Should Southern European Marketeers Move to China?

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by: Alain Thys 

I had a very interesting debate last night with the CEO of the Greater China chapter of the American Management Association on the cultural differences between Chinese and Europeans and how this applies to executives who want to do business here.

In this he recounted from the experiences in one of the more successful training programmes they run in Shanghai and Hong Kong on "intercultural communication". What was very striking to me was that none of the big issues he mentioned were "new" to me.

Not because I'm such a wise man of the world, yet more because the issues which business people – read mainly Anglo-Saxons – face in China are extremely similar to the ones they, and their nordic counterparts face when moving into Southern Europe, in which I define anything south of Brussels as Southern Europe).

"Yes" doesn't always mean "yes", if something is "normally" or "in principle" OK, it isn't necessarily so in practice and there is a bit more of a nuanced/balanced, even hesitant attitude to new initiatives. This offers in my opinion a great competitive edge – to which my dinner companion agreed – for marketeers from countries like Belgium, France, Italy, South Germany, … who have been brought up with this working enviromnent as they will be able to much quicker to work with the local Chinese counterparts and thus achieve results.

So, if you're a marketer in this category and are worried about your business being outsourced from right under you, it may be wortwhile to just pack your bags and go East. It is really happening over here.

Posted from Hong Kong.

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