American minds are inclined to tackle problems in the following manner: 1) identify/define the problem; 2) analyze and understand the problem; 3) set a goal/objective; 4) identify, evaluate and select the options available; 5) plan and schedule; 6) implement and control; 7) follow-up, assess results. Far and wide, this process seems to be used by Americans even though it may not be formally expressed. Its strength lies in its salient characteristics: analytical, logical, linear, orderly, and explicit. Culturally, it can be traced from American excellence in rationality, reasoning, and scientific inquiry. However, this method also has limitations: flexibility and economy of thinking may suffer from a rigidly fixed pattern; the process of thinking is an integrated whole, not necessarily a linear progression of the segmented parts; and an analytical approach is not applicable to many worldly and managerial issues.In contrast to the American way of thinking, Chinese minds, because of their unique tradition and living environment, think in terms of concrete analogy, which somehow puts the situation in a form easily grasped in its entirety. If the American way of thinking could be likened to “masculinity,” the Chinese mind would be akin to “femininity” in many respects.For American companies going to China, three final pointers should be considered: build up a primary understanding of the major forces that have framed the Chinese culture; maintain an open and adaptable mind for different management and negotiation styles and practices; minimize value judgments exclusively based on American cultural terms about Chinese business deviations. When we take into proper consideration the factors there is a great possibility for us to use the culture as a source of competitive advantage.
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