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Knowing the cultural differences in U.S.-China business ventures

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2021 | Business Issues

When seriously considering launching a business in China, you must be prepared to understand the challenges and how to overcome them or at least deal with them in a realistic way. Some of the critical challenges include the language, communication, time zones, relationship building, leadership style, regulatory and legal matters as well as managing conflicts with prospective partners.

And one category that should never be overlooked is culture. Cultural differences stand out when a U.S. company considers a business venture in China, a country with a much longer history and where harmony, family and hierarchy remain important.

Challenges can lead to misunderstandings

A deeper understanding of Chinese culture is critical for any company that has visions of creating a partnership and doing business in the world’s most populous nation. Challenges will surface, sometimes leading to misunderstandings, stereotyping, uncertainties and tensions.

What is important to you may be viewed differently by a prospective Chinese partner. And your priorities may not be in sync with the priorities of your Chinese partner. Cultural differences are bound to affect any business relationship.

Here are some key things to remember during business negotiations with a prospective Chinese partner:

  • The Chinese may tend to focus more on the complete, holistic picture of the partnership rather than the details needed to get there.
  • The philosophy of rugged individualism espoused by many Americans may not be viewed as favorably with someone from China, who may prefer a more collaborative or even collectivist approach.
  • Relying on a qualified interpreter can help you with the negotiation process and, ultimately, the communications process. You want to be clearly understood. Negotiations can be difficult for foreign investors and entrepreneurs, but when successfully done, they could lead to success.
  • During discussions, avoid attempts at humor, subtleties, sarcasm and overly articulate speech, which may be misconstrued or lost in translation. Such actions may lead to misunderstandings and threaten your business deal.

When U.S. business leaders and entrepreneurs seek to establish business ties in China, cultural differences can affect prospective business deals. Those differences may disrupt attempts at building trust and relationships and communication.