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Chinese Cultural Differences and the Impact on Offshore Business

two chinese males working on electronics

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Chinese manufacturing has excelled in recent years due to their highly efficient work ethic and mechanisation of workers, speed, efficiency and output. Understanding China’s unique business practices and cultural differences is very important before embarking on a business relationship offshore.

Asian countries in particular have deep-rooted traditions that you need to be mindful of when dealing with potential business partners. Businesses that want to get the best out of their offshore manufacturing investments in China must understand all they can about the Chinese culture.

For many western cultures working conditions and worker safety is a top priority, however in China it seems to fall at the bottom of the pyramid, prioritising efficiency first. A focus on speed and efficiency can also have an impact on the quality of your products.

If you discuss with your Chinese counterpart that you need your product by a certain date and within a certain budget, they will cut corners with safety and quality to deliver on time, leading to defects in the end product. Although you are left with an insufficient product, the Chinese will be proud to have met the brief constraints.

This example of differences in work ethics are why you need to understand the cultural differences to avoid your money and time being wasted. A large portion of the Chinese manufacturing sector are more focused on profit margins than product quality.

It is very important to communicate clearly about a quality control and management system for your product, as this is not guaranteed in China. However, the companies that are willing to pay for quality will receive it.

Chinese manufacturers do not like to rush into impersonal business relationships. The Chinese way is often to befriend first, and talk business later. This can become frustrating for time constrained manufacturers as the relationship-building process will slow your original timescale down somewhat, but finding an honest and reliable partner is all about trust in the eyes of the Chinese.

Ensuring a streamlined, respectful relationship with Chinese business partners necessitates understanding China’s cultural differences, and how they can hinder or facilitate your end products.

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