This is a guest post from Professor Roland Boer, instructor of Mao To Now: On Chinese Marxism.
It’s no secret that China has emerged as one of the most important markets in the world to understand. No matter which sector you work in, due to the unrelenting spread of globalisation, it is highly likely that you will be doing business in or with what is expected to become the world’s largest economy – China.
Many of the major companies in China are state-owned, and private company leaders are often members of the in-power Chinese Communist Party. So, in order to genuinely understand modern China, you simply must learn about its historical and political roots. The course Mao To Now: On Chinese Marxism is a useful guide for anyone engaged in international business, as it presents facts about the Chinese situation not typically known outside of China itself.
Understanding these facts, which provide a cultural depth beyond the information generally offered in business journals, will provide the basis for more rewarding professional partnerships in China.
Below are three tips for international businesspeople:
The key language in China comes from Marxism
Everybody in China studies compulsory courses on Marxism and socialism with Chinese characteristics at school or university. So, even if someone is not formally engaged in the political world, they will certainly know, and regularly use, phrases from the Marxist lexicon, as well as the poetry of Mao Zedong. Being aware of this language, and understanding its context, is crucial in accurately communicating with people at all levels of seniority in Chinese business. Understanding this dimension of the culture is something you simply don’t get from guidebooks dealing with Chinese language and basic cultural expressions.
Understand the role criticism plays
Contrary to popular opinion, criticism certainly has a place in China, but it is understood by a strong sense of self-criticism, which comes out of the Marxist tradition. In China, it is perhaps more important than anywhere else to understand where the boundary lines of constructive and destructive criticism lie. For example, there may be an issue related to an economic policy or Government requirement, which needs to be resolved. Offering a practical solution will be far more beneficial than just criticising the Chinese Government. If you are perceived as someone who only offers what is considered destructive criticism, doing business in China will become increasingly difficult.
Cultural nuances hold the key to better business relationships
Marxism is obviously a significant part of recent Chinese history, so the everyday actions and conversations of the people are naturally permeated with the ideology of the state. This means you should know the small but significant social customs that are part of Chinese business best practice. For example, in a business meeting in China, everything should be considered negotiable, even after you think a deal is complete. As such, always approach business deals and relationships with an open mind. And also, it’s important not to lose your temper.
Much of the Mao To Now course footage was shot on location in China, meaning this course will offer a rare insight into Chinese society. By experiencing a first-hand glimpse into everyday life within the world’s most populous country, and understanding the deeper historic context which lies beneath the surface, students will understand that the above tips for business engagement in China are the gateway into a much larger world.