McDonald’s is considered as the most successful and largest restaurant chain in the world. In 1990 McDonald’s opened its first store in Shenzhen China. In 1992, McDonald’s Beijing outlet was opened. There are more than 800 McDonald’s outlets in China today. This paper aims to analyze the importance and the extent to which culture affects the operations of McDonald’s in China. The impacts of the Chinese culture on the operations, policies and decisions of McDonald’s are studied as well as the changes brought about by McDonalds, a symbol of American culture, to the Chinese society. Two areas will be analyzed –employee relations (human resources management processes and policies) and restaurant operations.
Part I: The Chinese Culture
Kluckohn and Strodtbeck’s Cultural Orientations
According to Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (1961) there are five basic value orientations underlying cultures. These orientations are human nature (good versus mixed versus evil crossed with the mutability of the goodness), man nature (subjugation to nature, harmony with nature, mastery over nature), time (past, present, future), activity (being, being-in-becoming, doing), and relational (lineality, collaterality, individualism). "Human nature" refers to the innate goodness of people. A counterexample of this comes from the idea that people are evil, as evidenced in traditional Puritan thought. Emphasis was placed on controlling and regulating behavior to prevent evil from spreading. The man-nature aspect involves the relation of the individual to nature. For instance, many Asian cultures stress the view that man must be seen as a harmonious part of nature, whereas the orientation of most Anglo Westerners is that of man over nature -- that is, dominance of nature through technological means. The time orientation refers to the time frame salient to a group. For example, Chinese culture places a great deal of emphasis on ancestral obligations and rites (related to the Confucian principles of relationships and the five moral principles. Such a past orientation is contrasted with the future orientation of Westerners, who are often discontent with their current setting and seek change for the better. An activity orientation concerns self-expression in activity. In a being society, emphasis is placed on immediate gratification and spontaneous action, much like Morris's Dionysian dimension. A being-in-becoming society focuses on action and accomplishment -- measurable achievements. Finally, the relational orientation involves an individual's relation to his or her collective (Earley 1997).
Culture and Its Importance
Culture as a meaning system is materialized in patterns of human behavior and social interaction as well as in artifacts and observable rituals. Culture means more than physical materials or observed patterning of human interactions. It is also found in the evolution of distinct systems of ideas, beliefs, values, and their manifestations through symbols, forms of presentation, and patterns of social relationships. Culture is not static but dynamic, a constantly flowing current (Chaffee et al 1994). Each culture has its distinct value systems and orientations (Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck 1961). Values are often revealed in the behavioral patterns, community relationships, rituals, and cultural artifacts that make it possible for us to recognize and experience each culture. A conceptual definition must differentiate values from other closely related concepts such as beliefs, attitudes, and norms. Values are a type of belief, but are not identical with beliefs, which are cognitive elements that have existential referents. In Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck's terms, a value system is a set of principles that are "patterned" in a distinct configuration. This patterning of value elements distinguishes one value system from another. For example, both Chinese and Americans...