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The Dragon by Its Horns
Posted By webcomm On November 6, 2009 @ 3:05 pm In Fall 2009,Inside Business | Comments Disabled
Numerous experts and laymen alike expect the Chinese to realign their business operations, financial behavior and cultural ways to resemble those of the West. This attitude is quietly resented by the striving Chinese. It is also dead wrong. The Chinese want to become Westerners as much as Westerners want to become Chinese.
Now that Western companies, capital flows and business cultures have helped revolutionize China, it is China’s turn to revolutionize us. High-roller Chinese procurement delegations are flying around the world, signing billion-dollar contracts and purchasing energy resources, raw materials, technologies, intellectual property rights, real estate, and private and public companies. The Chinese have plenty of money to spend on smart acquisitions.
With Chinese ownership comes the increased influence of Chinese business culture. A growing number of businesses in the United States and Europe are subject to direct Chinese management decisions made in the towers of Shanghai and Beijing instead of New York and London. This is why we need to take the dragon by its horns and be proactive in understanding the ways and perspectives of our friends in China. Western business models will not apply in China as efficiently as some may think.
The business culture in China today is an unprecedented mix of traditional customs—hierarchical behavior, close family relationships and established power networks—and new Western concepts. Some of these new concepts include:
Despite many problems in their society, like human rights violations, environmental issues and widespread poverty, the Chinese have been quick to develop innovative solutions to many other challenges. It is mind-blowing to consider what they have achieved in only the last fifteen years, even if it has been partly accomplished with foreign advice and capital.
Like it or not, the Chinese economy will probably grow quickly over the next three decades, creating future shocks in every industry. Those of us who take a proactive role in understanding China will have a better chance to emerge as winners in this new economic era. Those who resent change, on the other hand, will be left behind. The West must leap out of its comfort zone, embrace this situation and join—not fight—the economic evolution.
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