Dragon Eagle’s mission is to help the best of America understand and mix well with the best of China. Our success will result in tremendous benefits for both China–the land of the Dragon–and the United States–the land of the Eagle.
China is booming as an economic power. In the last twenty years at least 75 percent of global poverty reduction has occurred in China. In the last thirty years China’s GDP has grown an average of 10 percent per year. China’s economy has become second only to the United States by 2020, the International Monetary Fund predicts that China’s economy will overtake the U.S. economy to become the world’s largest, and therefore most influential, market. China’s growing middle class now exceeds the population of the United States. To most Westerners China appears to be a vast 1.2 billion person market with a rapidly growing middle class such that even a casual business person can easily conclude that doing business in China has the potential for rich rewards. That is until they listen to many American businesses already there.
Dragon’s and Eagle’s do not readily understand each other. Home Depot CFO Carol Toméspokesperson declared, as that Company exited China in 2012 after spending six years trying to enter China’s market ““doing business in China is unusual.” Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE asserted in 2010 “I really worry about China. … I am not sure that in the end they want any of us to win, or any of us to be successful.” When Mattel’s Barbie closed its stores after two years in Shanghai, Mr. Cavender of China Market Research asserted “What it definitely says is that it is a challenging market… for foreign retailers, it is a very hard market to get correct. They either don’t change quickly enough or they are not patient enough to be successful here,”
Chinese culture and business practices are as strange and alien to the typical American business person as many might perceive of business on another planet. Yet too many American business people arrogantly assume that practices that worked in America and in American culture will work in “enlightened cultures” globally. When they fail, they blame the foreign culture when all too often the failure is a result of their inability or unwillingness to adapt to other traditions and ways of doing business. China has a grand history with Daoist and Confucian values as deeply embedded in its culture as Christian and Enlightenment values are in much of the West.
Even though China is NOT a monolithic 1.2 billion person market, when Western businesses do not succumb to an “American way or the highway” business arrogance there are great opportunities. But most, deeply immersed in American business culture, need guides to prevent them from becoming a stranger in a strange land. The complex differences and cultural subtleties required for doing business in China can be overwhelming. Those complexities are enhanced because China is also a nation in flux. One must do more than simply learn the business principles of guanxi, renqing, li and keqi to be ready to succeed in China. (A discussion of these terms will appear in our ongoing blog) Understanding these terms will tell you how to act properly, they will not necessarily tell you what decisions will work best. Nor will they teach you how to acquire information needed for business decisions in a culture where providing negative information means a loss of face. For that you will need a relatively deep understanding of Chinese cultures (Yes, there is more than one) and history. You will need to understand that translating English into Mandarin can and will change meaning potentially in both positive and negative ways and that key words, even when both parties are using English, will carry significantly different baggage for someone from China than for someone from the US.
Dragon Eagle cannot guarantee success in your cross cultural business ventures with Asia. But we can and will show you paths that can increase your chances of success and help you avoid habits that may work well in America but could doom you to failure in China. We can help you navigate cultural tensions where practices deemed questionable or even unethical in one culture are widely accepted in the other. A Chinese legal scholar once said about the difference between America and China: “In America, ‘rule of law’ is your culture. In China culture is our ‘rule of law.’” Getting it right is a balancing act that each business will need to work out for themselves. Dragon Eagle can show you the ropes, helping you to understand Chinese culture and its implications for your business.
Dragon Eagle in its blogs and other services will
Help you develop the business relationships that are fundamental to your business survival in China
Prevent you from offending your business partners and/or customers through actions and use of symbols innocuous in America but which carry negative connotations in China.
Help you read the “inscrutable” Chinese. The fact that Chinese and most Asians provide much critical information in an indirect fashion can be frustrating, but you only need to know what to look for and what to do to get information critical to doing business and developing relationships.
I hope you enjoy and learn from the Dragon Eagle blog. Please contact me, Dr. Orville R. Butler (Orville at Dragon-Eagle dot com) if you would like more in depth training or advice. We are here to help China and America better understand each other and to profit through that understanding.