Singaporean Management Style

As befits a hierarchical structure, managers tend to be older which in itself lends them an air of authority.

As in the rest of Asia, age still implies wisdom and people will be more comfortable dealing with an older manager than a young whizz-kid. Managers delegate decisions to their teams and expect the decisions to be overtly respected. This does not mean, however, that the rationale behind the decision is never debated – it is merely that any dissension is likely to be aired in a more private manner than in the full plenum of an open meeting. (This, again, may not hold true when dealing into a Singapore-based MNC.)

As in all basically Confucian business cultures, the manager expects to be respected and obeyed and in return for loyalty and dedication to the cause will show a much more holistic interest in the well being of his team. This includes an almost paternal regard for many aspects of a subordinates life. The manager’s relationship with the team does not necessarily finish at the end of the working day.

Outside family ties, promotion will be based on merit and performance criteria rather than connections. The performance criteria may, however, differ from those in the West and top of the list may be the ability to create a harmonious team in which people feel at ease.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Singapore is often seen as a stepping stone into Asia. Singapore is a successful Asian city state which has seemingly managed to marry the best of western influences whilst maintaining a thoroughly Asian feel. Is it any wonder that so many global organisations choose Singapore as their pan-Asia base, seeing it as a perfect blend of geography, economic prosperity and political stability?

The city certainly punches above its weight in terms of economic success, educational achievement and the high standards of living which are almost universally enjoyed. Singapore’s economic miracle has been much documented over the years. The foundations laid during the formative years of Lee Kwan Yew’s tenure as Prime Minister have served well over the decades and managed to keep Singapore right at the top of the global success tables.

If you are looking to do business in Asia, it is difficult to ignore the appeal of Singapore – not just as a base to explore the rest of the region but also as an attractive market. Singapore is a consumer paradise with millions of affluent consumers eager to purchase the best that the world has to offer.

Doing business in Singapore could be very good for you but it is important to take on board local cultural norms and expectations about how business should be conducted. Don’t be fooled by the veneer of westernisation you are likely to encounter when you arrive – the thought processes driving business decisions are decidedly Asian. Don’t assume that the highly cosmopolitan business contacts you meet will automatically understand your approach because such assumptions might well jeopardise an otherwise lucrative relationship.

This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of Singapore 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