When it comes down to business practices, there are very few pairings that are as different as that of the U.S. and China. Culturally, they are worlds apart, yet as the two largest economies in the world, they must learn to coexist. The very basis of the mentality difference between the two cultures provides a foundation of massive differentiation. The U.S., having pride in the success of the individual at all costs is the seemingly polar opposite to the collective national identity of the Chinese. (IBS, 2018)
This is only one of the many differences that exist within the business cultures of these two nations. Another being the contrast in the interpersonal mingling of client and representative. In China, it is heavily encouraged and accepted as it is part of the growing relationship that is so sought after in business. Whereas, in the U.S., this type of practice is often considered to be unethical and controversial. American business practices tend to rely more on the negotiation and law of contracts rather than facilitating a long-lasting personal bond with its clients and partners. The Chinese call this practice guanxi, and it comes into play to help protect their personal interests also as it is not unheard of for a business associate to ask for special “favors” in return for accommodations that may have been extended in earlier dealings between organizations. (Moran et al., pg. 408) This being said, the Chinese tend to avoid confrontation at all costs in order to save face. Even going so far as to tell a white lie and agree with the individual that they disagree with in order to save face. In the U.S., it is not unheard of for aggressive discussions to occur as it is considered part of the negotiation process in the business. Something that is not well received in Chinese business circles. (IBS, 2018)
Another major variation is that of how the hierarchal composition and role-plays out differently in each culture. In the U.S., there is little hesitation for subordinates to challenge their managers in the workplace as the boundaries fall to the wayside as the culture seems to accept this transgression as it is seen as a positive interaction for the organization that helps to foster openness and innovation. In China, however, the subordinate is expected to follow the direction of the supervisor regardless of the difference in opinion one may have. The decision of the superior is final and should be respected at all costs.
These basic elemental differences provide challenges for either side when it comes to approaching a negotiation. It is important for each party to realize these differences and especially so for the American congregation that is hoping to expand their business venture into the vast Chinese market. It takes more than just a clever game plan to be successful in this competitive market, it takes local finesse in order to establish and cultivate successful business relations.
Moran, R. T., Abramson, N. R., & Moran, S. V. (2014). Managing Cultural Differences (9th ed.). Oxford: Routledge.
IBS International (author unknown) May 8, 2018, Differences Between U.S. and China Business Etiquette, IBS International Business Seminars. Web. Retrieved March 29, 2020. Link: https://ibstours.com/blog/differences-chinese-business-customs/