Flexibility Vs. Structure

At Asia-Pacific Management Consulting, it is very evident to see the differences between the working cultures of firms in China and in the United States. One real difference that I have experienced during the internship is that there are not any set deadlines for completing projects in the Chinese work culture. I have also noticed that you have the freedom to do your assigned tasks in the manner that bests suits your work style. As long as the final product is a quality piece of work, then the amount of time needed to complete the task is negligible unless the task is extremely urgent. Also, I noticed that in Chinese work culture the more tasks you are able to complete effectively and efficiently indicates to your superior that you are ready to handle even more responsibility. For example, in the beginning of the internship we were told to conduct extensive research on the companies that were located in the two Landmark Towers of the German Centre to see which ones could be potential clients and those who can be considered competitors. This was the only task we were working on for about a week and a half because of the extensive amount of work and the importance of potentially acquiring new clients to expand the business in Northern China. However, once our supervisor was satisfied with the presentation of our research, he went ahead and assigned Caro and I a lot of smaller tasks in different departments such as HR and Marketing to be done simultaneously. Our supervisor believed that we can produce quality work and that we had the capability of handling more. In the United States, the working culture is very structured and role-based. You are given the tasks related to your role in the company and you must complete them by a certain deadline and in a specific manner.

After being in this internship for over a month now, I realize that the work style that suits me best is that of flexibility and the ability to use your own creative ideas to get the job done. I firmly believe that having the ability and freedom to complete your tasks in the way best suited for yourself and for the business will lead to higher quality work instead of producing mediocre work just to complete a deadline. My approach has not really changed as a result of the work environment. The environment I am currently in gives me the flexibility to complete the tasks for the company in the way I want to, but also the ability to interact with my co-workers frequently whether it is about determining who is the best candidate for a position in the company or what sandwich we are going to order online from Subway.

By understanding the differences between the two cultures and having adapted my work style accordingly, I feel I can gain the trust of people in foreign markets, avoid offending potential clients and grow the company’s business. I look forward to using this knowledge in my future career. Until then, back to work!


-Jonathan Nassar

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