China, as the largest trading countries and probably the largest nation being invested from other counties, has clearly been a vital participant because of the globalization during the past twenty years (Zhang, 2003). A large number of international companies invest China to seek opportunities to make a profitï¼Œ especially American companies.ï¼ˆLiu 2002ï¼‰ While there exist wide differences between China and USA regard to their economic political social and personal characters dimensions.
It is important to understand culture about other counties for resolving business relationships. With the increasing of cross-cultural business, knowing other culture is also helpful to manage their foreigner employees. To clearly classify the difference between China and American, Hofstede four cultural dimensions will be used including Power Distance, Individualism/Collectivism, Masculinity/Femininity, Uncertainty Avoidance and Long Term Orientation. Five cultural dimensions of Hofstede are used to measure the cultural differences of different countries.
The purpose of this essay is to understand the differences between Chinese culture and American culture based on Hofstede five cultural dimensions. But this essay just looks more deeply into four dimensions: Power Distance, Individualism/Collectivism, Masculinity/Femininity, and Uncertainty Avoidance. And then analyze the effect of cultural difference on management between Chinese society and American.
Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore all of them are predominantly Chinese societies (Mum, 2001). Therefore, Hofstede (1991) work shows the scores of the cultural dimension between Chinese and American in table I. Some differences must be found. In terms of Power Distance, Singapore has the highest score, 74, and then Hong Kong 68 as well as Taiwan 58, while USA has 40 score. It is obvious that China is centralized while America is decentralized. On the Individualism index, it also can be seen from the table that Chinese countries receive much lower average scores 21 than America 63. It indicates that Chinese countries are lower in Individualism than American. In term of Masculinity, how influential male and female play roles in society, it indicates from the table that American tend to be medium Masculinity, while Chinese society tend to be medium Femininity. In addition, Chinese society has higher average marks than American for Uncertainty Avoidance, which indicates that the feeling of uncertainty is higher than Americans.
Power Distance is the extent to which individuals respond to inequalities in different organizations and institutions (Hofstede, 2011). Chinese society is centralized, meaning there is high level of inequality of power and wealth with the society (patent, 2009). In term of society, meaning farther should be given the utmost respect in the family. On the other hand, American is decentralized, and leans toward egalitarianism. This is indicative of a greater equality between social levels, including government, organizations and even within families (Hofstede, 2011). So being influenced on cultural difference, the way of management is obviously different. In Chinese companies, the higher-level superiors make most of decisions, while employees have rarely the opportunity to join in the decision-making process. But the situation in American companies is different. American managers are likely to make decisions individually.
They are not likely to consult others, even though their opinions differ from the superiors. Because they believe everyone are equal, and they have the responsibility to have different ideas. Individualism on the one side versus its opposite, Collectivism, as a societal, not an individual characteristic, is the degree to which people in a society are integrated into groups.(Hofstede, 2011) Chinese society is strong in Collectivism where all individuals are part of the unit. Family is the basic unit of Chinese society. On the contract, America is highly individualistic society. Every individual tend to pursue his or her dream alone. The Chinese and Americans tend to take different measures, when they solve conflicts.
Kim and Meyers (2012) suggested that Chinese managers are more likely to avoid direct conflict, while American managers prefer to resolve conflict directly. On the one hand, Chinese prefer to cooperate than individual, meaning harmony and trustworthy relationship with partners is essential. According to Chen and Starosta (1997), the goal of Chinese interactions is to establish a conflict free relationship between individuals. Therefore, they usually try to use indirect way to solve conflictï¼Œand they also solve conflict by compromise. On the other hand, Western countries are a highly individualistic society. Individuals believe that relationships and group culture is less valuable than themselves. And they always work hard to make benefits by themselves. To resolve differences, American mangers tend to face directly others with rational evidence and effective solutions.
In addition, since America is high Individualism and medium Masculine. There is little influence on having weak relationships with friends or family members. They prefer to work alone rather than cooperation. In order to ensure that cooperation can be carried out smoothly, Americans often draw up some contracts. However, Chinese rely more on groups to decide what they should do. They usually work together to deal with difficult. In the process of collaboration, they prefer to focus on building relationship rather than pay attention to sign contracts.
Uncertainty Avoidance is related to unknown stress in a society will be confronted in the future (Hofstede, 2011). Chinese and American managers have a different attitude toward risksï¼Œbecause of their different value in Uncertainty Avoidance. Chinese managers, high uncertainty, often take a long time to make decisions. They lack the spirit of adventure. They dont make decisions immediately unless they make sure that they can make profits. On the contract, American managers, low Uncertainty Avoidance, prefer to take a risk and quick make a decision what is the next step, especially in term of facing unknown future such as developing new products, applying new technology.
Hofstede cultural dimensions were applied though comparing cultural difference between Chinese society and American. All the aspects of culture between the two countries are nearly different. Because of cultural difference, the way of management is different. There are some differences between American and Chinese manager. First of all, it is common to use the equity principle in American companies, while higher-level superiors make most of decisions. Secondly, Chinese mangers prefer to use indirect way to resolve the conflicts. In contrast, American mangers are likely to apply to direct way and open form. Thirdly, Chinese mangers pay more attention to build a relationship with partners and are likely to cooperate with others while American manger focus on place main thing on contract. Last, American managers prefer to make more risky decisions than Chinese managers.