Once again, meeting etiquette will differ radically depending on the type of company being dealt with.
Meetings with the larger Hong Kong multi-nationals or with local offices of other multi-nationals are likely to follow a fairly standard meeting style with agendas, minutes etc. On the other hand, meetings conducted with the smaller entrepreneurial type organisations could be much more informal in nature with a fairly relaxed approach being taken.
However, certain characteristics are likely to be constant regardless of the background of the people being met. Thus, it is always important to show the correct level of respect for the key player, which could include standing as they enter the room or offering them the seat of honour around the table. Try to address issues through the senior person – even if he or she is not the best English speaker. It is very easy to become seduced into addressing only a junior member of a Hong Kong delegation simply because they speak good English (or whatever the language of the meeting might be.)
Discussions are likely to be diplomatic and polite but when things are becoming difficult, there is the possibility of raised emotions and voices (unlike in a country such as Japan.) Try to remain calm and in control at all times. Harmony is still the ideal in Hong Kong even if the pursuit of money can sometimes make it difficult to attain!
As in other Chinese cultures gift giving is endemic. The giving and receiving of gifts are viewed as an element in the ritual of business relationship development. Although relationships may be less important in Hong Kong than on the mainland or in Taiwan, much benefit can accrue from cultivating the right people.
It is not necessary to give expensive gifts – it is the gift-giving which is important. Gifts should be wrapped and are often refused two or three times before being accepted. They are rarely opened in front of the giver.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
Hong Kong is seen by many people as the gateway to mainland China – a stepping stone to the riches promised by the potential of the People’s Republic. Combine this view with Hong Kong’s inherent historical strength as an international trading hotspot and you can start to understand why Hong Kong punches well above its weight.
Hong Kong is a bustling cosmopolitan city state where East meets West and expats from all over the world mingle with locals and visitors from mainland China. Hong Kong island is home to the regional headquarters of hundreds of global companies who see Hong Kong’s unique geographical and economic position as an ideal hub from which to control their Asian operations.
Any company looking at expanding its Asia footprint is likely to find itself evaluating the benefits of starting a permanent establishment in the territory but Hong Kong should be seen as more than just a hub destination – Hong Kong also represents an attractive market in itself. With an affluent, well-educated population of savvy consumers you should also consider doing business in Hong Kong as an opportunity to sell your products and services.
However, this dynamic bustling market presents certain challenges for business people who are looking to do business in the country and top of these challenges is gaining an understanding of the complex local business culture. Are you dealing with a local Hong Kong partner, a Western expat or someone from the People’s Republic of China? If you are dealing with a local Hong Kong contact were they educated in Hong Kong or abroad – (this might affect the way they do business)? It is definitely worth taking some time out to explore some of the key business culture issues you might encounter on the island.
This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Hong Kong business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on: