Globalization has changed a lot of ways corporations are operating these days. It has been very hard for most of the companies to adjust in this new environment. One of the countries that these companies had challenges was China. Businesses are learning every day that successful managers need cross cultural skills and training to succeed in a position outside of their country. In his new book, “What Chinese Want”, Tom Doctoroff, a top executive at multinational advertising giant J. Walter Thompson, writes that much of Western analysis on China has been overly alarmist. “China will not implode. Its road to superpower status will be bumpy, even rocky in parts, but the fundamentals of sustained macroeconomic expansion are in place and, for the large part, enduring”. (Doctoroff T, 2012).
Today, most Americans take for granted that China will be the next global superpower. But despite the nation’s growing influence, the average Chinese person is still a mystery to most of us. Tom Doctoroff, explains his 20 years of experience navigating this fascinating intersection of commerce and culture to explain the mysteries of China. He explores the many cultural, political, and economic forces shaping the twenty-first-century Chinese and their implications for business people, marketers, and entrepreneurs. Asian culture is a very different culture and encourages a more distant managing style comparing to other western cultures.
Therefore, managers accepting a position in China will face a lot of challenges. Even though China’s culture is booming, that doesn’t mean Chinese society is embracing American individualism. Self- expression is not equal to independence of thought. Unlike American society, Chinese society never celebrated the liberation of individual potential. The basic productive unit of society remains the clan, not the individual. Having a Balkanized economy, China is very different from other countries. I was born and raised in Balkan, where working in groups and teams would help the country succeed. Coming in America and facing the individualism was a challenge for me. Therefore, if I would have a chance to go for a business trip in China, I would be able to adjust my cultural intelligence by putting a stop to what I’m currently doing and going back to what I was doing 20 years ago. Having a high context culture, would help me penetrate through the Asian culture. However, both collectivist and individualistic cultures have their failings. People in individualist cultures are susceptible to loneliness, and people in collectivist cultures can have a strong fear of rejection. Elders who instill collectivist rejection rules in youngsters are often rejected by foreign direct investment from individualist capital. Managers need to adjust their mental clocks when doing business across cultures. (Kreitner, Kinicki, 10th Edition
3). I personally like this expression since time is another factor we need to look when we talk about cross cultural communications issues. If you live in the US, you live in monochronic culture. However if you live in China you would live a polychronic culture. Interactions between the two types can be problematic. Monochronic businessmen cannot understand why the person they are meeting is always interrupted by phone calls and people stopping by. A polychromic businessman’s office has an open door, a ringing phone and a meeting going on at the same time. This would be another important adjustment I will need to make if I would go to a China business trip.
If we explore the Chinese culture further, we can get the deep drivers of Chinese culture relative to other world cultures. The Hofstede six dimension model, ( Kreitner & Kinicki, 2013 pg. 106) is a very good model, where you can always run and compare cultures between countries. To further explore and analyze this case, I decided to run the Hofstede’s six dimension model report for China and United States.
When we compare both reports, besides the individualism, there are other differences between cultures of these countries such as power distance, pragmatism and indulgence. Power distance is how much inequality does someone expects in social situations. (Kreitner, Kinicki, 2013 p.106). At 80 China sits in the higher rankings which means a society that believes that inequalities amongst people are acceptable. United States sits at 40 which is a big difference from China. Another difference between the two cultures is pragmatism. This dimension describes how people in the past as well as today relate to the fact that so much that happens around us cannot be explained.
China scores 87 in this dimension, which means that people believe that truth depends very much on situations, context and time. At last, if we look at indulgence we see a big gap between China and United States. Indulgence is the extent to which members in society try to control their desires and impulses. The opposite of indulgence is restrain. According the six dimension model, China scores 24 which lower than Unites states, 68. China is a restrained society since they have a tendency to cynicism and pessimism. Usually people with this orientation think that their actions should be retrained by social norms and indulging themselves is somewhat wrong. My native country, Albania (being a Balkan culture) has the same restrained norms in the society and it scores 15 in indulgence (Figure 3).
It is very important to be aware of cultural differences, because culture is more often a source of conflict between countries. Despite the evidence that groups are different from each other, we tend to believe that deep inside all people are the same. In fact, as we are generally not aware of other countries’ cultures, we tend to minimize cultural differences. This leads to misunderstandings and misinterpretations between people from different countries. This is why I liked Geert Hofstede’s model since it gave me a general overview and an approximate understanding of other cultures, what to expect from them and how to behave.
I personally, represent a foreign individual who was able to adjust the cultural change and
since I have done it once in my life, I would be comfortable on doing it again. It will be difficult
though, but it would be much easier for me, than for someone else who had never done it
before. To conclude this analysis I will add 2 famous quotes from Oscar de la Renta and
“We live in an era of globalization and the era of the woman” (De la Renta, O 2013)
“We must take care that globalization does not become something people become afraid
of” (Schroder, G 2013).