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Title: Encounters between foreigners and Chinese: Perception and management of cultural differences
Authors: Ling, F.Y.Y. 
Ang, A.M.H.
Lim, S.S.Y.
Keywords: China
Chinese people
Construction industry
Cross-cultural management
National cultures
Risk management
Issue Date: 2007
Citation: Ling, F.Y.Y., Ang, A.M.H., Lim, S.S.Y. (2007). Encounters between foreigners and Chinese: Perception and management of cultural differences. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management 14 (6) : 501-518. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Purpose - The aim of this research is to investigate how foreign (non-mainland Chinese) architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) professionals manage cross-cultural encounters with mainland Chinese in the construction industry. The specific objectives are to identify perceived cultural differences between Chinese and foreigners when executing construction projects, based on the perceptions of foreign personnel only; and recommend a framework to manage cross-cultural encounters between foreigners and Chinese. Design/methodology/approach - The data collection instrument was a questionnaire, which had open-ended questions. The data collection method was face-to-face in-depth interviews with 19 foreign AEC practitioners who had worked with Chinese in construction projects in mainland China. The majority of these projects were located in Shanghai. Findings - The main perceived differences were: the absence of team spirit in Chinese staff; the need to micro-manage Chinese staff; the lack of initiative in Chinese staff; difficulty in communicating with Chinese staff; the absence of trust among the Chinese and by Chinese of foreigners; Chinese firms' attempts at recovery of under-pricing following contract award; ease of settling disputes with Chinese; lack of safety and quality culture; and prevalence of networking culture. Several methods to manage cross-cultural encounters are identified. Among these, most of the interviewees practiced adaptability, mimicry and mindfulness, which involved paying attention, being watchful and attentive. They also relied on their knowledge and experience of Chinese culture. Research limitations/implications - The findings may not be readily generalized because interviews were conducted with only 19 foreign AEC professionals, many of who are from Singapore and had worked primarily in Shanghai. The small number of interviewees may be unrepresentative of the population. Practical implications - Foreign firms could use the findings to help them decide on some of the methods to overcome cultural differences. Originality/value - The research proposed a framework for foreign firms to use when managing cross-cultural encounters with Chinese. It recommends different measures to manage cross-cultural encounters between foreigners and Chinese. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Source Title: Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management
ISSN: 09699988
DOI: 10.1108/09699980710828987
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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