Hong Kong is Chinese and, therefore, basically Confucian in its thinking.
Many years of colonial presence have undoubtedly influenced local ideas, but centuries old beliefs such as respect for age and seniority run very deep. Therefore, managers in Hong Kong would expect to adopt a fairly paternalistic attitude to subordinates. Instructions are given and the manager expects them to be carried out without too much debate. The entrepreneurial nature of many of the local firms means that decision-making is centralised, fast and flexible – which contrasts with the more measured approach of multi-national companies.
It can be very difficult for employees to carry bad news to their manager, which may have a severely limiting effect on the amount of information a manager has to base any decisions upon. This can result in crucial information being withheld at the vital time with inevitable negative effects accruing. (If basing your decisions on information supplied from Hong Kong, double check to ensure that all available information has actually been supplied.)
Respect will be shown to the manager simply because he or she has that position. It is the position itself which imbues an automatic right for respect. Therefore, one should show respect to the appropriate person as this makes you seem an honourable person and will stand you in good stead in the future.
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: