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Eastern countries such as China, Japan, and India represent significant financial opportunities for Western companies due to their size and ongoing economic development. However, their approaches to conducting business differ radically from those traditionally observed in European countries as well as in each other, and the tendency can complicate the process. In particular, Eastern cultures emphasize collectivism and interactions between people and groups as parts of a greater entity. This essay intends to present the primary characteristics of each of the three cultures that are mentioned above and compare them.
The Chinese business culture is characterized by its tight-knit and exclusionary nature that denies access to outsiders by providing benefits to local companies. Lewis (2010) describes China along with Japan as mostly reactive while placing India halfway between reactive and multi-active. These favors can be explained using the concept of guanxi, or, as “Cross cultural studies” (n.d.) describes it, a resource stemming from relationships. According to Chen (2017), an individual may obtain a robust guanxi network through practices such as emotion, loyalty, favors, or bribes. The personal nature of the interactions can be damaging for western corporations, where managers are employees and may leave their positions at any time, taking their guanxi with them.
Japan is well known for its tendencies to emphasize groups over individuals and have people work at the same company throughout their careers. “Cross cultural studies” (n.d.) identifies the concept of wa, or harmony, as central to the country’s thought. According to “Japanese cultural values” (2018), wa serves to maintain stability by promoting the needs of the group over those of the individual. However, the harmony only extends to one’s immediate surroundings, unlike China, and different organizations can and likely will compete if they operate in the same area. As such, entry into Japan may be easier than in China, but the difference in values may be discouraging for native employees.
India is possibly the closest country to Western business norms of the three mentioned in this essay due to its status as a former colony of Great Britain. Nevertheless, “Cross cultural studies” (n.d.) distinguishes essential characteristics such as an emphasis on family and a focus on hierarchy. According to Browaeys and Price (2015), India is home to numerous family businesses, and hierarchy is present in society, religion, family, and work. As such, Indian employees will follow a leader’s decisions, but they will also expect him or her to take responsibility for the company’s operation and always work towards its goals.
India, China, and Japan place much importance on collectivism and the value of systems over individuals. However, there are significant differences between how the three cultures operate in business. The Chinese view the overall system as a network of connections between individuals that can be fostered and called upon, while the Japanese restrict their circles of cooperation to individual companies. The Indians place value on the family and prefer to work within hierarchical systems, where duties and powers are strictly segregated.
Browaeys, M. J., & Price, R. (2015). Understanding cross-cultural management. Harlow, Great Britain: Pearson.
Chen, W. (2017). Guanxi network in Chinese labor resistances: Its structures, strategy and strength to protest outcomes. In M. Winter, S. Daly, & R. Wilkinson (Eds.), Conference proceedings: TASA 2017 Conference (pp. 1-6). Perth, Australia: The Australian Sociological Association.
Cross Cultural studies: Business cultures in the East. (n.d.). Web.
Lewis, R. D. (2010). When cultures collide: Leading across countries (3rd ed.). London, Great Britain: Carmelite House.