Cultural Differences Between China and America

The comment of mcgjcn mentioned a name R. R. Gesteland. I research the name in Google and found some interesting resources on cultural differences (like this, and this). In all the works, Norihiko Shimizu’s paper “Today’s Taboos may be gone tomorrow“, Tokyo Business, February 1995, p.51. is a very frequently quoted materials in all MBA courses on International Marketing, and Cross-culture business. It was comparasion between Japan and American. I found many of the points also applies to China.

Cultural Difference between Japanese and American Individual



A Culture of self-expression


A Culture of Self restrain

Clear expression of Joy and sorrow Ambiguous of joy and sorrow
Unequivocal expression of “Yes/No”. Equivocal expression of “Yes/No”.

Strong Personality Weak Personality
Priority of self-interest Priority of harmony with others

Source: Norihiko Shimizu’s paper “Today’s Taboos may be gone tomorrow“, Tokyo Business, February 1995, p.51.

Cultural Differences between Japanese and American Business

American Business Japanese Business
Game concept: Business is a game in pursuit of profits under the rules of laws and contracts Mutual trust-oriented business: business is based on trusting relationship among people rather than the rules of game
Efficiency-oriented and approximate accuracy simplicity, clarity, and quickness Highly precision-oriented and perfectionism-high dependency on human awareness
Easy layoffs, dismissals of employees, and selling of businesses Job security
Low mutual dependence between employers and employees High mutual dependence between employers and employees
Heavy dependence on machinery and technology, vs. Light dependence on human resources Heavy dependence on human resources

This comparision answered many of my questions on effeciency v.s. diversity, why the way of doing business is so different cross the two continents.

P.S. Isaac shared Flickr photos with tag Einstein with Idea Factory China. It is so interesting – I am amazed more that how people follows the rule so well.

30 thoughts on “Cultural Differences Between China and America

  1. hi Jianshuo, I’m a Ph.D. student of computer science in the states. I’m working on a project which needs your help. Could you please contact me at your convenience? Thanks for your time!

  2. JS,

    the caption of this article is China vs Amercia in culture, while in the content you are comparing Japan to America, are you indicating China is moving towards Japan in both lifestyle and business mentality?

  3. As I put it in the article “It was comparasion between Japan and American. I found many of the points also applies to China.” The culture of China and Japan are different. There are many books on it, just as as many book to talk about culture difference between two Chinese cities: Beijing and Shanghai. But overall, the difference between Japan and China is much smaller than China and American. The reason I posted Japan version is because it is the only one I could found.

  4. I have to disagree a little on that. Although on the surface it seems that China is very similar to Japan in culture, at the same time, China is very different. China is a less conforming society than Japan. You would be able to see more individualism in Chinese culture. Certain parts of China, like Shanghai, is actually transitioning more toward American way of business conduct than all of Japan. China as an Asian country is sharing some of the same roots as Japan. But China is a much softer nut to crack as far as localization and integration of American business ethics.

  5. We are talking about the same thing, jqian. I shared the slides with my team in U.S. to help both understand the cultural difference. It is all about the difference of 10 (China and U.S.) and 4 (China and Japan) in degree.

  6. I don’t know if it’s fair to denigrate Japanese individualism– in Japan, after all, the pop stars and the fashion trendmakers are probably among the most individualistic and innovative in the world. That said, I think there’s a special streak of individualism in China that derives from an awareness simultaneously of China’s great and ancient history and the promising future, and the prospects for Chinese people to offer up their own ideas, start their own businesses, and otherwise make it happen.

    In any case, I do think that China and Japan overall have far more similarities than differences. Despite the still ill feelings left over from WWII, they have far more to gain by embracing each other– in culture as well as trade– than by seeing each other as antagonists. They (and India, for that matter) all have ancient civilizations that have transformed themselves into functioning modern ones, and they should all be collaborating for their collective benefit.

  7. hey,

    I am Chinese American currently residing in New York. Having had grown up in the US and also had worked and attended some schooling in Asia, I can see a large gulf between Judeo-Christian cultures(prevalent in the Western world) and Confucian cultures (prevalent in the chop stick countries).

    The gulf can be sumarized with the following maxims:

    In the Western World: “Squeaking wheel gets the oil”

    In the Confucian World: “Every nail that sticks out gets hammered down”

    Only understanding these differences, can one truly adapt and succeed in each environment.

  8. Posted by: dabgsdg – “please post more blogs so i can plagiarise thank you”

    haha, LMAO. good one.

  9. I am considering going to Japan or China to teach English. If you have any experience with this, which country would you advise I pursue first? Also, if you have ever done this yourself, please contact me and let me know how well you enjoyed your time… Thanks!

  10. I am a Chinese student, I think Dave B can come to China! With the development of China, more and more foreigner will come to China.And the 29th Olympics will be held in Beijing on August 8,2008,then a lot of foeigners will come to China! Also I think you want to come to China to learn about China

  11. what is wrong with youis giving me every kind of information besids what im looking for

  12. Wow i was looking for the lyrics to la coupe de boule because i loved it when i heard it and i wanted to know what it meant so thanks! Your translation is awesome :)

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