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“Culture determines success or failure“

DEC . 01 2013

Zhang Guoyou, 64, professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, said the cultural background of employees is the main driving force in determining the competitiveness of a company.


“Concerning the price of products, technology, advertisements, etc., all firms can take a similar platform if they want since the factors are all globalized. But, culture is inimitable as it comes from a country’s unique historical background,” said Zhang in a recent interview. “Culture is a way of solving the problem in front of you, and it differs depending on each country.”


In terms of Chinese firms, in which employees are mostly rooted in traditional Confucian culture, he said they uphold the value of collectiveness and harmony.


“Chinese Confucianism values greatly the harmony … of group performances more than individual ones,” said the vice chairman of Peking University council. “Thus, they are good at mass-scale manufacturing.”


But in the same respect, Chinese companies’ creativity and innovation fall behind American firms, he said.


“The U.S. culture stresses individualism and one’s personality,” said Zhang. “As you can see, U.S. companies always lead the way in creating new products.”


Commenting on Korean firms, Zhang said he saw elements of both Chinese and Western sensibilities.


“I think Korean companies have the power of unity, which is shown via the rapid growth in market shares,” he said. “One distinguishing element of Korean workers is that they also have a high competitive spirit, meaning they like to catch up fast on new trends.”


Summing up his point, the Chinese professor said there is no cultural superiority or inferiority in the world.


“American culture may be good in certain circumstances, but it cannot solve the problems of Arab nations,” he said. “The Islamic culture has a strong cultural tinge. But still, it enables them to solve their problems.”


“So we can only say there are pros and cons in any culture, ” Zhang added.


Zhang served as a visiting professor at the Graduate School of China at Sungkyunkwan University, in Seoul, during the second semester of this year.


The renowned scholar’s main research areas include firm level and their global operations. He also focuses on countries such as Russia, the U.S., Germany and Japan.


Reported by: Chung Min-uck

Source: Korean Times

Edited by: Arthars