Chats from China: Cross Cultural Questions

China is home to over half a million foreigners, many of whom are here for business. Multinational corporations doing business in China, as well as Chinese companies who are going global, all face questions regarding talent within a multicultural setting.

As a Hogan representative in China, I frequently field questions about personality in a multicultural context. Business people are interested in understanding the differences between Western and Chinese management styles from a personality perspective, and how they can use the information to create smoother and more effective onboarding programs. They want to know how cultural values affect company culture, and how these findings can help them hire the most appropriate people for the company.

Our decades of research into personality assessment show personality is actually the greatest job opportunity equalizer. Regardless of cultural background, nationality, or ethnicity, people all over the world show similar measurable facets of personality. This evidence can be used to predict performance in an unbiased way, and to develop individuals, leaders, and teams within a company – even a multinational company with employees from all across the globe.

Leadership emergence, according to Hogan research on companies operating in mainland China, does take on special characteristics within the context of a local culture. Research found that within their day to day personality, leaders in China tend to be more consensus driven and detail orientated than their counterparts from traditional Western cultures. Under stress and pressure, they tend to be more moody and emotionally volatile, seen as more overconfident and arrogant as well as having more of a “kiss-up, kick-down” style of leadership when compared to Western counterparts, but seen as less reserved and more open to communication under stress and pressure. Finally, leaders from China may be seen as caring more about helping their colleagues and team, having more focus on the appearance and feel of products or their environment, and wanting more recognition within a workplace context in comparison with their Western counterparts.

Both Chinese companies setting offices up overseas and multinational companies doing business in China and across the globe hope to be successful in a multicultural context. With our research on the differences in leadership style across cultures, Hogan helps companies with their multicultural programs better integrate and develop leaders from different backgrounds. Whether it be working with a Chinese company to help them understand how the leadership style of the manager from their Toronto branch differs from their headquarters in Beijing, or working with an American company to onboard a local team in Shanghai, Hogan works with you and your local Hogan partner to develop your leadership and increase your effectiveness within a global context.