Every businessperson is a product of that person’s culture. When businesspersons of different cultures negotiate commercial deals there is bound to be cultural clash. Do you agree with this view in the context of negotiating with the Chinese? Why or why not? How could such a clash be avoided in business deals with China?
When preparing for a business trip to China, most Westerners like to refer to advices that can help them through the first series of business transactions. However, this won't sustain the kind of prolonged, year-in, year-out associations that Chinese and Western businesses can now achieve (Graham & Lam, 2003). Over the past twenty years, the number of cooperation and cross country transaction has demonstrated to us that a superficial obedience to the rules of etiquette gets you only so far. In fact, breakdowns occur in the negotiation between Western and Chinese businesspeople constantly. The root cause is in fact a failure on the Western side to understand a much broader context of the Chinese culture and their value system. Confucianism has bound the Chinese people together for some centuries, and the influence of that is also shown in Chinese business negotiations as well (Liu, 2008). The concept of Confucius served as the foundation of Chinese education for thousands of years. Knowledge of Confucian was the primarily acquired for government offices. Confucius has the idea of maintaining the society in an organized manner under the benevolent moral code. He believes that this would be prosperous and keeps the society politically stable, and therefore safe from attack. He also defined five cardinal relationships: between ruler and ruled, husband and wife, parents and children, older and younger brothers, and friend and friend. Except for the last, all the rest of relationships were strictly hierarchical. The ruled party such as wives, children, younger brothers were counseled to exchange obedience and loyalty for the benevolence of their rulers—husbands, parents, and older brothers. The adherence to these hierarchical relationships has been the key of social harmony, the antidote for the violence and civil war of Confucius's time (Liu, 2008). Confucianism emphasizes highly on moral. These values express themselves in the Chinese negotiating style. Chinese negotiators are more with the process more than the goal. The best compromises are only achieved after the ritual back-and-forth of haggling. This process cannot be cut exempted. A compromise often allows both sides to hold equally valid positions. Westerners tend to believe that it is worth arguing over about or even getting angry. However the Chinese believe that it is hard to find the way and so rely on haggling to settle differences. Another cultural thread is the Chinese people's wariness of foreigners, which has to do with the country's history of being a victim of attacks from westerners all over the world during the late Qing dynasty. Besides foreign attacks, China has also been through too much internal squabbling, civil wars, and the ebb and flow of empires. The combination yields cynicism about the rule of law and rules in general. It can be said that the Chinese trust in only two things: their families and their bank accounts (Graham & Lam, 2003). In most negotiations, the main source of bargaining power is “walk away”. Western negotiations are trained in this area. In China however, it is more complicated than that (). A Chinese partner is not so afraid of you walking away on your own. In China the real source of power is your ability to team up with another Chinese counterparty. Your existing partner will see this as a potential threat when you’re looking for new actors to counter the position. You have to set that up in advance and make sure your existing counter-party knows that you have options. The challenge of all is mutual understanding between Western and Chinese culture. Western and Chinese approaches often appear to be...
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