A glimpse into Chinese business
Today we had our first lecture by a Nankai professor, she taught us about some aspects of the Chinese economy. The most interesting part of her lecture was about the failure of Chinese eBay. It is amazing how those involved in flattening the world can be so oblivious to major cultural differences. For instance, the Chinese service called Taobao has proven to be prosperous whereas marketers from eBay were unable to sustain business in the same country. One difference is the relationship between the buyer and seller and the lack of trust the Chinese people have for one other. Because of this difference, they feel the need to have face-to-face or some type of contact prior to a sale. eBay does not have such a service available, so that was one cultural barrier that stood out.
Another difference is the color of the website, colors mean a great deal the Chinese people, they highly enjoy bright colors. The English version of eBay is seen as cold and boring because o the lack of color. The final difference she emphasized is that Taobao makes it easier for people to shop by category such as in a department store for mens, womens and childrens items.
It really made me think about how nieve Americans (among other cultures) can be about other cultures' behaviors. We think that what is good for us will be good for everyone, which is definitely not the truth. I think it will be increasingly important to have people who specialize in the changing behaviors of various cultures. This is especially true for multinational organizations for someone to provide imput as to what is important in each society.
Also today we toured the a branch of the Toyota company, the branch that manufactures seats and the interior roof pieces for Chinese Toyota vehicles. This was a neat experience learning about their shiftwork, turnover rates and people employed. It was difficult not being able to ask questions while touring the plant, but just to witness the process was interesting.