As we reflect upon our completed journey, a few highlights of the trip struck our mind…
No book, article, or even picture can truly convey the sheer size of Chinese business opportunity or population. When going to China, be prepared to plan for scalability of operations. However, one must also acknowledge that China needs to increase the scale of innovation, as well as, service and high-tech industries in order to shift their economy from manufacturing, to increase in domestic demand to support slower economic growth. To experience this, one must visit China’s tier two and three cities, and then realize that there are tons of these cities waiting to move up the development ladder. The sheer scale of any developmental initiative in China is enormous. With a population of 1.3billion people, nothing is too small if multiplied by 1.3billion, and nothing is too big if divided by 1.3billion.
If we could pick one single attribute about Chinese culture, that one must be aware of, it would be Guanxi. Even if Guanxi is not a large part of the business operations or competitive advantage, having a good network of associates, friends, and family within China or even Chinese culture is immense. Matt’s pre-existing association to Chinese nationals and Taiwan and alone bodes better than not having any prior knowledge of Chinese culture or history. This proved itself multiple times when meeting several Chinese friends and their families.
3) Go West!
Again, no single article can convey the expansion into the West that the Chinese are experiencing…even going there, without Chinese language skills, one can sense the Wild West mentality in Chongqing and Chengdu. Well, maybe not THAT wild, but it is still a much less settled area and has a degree of excitement not felt in Beijing or Shanghai. In a business context, the government is encouraging expansion into the West and may be interested in supporting Joint Ventures and multinational investment in these regions especially since it would bring migrants from the Eastern cities back home to well-paid jobs. Suffice it to say that future prospects for China are directly related to the success of its western expansion.
Though many Confucian regions place value in the social order of things, the degree of order between Confucian countries differs. Japan for instance seems to place more value in order than China in general(individually and collectively)…despite Confucius coming from China. However, order in China is still very common and is often present within the large amount of government regulations and control.
5) Government Control and Regulations:
It seems like much of Chinese life is in some way dictated and controlled by the large government structure China has. For instance, in Taiwan, there is less discussion about many, if any, regulations…however, speaking of the regulations and control of the central Chinese government is common in China…and goes to show the breadth and depth of the Chinese government. Lastly, the size and control of Chinese rulers has a long history…all the way to ancient Chinese emperors and kings. In this sense, it could be argued that having a strong government or ruler is normal in the Chinese context or culture. While this may have been assumed in a Chinese business, this is evident to a foreign firm, especially because the government’s interests lie in doing what is best for China according to them and this may mean saying no or making business hard for multinationals.
(goodbye China…it was fun…)