Hong Kong Business Structures

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.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Hong Kong

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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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:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips