Cultural approaches during negotiation mean that during negotiation processes, a variety of cultural values and practices are applied in order to get a variety of points of view and thus come to a conclusion that is likely to be favorable to all parties involved. The introduction of culture in these processes is advantageous in the sense that many different ideas and points of view are adopted. As a country in a different part of the world, China has its own cultures that are incorporated in negotiation processes, which lead to workable results. Some of these cultural negotiation approaches can be emulated by the US and are likely to bring the same positive results.
Chinese have a culture of combining business relationships with their personal relationships. This means that they do not separate the two, even when a situation only calls for consideration of only the business relationships. To them, business is not about corporations or organizations but rather about the personal connection between people. In comparison, the westerners are rather more concerned with the businesses at hand than they are about the personal attributes of the person they are in a transaction with (Jiang, 2012). However, building personal relationships with people in a negotiation brings to the table more trust and warmth. Trust is important because it leads to more transparent negotiations, thus, reducing the chances of being lied to or conned by the other party.
The Chinese also believe in moral standings rather than what the law requires. These moral considerations are made regarding their cultural beliefs about how people should behave or how situations should be handled. They believe that a person’s behavior cannot be effectively influenced by the law, but rather by a set of moral mechanisms that the particular person is exposed to. As such, during cross-cultural negotiations, or negotiations with people from other areas, the Chinese people always try to seek out those that seem to be more sympathetic to them and their country’s beliefs and practices. They will endeavor to develop personal relationships with them and in the case of business negotiations; they are likely to come to faster and more beneficial conclusions with them. It is for this reason that during most Chinese negotiations, especially in business, it is quite rare for lawyers to be involved in the whole process; they are often contacted as a last resort. This again is beneficial in the sense that the parties involved in these processes have a likelihood of having long-term business relationships since the parties are more of friends than business partners (Graham & Lam, 2003).
Hierarchy is a major part of Chinese negotiation processes. They recognize hierarchy more than their Chinese counterparts do. Their recognition of hierarchy can often be witnessed in the way that they communicate with each other. For instance, when a person walks into a room full of people, he will be greeting them from the one who is seen to be the highest in status to the least. In the event that the people are all of the same ranks, they are ranked according to ages, the oldest being deemed the most important. Hierarchy also encourages the Chinese to use their power knowledge and connections to assist those of lower status to rise in ranks as well. This is a beneficial strategy for them because they use this in business considerations. A company that is doing well globally will normally quickly take up an opportunity to assist a poorer company to improve its international standing. This means that eventually, the country, in general, will be improved in status because of the revenue that comes in via these companies (Sebenius & Qian, 2008).
Chinese believe in saving face. Face in this sense refers to a person’s standings and the way he is viewed by the larger community. This is why it is very rare for the Chinese to expose each other’s secrets and shortcomings before others. They believe that in case one finds the need to correct someone else, they should find a way of doing it quietly without embarrassing the other party. This is good for business and negotiations because it means that during the negotiation process, it is very unlikely that one will use the shortcomings of the other to benefit and get ahead in the process. The spirit of togetherness largely benefits them in business prosperity.
The Chinese hold the importance of ethics trust at heart even in the case of business negotiations. They believe that all actions are done in a way that should promote all the people who are involved. Therefore, when a person is seen to be acting in a manner that is likely to harm another party, he is regarded as evil. For instance, to them, it is okay to lie as long as the lie will only bring benefits to all concerned parties, as opposed to lying that is meant to bring harm. This means that during Chinese negotiations particularly in business, more consideration is given to truth. It also means that there is fostered trust between parties because the likelihood of one hurting the other financially is considerably slim.
Graham, J., & Lam, M. (2003). The Chinese Negotiation. Harvard Business Review.
Jiang, Y. (2012). Business Negotiation Culture in China: A Game Theoretic Approach. International Business Research, 6 (3): 109 – 116.
Sebenius, J., & Qian, C. (2008). Cultural Notes on Chinese Negotiating Behavior. Working paper 09-076. Harvard Business School.