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Authors: Jon P Alston
Published by: Indiana University
Published in: "Business Horizons", 1989

Abstract

Western observers of global business, impressed with how much Asian cultures differ from those of North America and Europe, tend to think of Japan, China, and Korea as practicing much the same forms of business relationships. But although East Asian cultures have in common an emphasis on personal relationships as the foundation of business practices, the forms and values of these relationships differ markedly among the Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans. For the Japanese, the important concept is wa, or the emphasis on group loyalty, harmony, and consensus; emotional support and a long-term perspective are important. The Chinese, on the other hand, think in terms of guanxi, the special arrangements of favor-sharing that an individual has with other individuals; personal loyalties within such arrangements are more important than loyalty to an organization. Koreans emphasize inhwa, which relates to harmony between unequals and derives from the Confucian ideal of loyalty to parents, elders, and authority figures. Non-Asians hoping to do business effectively in East Asia need to understand how these concepts all translate into quite different norms of business practice.
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Abstract

Western observers of global business, impressed with how much Asian cultures differ from those of North America and Europe, tend to think of Japan, China, and Korea as practicing much the same forms of business relationships. But although East Asian cultures have in common an emphasis on personal relationships as the foundation of business practices, the forms and values of these relationships differ markedly among the Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans. For the Japanese, the important concept is wa, or the emphasis on group loyalty, harmony, and consensus; emotional support and a long-term perspective are important. The Chinese, on the other hand, think in terms of guanxi, the special arrangements of favor-sharing that an individual has with other individuals; personal loyalties within such arrangements are more important than loyalty to an organization. Koreans emphasize inhwa, which relates to harmony between unequals and derives from the Confucian ideal of loyalty to parents, elders, and authority figures. Non-Asians hoping to do business effectively in East Asia need to understand how these concepts all translate into quite different norms of business practice.

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