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Bill Liao Premium Member Group moderator23 Jan 2004, 12:27 pm
Simply put this is a useful book that reminds me of the many complexities faced by Westeners doing business in China. Written with clear insight from an external perspective my only gripe with this book is that it is witten more for an American audience and so can grate a bit.
It is very evident that the author has managed to integrate himself into Chinese culture with great success and the advice in the book is relavant to anyone wishing to do business in China. Indeed becuase of the author's external cultural perspective it is possible for Chinese people to learn more about doing business with the West by reading this book as it illutrates a lot of Western and American Values and cultural differences.
The understanding of guanxi in and of itself is very useful tho these days information and introductiosn and western style networking is making an inpact on this area or perhaps the best elements of guanxi are becoming mainstream western business practice.
Some useful quotes from the book from Eleven Points on Cultural Differences in the book:
6. Face, or mianzi - the regard in which one is held by others or the light in which one appears - it is vitally important to the Chinese. Causing someone to loose face, through a public insult or dressing-down, or by failing to treat him or her with respect, results in a loss of cooperation and often in retaliation. If you do so you will also lose the respect of others aware of your transgression.
7. In China, face cannot only be lost and saved in can also be given. Doing something to enhance someose's reputation or prestige, such asluading a worker to his or her superior, is an example. Such actions carry a great deal of weight among Chinese when they come from foreigners.
8. Guanxi (connections) is a tit-for-tat arrangement between people or work units that makes the Chinese system go. It offers you access to goods and services otherwise difficult to acquire. The currency of guanxi is normally favours, not cash, Chinese generally expect foreigners to understand quanxi and behave according to its rules.
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Guenter Nolte Premium Member Group moderator27 Jan 2004, 3:53 pm
you've been quite busy, with good results!
last year, I had nearly had the opportunity to go to China, and, although Sars was at its climax, I wouldn't have hesitated. I worked for planning engineers who designed a new car assembly in China which was a jount venture of a German and a Chinese car producer. One of the planning engineers' employees fell sick some days before he should go, and so I was asked to take his place, but then he recovered faster than it was expected and could travel himself.
I believe the most important thing to do if you come to any country is to be open and friendly, and not to behave as a colonial occupant. But still this is not always enough.
When I was in Saudi Arabia, we had some computer operators from Sri Lanka, and when something had gone wrong, you could ask anyone of them, nobody had done anything, even if you could prove it by printing log files. This was something I did not understand at that time, but it comes close to "Face". I think there is some similar sight on Face in China and other Asian countries. Would you agree with that? And, how should I speak to a person who might have made a mistake, without making him lose face? Is this something that I could learn from the book?
8. Guanxi (connections) is a tit-for-tat arrangement between people
or work units that makes the Chinese system go.
Isn't that something that comes very close to networking?
Bill Liao Premium Member Group moderator27 Jan 2004, 10:53 pm
The concept of Guanxi is networking with one difference, most Chinese
people keep a track of what favors have been done for them and by them.
The book gives very good advice on a wide range of situations where face
can be given, taken, saved and lost, so it will be helpful.
The exact situation you mention is one where I believe that best western
management practice is of great use. Which is to take the person who made
the error aside and educate them in the best way of not making the same
mistake again. Do this in private, one on one, with genuine concern for
their being able to benefit from the information and no face is lost, in
fact face is given because you have opted to assist them.
In my book the worst possible thing to do when someone makes a mistake, in
any culture, is to point it out publicly so taking the Chinese approach
and working through issues in private and praising good performance in
public works well anywhere, and closely matches the best management
practice that I know of.