Date of Award

5-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Departmental Honors

Department

Management Information Systems

First Advisor

Vijay Kannan

Abstract

As the world continues to become more global, and as economies continue to develop, more emphasis is being placed on understanding the business environment of cultures around the world. There is perhaps no other nation or culture globally that has been discussed as much as China. This is because the United States is one of the largest foreign investors in China (Li, 2008). The importance of the Chinese market to the U.S. lies in its wealth of people and resources and the millions of new consumers joining the market every day. As a nation of 1.3 billion citizens, with a cultural heritage spanning 5,000 years, China is unique and is quickly becoming the global hub for economic activity. Because of this growth in economic activities, and the disparity between western and eastern cultures, the literature on Chinese business practices, cultural taboos, and how‐to guides on doing business in China are extensive. The literature also contains examples of how American executives and other Western expatriates are violating Chinese cultural norms. These examples speak to everyday interactions and misunderstandings that cause firms attempting to do business in China to make cultural faux pas, or mistakes, that limit the success of business. One of the reasons for cultural faux pas is a lack of understanding of the cultural background upon which business rules of engagement are based. In order to give western business people a clearer understanding of this culture background, we identify the common mistakes made when doing business in China. We then examine these mistakes, categorize them according to the Chinese cultural norms they violate, and explain the deeper cultural context using history, tradition, and Confucian values. The literature supports our belief that by gaining a better understanding of the deeper values behind the behavior, western (particularly American) expatriates working in China will have a better context from which to engage with their Chinese counterparts.

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