China’s change in attitude towards business over generations.

It has recently come to my attention that the characteristics of a Chinese businessman has changed drastically over the past few generations. This is in large due to the fact that the Chinese working economy is on a vast upward spiral to becoming one of the most plentiful in the world. In turn, there must follow a new strict set of regimented rules and regulations in order to deal with the increasing demand for products ‘made in China’. We tend to find that nowadays the new chinese businessman is more individualistic and more likely to act independently, while taking risks in the pursuit of profits. However, these new businessmen are likewise, not disregarding their Confucian values (the belief that human beings are teachable, improvable and perfectible through personal and communal endeavor especially including self-cultivation and self-creation). Thus, they may be seen as combining their Eastern and Western influences, while on the road to modernisation.

Even though China’s global marketplace is growing rapidly. It is important that we outline the profile of a new Chinese businessmen today, so we can access the improvements made over the past few generations. In order to develop this profile, we need to:

“focus on the individualism, collectivism and confucianism aspects of Chinese values.” (Boisot &Child, 1996)

The importance of these three aspects of Chinese societal values, as well as being the signal of the paradox that occurs when the shift to modernisation conflicts with maintaining traditional Chinese values, has been pointed out by, Bond 1991; Ralston, Yu, Wang, Terpstra & He, 1996; Redding, 1990 and Yang 1988). Age, or indeed generation is definitely the predicting independent variable. However, after years of research into China’s history, we can determine a number of other different factors that may also affect individual values in China, such as; gender, education, geographic region or origin, position level, company size, industry and geographic region on employment. (Child & Stewart, 1997; James 1989). Subsequently, we must include these factors as possible control variables in the research findings and analysis of generationsal changes in Chinese business values.

Moreover, as the relationship between the United Kingdom and China grows. It has become imperative for the Western business people, who look to develop their working relationships with Chinese counterparts, to understand the key factors highlighted earlier, gender, education etc. This in turn will help us strengthen our economy whilst aiding China on its journey to economic success. I order to fully understand how business takes place in China. One needs to learn about culture differences within each generation (Schneider & Barsoux, 1997). Thus, we have to value the differences between these generations, the most important, being the societal objectives (Inglehart & Carballa, 1997; Terpstra, 1978). There is no country in the world that has had to adapt their societal chnages as much as China since the Qing Dynasty. Many of these changes were made in such a way that they can easily be tweaked in order to fit the beliefs and attitudes of people at the time.

Furthermore, Confucianism was rife during the Republican Era (1911-1948), and western influence was high in commercial areas such as Shanghai. When the consolidation Era came around in 1949 to 1965, this influence was rapidly evaporated due to the violent nature aimed towards educated citizens. This was an attempt by Maoist/Leninist communist doctrine to suppress all of China’s Confucian values. During this period, everything western was disintegrated. The following Great Cultural Revolution Era of 1966-1976 only exacerbated the situation that arose during the Communist Consolidation. The era that China finds itself in today (the social reform era 1977- present), initiated by Deng Xiaoping, saw a great rise in the acceptance of the traditional Confucian values that are an integral part of China’s demeanor and well-being. In the past few years, China has managed to rebuild its bridges within the west:

“‘The essence of the evolution from the previous two periods under Mao’s work for the good society’ philosophy can be captured by Deng’s (1984 p172) acknowledgment that a ‘few flies’ ( i.e western influence) would likely come through the open door, in the new and pragmatic, “to be rich is glorious” plan to modernize China by the early twenty-first century.”

In short, work hard and earn lots of money so that you can live an affluent life with less worry. This school of though has only surfaced in recent years because the opportunity to become successful in business in China has widened. However, I have to wonder, if this glorified version of a modernised life in China is too great to be true. China has gained enormous economic success , but will they be able to sustain this rate of success in the years to come? This is the underlying worry. How long can such great success exist? Well for now China can only go on to do greater things, and with the UK on it’s side, it will be very interesting to see where they are in the next twenty odd years. It is certainly food for thought.


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