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  • Gordon Dumoulin

How would you have dealt with this ? cross-cultural perceptions...


Came across this image in our nearby park this week.


The local government is upgrading the park this winter and several areas under construction are fenced with walls.


How the workers dealt with the tree branches and the fence is a great example of Chinese culture in context.


The Chinese market is not just a huge expansion of your market and customer potential by simply enlarging your sales force. On the contrary, doing business in China successfully, even ‘only’ by e-commerce sales or with a distributor or agent is like setting up a new company, developing a new 'product' (even your product is physically the same). It is not just a new business branch but planting a new tree. When aside each other benefiting each other in cultivation and nutrition.

Engagement and adaptation are two prime requirements for business success in China. China is based on a strong communitarian culture, top-down but even stronger bottom-up. Doing business in China means the necessity of engagement with not only your target market but also with society and governance, being part of the community.

Adaptation is a core trait in Chinese behaviour based on the deep-rooted concepts of balance and change in Chinese culture. Any circumstance or moment in time is considered a complex balance of different factors; negative and positive, good and bad and black and white with countless grey shades in between.

While in more universalist cultures or particularist societies, people have a tendency of controlling or improving ‘their’ balance by increasing or optimizing the good while eliminating or opposing the bad. This comes back in business culture such as the urge for perfection in specific product or business processes or the importance of risk control management.

In Chinese communitarian culture, the constantly changing balance is more perceived as a ‘natural being’ out there, unable to control for its diverse complexity.


Seizing and optimizing the moment is a strong signal from this cultural perception, a trait clearly seen in business.

Though seizing moments are strongly ‘regulated’ within the cultural and social community framework of long term and broader, general ambitions and conditions. Adaptation is necessary as new moments create new circumstances along with consensus and resilience playing vital roles.

Engagement and adaptation are not only for a glimpse of understanding why Chinese businesses, people and governance are doing what they are doing. Adaptation is an almost daily necessary condition for doing business in China.


Working on today’s perception of perfection might often not be perfect anymore tomorrow.

Are you ready for #China2023 ?

#china #chineseculture #chinabusiness #chinesesociety #crosscultural #chinamarket #chinesemarket

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