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.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

Free Download


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:

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