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



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 Singapore. 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 Singapore 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