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.
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This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Hong Kong only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.