China has been experiencing globalization for quite some time, and this is the reason why it is topping the world in business operations. Globalization involves a lot of things, for instance, the sharing of global civil society, the sharing of different cultures, sharing of the global environmental movements and the flow of knowledge and ideas internationally. Expansion of businesses by various countries to other neighboring countries, depend on several, essential reasons. Global expansion of businesses can deliver both tremendous challenges as well as substantial benefits to the investing countries (Ling, 2008). In order for a country to invest and conduct business in far- away countries, first serious research needs to be done. Therefore, this procedure requires a whole lot of patience, ability and willingness to learn new ideas and face some challenges. The investing country should focus on the cultural elements and dimensions of the new country during the research and learning process (Lee et al., 2005). Concentrating on factors like the legal system, economic implications, customs, culture, languages used and so on can be the basis of this research.
Elements and Dimensions of Culture in China
Culture incorporates values, attitudes, practices and goals that characterize a country or society in general. Every country possesses its own unique cultural dimensions and elements that either attract others or repel them. The Chinese culture can be reflected and incorporated in numerous ways and elements of the society. Some of the Chinese cultural-business elements and dimensions include the following:
The Chinese society is a non- verbal, and high context group of people. They grew up knowing what to say and do in all circumstances even if they are not directed through conversations. They rely entirely on facial expressions and the tone of voice to establish feelings. They show little or extremely no facial expression while speaking to someone. Looking or staring directly at someone in China is a form of disrespect; hence, they prefer avoiding direct eye contact (Wu, 2008).
Their alphabet is different from the usual one used by most countries in the world. The characters of the alphabets represent whole words, concepts and ideas. However, symbols used for the words are similar regardless of the dialect. Two key dialects used and spoken by Chinese people are the Mandarin and Cantonese. The Northern China speaks the Mandarin dialect while the Southern part, the Cantonese dialect. These are the ways in which words are pronounced, but not written. Tones are also considered during communication in China. For the survival of businesses in China, the investing country should be familiar with the communication culture of the Chinese society (Ling, 2008). Apart from the spoken and written aspects of communication, other side elements also count in the learning process of Chinese culture. For business purposes, introduction is often formal, by use of formal titles. The common greeting is nodding or bowing, however, handshakes are allowed but rare. It is advisable to wait for a Chinese to offer the handshake first. Time keeping is vital in the country, and this is coupled with prior making of contacts and appointments. During decision making, patience are required since the process is often slow.
Religion is also an essential aspect of the Chinese culture that businesses should study before embarking on joint ventures with China. However, there are still incidences of harassments and persecution for certain religious practices in China. The Chinese constitution only acknowledges five leading religions; therefore, the others are not covered with the Chinese law. Atheism is being without religion, thus, believing that God is inexistent. Government officials in China are atheists, an order from the Chinese. It is important to mention that Buddhism is the largest and most dominant religion in China (Bhattaharji, 2008). This is a philosophical system that involves morals, traditions, beliefs, rituals and values. The religion is non- theistic hence not considered a religion, but a society of people.
Daoism or Taoism is also significant to the Chinese culture. The attitudes, values and ideas of this religion have helped in shaping the characters and minds of many Chinese people. Confucianism entails the character of developing good and healthy relationships. The religion promotes proper behavior, loyalty and respect among relating individuals, for instance, husband and wife, ruler and subject, father and son. It is considered as a philosophical tradition, which has influenced the Chinese modes of thinking. It aids in moral cultivation and long life learning of ideas and ethics. Interpersonal relationships are made significant and possible through the study of Confucianism. It also incorporates traits like respect for age and hierarchy, respect for family and group orientation and avoidance of conflict, hence promoting harmony. Confucianism together with Taoism is philosophical and religious ways of the Chinese that influences their lives and characters (Karthik, 2009).
Islam and Christianity representatives accounts for less than 6% of the total Chinese population. Christianity involves Catholicism and Protestantism, and together with Islam is the less practiced religion in China. Religion is an essential cultural element to consider when doing business in China. The religions are bound to affect business practices in one way, or another, therefore, knowing the religious background of a Chinese business partner is very crucial.
Ethics are the usual morals possessed by an individual and aids in distinguishing right from wrong. Ethics also aims at guiding a person in making proper life decisions. Therefore, values can be combined with ethics since the two define the morality of an individual. The attitudes and beliefs forming the behavior of one are the values that person possesses. For a business to prosper in China, it is substantial to incorporate good morals and values in business meetings, negotiations and other aspects. The corporate social structure in the Chinese business world involves association with groups. Single business operators are always bound to fail or maybe not be as prosperous as the group based businesses (Lowe et al., 2008). It is often risky for an individual to depart from a work or business group and decide to go solo. Such a decision is related to betrayal of the work-group hence the particular consequences come with it. Such a person and family can go without food and shelter for the rest of the life.
Leaving a workgroup requires one to be cautious. It is advisable to work two jobs at first until one finds the situation not risky. Businesses in China require full participation and commitment of the workers. The corporate members have the responsibility of driving their business in order to success and serving the society appropriately. China just like other global countries and states is associated with business corruption.
Corruption is ranked as one of Chinese top social and political problems affecting the country adversely. From the evidence gathered in the past ten years, the cost of corruption has increased incredibly and monetarily. The increase in corruption is associated with the involvement of the senior and mid- level officials or people. The Chinese government has put anti-corruption mechanism in place to help curb the incidences of corruption in the country (Hu & Allen, 2005). However, there is still insufficiency in the conduction and implementation of the mechanism, thus making it ineffective. There are evidences, which show that less than 3% of the Chinese officials found corrupt end in jail, making the nation highly corrupt.
To interact socially in a Chinese environment, one needs to have proper etiquette. This element encompasses the conducts and manners of an individual that are mainly incorporated by the society as per its beliefs and culture. Etiquette involves a variety of essential society aspects that are vital in the business field. For instance, communication and relationships among the people doing business is paramount. Chinese businesses prefer working with the companies and people whom they trust and know well (Fan, 2012). This is made possible by sending any significant corporate, business history, information, services and products ahead of time before meetings.
Communications relating to business deals and operations are often official. Keeping business relationships professional and formal is of immense significance to investors in the China. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid humor as much as possible as the Chinese are considered humorless. Their translation of a joke can be redundant causing serious business problems. Gender role is absent in Chinese businesses, and only foremost aspect of business relations is the rank, and the utmost respect it requires. Discussion of business issues and matters in social occasions is not allowed. Gift giving in China is a form of proper etiquette and is appropriate in the business world. It does not come with any negative connotations when handling businesses in China (Lee et al., 2005). However, gifts are to be wrapped, and delivery is done by both hands. Business gifts are often reciprocated by the partners. Since, they are considered as debts that should be repaid. Cash is not a business gift in China. Gifts include things or items of beauty and worth.
Meetings in Chinese business world are a must and should always be attended by the appropriate partners. Making appointments is essential and should be done in advance. Punctuality is a virtue in China, hence keeping a Chinese waiting is considered disrespect and insult. Patience is also a virtue in Chinese meetings, because they believe everyone has own agenda. Meetings start with hands shaking and slight nodding of heads (Chen & Wolf, 2001). Vigorous hand shaking should be avoided as it is considered so aggressive by the Chinese. Physical contact when doing business, for example, patting is for the Chinese. Interfering through talking in Chinese business meeting presentations is not allowed.
In a business meeting, seating arrangements are often made instantly and according to ranks. Senior members off the meeting or group usually sit with people of the same rank either Chinese or from other countries or companies. After the first meeting, it is vital to exchange business cards, which should be detailed enough. Cards from foreigners must have the person’s native language on one side and a translation in Chinese on the other side to ensure understanding.
Negotiations in China take a lot of time, because Chinese negotiators are astute. All negotiations are left to the senior members of the company. The principle aim of negotiations in Chinese business meetings is concessions. A business partner to a Chinese company or business must be willing to portray compromise and make the Chinese negotiators feel that they have gained greater concessions (Stiglitz, 2006). The Chinese negotiators prefer starting with defense and humility in order to portray them as weak and vulnerable. Confrontations in negotiations must always be avoided since Chinese do not like them; they avoid such meetings and negotiations. Pressuring a Chinese is never taken kindly hence it is subject to backfire. The negotiations take long, for the reason of lack of urgency decision makers are taking long to decide or similar negotiations are being performed with competitors.
As a matter of fact, appearance is also a matter to consider when attending a Chinese meeting. Convention and humility works in such meetings. For men, a dark colored garment is an appropriate way to go, and if women are allowed to be in the meetings, a business suit or dress with a high neckline is appropriate (Wu, 2008). Flat shoes are always the best for women in Chinese business world.
Basic etiquette entailing manners of greeting, dining and entertaining is vital in the Chinese culture. Greetings are often formalized with elders getting the first address using the title and last names. Moreover, keeping heads down to avoid eye contact during greetings is also required, but for foreigners, introductions are done by straightforward handshakes. Entertainment is preferred in public places. Invitations to a Chinese resident should be considered an honor and tardiness is not accepted. Shoes must be removed while entering the house otherwise one is seen as disrespectful and dishonoring. Dining involves the host starting to eat before any other guest. A toast is also proposed by the host. It is preferable to eat a lot in order to show the host that one is enjoying the food, but again one should not slurp his or her dish. Chopsticks are the main eating utensils and should not be played with, dropped or held perpendicularly (Lowe et al., 2008).
Social Structures and Organizations
Social structure and organizations in China include families, political arenas, educational institutions, media houses, health sectors and religious institutions. Family structures and marriages form a large portion of the Chinese culture. Customs exist that regulate the union of a man and a woman. The union is considered to be between the families of the united couple and not just them. The families meet to discuss their children and compatibility, a wedding date is then set during which time, and the groom’s family sends gifts to the bride’s family. Polygamy and incest is considered illegal in the country and so are arranged marriages. A family is to have a maximum of one child in China (Ghauri & Fang, 2007). This is due to the enormous population density in the country. The law is much restricted and effective in urban areas, but a family can petition for a second child if there are valid reasons.
Social structures and organizations are considerably influenced by Confucianism, which enables peaceful and respectful relations among society members. Education system in China is majorly built on Confucianism foundation. In addition, education is basic and essential to the Chinese. Scoring highly particularly on the state examinations can give a student an appointment to government positions. From this, one can be assured of status and wealth to self and family as whole. Children from wealthy Chinese families are often more advantageous than those from low class families (IBC, 2012). Consequently, the children have more opportunities than the others making them prone to experience the state examinations and pass.
Political and regulatory system in China has enabled the world investors to invade their market. The Chinese government is working on creation and enforcement of a strict legal system to enhance free commerce supports and embrace global market place. Economic organizations in China should as well be considered before investing in the country. The standard of the products and services is beneficial as it reflects the expected safety and quality levels of the commodity to be produced in China. This serves to protect, manufacturer’s employees and consumers. The competitive industries and companies in China are of immense importance to note (IBC, 2012). It enables investors to know the best and the worst steps to make while conducting business.
Comparison of the Chinese and the U.S. Business Cultures
The U.S. is larger than China, but has a small population. Americans are low context individuals who are also verbally active. What is said in America is what is meant since people are straight forward. Altercations are present in America and noticing a wrong and inappropriate thing is usual unlike in China where such things are ignored. English is the leading spoken and written language in the U.S. and it is formed of words from the alphabet. Spanish is the second language in America. Varying accents are prevalent due to the differences in places of origin, but comprehension of the words is still possible. Basic etiquette entails a hand shake or hugs and kisses on the cheek. Therefore, entertainment is accepted either in public or at home. Invitations are a must and showing up unannounced is not allowed (Bhattaharji, 2008). Dining entails eating after meals are served, excusing oneself is essential when leaving the dinner table.
The dominant religions in the U.S. are Christians; however, the country is a free religion state according to the constitution. There are groups of Buddhists and even islands are also present. Atheism is practiced in America just like in China. Ethics and values of the American people are based on their religious and cultural beliefs. Social responsibility of a business corporation is as valuable as that of the Chinese. Corruption is also experienced in the U.S., and policies have been enacted to help reduce incidences of corruption.
Social organizations and structures in America also involve marriages and families where union is of the families of a couple. Polygamy is prohibited in this country, and domestic violence is illegal. Birth control laws are absent in the U.S., and the wedding rights are not traditionalized or formalized like in China. Education is not the principal concept needed to attain a government position in America. Such positions come from fair and free elections made by the citizens of America (Lee et al., 2005). However, there are many requirements that enable one to contest for a governmental position.
Implications of U.S. Businesses wishing to Conduct Businesses in China
American businesses wishing to involve in business deals with the Chinese companies obviously need to familiarize with the counties culture. Proper comprehension of the Chinese and their relations to foreigners can facilitate the building of effective corporate relationships. It is also advisable to respect the culture of the China, be it on the business field or just general life. The Chinese and American cultures differ between each other.
Joint ventures are the way to go in Chinese businesses due to the risks imposed by the globalization aspect. Engaging in joint ventures can help an American business company to enjoy numerous benefits. After establishment and making of other relationships, going a lone can be an option to the American company.
China is growing rapidly and will soon overtake the U.S. as the world’s leading economic superpower. Taking businesses to China from America is risky to the U.S. economy. This helps China to increase its economic capabilities, hence can surpass the U.S. However, individual companies want to grow, and this is possible in China due to the cheap labor and low operational costs. From the individual, business point of view, investing in China is beneficial, but to the entire American state, the economy will reduce tremendously (Bhattaharji, 2008).
American investments in China are subject to risks and challenges. This is majorly brought about by the different cultures and customs that may make business operations difficult than imagined. Taking on the challenge and risk of investing in China requires a lot of money, time and resources.
Globalization is an aspect requiring commitment and responsibility. It is often accompanied with challenges and risks that should be resolved before success is realized. Mentioned above information proves that the Chinese and American cultures differ markedly, and the similarities are only, but few. Therefore, proper research on the culture of a country is essential before deciding on investing. Failing to conduct proper research on the cultures, ignoring the customs or overlooking the habits of a country can cause business tragedies. It is vital to weigh both the positives and negatives of conducting business in China. From this decision, on considering the country as a global business destination can be made. Lastly, more disadvantages show that that country is not right but globalizing in a different country may be beneficial.