Sun | Dec 4, 2016

Chinese have different culture of investment, management

Published:Thursday | February 5, 2015 | 12:00 AMTameka Gordon

With the influx of Chinese investments, one academic is urging Jamaicans to be more understanding of the difference in cultures and labour practices.

Liu Mingwei, an assistant professor at the School of Management and Labour Relations at Rutgers University in the United States, said the reluctance of Chinese companies to hire locals in their host countries and support the unionisation of its staff are typical of how the Chinese do business.

Their management style emphasizes "that we need to sacrifice for our collective good ... and eat bitterness so we can have a better future," Liu said at a forum on Chinese investment held in Kingston on January 29 at the Mona campus of University of the West Indies.

To this end, Chinese nationals will tolerate what westerners view as inhumane conditions on the worksite, and will more readily leave their families behind - a notion that the assistant professor said may be deemed anti-family by westerners.

"Western expats also bring their whole families but Chinese usually don't bring their family members to the host country. In the eyes of the host country, people see this as very strange. They say Chinese people don't care about family life and relationships, but this not so. Chinese people sacrifice this for their career," Liu said.

He adds that while western companies will only use expatriates for high level positions, the Chinese seek to fill all vacancies with expatriates because "it is cheaper and easier to control".

"Western companies usually only use expats at high levels or for big technocrat positions but Chinese use them from manager to front line workers, it is more expensive for the western companies," he said.

"Chinese companies are also low on trade union representation because of China's unique situation on trade unions, which I will not talk much about," Liu told the forum.

Alternatively, local workers who are used to regulated working hours and holiday breaks, are seen as lazy by the Chinese, he indicated.

While western workers scoff at some working conditions as inhumane, "in the eyes of Chinese people, local people are lazy - they cannot eat bitterness".

"Chinese workers come to other countries to make money. They don't want to take rest, they just want to work, work long time. No holidays, no break no family member," said the assistant professor.

With one of the fastest growing economies in the world, overseas Chinese investments stood at over US$100 billion by the end of 2013, spurred by the Asian powerhouse's need to feed its demand for repatriated funds to grow its various sectors, Liu said.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com