Business between Americans and Taiwanese: Ellen's Trip to Taiwan

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Ellen Stoddard-Jones, 35, was a sales representative with a multinational data systems company headquartered in New York. She was a capable and ambitious graduate with a dual M. B. A. / Ph. D. from a prestigious European university. Most of her company’s international business was conducted in Europe and Japan while China was a growing market for its products. Ellen was recently transferred to be responsible for the Far East market. And she was fixed a schedule of the third time in two years to meet with representatives of a very large Taiwanese distributor whose product lines fit those of her company.

Ellen’s first trip to Taiwan had been basically positive, but somewhat unsettling. Very little business was discussed as she expected. Some more internationally-experienced coworkers told her before her trip that the Taiwanese definitely spend most of the time establishing a relationship. Exactly, she was warm welcomed and respected during her stay by being provided entertainment. Ellen really enjoyed such entertainment, but still frustrated by such slow approach to achieving business goals.

Ellen’s second trip had more beyond her expectations as to what a business trip should be due to her more forceful lead in the negotiations. She spent almost a full week meeting with her primary contact, Chen Wu-Ping and his colleagues. The Taiwanese team highly complimented about how well her company and theirs “fit”, especially about how he “looked forward to a long-term business relationship”. Ellen found out that the Taiwanese clearly realized the superiority of her firm and its product lines but they showed modest attitude toward their own company’s qualifications, which surprised her a lot. She knew that the distributor was among the best in the region and she regarded this opportunity as a very beneficial deal. Unfortunately, she left for U. S. with Chen Wu-Ping’s talking “something will happen soon” and without a signed contract at the end of the week.

Ellen’s third trip didn’t seem to be as smooth as Ellen thought before. The Taiwanese renegotiated major points of the proposal and said that they needed more time to discuss the contract. What made Ellen confused was that she couldn’t tell who exactly had the authority to make the decision to sign the contract because Chen Wu-Ping team did not seem to have an acknowledged leader. Ellen thought the meeting on the third day could make progress. She clearly explained the benefits and competitive advantages of her products over the competition. And the Taiwanese asked many detailed questions about her products, which made her surprised and anxious because she had provided them long ago with substantial documentation outlining the specifications of the given product lines. When Ellen asked Taiwanese questions, they kept averting eye contact. She emphasized the deal was very competitive priced but was followed by uncomfortable silence. Then she listed again all the benefits they would receive by signing the contract and argued her company’s products would improve their outdated methods. But the Taiwanese said they would study her proposal at the end of the meeting. Ellen felt that a company like hers shouldn’t get this kind of treatment. She thought that it would be their fault if they didn’t recognize all the advantages her company provided.

A few weeks after Ellen returned to New York, she received word that the Taiwanese distributors had decided to give up signing the contract. 2.Analysis of the case
The case is talking about the business between American and Taiwanese, which would involve the cross-cultural communication. The analysis of this case will be divided into four parts as following.

2.1 What is culture?
Culture plays a very important role in the cross-cultural communication. As the case is related to the issue of culture, we should know what a culture is firstly. There are varieties of definitions for culture based on people’s different perspectives. One...
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