Background to Business in Taiwan

Taiwan is one of the world’s great economic success stories, having been created from scratch after about 2 million Chinese nationalists fled from the mainland, escaping the clutches of the victorious communist forces.

Virtually devoid of its own natural resources, Taiwan is a highly successful value-add economy, which is heavily dependent on foreign trade for survival. Taiwan’s success can, in no small measure, be attributed to the natural business gifts and hard-working ethos of the mainly ethnic Chinese population.

Like other countries in the region, Taiwanese attitudes in the business arena can be traced back over the centuries to the influence of the Confucian philosophies of obedience, hard work and respect for education. These ideals run through Taiwanese thought processes like a river. However, do not arrive in Taiwan expecting a relaxed approach to business. The will to succeed is all-consuming and loyalties to the group (mainly the family) produce a cut-throat level of inter-group competition where only the strong survive.

Taiwan is a place of ambiguity where traditional Confucian values compete with rampant capitalism and opportunism, where relationships are all-important and yet where negotiations can often stick on the smallest of points.

Before embarking on any venture in Taiwan make sure that all the homework is done – and that includes getting a handle on how the business culture operates.

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

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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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 Taiwan. 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 Taiwan 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