Focus on Hierarchy

Chinese Approach

Chinese companies are very hierarchical. The hierarchy is both business and political. Management makes decisions. Once made, decisions are executed. The goal is to persuade management.

However, Chinese management listens to the working level. Especially on important decisions. And management takes that input seriously. In such cases, the goal is to persuade working level, too.

American Approach

American companies are also hierarchical. The hierarchy is business only. The state is not involved. Once a decision is made the working level accepts and executes. The goal is to persuade management.

However, American management is more group than individual. It consists of leadership and subject area experts. And the working level can influence management to revise decisions.

Chinese View

The American approach appears to be similar to the Chinese. Management in the end has the final word. Their decisions are accepted and executed with discipline. But, it is difficult for Chinese to identify who to persuade. Who in leadership, among subject area experts, at working levels?

American View

The Chinese approach is not similar to the American approach. Chinese companies are far more hierarchy-driven. The degree of state-influence is difficult to judge. Input from the working levels is not fully transparent. It is difficult to understand who is influencing whom, when and how.

Advice to Americans

It not always enough to get management buy-in. Also persuade key people in the organization. But, inform management when communicating with working levels. Chinese management does not like surprises.

Advice to Chinese

Our logics are similar, but not the same. Focus on the key decision-makers in management. Yes, gain acceptance among subject area experts. But, do not try to win them as allies against management.

Next: Gain peers as allies
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