Part 1: the cultural profile of China
China is emerging today as one of the major global economies thanks to its dynamic business activity and a large working population. China is known in the world for its various ceremonies and etiquette dating from the first emperors. It is necessary to understand the basic Chinese cultural, ethical and business valuesin order to conduct business successfully in this country. To understand the cultural profile of China we must analyse the key concepts and values of this culture, based on Confucianism, referred to as Guanxi, Mianxi, and Keqi by linking them to the dimensions of Geert Hofstede, Fons Trompenaars and Edward Hall.
Guanxi is a central concept in the Chinese culture meaning‘relationship’ or ‘connexions’. It describes a personal connection between two people of equal social status in which each one is able to prevail on the other to perform a favour or a service. Guanxi also describes a global network of relationship which key values are trust, sincerity, mutual respect and co-operation. The relationships formed by Guanxi are personal and not transferable. It is a conceptthat has existed for centuries but which has become especially significant in the last fifty years: it provides a structured set of relationships and replaces the social network of family and clan which have become difficult to maintain in the face of mass urbanization. In the world of business, you must have the right Guanxi to avoid difficulties that can be encountered. The concept of Guanxihelps us to define specific orientations of the Chinese culture, based on Hofstede, Trompenaars and Hall theories:
✓ A long-term orientation : (with a rank of 118). Long-term orientation indicates a society’s time perspective and an attitude of persevering that is overcoming obstacles with will and strength. Guanxi is built over time, and through different generations of a family or a businessteams. It illustrates a strong value for traditional hierarchical relationships based on a long-term system of mutual obligations and respect (see appendix n°1).
✓ Particularistic orientation: with the system of mutual obligations comes a tendency to particularism. In China, it is considered ‘normal’ to lie to protect someone of your Guanxi. In other words, the person comes before the society’srules.
✓ Ascription orientation: for example, Chinese people are more likely to hire someone they know or know about or someone that evolves in the same circle of relationships. It means that your connexions are more important than your personal achievements.
✓ Risk avoidance: having a right Guanxi helps to avoid difficulties, risk in business for example. In the Chinese culture, yourrelationships or connexions are a means to avoid risk of all kinds and is therefore very valuable.
✓ Collectivism orientation: the low individualism ranking of China is manifest in a close and committed member ‘group’ such as family, extended family, or relationships. Loyalty in a collectivism culture is mandatory. The society fosters strong relationships where everyone takes responsibility for fellowmembers of their groups.
✓ Polychronic culture: Guanxi describes a set of relationships that has been built over time. For example, someone can ask for a favour today in return of a favour he has done twenty years ago. There is no deadlines to return a service as time is seen as fuild.
Guanxi is the illustration of the Chinese’s interest towards their past actions, their relationships and theconcept of ‘reciprocity’. It is one of the essential concepts of this culture.
Mianxi is an important issue related to the concept of ‘Mianzi’ or ‘face’. In the culture of China, face is a mark of personal pride and forms the basis of one’s person’s reputation and social status. Therefore, the concepts of ‘saving face’, ‘loosing face’, and ‘giving face’ are essentials to...