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中国贸易成功的关键因素 key success factors for trade with China

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中国贸易成功的关键因素 key success factors for trade with China
 
Abstract 
With its large population and increasingly open approach to foreign business dealings, China has been heralded as a land of opportunity for Western business. "What are the keys to business success?" Addresses this issue by Investigating key success factors for trade with China. Presents results from a survey of New Zealand organisations trading with China. Top-ranking issues reveal a micro-business focus (e.g. negotiation strategy, business etiquette). Low-ranking issues include the need to understand advertising in China, and to have an intensive knowledge of the Chinese language. Correlations between importance and knowledge scores suggest that cultural issues are perceived as less important by those with a high degree of knowledge concerning trade relation intermediaries. Larger firms are also found to rate an understanding of negotiation strategy as more important than small firms.
 
Introduction
China, with nearly one-fifth of the world's population and one of the fastest rates of economic growth, represents a market that Western businesses can no longer ignore (Ambler 1995; Yan, 1994). In the last ten years foreign investment in China has increased from $5 million to over $400 million (Wong and Maher, 1997). In fact, the North American company General Motors, recently announced plans for a $1.3 billion manufact- uring complex in Shanghai, China ($US) to produce automobiles (CNN International, 1997). Yet despite the obvious success of a number of foreign investors, many Western business firms which have invested their capital into Chinese businesses have suffered drawbacks or even failure. This lack of success has been attributed to the application of Western business management styles to the Chinese market (e.g. Ng and Tidwell, 1995). Consequently, "no other market is considered more appetising or difficult" (Conley, 1996, p. 16).
Eastern and Western business practices differ in many ways. It has been suggested that doing business in China is like looking at a mirror image. What are considered "normal" Western business practices are conducted in an inverse way and, as if reflected in a mirror it is "often difficult to distinguish the shadows from reality" (Ambler, 1995, p. 24). Because people are used to applying their own cultural values to judge those from a different culture, cultural conflicts and misunderstandings occur regularly when business East meets business West. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the critical success factors necessary for successful business relationships in China.
 
Key success factors
Much advice is given in the literature for Western business managers who may be contemplating undertaking businessin the East. Of the factors identified as being critical to the success of Western businesses in China, most are related to one of the following topics: cultural issues, business etiquette, language proficiency, politics, Chinese history, negotiation strategy, advertising and logistics.

Cultural issues 
A variety of researchers argue that an understanding of Chinese culture is fundamental to achieving business success in China (Ambler, 1995; Hsieh, 1994; Myers, 1987; Xing, 1995; Zhao, 1991). As stated by Osland (1990, p. 4) "The single greatest barrier to business success is the one erected by culture". Yet the observation has been made that Westerners generally lack understanding of Eastern culture (Hsieh, 1994). Chinese cultural values are largely formed from interpersonal relationships and social orientations and are influenced by Confucian ethics and philosophies (cf. Yau, 1988 for an overview). For example, the Chinese tend to focus on the goals of the collective rather than individual goals. This group orientation has influenced the way commerce is structured. In urban areas, employment is based on a "work-uni" (danwei) to which each person is allocated when they graduate from school. The work group holds power over member's jobs, housing, social status, health care, marriages, family planning, children's education, retirement benefits and other areas (Osland, 1990). Chinese do not want to stand out from the crowd. Thus it has been suggested that Western business practices, such as personnel incentives, do not work (Myers, 1987). It is also important that Westerners intending to do business in China seek to gain membership into appropriate groups and do not ask individuals to act independently of the group (Engholm, 1991).

Business etiquette 
Another potential key success factor, etiquette, dictates how people of differing or similar status, relate to one another. Engholm (1991) suggests that Westerners should be aware that the non-observance of propriety in China can cause discord and discomfort, as it perceived as a threat to the collective, and this can have negative ramifications for business dealings. Hence, observing rules of business practice and protocol has been offered as a source of comparative advantage over competition who ignore them (Engholm, 1991). This means participating in traditional greeting rituals, dining and drinking etiquette, gift giving and ceremonial events (Osland, 1990). Equally, Western executives working in China should be aware that off-duty behaviour is as much a part of etiquette and protocol as being in a formal business meeting (Yau, 1988).

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