Differences Between Eastern and Western Business Culture

Comparison between Tokio and Time Square

Differences Between Eastern and Western Business Culture

The business world has changed greatly over the years. Many business owners who previously were restricted to their geographical region or continent now find they are doing business in the far corners of the globe. While this is a good thing, individuals need to take care to ensure they do not offend a person they are doing business with. Often, offenses are unintentional, but they can do a great deal of harm in a short period of time. For this reason, every individual doing business in another country must be aware of the culture and cultural habits to enjoy optimal results. This is especially true when it comes to the Differences between Eastern and Western Business Culture.

Differences In Communication

First and foremost, individuals need to understand that Asians have a tendency to use non-verbal clues as opposed to stating something directly, as you do it in the USA. Furthermore, they use subtle inferences, thus a person must read between the lines instead of taking what is said at face value. Disagreement will be expressed non-verbally also, as they don’t like to tell someone no. Pay attention to these clues to grasp the full meaning of any communication.

The Business Mentality

Business Relationship between business woman and business manIndividuals from the east look at business differently than those from the west do. If you’ve ever done business in China, you know that eastern individuals feel they cannot conduct business with others until they have established a relationship. They don’t wish to work with strangers, and they don’t form relationships easily. However, once a relationship has been established, it tends to last for an extended period of time. Eastern individuals focus on the group as opposed to the individual and work to preserve harmony for the group.

Individuals who primarily do business in the west have a completely different viewpoint. They rely more on written agreements than established relationships. As a result, any relationship that is formed tends to be superficial and will likely last for a short period of time. Individual achievements are highly regarded among these individuals, unlike their eastern counterparts.

Thinking Patterns

When it comes to east vs west, thinking patterns differ greatly. Individuals from the west tend to think in linear patterns and look for cause and effect, as they want to know the relationship between the two. Eastern individuals, however, tend to use spiral thinking patterns, and this difference must be remembered at all times.

Furthermore, business in the west is based on rules and regulations. In contrast, individuals doing business in the east find that each situation is examined on its own. They look at the situation and the context to determine what should take place in that given situation. Rules, regulations, and guidelines aren’t as important in the east.

Privacy is of great importance to westerns, but this is not the case in eastern countries. Anyone doing business in the east should be aware that secrets are not welcome. They are actually to be shared with the group or those refusing to share the information are viewed as disrespectful and rude.

A hierarchy remains in the east. Most countries in the region, for example India, still have a class system in place, and all members of society are expected to adhere to the system. Visitors and guests have more leeway, however, within reason. In the west, humans are viewed as equals and all are expected to contribute their share to society.

The cultural differences in business are of great importance. Anyone doing business in a foreign country must be aware of these cultural differences or risk having a negative impact on the interactions between all parties. Those engaged in business in eastern countries find harmony is of great importance, thus this hierarchy must be maintained.

man, watching at a clockHowever, some Asian individuals tend to be lax about certain protocol when it comes to conducting business. For example, they feel it is perfectly acceptable to arrive late for a meeting and engage in small talk before actually getting down to business. This isn’t the case when one is conducting business in a western country. Meetings are expected to start on time with minimal fuss. A good example of this is the german business culture, where punctuality plays an important role.

The western culture is very laid back in many ways. However, this isn’t always the case when it comes to business. There are areas where the eastern culture is laxer. Knowing the areas where eastern individuals tend to be very lax and where they are extremely rigid are of great importance in the business world, thus take time to learn the cultural differences and this importance before conducting business in one of these countries.

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