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There will always be another Monday: A cross cultural study of Swedish and Chinese business perspectives (Management Project)

If you look out the window today you can observe influences from all over the world. It seems like the world has shrunken and accessibility has gotten a bigger impact. We are talking about globalization and it can be said to diminish the boarders and unite people all over and contribute to more interactions between different countries and cultures, which in turn will lead to new challenges for companies.

More companies can therefore meet in different contexts and for instance a company from Sweden where production costs are comparatively high will be attracted to markets like the Chinese because of their comparatively low production costs. The culture differences between these two nations are wide and will therefore cause implications like cultural clashes or misunderstandings. This is where our interest of the subject grew and hence our research question is:

“How can Swedes avoid incidents of a cultural descent when developing business relations with Chinese corporations?”

The main purpose of this study is to get a better comprehension on how businessmen perceive cultural differences in situations where business relationships are essential and how they avoid such incidents. In addition we have in this study divided the main purpose into three sub-purposes. These are: to gain a better understanding on how both Swedes and Chinese build relationships in business-to-business situations, to gain a better understanding of the differences in the Swedish and Chinese business culture, and to provide suggestions for Swedish entrepreneurs in becoming more aware of cultural gaps when entering the Chinese market.

Our study is based on an hermeneutic approach. We have used an qualitative research strategy where our empirics are based upon seven semi-structured interviews with businessmen today resided in Sweden but have experience from Chinese business interaction. In addition both Swedish and Chinese businessmen have been interviewed to obtain a more balanced data. The contextualization we have made is aligned towards an individual perspective.

Our theoretical frameworks consist of a wide range of theories such as: business relationships theories, relationship marketing theories, Guanxi theories, cultural theories, and culture clash theories. Based on our empirics we have been able to interlink many aspects to conclusions. These have mainly been differences in the two cultures, such as; difference in hierarchy level and how this has caused implications for Swedish businessmen. It was also showed that there are differences in approaching potential business proposals, where the Swedes tended to be direct in contrast to the Chinese who preferred a slower paste. In addition this study showed that what is referred to as Guanxi is far more linked to the Chinese culture than networking is in Sweden.

For a Swedish business man these findings can help prevent incident of diversifying range but raise awareness of other cultural aspects that needs to be considered before going to China in business purposes.
Source: Umeå University
Author: Bronell, Emma | Blom, Carl-Johan

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