Intercultural Competencies in China
Intercultural Competencies in China
1 Intercultural Differences in Business Meetings and Negotiations with Chinese
Helena M. Lischka, Jennifer Rathmann
Since 1978 China has practiced an opening and reforming policy, which led to its membership in the World Trade Organisation in 2001. Up to this time, China - as the biggest emerging market - has played an important role in world trade. In 2016, China overturned the United States and - for the first time - became Germany's most important business partner globally. The German-Chinese trade volume increased by 4.1 percent to 170 billion Euro. Within one year, Chinese bought 76.1 billion EUR worth of German goods and sold 93.8 billion worth of goods on the German market. Cooperation in trade, investment, research and development form the dynamic relationship between China and Germany. 7 However, examples of failed transactions, deals and negotiations as well as resulting frustration on the part of German businesspeople are numerous. Despite all gained expert knowledge and experiences, negotiation with Chinese remains a challenge. Managers have long since realised that business meetings and negotiations with Chinese require patience, endurance and a profound preparation. Chinese people have a different language, different business conducts, different rituals, different attitudes, a different understanding of time, a Communist bureaucracy and a very old culture. All these factors - directly or indirectly - influence the process of negotiation and must be considered when doing business in China. If businessspeople face different organisational and environmental challenges in different cultures, they are also likely to need different ways of handling their business practices.
To gain a deeper understanding of these practices and to provide initial insights into the research area of intercultural differences, the aim of this chapter is to investigate distinct characteristics of Chinese business and negotiation style with regard to Hofstede's Six Dimensions of Culture. In order to apply these dimensions to the business context, at first, the development of these dimensions will be described shortly. The next section pictures the six dimensions in detail. There will be a table at the beginning of each chapter helping to classify China and Germany within the particular dimension. Every dimension then is interpreted according to the business context in China. The chapter concludes with a résumé, summarising how the findings can be transferred into managerial implications when dealing in a Chinese-German business and negotiation setting.
1.2 Development of Hofstede's Six Dimensions
According to Hofstede et al., culture is "the collective programming of the mind, which distinguishes the members of one group from another" 8 . The incorporated idea in this definition is that cultural values affect people's thinking. Hofstede aimed to show that the various ways of thinking, acting and feeling within different cultures are based on underlying fundamentals. He relied on the assumption that these fundamentals manifest themselves in the constant and central element of values. 9 Consequently, shared cultural values lead to shared behavioural patterns, as they similarly influence the underlying cognitive constructs and cognitive processing. 10
In the 1970s Hofstede was provided with a large quantity of survey data about the cultural values of IBM-employees from more than 50 countries. He processed the data, hoping to find a culture-specific underlying represented by the answers of IBM-employees. The results showed that the respondents - apart from their nationality - had certain things in common. It turned out that they all had equal fundamental issue