The core idea in the Suitable for Growth project - that Danish companies must develop suitable offerings for the Chinese mid-market - is rooted in the differences between Denmark and China. Therefore the first boot camp focused on understanding China and Daniel W. Lund from Fudan University was invited to speak about Chinese culture and how expatriates adjust to China and vice versa how Chinese adjust to the expatriates coming to China.
Research conducted by Daniel W. Lund has identified four interconnected elements in organizations: 1) personal adjustment, 2) individual effectiveness, 3) organizational effectiveness and 4) organizational commitment. This can be exemplified with a person that is well adjusted has a high individual effectiveness and thus helps the organization to become more effective and then again is more committed to the organization and thus want to stay and recommend the organization to others.
Cultural adjustment follows a U-curve, where things goes well the first 6 months, but then people tend to have difficulties and “start going home from work crying wondering what they are doing in this place”. After 18 months things gets better again. Therefore, expatriates at the bottom of the curve should be nurtured. The daily living tends to be the hardest adjustment and the spouse is the number one reason for expatriates’ failure. Howover, one the other hand it’s also important to have someone, like spouse, to vent with. Expatriates may get a sense of losing their identity, but trying to fully immerse and live like a Chinese is not the solution. The most effective adjustment is to become bi-cultural and to step in and out of cultures.
Patience, respect and humility are all part of maintaining harmony in China. There is a graciousness to let go in China based on the key principle “always praise in public and question afterwards in private”. Meetings are many times just a formal way of showing inclusion and to praise and decisions are made at before or after. It’s important for Chinese to understand their position in a hierarchy and know their opportunities for growth. Therefore, as top manager, it’s important to make sure everybody understand their place in the hierarchy.
In Western countries “you never do business with a friend”, but in China “why would you do business with someone who is not your friend”? These different approaches are based upon Guanxi that is a “long-term trust-based relationship with mutual benefit-based obligations and expectations”. Guanxi has more substance than contracts and should not be mistaken for friendship. The web in guanxi can be very deep and effective since it’s possible to subcontract favors in guanxi.
A more comprehensive presentation of the lecture on cultural adjustment by Daniel W. Lund is available here including audio clips downloadable as podcast.
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