China Business: The Rules of the Game

By Carolyn Blackman | Go to book overview

4
Communication

Some of the ways in which the Chinese communicate are fundamentally different from those of Westerners. It is commonly stated that the Chinese see information as power, and restrict it at all levels. For example, the authorities keep information on regulations they have promulgated within the bureaucracy for their discretionary application. Work groups trained by foreigners refuse to train the next work group, because that might give them an advantage. Chinese trainers may omit to impart crucial information to trainees, in order to shore up their own power. These are indicators of a society with a strong hierarchical power structure. A person who can control the flow of information is in a position to reinforce and express his power over others.

Indirectness is another feature that distinguishes Chinese communication from Western communication. A large concreting company had 100 concrete trucks sitting on the wharf for weeks because one of the foreign staff had upset the customs officers involved in clearing them off the wharf. He had criticised them for being ‘too slow’. He then discovered what ‘too slow’ really was. Another company had the power and water supplies to their factory cut off without explanation. It turned out that one of the company's Western managers was having a relationship with a Chinese woman. The local authorities

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China Business: The Rules of the Game
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface viii
  • Glossary xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Quick Reference Chart to Aspects of the Chinese Business Scene xix
  • I - The Chinese Face of Globalisation *
  • 1 - A Lot to Learn: ‘nowwhere Else in the World is It like This!’ 3
  • 2 - Sustaining Competitive Advantage 16
  • 3 - Corruption: ‘legitimate Loot’ 24
  • 4 - Communication 40
  • II - Strategic Plans Meet Chinese Reality *
  • 5 - Disappointed Expectations 55
  • 6 - Hidden Agendas 68
  • 7 - Corrupt Practices 83
  • 8 - Trust 94
  • III - Foreign Managers, Chinese Staff *
  • 9 - Shared Management 107
  • 10 - Culture Change 116
  • 11 - Skills Differential 133
  • 12 - Supervision 142
  • 13 - Manager Quality 151
  • IV - Bureaucracy and Business *
  • 14 - The Socialist Market Economy 169
  • 15 - Local Government Power 175
  • 16 - Exorbitant Levies and Sundry Taxes 185
  • 17 - Mutual Co-Operation, Mutual Benefits 194
  • 18 - Talking to the Bureaucrats 204
  • 19 - Conclusion 215
  • Bibliography 222
  • Index 226
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