Summary of the Culture in China

I think my home country China is such an unique country from what it has been through in the past and what it achieved in the past 20 years, and when those long traditional culture meets the modern or western culture, they get mixed and form the culture as it is now. Now I’m listing and explaining according to the five dimension from my point of view.

Power Distance I agree with the point that Hofstede gives - 80, the power is highly centralized by the government, I think the primary reason is because China’s one party rule. All the big decisions are made by those 5 - 7 people in the top level, or some power could even been made only by the chairman.

Therefore, the power is distributed from the top all the way down to regular people, not only in the political structure, but also in corporate where people worked, hierarchy is a common sense especially in state-owned companies, i.e. everybody should follow leader or manager’s direction. However, along with more and more foreign company came to China and some private or startup which bring advanced management or organization structure to China, a new trend of encouraging normal employee to come up with their own thought or opinion.

An example that I can think about is the internet censorship in China. Since 2000, along with the information explosion and web 2.0 are more and more popular around the world, people can get information or news from multiple sources over the internet, but Chinese government concerned a lot for their people that could gain more information other than government’s public news or media resources.

Therefore a series technical methods has been implemented, such as IP blocking, DNS filtering and redirection, URL filtering, etc, all those kind of methods are called the Great Firewall of China. Furthermore, social networks are boosted nowadays, Chinese government is more sensitive on this and the situation is more and more intensified. I think even most people know that it is not a good approach to control people’s willing of exploring the internet, but this must be a power distributed unequally and nobody can question whether it is right in the whole hierarchy of power distribution system.

Individualism I think the point is a little lower than I expect. I agree the example in Hofstede that considerations affect hiring and promotions with closer in-groups (such as family) are getting preferential treatment. The phenomenon is especially common in state-owned company, I heard of the stories like this almost from every family member or friend. Another example is many employee are toadying to their boss and hope to keep closer to the group that they belong to. But again, this phenomenon happens not that common in foreign company.

From my experience, I worked for two foreign company before I came to US, although there are some rumor that some employee are hired because of some relationship with manager or manager’s manager, but I believe this things happened more rarely than state-owned company.

Regarding to “Whereas relationships with colleagues are cooperative for in-groups they are cold or even hostile to out-groups. Personal relationships prevail over task and company.” I heard of this kind of sayings for a long time but didn’t have met that, both in my schools or companies, I think those relationship between groups or teams are just competition, the objects are all hope to get job done better.

My score on this dimension would be 60.

Masculinity / Femininity I find there are some different understanding for “Masculinity / Femininity” in Hofstede and ppt slides, Hofstede’s definition for “masculinity” is saying the society is achievement and success oriented, and “femininity” means the dominant value of society is caring for others and quality of life. In ppt slides, it also mentioned equality of men and women. I agree that give China a high score but expect the score should be higher, 90 or more.

In my opinion, China is an extremely success oriented and driven country, both from the country perspective and from the personal perspective. As a developing country, China’s economic speed thrilling the whole world, it is a common sense that everything is good to economic numbers, it would be encouraged.

However, in the other side, that also gives the society some downsides. For instance environmental problems, more and more factory or manufacturing plants are coming to China, but they also bring various pollution, and it will cost much more time to recover. Another example is Beijing 2008 Olympic Game, obviously it was a big success, and it a proud thing for every Chinese people, also in the other side, we cost too much for that.

We spend too much money and energy, the whole country was preparing it for many years, massive construction have been completed in Beijing, the whole city has almost been rebuilt. Another good example for personal is Chinese’s education. Score or grade has always been the only measurement tool to judge a so called “good student”.

Kids are learning hard since elementary school, and the pressure are more and more intensive when he or she growing up to high school, getting a better score in college entrance examination is the primary goal during all the three years in high school.

Therefore, most students sacrifice nearly all other activities but keep learning day by day. College entrance examination lasting 2 days, during that two days, the exam is the only topic in most people’s life because every student’s whole family are involved. Half month later when the result comes out, some students who don’t satisfy their result choose to prepare another year and hope to get a better grade next year, however, that might waste a whole year in their best ages. That’s a consequence of the success orient.

Uncertainty avoidance I think 30 is a little bit low for China. The points of “laws and rules may be flexible to suit the actual situation and pragmatism is a fact of life.” that Hofstede pointed out is correct in some situation. For example, when you’re in a car accident, to avoid making compensation or diminish the responsibility, most people will ask friends or families to see who is getting known someone in the local police office, that’ll have influence to policeman’s judgement the side that have more powerful relationship with the police might escape the charge or responsibility.

But I don’t agree with Hofstede’s other examples, Chinese language is full of ambiguous meanings, that’s right, but it is only a specialty of a language, maybe it’s difficult to learn for most western people but you can’t say China is ambiguous or Chinese people tend to be ambiguous because you can’t distinguish them. Also I’m doubting the example that Hofstede cites, “the majority (70% -80%) of Chinese businesses tend to be small to medium sized and family owned.” Many state-owned company are the main entity of the country, they are giant comparing to the small business.

I think the biggest uncertainty of China is the policy changes, sometimes the changes are even opposite, for instance, in 1960s, the government encouraged families to have as many children as possible, then the population grew from around 540 million in 1949 to 940 million in 1976, since then the government began to make control, the one child policy had been planned as early as 1977 and mandated nationwide until 1979.

Another example is China was encouraging the automobile industry since 2000, more and more family owned cars, but along with the big traffic problem in big cities of China, now the government proposed many ways to limit the growth of automobile, such as tax increasing, plate auction (people have to pay more than 40,000 RMB to get a car plate in Shanghai), cars are forbidden to drive on road every 10 days according to the last digit of the plate number, etc.

Long term orientation I agree with the Hofstede’s opinion that China is long term orientation, people work hard and following the sharp increase in income, they tend to make savings, and the saving rate have continued to rise to the point that the national savings rate in China is now the highest in the world. Most people especially old ages tend to save money in the bank, also they tend to make real estate investment, they think that’s the best way to keep value, so China’s real estate value rises dramatically in the past 10 years. Furthermore, many people are considering to buy real estate for their children.

I talked with a roommate from Taiwan, and make some comparison between China and Taiwan, hereby I make some summary of what he said. Power Distance He think Taiwan’s score on this is too high, he said it should be 45. Because Taiwan is a democratic country, Nationalist Party and Democratic Progressive Party come into power one after another, so they’re supervise each other. He also mentioned, like US, the president of Taiwan doesn’t have too much power, all the big decisions are made by different department as a whole, there is not such a role that is superior than all others. Individualism

He said the score should be raised to 30 and taiwanese are not so egocentric that only care about themselves, family is also an important in people’s life. Masculinity / Femininity He said old man or woman used to be driven by success and achievement, but young people are more focus on how to live in a well-being, which means that the result is only a tool to measure a thing but not the only tool.

Uncertainty avoidance He said in daily work, people have their clear tasks to do, and work hard on that, but for the future, most people don’t have a clear view. Long term orientation He said Taiwan is definitely a long term orientation, he gave me an example is the Military Service of Taiwan, in his age it was a duty to serve in the army, but nowadays it might change to voluntary, and the change will be announced soon. The benefit of this change is to save government’s huge cost for army. Another reason is government believe the future war don’t

need too much soldiers, it more depends on high-tech.