As has been mentioned, several approaches to business structure can be found in Hong Kong.
Most large multi-national organisations either headquartered in Hong Kong or with a regional presence in the territory, would exhibit a managed approach which would probably reflect structures endemic in the organisations’ home country. The Hong Kong Chinese managers would bring a unique flavour to the country office and differences might be felt by the visiting foreign businessperson, but many years of colonial history have left an indelible mark on these operations.
The most significant cultural differences will, however, be felt when dealing with the plethora of small and medium-sized indigenous Hong Kong Chinese companies who, together, make the territory such a unique business experience. These companies are almost always founded by a Chinese family and then remain under the control of that family – even if the company is eventually floated. As family-run enterprises, decision-making tends to be highly centralised with the head of the family making all but the most minor of decisions. This allows these organisations to change policy quickly, as and when required, (in contrast to certain other Asian cultures where decision-making is notoriously slow.) Such centralisation of power can also have its downsides. It is very common, for example, that non-family members, who see no chance of ever reaching the top, leave the organisation to set up rival companies.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Hong Kong. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Hong Kong and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: