is to engage in polite conversations, learning the Chinese language will also help reduce the language barriers for foreigners. Patience is a virtue that is a blessing for Americans doing business or employment in China. The western Americans feel comfortable if not feel right at home in China if they behave tolerantly and try to get mixed with their peers in the workplace to promote a culture of understanding. The success of American-Chinese alliance will bring enormous growth in the economies of both countries and help people to be more productive in the personal and business lives. The cultural shock can be reduced by understanding the culture of each other in depth; both countries can rule the world economy if they build fruitful business relationships regardless of cultural differences.
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