A Review of Cross Cultural Faux Pas when Doing Business in China

In modern global marketplace imbued with an array of impressive technological advances, thus increasingly making global business easier and effective, calls for effective cross-cultural communication. Moreover, there is still a persistence of deep cultural variation that does not seem to change. Culture encompasses the behavior, attitudes and values of social group, regional population or nations as regards to the way they deal with life environments including, among others, institutions and economic structures.  Doing business in a global context calls for the need to have the ability to communicate and negotiate cross-culturally as a vital ingredient for the success of the enterprise as well as in a bid to avoid cross-cultural Faux Pas (Martin & Nakayama, 2010). The best way to avoid communication as well as cultural pitfalls keeping off from potential faux pas is preparation. Although it is not possible to foresee every possible scenario, there is need to have a basic understanding of a particular cultural background with an aim to avoid possible faux pas (Sebenius & Qian, 2008).

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It is palpable that the Chinese business culture is substantially dissimilar to the US and Europe. While the business culture in Chinese has often been viewed as a risky one, it is actually not impenetrable. Becoming aware of the cultural differences which exist when setting up business in Chinese is crucial for an organization to formulate strategies to adequately and effectively cope with the challenges and maximize the immense business opportunities without committing cross-cultural Faux Pas (Martinez 2011).

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Understanding the Chinese communication style poses as a major cultural challenge in doing business. Chinese are fond of indirect, high-context form of communication. They invariably infer and imply as opposed to verbalizing directly. In addition, the Chinese accords significant importance to the impact of body language, emotion, relationship and Para-verbal features of communication. Contrary, the American culture enshrines a more direct and seemingly confrontational approach in business communication which may result to a cross-cultural Faux Pas when in China (Sebenius & Qian, 2008).

The Chinese culture values sentiments of collectivism as opposed to individualism. The culture of the Chinese tends to put considerable significance on loyalty towards the group. When doing business in China it is crucial to note that prioritizing one individual, as it is mostly the case in the US, is likely to be disconcerting and posses faux pas which consequently may act as a barrier in furthering business goals (Martinez 2011). This is evident in business negotiations whereby a Chinese firm considers it appropriate to send a team to a negotiation while American firms tend to have a single representative, consequently committing business faux pas.

The Chinese believe that long-term relationships are very important for a harmonious society. The members of a community support the efforts of each another for the communities and organizations to function well. Business relationships in Chinese require participants like firms, employees, government and the society to strike a balance between benefits and sacrifices (Sebenius & Qian, 2008). Participants are expected to work towards the creation of mutually beneficial business transactions. In the Chinese mind, employees and companies are mutually dependent and must work together in business relationships to achieve success (Martin & Nakayama, 2010). From the Chinese perspective, value-enhancing policies practiced in America amounts to faux pas.

Chinese emphasizes on the importance of the group. This group orientation is rooted in the modern Chinese’s business culture. Each group owes allegiance to the next larger group in the chain. If a group violates the expectations of the top group, it will be referred to as an unethical entity. These ethics only apply to groups inside Chinese society or within the sphere of Chinese ethical expectations. The Chinese firms call for individual contribution to the whole group but however recognize that the whole group ought to succeed in a bid to ensure every individual’s contribution gets meaning. In contrast, the roles in US companies are very individualized and such a concept is only considered as a faux pas in China (Martinez 2011).

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