Cross Cultural Issues Between China and Usa
Tourism and hospitality industry is a large industry where cross cultural incidents are always an issue.A comparative study between Chinese and American culture will be made in social and business context followed by a theoretical approach using cultural dimensions to explain the differences among the cultures.The results will be used to suggest and recommend methods to overcome cultural conflicts and tensions Contents 1.
0Background2 2. 0Introduction3 3. 0Cultural awareness for tourism and hospitality4 4. 0 Background on China and United States of America6 5. Difference in social behaviour: Chinese and American Culture7 6. 0Difference in business behaviour: Chinese and American Culture10 7. 0Impacts on tourism and hospitality industry12 8. 0Conclusion13 References14 1. 0 Background The evolution of mankind since prehistoric ages has led to the diversity of people and how people live their lives in the 21st century. The existence of different human race and different environment is the reason why people are so different from one another. Their external environments mould them into what they have become as of today.
The ongoing development and recollection of customs which a community conditions themselves into their lives and passing on to the next generation is culture. Culture is whereby a community, regardless of its size shares a way of life where they are associated together with common and distinctive characteristics, beliefs and activities (THE 101 PowerPoint Lecture 2 2011). On the other hand, Hofstede defined culture as the “collective mental programming of the human spirit that allows us to distinguish the members of one category in comparison with the members of another category” (Hofstede 2011).
The basic element which makes up culture are such as history, religion, values, social organizations and language (Samovar, Porter & McDaniel 2008). The mentioned elements are portrayed by means of language, food, buildings, houses, monuments, agriculture, shrines, market, fashions and art (Trompenaars 1997) The presence of massive amount of different culture suggests for the need of the study of cross cultural communications in order to understand and overcome cultural differences.
The socialization of people is different and their perceptions are not necessarily in synch, therefore it is inevitable that there will be misinterpretation of other’s culture and behaviour (Cushner & Brislin 1996). With the developments of new technology and information systems, the evolving populations and the rapid movement toward a global economy, “no nation, group, or culture can remain aloof or autonomous. ” (Samovar, Porter & McDaniel 2008). 2. Introduction The tourism and hospitality industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and is expanding rapidly. The nature of this industry is considered to be one of the industries that has a direct relationship with cross cultural issues. This is because tourism and hospitality business involves the interaction of variety of people from different background where incidents of culture shock or misinterpretation of behaviours will happen.
Cross cultural issue is an incident where two or more people of different culture meet, interact and results in a conflict of a certain degree. In order to avoid, resolve or improve the conflict, once has to anticipate and adapt to cultural differences by understanding them. Only then, it would be profitable to the whole business and reputation of a certain establishment. The world’s economic power house: China and United States of America. The mentioned countries are two of the most influential nations which have the ability to change the world.
China has a very distinctive culture as they are one of the oldest civilisations compared to USA which is one of the youngest civilizations which promotes multiculturalism. China and USA were chosen as the main subject of discussion. Tourism and Hospitality industry is phenomenal in these two countries and it is interesting to have an insight on how people from both countries work hand in hand to seal a deal or complete a task despite their uncertain perceptions on each other. Social behaviour and business tiquettes between Chinese and Americans are very different and often will offend each other. The cultural dimensions of Hofstede and Trompenaars will be applied to evaluate the cultural difference between Chinese and Americans in later part of the discussion. These theories allow managers or relevant users to identify and rectify the problems that might have arisen due to a cultural clash. 3. 0Cultural awareness for tourism and hospitality The tourism and hospitality industry is expected to have a rise of 4. 2% in GDP per year which is estimated to reach US$9. trillion by 2021. On top of that, statistics shows that “10% of the worker on the planet will be employed in Travel & Tourism and related sectors” (WTTC 2011 cited in LesRoches 2011). The world is ever-changing and globalization is taking place. Globalization is a worldwide integration and development of nations whereby all nations share a certain element in common. For instance, English is the most widely used language in the world where English is actually not the mother tongue for more than half of the world’s population.
Nations are working together to produce a better tomorrow. However, it is also debated that globalization has led to the loss of individual cultural identities. Giles & Middleton (2008:149) state that global tourism is not only about the economics of a worldwide industry but it involves “us in issues of identity and difference, representation, ‘heritage’ and history, and the transformation of geographical places into meaningful places.
Tourism and hospitality industry as mentioned earlier on has direct contact with people from other cultures and they can be described as ‘crucial encounters” because the effectiveness of engagement and interaction between two cultures could determine whether the industry is going to be successful or not (Fitzgerald 2002). Therefore, the understanding of cultural difference is important in this aspect. Tourism and hospitality industry employed its human resources from all over the world to cater to the demand of answering the questions of cross cultural issues and cultural diversity.
This phenomenon is most evident in international chains of luxury hotels where the workforce consists of a diverse population of people. For instance, majority of the guest relations officers in five star hotels are from different countries. This is to allow foreign guests to feel more comfortable and at ease because they are meeting someone of the same culture and speak the same language and is someone whom they can rely on during their stay. This greatly reduces the guest’s feeling of anxiety and distress while visiting a place that is foreign to them.
This is especially true for Chinese and Japanese people where they took pride in their language and barely speaks a second language. From making a room reservation in Finland from India to flying across the globe from Chile to Africa, the industry is constantly bombarded by inquiries of different nature from each and every corner of the world. This raises the challenges of managing cultural diversity; internally and externally. The industry itself has a culturally diverse workforce which is employed to serve culturally diverse customers.
In order to effectively manage cultural diversity, it is a demanding task for managers within the industry. It is a life-long learning process for an individual to negotiate his way through the complexity of cultural diversity in the world of work, community and in global contexts (Devine, Baum & Hearns 2009). Therefore it is imperative that the industry need to address to the need of understanding and learning the importance of cultural differences in everyday needs.
People who are involved in the tourism and hospitality industry need to be able to access to resources such as academic materials or formal/informal training which allow them to widen their perceptions of the relationship between social and cultural theory “(cultural difference, ethnicity, nationalism, cultural identity, cultural taboos, cultural shock, cultures colliding, equality and diversity)” and uses the theory and effectively apply to practice (Devine, Baum & Hearns 2009). 4. 0 Background on China and United States of America
China or known as People’s Republic of China is a huge nation located in mid Asia with a staggering population of 1. 2 billion which accounts for 20% of the earth’s population (Fitzgerald, 2002). China is divided into twenty two provinces, five autonomous regions, three municipalities and Beijing as the capital city (Morrison & Conaway 2006). The predominant religion is Buddhism and language spoken is Mandarin. United States of America is federal democratic republic that has an approximate population of 260 million. It is divided into forty eight contiguous states with Washington D.
C as its capital. The people in China referred as Chinese and Americans the case of United States of America. Both countries boast a rich history and cultural background that led to their success at present. China and USA shares a unique symbiotic relationship where the factors which affect this relationship are economic, strategic, diplomatic and cultural elements (Zhu 2002). There has been a dilemma regarding USA regard China as its partner or enemy. Chinese culture has been evolving until present since 4000 years ago as recorded in history of mankind.
Undoubtedly, it shows that Chinese culture is very distinctive and unique compared to the American culture. American culture has more diversity in terms of its culture or in another word, multiculturalism. The population in United States of America is a melting pot of various ethnic groups with large minority of Asians, Afro-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans . There is no mainstream culture that dominates USA but it is a lot similar to the other English speaking dominant countries (Fitzgerald, 2002). 5. Difference in social behaviour: Chinese and American Culture In general, the initial thought of an individual when it comes to Chinese food culture is probably going to be the consumption of dog meat which is considered to be a barbaric act according to a lot of cultures. On the other hand, when it comes to American culture, the initial thought would pretty much be fast food and obesity. In terms of general behaviour, Chinese are generally considered to be loud, rude and impatient and on the opposite aspect, an American behaves suavely and politely.
Hooker argued that according to a westerner, India on the upfront looks alien but within the culture, it has a considerable amount of cultural ties with western culture. On the other hand, China may seem to be quite similar on the upfront, but he found out that the Chinese culture is alien to him (Hooker, 2003). The culture in United States of America can be classified as western culture where it focuses on internalized universalizing rationality. Meanwhile, in Chinese culture, the Confucian culture is predominantly instilled within the Chinese (Hooker, 2003).
Confucianism is a philosophy which was developed by famous Chinese scholar named Confucius 2,000 years ago. He developed a rigid ethical and moral system that governs all relationships and emphasised that family is the basic unit of a society city (Morrison & Conaway 2006). The Chinese culture also put a lot of emphasis on filial piety which is the utmost care and attention dedicated to one’s parents regardless of any circumstances. Moreover, they pay a significant attention towards their extended families.
In USA, where the ideals are concentrated on Puritanism, liberalism, individualism and republicanism, they put less emphasis on the family while concentrating more on individual developments and rights. From this difference, the cultural dimensions formulated by Professor Hofstede which states the differences is the notion of individualism versus collectivism. LEGENDS PDI: Power Distance IDV: Individualism MAS: Masculinity UAI: Uncertainty Avoidance LTO: Long term orientation LEGENDS PDI: Power Distance IDV: Individualism MAS: Masculinity UAI: Uncertainty Avoidance
LTO: Long term orientation Figure 1 Difference in cultural dimensions between China and United States of America (ITIM 2009) Figure 1 Difference in cultural dimensions between China and United States of America (ITIM 2009) The model above shows the level of individualism of both countries. It is evident that there is a huge gap between USA and China which indeed proves that the general assumptions of the cultures and the scientific research coincide with each other. In an individualistic society (USA), people tend to take more interest in individualistic matters compared to a group.
China has a high low score in individualism as they considered themselves to be collectivist, focusing on group activities and cherish social ties. Trompenaars’ culture dimensions of individualism versus communitarianism can also be used to explain the difference in social behaviour. Therefore children tend to depend on their parents more even until adulthood. Even when a child grew up to become an adult and is making contribution to the society, he or she will still remain faithful to the parents.
In American culture, a person over the age of 18 is seen as an adult and is expected to be able to release from their parents and fend for themselves. Another social behaviour that is worth to look at is the short term orientation and the long term orientation. Culture that exhibits long term orientation tends to be oriented towards the future. As seen from the model above, China is clearly a country with high score for dimensions of long-term orientation compared to USA. This means that in general, Chinese people think more into the future than Americans do.
For example, Chinese people favour large savings and money for investments as they feel secure if they have it. They do not see leisure time as important as Americans did where younger Americans or working Americas focuses on going to parties and spent what they earned to enjoy life as much as they can which is different from the Chinese culture. Therefore, if an American would like to invite a Chinese to a party, a typical Chinese may have to consider. “Do I have to go? Should I spend the money on more useful items instead of parties? Even though the model does not show a big difference in terms of masculinity and femininity, the Chinese mind still favours male over female. In the history of Chinese culture, male is regarded as more superior to female in the past where it has change dramatically after the government structure changes into a republican constitution. Even though women are purported to have the same status as men but in terms of economic and social inequalities, women are still at a disadvantage.
This phenomenon could be easily identified in the case of favouritism of a baby boy rather than a girl when giving birth. This is mainly due to the ‘one child policy’ adopted by the Chinese government to prevent the country from being over-populated (Morrison & Conaway 2006). 6. 0Difference in business behaviour: Chinese and American Culture China and United States of America is the economic powerhouse of the world. Both countries have been cooperating with each other ever since the world war ended.
At present, USA has huge debt to China that creates a weird tension between both countries. However, they have constantly and mutually helped each other at difficult times. When it comes to business term, both cultures stand at very different position. Hofstede’s cultural dimension on power distance is the degree of accepting the fact that power is distributed unequally. The model suggests that power distance in China is much higher compared to USA. Hierarchy in China is seen as a normal phenomenon where age and titles are very well respected.
An American company representative will have to acknowledge this aspect if he wants to seal a deal with a Chinese company. Given that American culture focuses on equality, and they may have been used to the business culture back in the states where opinions and disagreement could be expressed to superiors, it will be very wrong to do the same to a typical Chinese as they regard it as intrusion of power, Trompenaars’ theory of specific versus diffuse can also be used to explain the difference in the business setting between a Chinese and American.
In a specific oriented culture, the “work relationship is insulated from other dealings. ” (THE101 PowerPoint Lecture 7 2011). This means that in an organisation or business dealing, work and private life relationships are distinctively separated from each other. This will create a fair working environment where bias and prejudice are eliminated to the minimum. This is true in the business culture of an American. In Chinese culture, a subordinate may have developed a special relationship with their superior. The superior may have a significant status to the subordinate.
This is known as a diffuse culture and China is part of it. “Guan Xi” is regarded as very important in Chinese culture. “Guan Xi” literally means relationships. In another term, it is networking. Often, Chinese try their best to network as much as possible with potential clients or bosses in order to secure a benefit in the future such as a better position in working environment or favouritism. This ideal may seemed far-fetched to USA which emphasised on equal opportunities of work, but in Chinese culture it is regarded as normal and essential.
Negotiation is an important part of a business deal. In order for an American to partner together for a business purpose, there is a need to understand a general business practice from both culture perspectives to attain a win-win situation. Business deal is done very quickly and do not need many meetings to agree on a deal. These are mostly done prior to the meeting and one can expect an American to bring the final contract to the first meeting. In the case of a Chinese, it is completely different. Chinese will drag negotiations until the very end to gain an advantage.
Chinese are very careful when it comes to business matters and they expect to establish a positive relationship between themselves (Morrison & Conaway 2006). Trompenaars investigated into cultural dimensions of sequential versus synchronic. In a sequential oriented society, schedule of a person is very tight, regard time as money and is very systematic. In the scenario of negotiation, a typical American business man is most like to desire a quick negotiation as they are often impatient. On the contrary, Chinese is synchronic oriented where they value time less tends to negotiate slowly as their notion is “slow and steady wins the race”.
Hierarchy is respected in the Chinese culture. In a business context, it is normal to expect to make business presentations to many different groups at different levels. As mentioned earlier in the model of Hofstede’s cultural dimentions, the power distance in China is far greater than USA and explains this particular situation. 7. 0Impacts on tourism and hospitality industry Notable international American hotel chains such as Marriott, Ritz Carlton, and Accor have numerous properties around the world and especially in China.
However, with such a big portfolio of hotels how do the companies manage the impacts of cultural diversity within their establishments? The companies have actually developed their own culture where employees of the company are expected to honour it. They are such as the philosophy and mission statement of a company. For example, one of the manifesto of Shangri-la Hotels for their employee is “We are family”. This suggests to the employee that all members of Shangri-la are treated as family and there is no segregation of rights which is related to Hofstede’s power distance.
The development of company culture is an effective method in addressing cross cultural issues within the workforce. American tourism and hospitality companies have a lot of expansion projects going on in China as china is becoming the superpower of the 21st century. The cultural difference between Chinese culture and American culture is huge. In order for American companies to sustain in the Chinese market, the American companies will not be able to complete infused the typical American culture into establishment in China. Both parties will have to find a solution that they agree to each other.
In the context of an American who is on a business trip to China, if the relevant employees know a lot about American culture, he will: * Make sure everything (room, transportation and etc. ) has been prepared for him before arrival as Americans are always in a hurry and want to accomplish task as soon and as effective as possible. (sequential versus synchronic) * Make sure a range of technological products are readily available to them if they need it. (General business practices of an American) 8. 0Conclusion Culture has been changing and evolving with the flow of time.
Understanding cultural difference is crucial in the 21st century when doing business or socialising with people. Humans are conditioned to their own culture for too long and may be subjected to culture shock when they are bombarded by abnormal cultures not of their own. The growth of the tourism and hospitality industry is evident and relevant agencies working in this industry will have to learn and understand cultural differences to contribute to a better industry. The culture of China and United States of America are very different.
In social context, the Chinese culture differs very greatly from Americans in terms of its power distance, short and long term orientation and individualism according to Hofstede’s theories of cultural dimensions. In business context, the difference in between the two culture are more accessed by Trompernaars’s theories of specific versus diffuse and sequential versus synchronic. The cross cultural issue between Chinese and Americans has an impact towards the tourism and hospitality industry whereby both parties will have to compromise with each other to