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Culture and Business Practice in Asia Report

Executive Summary

Apollonian Solutions must incorporate the aspect of culture in its operations in order to achieve its objectives. Its basic organizational culture must be adapted to the Eastern Asia’s region where it is based. This region has two significant cultures created by communism and liberalism government systems. Operations in China and North Korea must adhere to relating closely with the authorities.

Both governments demand close supervision of businesses and influence the secessions made by management. Japan and South Korea governments, on their part, allow organisations relative room and freedom to make their decisions.

China and North Korea practice communism, which has resulted in poor human rights records. This limits organizational ability to achieve objectives effectively. Religion has a relatively weak influence on business operations in the region. A significant population size does not subscribe to any religion’s teachings.


Culture is a critical aspect of business that often determines its success or failure. Businesses that serve a wide selection of customers with varying cultural backgrounds need to pay a lot of attention to how they handle and operate their activities in order not to annoy their customers (Hurn, 2007).

Often, employees who are oblivious of the effects of culture may end up acting in ways that dissuade their would-be customers, especially if a multiplicity of cultures is involved.

This paper is an address to the employees of Apollonian Solutions, which is a multinational firm that operates mainly in the Eastern Asia sub-region. The paper seeks to elaborate on the important lessons on culture and diversity with respect to business operations and performances by organisations and their workers as a whole.

Authors Biography

I have worked in several regions in Asia for a period of fifteen years, including the Eastern, Northeastern, and the Asia Pacific regions of the continent. During this duration, I have served three different employers in varying capacities, but all the scenarios entailed direct market contact.

In general, the lifestyle in Eastern Asia, which also influences the employment practices, is strongly influenced by the Chinese culture and practices (Low, 2006).

Most employers mainly seek workers with a Chinese educational background, although others would still employ professionals with educational backgrounds from other countries. However, I personally enjoyed working in the region because people are mostly generous and value quality performance and great commitment by workers.

In the Southeastern Asia, on the other hand, employment practices mostly follow along the western traditions. Quality performance and precision are some of the basic qualities that the employers demand from their employees. Mostly, the communities are closely knit, giving an enthralling feel for individuals seeking to live or work in the region (Antweiler, 2004).

As an individual, I learnt a lot of value from my neighbours, colleagues, and employers because humanity takes precedence in the society. Learning new skills at my place of work was much easier because colleagues do not look at each other as competitors, but as companions who work together for the good of the society.

The Social Contact in East Asia


Governments are directly involved in issuing business licences to organisations and they participate in the formulation of policies that are meant to sustain business operations. Thus, government is one of the key stakeholders in business performance and investors must take note of their key characteristics in order to determine ways of excelling while operating within their jurisdictions (Rao, Pearce, & Xin, 2005).

The biggest part of the Eastern Asia sub-region comprises mainly of communist governments. China, which is the region’s biggest country, is a communist nation. North Korea is also a communist country. In both countries, an authoritarian kind of leadership has been practised for many years.

Citizens have very little power to question their rulers. These characteristics, however, have started changing in China in the recent times, with the authorities having adopted a more open approach as they open up to international competition. North Korea remains deeply rooted in its authoritarian style of governance. The country practices a more closed kind of relations with the international world.

Japan and South Korea, which are other significant countries in the region, are republics and practice democracy. Japan and South Korea have better transparency and corruption indices as compared to North Korea and China. Business operations in both Japan and South Korea are supported, to a greater extent, by the governments than the case is in China and South Korea.

Until recently, foreign businesses and companies did not get the chance to operate in China and compete with the local companies. The situation is, however, gradually changing as the government appears to be opening up the economy to allow foreign players, while also seeking to establish Chinese companies abroad.

Total communism in North Korea literally makes it difficult for foreign firms to operate in the country because the political system empowers the government to take charge of all economic activities, while sharing the wealth amongst the entire society. Thus, a firm operating in the country will literally seek the government’s permission to determine how to utilise its resources.

Human Rights

China and North Korea

The communist political system that is practised by China and North Korea has mainly affected both countries’ human rights records (Svensson, 2002). The governments have the final say when it comes to decision making and they accept no challenge from whatever quarter.

Some of the decisions settled upon by the government deny the people their basic rights and have constantly seen the government torture activists who attempt to oppose its position. In China, women are somehow considered inferior to men, with the interaction of members of both sexes especially at places of work being avoided (Svensson, 2002).

In North Korea, there is a heavy restriction of human rights, with the public lacking avenues and channels to raise concerns. The closed nature of the communist government makes it difficult for the country’s human rights record of accomplishment to be fully audited and evaluated (The Economist, 2004).

Foreign agencies that would have helped to provide a detailed account of the country’s overall human rights situation, including electronic and print media, find it difficult to penetrate and operate in the country.

This has affected business operations in the country as very few investors are willing to establish businesses in North Korea. There are many concerns for any organisation that sets up business in the country, more so on the subject of human rights because the employees are likely to face difficulties in their line of duty (The Economist, 2004).

The internationalisation approach taken by China in recent years, nonetheless, has been seen to contribute positively towards amending the country’s poor human rights record in the past (Zweig & Chen, 2007). Although the full implication of this change is yet to be fully realised, continued engagement with the country promises to promote good practise.

The Chinese government is currently seeking to expand the market for most of its locally manufactured products and has, therefore, been forced to adopt changes to its practices. For instance, countries in the West, such as the US and the European Union, are insisting on the observance of proper human rights by China before they agree to trade with the country (Zweig & Chen, 2007).

A firm’s engagement with China for business purposes will not result in the legitimisation of a bad regime. Instead, it puts more pressure on the authorities to abandon their bad practices. The country has set a development agenda that can hardly be achieved unless they adopt best practices, especially in the area of human rights (Zweig & Chen, 2007).

Japan and South Korea

Both Japan and South Korea boast of good human rights records, with few instances of gender-based discrimination being perpetuated by the authorities (Jae-soon, 2012).

The good human rights record is associated with the prosperous business situation in both countries, with both economies performing extremely well in terms of growth and development. There should be little concern for our organisation pertaining to the question of human rights in these countries.

There are slight concerns about the way the South Korean government has been handling opposition leaders in the recent past. Election violence after elections in the country saw the government use some extreme power in a bid to contain the situation.

These acts involved isolated cases of non-adherence to human rights, especially by the government. However, there should be little concern over the organisation’s intent to venture into the country (Tsuda, 2006).

Religion and Belief

Religion shapes business practices in a region mainly because the acceptance of certain products or services in the market depends on the faith proclaimed. Thus, it is important to analyse and have a clear understanding of this aspect because going against a people’s faith will affect the business negatively.

Eastern Asia is a region with a combination of various religious beliefs, including Buddhism, Christianity, and Traditional religion among other religious faiths. However, in general, the entire East Asia is made up of people who have little faith in religion, or are totally atheists and, therefore, do not subscribe to any particular religion.

China has a strong presence of Taoism and Buddhism that influence the manner in which citizens in the country relate or associate. These types of religions are often described as philosophies or cultural practices because they mainly focus on educating the masses on how to act or behave in society.

The Confucian philosophy mainly forms the foundation of religious belief in the country, where the main teachings focus on revering nature and the ancient fathers. The Chinese religion has little effect on such critical business aspects as the human resources because it attaches little demand on exclusive adherence (Bretzke, 2001).

North Korea has a very significant proportion of her population being atheists, with other smaller proportions practicing traditional religion and Buddhism. The lack of religion in the country is mainly supported by the government as any form of religious organisation is looked at as a threat to the regime (Bretzke, 2001). This means that most North Koreans are not influenced by beliefs or faith.

This makes it easy for any company working in the country to operate without religious influence. It means that there is little interference to the operation of the firm, especially with fears about the human resource policies affecting or clashing with religious teachings and faith.

A large section of the Japanese equally do not subscribe to any single religion. Instead, most people have incorporated together various religion elements. This has decreased the amount of influence that would have been expected with a single religion dominating.

However, there are small pockets of Christians, Hindus, and Muslims (Bretzke, 2001). With a huge portion of the Japanese not professing membership to any religion, it is correct to point out that religion and belief have little influence on such an important business characteristic as human resources.

Like in North Korea, quite a significant number of South Koreans are atheists. However, Christianity is relatively widespread in the country. Buddhism also makes up a significant portion. For companies seeking to establish operations in South Korea, the possibility of employing an atheist is almost half, with the other half being of a religious person.

Buddhism does not mainly enforce exclusive adherence compared to Christianity. In other words, there is equally a smaller likelihood of religion in the country influencing the human resource policy of a company operating in the country (Bretzke, 2001).


Culture is a crucial aspect that influences the way in which business organisations undertake their operations. The Asian continent comprises of a complex interplay of culture, which involves varying religious practices, government styles, human rights’ record, as well as demography and national character, among other considerations.

The Eastern Asia sub-region comprises of many countries, among them China, North Korea, Japan, and South Korea. Both China and North Korea are communist states, a political system that has negatively affected the countries’ progression and development.

The human rights record in China and North Korea is poor, although China appears to be making positive advances towards openness and integration into the international community. The region’s overall religion has little influence on business operations because quite a significant number of the total population is made up of atheists. Other dominant religions in the region include Buddhism and Traditional beliefs.


Antweiler, C. (2004). Southeast Asia: a bibliography on societies and cultures. Heng Mui Keng Terrace, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Bretzke, J. T. (2001). Bibliography on East Asian religion and philosophy, volume 23. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press.

Hurn, B. J. (2007). The influence of culture on international business negotiations. Industrial and Commercial Training, 39(7), 354-360.

Jae-soon, C. (2012). (LEAD) . Yonhap News Agency. Web.

Low, L. (2006). A putative East Asian business model. International Journal of Social Economics, 33(7), 512-528.

Rao, A. N., Pearce, J. L., & Xin, K. (2005). Governments, reciprocal exchange and trust among business associates. Journal of International Business Studies, 36(1), 104-118.

Svensson, M. (2002). Debating human rights in China: a conceptual and political history. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

The Economist. (2004). . Web.

Tsuda, T. (Ed.) (2006). Local citizenship in recent countries of immigration: Japan in comparative. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Zweig, D., & Chen, Z. (Eds). (2007). China’s reforms and international political economy. Abingdon, OX: Routledge.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Culture and Business Practice in Asia'. 9 July.

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