Chinese and Western business practices are similar in the sense that “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” The extent of which this is true is even greater in China. But Chinese networking, known as Guanxi, is unique. This post explains guanxi and offers best practices for a beginner interested in developing guanxi.
There is a stark difference between Chinese business practices and Western business practices regarding contracts. This is not a superficial difference, nor a mere matter of outward custom. Rather, the presence of contracts in Western business – and minimal role of contracts in the Chinese context – reveals a deep divide in thinking about obligations, property rights, respect, social hierarchies, and relationships. There are two senses of the word “contract-less” in this blog: first, it refers to the lack of contracts and second, to the varying, sometimes minimal, importance of contracts.
Although contracts seem to provide the greatest security, there is also security in the alternative – IF you understand how to navigate relationships. This is s simple yet comprehensive, cross-cultural guide to contracts.
My “interview” started with a four-hour tour at the Panda Base in Chengdu, Sichuan, to location of China’s largest panda breeding program. My tour guide, Sherry*, picked me up at my hotel and surprised me with her nearly perfect American accent. I could not help but ask where she had studied. Sherry reveals that, in fact, she is self-taught and learned English by watching and re-watching Gossip Girl and The Big Bang Theory episodes. I was incredibly lucky that tourists were rare this week in Chengdu – normally we would have been accompanied by at least four other tourists. On this tour Sherry and I are alone, free to punctuate talk about the panda breeding program with tactful personal questions. I am incredibly lucky to have been paired with my Chinese counterpart: mid-thirties, five years youthful, and university educated. As we spoke for hours, the conversation progresses into a heart-to-heart on the car ride home, as we are accompanied only by a non-English speaking driver. Sherry opened up about her private troubles: her mother’s nagging …
Ever wondered why you see red lanterns around January each year?
I recently returned from a trip to China and will be writing about my trip. While in China, I learned about the importance of the Lantern Festival and what the red lanterns symbolize. In this post, I’ll also introduce some cultural insights to make you a sophisticated, open-minded world citizen, ready to make friends from afar!