Management styles in China

Written by Tamara Hagethorn, Nikola Milošević, Jessica Blo January 2014. Posted in Leadership, Int. Skills

Management styles in China

China is a largely collectivistic culture where the interests of the group are more important than that of the individual. As a result, decision making may take a long time. According to Frank T. Gallo (2008), decisions are made through group consensus. Chinese tend to wait things out and make a decision that is best for the group. This could be interpreted as indecisive from a Westerner’s perspective.
The management style is authoritarian, which means that the rules will be explained and preserved with respect. The boss is the boss even outside the work place. The manager or boss is responsible for his/her subordinates which can be compared to the role of a parent. Subordinates respect the authority of the boss and will not question or contradict a person in a higher position. According to Santalco (2010), Chinese managers have few main tasks. Chinese managers are result driven. Consequently longer deadlines are set in order to achieve perfection. For example, during the execution of projects, it is more important to focus on the final result than on time or efficiency. Furthermore, family corporations form the cornerstone of the Chinese economy. Relationship management and building Guanxi based on mutual trust and motivation is of the essence. Hofstede (2013) describes China as a ‘diffuse’ culture, which means there is a thin line between work and private life. Leisure time will often be sacrificed to spend time with the boss. In contrast to most Western countries, feedback is given in an indirect way by managers in order to avoid loss of face. Employees are motivated through internal factors such as acknowledgement by the manager, but external factors are not unimportant. It is important that managers acknowledge their employee’s achievements and show their care for subordinates.

Hierarchy
Hierarchy is very important in Chinese business and society in general. There is a large distance between the boss and subordinates. Apart from the formal hierarchy, one’s position and status is further determined by factors such as age, gender and education.