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HOCHSCHULE BONN–RHEIN–SIEG

University of applied sciences

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Department of Management Sciences

Sankt Augustin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For successful cooperation: An intercultural comparison between Germany
and China

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supervisor

: Ms Beate
Roggenbuck

Submission date

: 16.01.2018

Submitted by

: Xin Liao

Matriculation
number

: 9000000

Address

: 11111
Musterstadt Musterstr. 11

E-mail

:
[email protected]

 

 

Table
of contents

 

1           
Introduction……………………………….. 1

2           
Cultural
comparison Germany-China based on Hofstede’s 6-D model ………………………………………. 1

2.1       The
main differences between Germany and China……………… 2

2.1.1     
Power
Distance…………… 2

2.1.2     
Individualism-Collectivism…………………………………. 3

2.1.3     
Uncertainty
Avoidance…. 3

2.2       The
main similarities between Germany and China……………… 3

3           
Cultural
comparison Germany-China based on Hall’s model …….. 4

3.1       Monochronic-Polychronic………. 4

3.2       High context (Indirect)-Low context (Direct)
…………………… 4

4           
Recommendations
for the successful cooperation between Germany and China……………………. 5

4.1       Language……………………………. 5

4.2       Value………………………………….. 5

4.3       Behavior……………………………… 6

5           
Conclusion………………………………… 7

Bibliography………………………………………. III

Appendix…………………………………………… IV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

1.     Introduction

With
the development of China in recent years, especially the growing economy, there
are more and more foreign investments attracted by the big Chinese market, with
the cheap labor, high purchasing power, and its fascinating humanities, a lot
of companies come to invest and many foreigners visit this country. But it also
turns out that there are a lot of failure examples of cross-border new business,
they were not profitable, went bankrupt or failed collaboration. This happens
not only in the spheres of commercial activity but also in diplomatic
intercourse and scientific interchange. But the research shows there was
nothing wrong with the cooperation or management itself but the cultural
differences. (Reisach,
Tauber& Yuan 1997, p.292). Intercultural obstacles became the biggest
problem and difficult to solve because of its complexity. Walter Lippmann (1913,
p.306) said: “Culture is the name for what people are interested in, their
thoughts, their models, the books they read and the speeches they hear, their
table-talk, gossip, controversies, historical sense and scientific training,
the values they appreciate, the quality of life they appreciate, the quality of
life they admire. All communities have a culture. It is the climate of their
civilization.”

Germany
as a developed country whose economy has already developed, being A significant
influence in Europe and the world, it is important and meaningful to make
cooperation with China for its further development in a world of rapidly
globalizing business. However, the style of cooperation between western
European and China is different in some extent, such as management style. In
China, they attach importance to the relationship, power distance also as a
hierarchy in an organization whereas Germany has a high grade of individualism
and lower power distance. Germans give a more direct way to communicate while
Chinese prefer to hide their true mind.

In
this paper, to give cognitions and recommendations for the cross-cultural
cooperation, the main intercultural differences and similarities between
Germany and China will be analyzed using the cultural dimensions, Hofstede’s
and Hall’s theories. Furthermore, the assignment will also discuss the
dimension of neutrality-affectivity.

It
also needs to be considered that this paper focusing on the majority of a
culture regarding the Chinese or Germans, but not to everybody.

 

2.    
Cultural
comparison Germany- China based on Hofstede’s 6-D model

Hofstede
obtained access to a large survey database about values and related sentiments
of people who worked in the local subsidiaries of one large multinational
corporation IBM in over 50 countries around the world. There are 6 cultural
dimensions of his model( Hofstede, Hofstede & Minkov 2010):

1.
Power Distance, related to the beliefs about the appropriate distribution of
power in society;

2.
Uncertainty Avoidance, related to the level of stress in a society in the face
of an unknown future and its impact on rulemaking;

3.
Individualism versus Collectivism, related to the importance of individual
versus group interests;

4.
Masculinity versus Femininity, related to the division of emotional roles
between women and men;

 

5.
Long-term( Pragmatic) versus Short-term( Normative) Orientation, related to the
choice of focus for people’s efforts: the future or the present and past;

6.
Indulgence versus Restraint, related to gratification versus control of basic
human desires related to enjoying life.

To
make a clear comparison between Germany and China, analyzing the scores of 6
dimensions they get:

 

Figure 1: Comparison between Germany and
China in Hofstede’s 6-D model

Source: Author’s own diagram,
data from Hofstede-insight (ed.) 2018.15.01.2018

 

As
we can see in chart 1, China and Germany get nearly the same scores in the
dimensions of Masculinity, Long-term Orientation, and Indulgence, but the big
difference between these two countries are the dimensions of Power Distance,
Individualism, and Uncertainty Avoidance. China ranks obviously higher in Power
Distance and significantly lower in Individualism and Uncertainty Avoidance,
whereas Germany ranks significantly lower in Power Distance, Individualism and,
Uncertainty Avoidance. Through this visual data analysis, we can see clearly
the main differences and similarities between these two countries.

 

2.1  The main
differences between Germany and China

2.1.1 Power Distance

It
shows that Germany is a low power distance country, which is highly
decentralized and supported by a strong middle class. It is a common style to
make a co-determination and a direct and participative communication. The leader
is more concentrate on the expertise which will be more accepted by others (Hofstede-insight,
www). And the society of China is defined as a high power distance, which leads
to the supervisors become decision maker or problem solver, and in this way,
the supervisors feeling powerful and respected by others.

In
German company, the communication between the boss and staff are usually in a
directl way, when there are some disagreements or suggestions, staff normally
say directly to the boss in a polite way instead of pretending to agree with
all the decisions what the boss made. The boss is asked more about expertise
while Chinese are more concerning about the relationship and background behind.
The power distance also happens in education. In school, the teacher is always
right, as well as the boss in a company. Children should obey the rules their
parents made, whereas German education gives more freedom to the kids instead
of controlling them.

 

2.1.1    
Individualism-Collectivism

According
to Hofstede research, China is in a high collectivism place which places a high
value on group achievements. Members pay more attention to the group targets
and profits than the needs of the individual, and members avoid aggressive
behavior or objections to keep the group harmony and collective. In communication,
people prefer an indirect way and would more refer to “we” instead of “I”, and
it will be rather more relationship oriented than task oriented. Decisions are
made by the group and barely made alone which would be expected in an
individualistic country, such as Germany (Reisach, Tauber& Yuan, p.319). Meanwhile,
Germans tend to think themselves at first place, individual interests generally
take precedence over group interests. And people do what they want to do and
often according to the need of self-fulfillment. Individual self-judgement
based on personal achievements and personal value recognized by the society.

 

 

2.1.2    
Uncertainty Avoidance

The
dimension Uncertainty Avoidance is the degree of uncertainty that can be
tolerated and its impact on rulemaking. From the chart 1, Germany is a slight
preference for Uncertainty Avoidance. The intolerance for ambiguity: need for
many rules to constrain uncertainty.

This
country strongly relies on plans, details, and expertise. People like
well-scheduled thing which is well-thought-out to prevent uncertainty
situations. According to the philosophical thinking of Kant, Hegel and Fichte,
adopting more deductive approaches than inductive approaches, making system overview to proceed the processes
(Hofstede-insight, www).

Chinese
tended to obscure the boundary of time and did not limit the minutes as Germans
did at the time of appointment. Time is more flexible. The Chinese consider the
way of thinking of the resettlement cycle to make negotiations. They like to
repeat consultations on many important issues or the agreed agenda items, and
there is no strict time limit. On the contrary, Germans usually set the
timetable in any occasions, seeing the outcome of the negotiations, using a
straight-line way of thinking, trying to get results within a period of time
and ending the negotiations.

 

2.2 The main similarities between Germany and China

As
chart 1 shows, in both Germany and China cultures, they show almost the same
masculine, long-term orientation, and indulgent characters.

Talking
about Masculinity, performance is highly valued and early required as the
school system separates children into different types of schools at the age of
ten. People tend to live for work, pursuing social status like cars, houses,
advanced educations, and technologies, they get satisfied and self-esteem from
that and usually most income comes from men in families, men dominate the
discussion. In this way, China and Germany regarded as a masculinity society.

Germany
got a high score of Long-term orientation indicates that it is a pragmatic
country, People believe that truth greatly depends on the situation, context
and time as well. They show a strong propensity to save and invest,
thriftiness, and perseverance in achieving results. Most Asia countries tend to
be long-term orientation societies, and China is a typical pragmatic society,
children are educated at a very young age for achieving good grades or
considering their future development, they spend a lot of time on studies,
children are prepared to attend various training courses for all-round
development in the future, companies also like to set a long-term plan, like 5,
10 or even longer years, to achieve a goal.

As
for the dimension of Indulgence, this dimension is defined as the degree of
which people try to control their desires and impulses, based on the way they
were raised. Relatively weak control is called “Indulgence” and relatively
strong control is called “Restraint”. Cultures can, therefore, be described as
Indulgent or Restrained. Germans have indicated a restrained personality with
the low score of 40, they prefer to control their leisure time and would feel
guilty to indulgence themselves. People get the feeling of achievements from
work and the status of societies. Compared with the Indulgence culture, German
follow the social norms and restrained by them (Hofstede-insight, www). There
are also connections between Long-term Orientation and Indulgence dimensions,
Chinese set long-term-orientation goals in their life and struggle for them,
therefore they are more willing to control themselves not to be indulgent.

 

3.     Cultural comparison Germany- China based on
Hall’s model

3.1 Monochronic-Polychronic

Germany
is considered as a monochronic culture while China is a polychronic society. Monochronic
people prefer to do one thing at a time, concentrate on the job and also take
time commitments seriously. In contrast, polychronic people can do many things
at once, they are highly distractible and subject to interruptions. Compared
with monochronic style, they consider time commitments an objective to be
achieved, if possible.

Take
the business between these two countries as examples, with polychronic culture,
Chinese can conduct open door consultant, meeting and business all at the same
time, changing plans often and easily, which may cause problems with Germans
cause they would not like to be interrupted by call or consulted by people
without an appointment and follow the well-scheduled plans. For monochronic
culture such as Germany, people only start to do another thing when one has
been successfully completed. Furthermore, Chinese are committed to people and
human relationships, having strong tendency to build lifetime relationships and
moreover basing promptness on the relationship. Like analysis mentioned in
Uncertainty Avoidance, Germans rely strongly on expertise to reduce the
uncertainty situations, not the strong relationships, instead, they are
accustomed to short-term relationships and more consider not disturbing others.

 

3.2  High context( Indirect) -Low context( Direct)

People
in high context culture tend to be more collectivist, express indirectly, where
keeping neutral and saving face are meaningful to them. China regarded as a
significant society to keep the harmony and away from confrontation. Within the
group, people share experiences and exchange information both at work and in
private, which makes communication very conversant (UK Essays (ed.) 2015). This
means people do not need to speak a lot to make the message to be understood.

Meanwhile,
people from low context culture such as Germans refer to direct society appear
to be less collective and more individualist with less well-developed in-groups
compared with high context culture (Storti; Craig 1999, p.91-93). Short
connections during a period of time and fewer shared experiences lead an
explicit and direct communication to express exactly what they mean or what.
Hence, there might be some problems when indirect Chinese communicate with
direct Germans.

 

4.    
Recommendations for the successful cooperation between Germany and China

4.1 Language

If people
can learn the language of the other country, example, one Chinese can speak
German, it will significantly be helpful to communicate with the natives, but
in this aspect, language does not only mean the “language” itself but more
about the way of communication, the culture behind it. As China is a
polychronic, high context( indirect) and high power distance, while Germany is
a monochronic, low context( direct) and low power distance society, which means
the language should be used carefully and express in an appropriate way when
Germans and Chinese communicate with each other.

In a
high context culture such as China, direct talking or criticizing might be
regarded a rude and unrespect manner which will lose their ???Miànz?:
face?
especially in a public situation if being treated in this way. Saving your ?? is
very important for Chinese, because the characteristic of high power distance
and relationship oriented. Chinese may feel offended on their side due to their
tendency towards high context and neutral communication style. Thus, Germans in
China should learn to transmit their meaning in a tactful and gentle way, also
learn to understand some of the hidden high context cultural meaning in a
message. For example, HC: ” We would like to ask you for further information” =
LC: “I am afraid that I did not understand that point. Please repeat it”
(Reisach, Tauber& Yuan, p.331). But on the other hand, it causes some
difficult for Germans to conjecture the hidden messages as they are low context
culture, information only is shared that enough to carry out their work, that
means communication asked to in an explicit and direct way. The same, when
Chinese in German, it is necessary to learn how to express them more clearly
and exactly instead of being afraid to lose their face.

 

4.2 Values

???Rúji?: Confucianism?deeply influences the values
and attitudes of the Chinese population. The founder Confucius was one of the successful
philosophers re-establishing the old order. During the Han dynasty?206
B.C.-9 ad?his methods forming the foundation of Chinese social life
until the beginning of the last century. (Lin-Huber 2001, p.36)

Confucianism
publicize a maintenance of harmony, in this kind of society, forming an ideal
of avoiding conflict and a value of treating everything peacefully, hence a
neutral style constitutes the communication way. People try to hide their
emotions to look more natural and poised. In this aspect, Germans often towards
to show emotions in a direct way when having disagreements about facts during a
discussion(example of politics) (UK Essays (ed.) 2015). Also influenced by
Confucianism, the modesty is an important character quality, described as
“Humiliate yourself but show the other respect” (Hu; Grove 1991, p.63). This is
sometimes confused Germans when Chinese react to compliments by often denying
them or express the different meaning of “Yes” and “No”. Example like if German
praises a Chinese can speak good German, the reply often turns like “No, I do
not think it is good and I still need to learn more”. Or Chinese usually
refused some service for the first time but accept when being asked the second
or third time which is considered more polite by their value. The consequence
often becomes that the Germans would interpret the “No” as a real negative
answer at the first time and would not ask another time. Meanwhile, directness
and punctuality valued important for Germans, avoiding uncertainty situation to
make sure all the things are done step by step sometimes are not flexible for
the way of doing things in Chinese consideration.  

But
if consider the similar values between Germany and China, both of them are
long-term oriented and restraint culture. In their concept of value, indulgence
would make people feel guilty, people get achievement and success from work and
the status of societies, which means they look important about being
responsible at work and more willing to control their leisure time. It is
possible for these two countries to make a cooperation with the same value
dimensions.

 

4.3 Behavior

In
China, individual interests or profits often subordinate the group interests or
profits. Members of the group more concerning achievements of the group than
their personal success. People show collectivistic tendencies and share
information within the group so that everyone within the group can understand
what it is exactly happening and the whole conditions of the development.
Whereas Germans regard more important on their personal achievements and needs,
members pay more attention to themselves and their immediate family than the
group. Meanwhile considered China is a high power distance country but Germany
get a lower power distance, these aspects result in different behaviors of
making decisions. If there is a business collaboration, Germans tend to discuss
in the group and make decisions together while Chinese often give the power of
decision to the boss. German individualistic and low power distance culture
show more acceptance to aggressive and direct criticized behavior while members
from China being afraid of aggressive behavior since disagreement will disrupt
the group harmony and collective state objectives. Being aware of these
different behaviors would be greatly help for the intercultural cooperation.

Another
thing needs to be mentioned is the behavior in China between ??(shóurén: Inner
people), describing the collective or group, and the ??( sh?ngrén:
Outerpeople), the unknown public. These definitions have the connection with
the ??
(gu?nxì:
Relationship) which lead a key idea to react different behaviors to different
people. In the business area, Chinese do not like to do business with a
stranger and prefer to do business with someone they know and can trust. If
German companies want to do business in China, it is unavoidable to establish
relationship( especially long time relationship) before talking on the table(.
Cooperation will be rather more relationship oriented than task oriented.

 

5.    
Conclusion

Through
these analyses, we can see Germany and China have very different cultures on
the dimensions of Power Distance, Individualism, Uncertainty Avoidance, Monochronic-Polychronic
and High context( Indirect) -Low context( Direct), but possess the similarities
on the dimensions of masculine, long-term orientation and indulgent characters
to some extent. By giving comparisons between these two countries on their
language( communication), value and behavior, recommending to be aware of the
differences behind the cultures and learn knowledge of these differences would
be significantly helpful; for the intercultural cooperation. It is complex and
confusing when learning a new culture, even sometimes shocked by some behaviors
from the intercultural gap, but give some awareness, knowledge accompanied with
tolerance and respect, it will be easier to get through the confusion and make
successful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J.,& Minkov, M. (2010):

Cultures and Organizations: Software of the
Mind. Revised and Expanded 3rd Edition. New York: McGraw Hill.

 

Hofstede-insight (ed.) (2018):

Country comparison,

Country Comparison


15.01.2018

 

Hu, Wenzhong; Grove, Colrnelius L. (1991):

Encountering the Chinese. Intercultural Press,
p.63.

 

Lin-Huber, Margrith A. (2001):

Chinese Verstehen Lernen. Verlag Hans-Huber,
p. 36.

 

Walter
Lippmann (1913):

Revolution
and Culture. New
York: Mitchell Kennerley, p.272.

 

Reisach, Ulrike, Tauber, Theresia and Yuan, Xueli (1997):

China- Wirtschaftspartner zwischen Wunsch und
Wirklichkeit. Wirtschaftsverlag Carl Ueberreuter.

 

Storti, Craig (1999):

Figuring Foreigners Out: Practical Guide,
Intercultural Press, Boston, USA, p. 91-93.

 

UK Essays (ed.) (2015):

Comparing
China And Germany’s Business Cultural Differences 23.03.2015,

https://www.ukessays.com/essays/management/contrasting-china-and-germany-cultural-differences-management-essay.php 12.01.2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

Chinese
Characters used:

Chinese
Character

Pinyin

English

??

miànz?

Face

??

gu?nxì

Relationship

??

shóurén

The own group (literally translated “hard-boiled
people”)

??

sh?ngrén

The others (literally translated “raw
people”)

 

x

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