One aspect of Chinese culture that I found interesting was the concept of Guanxi. The concept of Guanxi means that the personal network and contacts are ways for getting support in an uncertain, unsecured and frenzied society. Mutual exchanges are important for preserving one’s Guanxi in the Chinese culture. Through the practice of Guanxi philosophy, things can be done by purely trading personal favors instead of relying on affect and professional competence.
One similarity the U.S and China share is punctuality. For example, in American culture, more importantly the business culture, many decisions are made through a consensus which ensures that every person in that team or group agrees with the decision. Similarly, in Chinese culture, decision-making is based upon consensus too. It is a key aspect of the subtle, indirect communication that is encouraged that maintains a level of Guanxi in the workplace.
A key difference between China and America is the social hierarchy. In modern America, there is no unyielding social hierarchy that dominates any kinds of relationships. For example, addressing people who are older than you by their first name is well-accepted and in many cases, even expected. In contrast for the Chinese hierarchy is very important and it has a social structure that inevitably results in a rigid social hierarchy. Elders are not expected to be called by their first names by those younger to them, and titles or other specified terms are to be used when addressing older people.
The relationships in the American culture are very laxed. For example, with domestic relationships, parents are heavily involved with their child’s upbringing, but it isn’t expected that children take care of their parents in their old age. In American culture independence is valued and encouraged. Alternatively, the Chinese culture is very relationship-oriented. Once they are established, great care is taken to maintain them. Traditionally, children are expected to take care of their aging parents. The Chinese culture fiercely values their relationships.
Given the fact that both the Chinese and American culture have similar rules when it comes to punctuality. I am going to place much emphasizes on punctuality while in China as an Intern and for social reasons. In general, I am very consistent with being punctual but while interning in Beijing I will be extremely cautious because I would not want to devalue my level of Guanxi in the eyes of the Chinese.