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Master of Arts ThesisEurocultureUniversity of Groningen (home)University of Uppsala (host)Intercultural Business Communication– A Comparison of China and SwedenSubmitted by: Yuanyuan GuoDate: August, 2017Student number: 2930641 (Groningen)Student number: 930201-T268 (Uppsala)Contact details (email): [email protected] by:Supervisor (Groningen): Jan van der Harst ,Department of International Relations ([email protected])Supervisor (Uppsala): Hang Kei Ho,Department of Social and Economic Geography ([email protected])MA Programme EurocultureDeclarationI, Yuanyuan Guo hereby declare that this thesis, entitled “Intercultural BusinessCommunication – A Comparison of China and Sweden”, submitted as partialrequirement for the MA Programme Euroculture, is my own original work andexpressed in my own words. Any use made within this text of works of other authors inany form (e.g. ideas, figures, texts, tables, etc.) are properly acknowledged in the text aswell as in the bibliography.I declare that the written (printed and bound) and the electronic copy of the submittedMA thesis are identical.I hereby also acknowledge that I was informed about the regulations pertaining to theassessment of the MA thesis Euroculture and about the general completion rules for theMaster of Arts Programme Euroculture.Signed Yuanyuan GUODate 2017/8/20Table of ContentsChapter 1: Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………….. 2Chapter 2: Literature Review ……………………………………………………………………………. 42.1 Culture……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 42.2 Intercultural Business Communication…………………………………………………………. 7Chapter 3: Research Frameworks………………………………………………………………………. 93.1 Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions …………………………………………………………. 93.1.1 Power Distance Index (PDI)………………………………………………………………… 103.1.2 Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)………………………………………………. 103.1.3 Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS) ……………………………………………………113.1.4 Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI)……………………………………………………….113.1.5 Long Term Orientation versus Short Term Normative Orientation (LTO)….. 123.1.6 Indulgence versus Restraint (IND) ……………………………………………………….. 123.2 Edward T. Hall’s (1976) Theory of Low-context and High-context Cultures …… 13Chapter 4: Research Methodology …………………………………………………………………… 154.1 Research Design………………………………………………………………………………………. 154.2 Research Participants ……………………………………………………………………………….. 174.3 Research Procedure………………………………………………………………………………….. 19Chapter 5: Interview Data……………………………………………………………………………….. 205.1 Background Questions ……………………………………………………………………………… 205.2Regarding Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension Theory ……………………………………….. 305.2.1 Power Distance Index (PDI)………………………………………………………………… 305.2.2 Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)………………………………………………. 335.2.3 Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS) ………………………………………………….. 375.2.4 Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI)……………………………………………………… 415.2.5 Long Term Orientation versus Short Term Normative Orientation (LTO)….. 425.2.6 Indulgence versus Restraint (IND) ……………………………………………………….. 455.3Regarding Hall’s High-context Culture and Low-context Culture Theory ……….. 491Chapter 6: Analysis………………………………………………………………………………………… 526.1 Framework Predictions …………………………………………………………………………….. 526.1.1 Cultural dimensions: Power Distance Index ………………………………………….. 526.1.2 Cultural Dimensions: Individualism versus Collectivism………………………… 536.1.3 Cultural Dimensions: Masculinity versus Femininity……………………………… 536.1.4 Cultural Dimensions: Uncertainty Avoidance Index ……………………………….. 546.1.5 Cultural Dimensions: Long Term Orientation versus Short Term NormativeOrientation………………………………………………………………………………………………… 546.1.6 Cultural Dimensions: Indulgence versus Restraint …………………………………. 556.1.7 High-context Culture and Low-context Culture……………………………………… 566.2 Data Analysis ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 576.2.1 Power Distance in Intercultural Business Communication ………………………. 576.2.2 Individualism versus Collectivism in Intercultural Business Communication………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 586.2.3 Masculinity versus Femininity in Intercultural Business Communication …. 606.2.4 Uncertainty Avoidance Index in Intercultural Business Communication …… 616.2.5 Long Term Orientation versus Short Term Normative Orientation inIntercultural Business Communication …………………………………………………………. 626.2.6 Indulgence versus Restraint in Intercultural Business Communication……… 636.2.7 Low-context and High-context Culture in Intercultural BusinessCommunication …………………………………………………………………………………………. 646.3 Discussion ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 64Chapter 7 Conclusion …………………………………………………………………………………….. 68References ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 702Chapter 1: IntroductionWith increased economic globalization, creating and maintaining business connectionswith the other side of the world has become an inevitable necessity for growth andsurvival in today’s competitive world. China entered the modern international businessscene with the Reform and Opening-up Policy that was introduced in 1978. China’seconomic growth since the economic reform has been very rapid. With its solid andactive economic foundation and development, China has been attracting foreigncompanies, experts and migrants, among whom, some are from Sweden. Sweden is thebiggest recipient of Chinese foreign direct investment in the Northern Europe.According to the Swedish embassy in China, China is Sweden’s biggest trading partnerin Asia. In 2015, Swedish total exports to China amounted to 45.2 million SEK, anincrease of 13.3% compared with the year before, and imports from China to Swedenamounted to 69.3 million SEK, an increase of 16% compared with the year before.There are around 10 000 Swedish companies who trade with China and more than 500Swedish companies who have a business presence in China. On the other side, as thebiggest market in Scandinavia, the startup capital of Europe with prolific scientificinfrastructure and innovative industrial clusters, Sweden has become a new destinationfor Chinese investors. For example, the Chinese car manufacture company Geelyaquired Volvo Cars in 2010 and launched China Euro Vehicle Technology (CEVT) inGothenburg, Sweden in 2013.(“Business Sweden in China” 2017, “Swedish IndustrialCoporations in China-2015 Situation Report,” n.d.) The mobility of people betweenChina and Sweden that is led by the active and close business interaction between thesetwo countries means that knowing how to communicate effectively with each other is ofgreat significance. All communication is intercultural(Tannen 1984). Edward T Hallsaid, people try to understand other cultures, but it does not mean that they have toabandon their own culture. Intercultural communication is an essential part of businesscommunication. Therefore, by studying the differences between China and Sweden in3business communication from a cultural perspective is beneficial in order to facilitatethe business interaction process and raise the efficiency in communicating with peoplefrom a different cultural background for businessmen. Identifying differences ismeaningful in order for people to increase their tolerance and openness to difference.The research question of this paper is “to what extent, do China and Sweden differ inintercultural business communication from a cultural-dimensional andmessage-contextual point of view?” Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions and Edward.T. Hall’s Low-context and High-context Cultures are applied in this study to measurethe differences. Edward T. Hall claimed that in intercultural communication, personalexperience is valuable. Thus, interview data from 12 selected interviewees are analyzedaccordingly as empirical framework.In order to answer the research question, this thesis is structured according to thefollowing design. After introduction about the background of this research in chapterone, a review of what culture and intercultural business communication mean and entailis discussed in chapter two. In the chapter three, the two frameworks that are used inthis thesis are presented in detailed. Chapter four details the research methodology thatis employed in this thesis, where methodology adoption, research object selection andresearch procedure are included. The interview format is used as the main method ofresearch so as to acquire the latest information regarding people’s opinions of thedifferences between China and Sweden in intercultural business communication. Thenext two chapters are the main parts, research data presentation and discussion whereresearch question is answered systematically. Through comparing the interview resultsto the theoretical framework predictions, discussion is carried out to highlight theaccordant part and inconsonant part in order to provide an objective perspective forunderstanding the research result critically. The last part details the conclusion for thewhole thesis as well as limitations and further research.4Chapter 2: Literature Review2.1 CultureIt is not hard to understand (or infer for that matter) that China and Sweden have verydifferent cultures. Describing in a systematic way why and how the two cultures aredifferent is more difficult. If one conveniently looks at what one has personally seen andheard from friends, family and society there seems to be many things that are associatedwith what describes and determines culture. For instance, geography appears to be animportant descriptor of culture as one can see differences between neighborhoodswithin cities, differences between cities and differences between countries. And buildingupon this one can reason that cultural differences appear to be directly dependent ondistance. If one continues down this trail of thought, there seem to be many factors thathave a seemingly great impact on cultural development. For instance, historicalbackgrounds, languages, natural environments, climates, religion and political systems.Culture appears to be dynamic and changing slowly. Additionally, the formation anddevelopment of culture seems to require time. (Hampden-Turner and Fons 1997)For a long time academics have been researching what culture is and how to developmodels (both qualitative and quantitative) of what culture is or what certain aspects ofculture are. What is important to understand is that culture has long been a difficultconcept to academically define and for this reason there are many definitions. A goodexample to illustrate is by looking at what has been published as far back as to a studyperformed in 1952 by the American anthropologist Kroeber and Kluckhohn who found164 different academic definitions of what culture is at that specific point in time.(Avruch 1998)5This thesis will however not review all of the different definitions models of culture, butinstead focus on two specific models that focus on cross-cultural communication:Edward T. Hall’s concepts of context as a relativistic metric of culture and GeertHofstede’s framework for cross-cultural communication. But before getting into thosemodels we should explore what culture is in a broader academic perspective by lookingcloser at some definitions.Donald Klopf, who is known for his book titled “Intercultural Encounters: TheFundamentals of Intercultural Communication” from 1991, defined culture as “that partof the environment made by humans.” (Klopf 1991) What he means is that we expressour culture by how we affect the environment, the architecture of our buildings and howwe plan our infrastructure and other tangible aspects of our society, as well as by howwe decorate our surroundings.In James Banks and Cherry McGee Banks’ book “Multicultural Education: Issues andPerspectives”, they explain that “most social scientists today view culture as consistingprimarily of the symbolic, ideational, and intangible aspects of human societies. Theessence of a culture is not its artifacts, tools, or other tangible cultural elements but howthe members of the group interpret, use, and perceive them. It is the values, symbols,interpretations, and perspectives that distinguish one people from another in modernizedsocieties; it is not material objects and other tangible aspects of human societies. Peoplewithin a culture usually interpret the meaning of symbols, artifacts, and behaviors in thesame or in similar ways”.(Banks and Banks 2009)In the book “Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation across Cultures” by JohnPaul Lederach, he defines culture as “the shared knowledge and schemes created by aset of people for perceiving, interpreting, expressing, and responding to the socialrealities around them”. (Lederach 1995)6In his book “Culture’s consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, andOrganizations Across Nations”, Geert Hofstede defines culture as “the collectiveprogramming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category ofpeople from others”. (Hofstede 1980) Hofstede has formulated this definition after hisinductive study of 76 countries and regions thus covering a large population of differentnational and cultural groups. Hofstede’s framework will be reviewed in depth later on inthis thesis. Hofstede believes that culture can be only used meaningfully by comparison.Under comparison, culture becomes more accurate. One cannot simply state thatChinese are implicit in their expressions because one can, for instance, state thatJapanese are more implicit than Chinese and neither statement gives the necessaryinformation for a meaningful comparison. Culture cannot simply be understood in full ifcontext is not also taken into consideration either. (Rogers 2004) The values andpatterns in human societies can be influenced by culture and vice versa. Culture enableshuman to know themselves better and their behaviors more clearly, which includesbehaviors at work or in business. Hofstede stated that culture could be differentiated asnational culture and organizational culture. This division has similarities in studyingcultural issues, but under different contexts. Organizational culture theory is conductedcommonly among different organizations within one single country. It is influenced bynational culture, which is under a much wider context. (Hofstede 1980) In this study,although business communication seems more connected with organizational culture;two countries, China and Sweden, are involved in this research. In addition, it will beproved later that business culture between two countries is not limited to theorganizational context. Business goes on outside of organizations as well, which meansnational culture theory is more accurate in this study.In the book “The Silent Language”, the social anthropologist Robert Hall writes that“culture is a word that has so many meanings already that one more can do it to harm”.7In the book he talks about what culture is and what culture is not a lot but in the end helands at the definition: “Culture is communication and communication is culture”. (Hall1959)2.2 Intercultural Business CommunicationEverett Rogers and Thomas Steinfatt defined intercultural communication as “theexchange of information between individuals who are ‘unalike culturally’.” (Rogers2004) Intercultural business communication refers to the communication that arisesduring the process of business interactions among different culture groups. This processcould be formed by people who conduct business coming from other cultures or theexportation of business to other cultures. Intercultural business focuses oncommunication rather than differences since communication could bring peopletogether, which relates to cultures, systems, values and languages. Businesscommunication is the sharing of information between people within and outside theorganization that is performed for the commercial benefit of the organization. It can alsobe defined as relaying of information within a business by its people. (Fernández-Souto,Gestal, and Pesqueira 2015)The relations among cultures, business and communication explain the significance ofstudying them as a whole, which is intercultural business communication. Withoutcommunication, business will not exist. Every business has several culturalcharacteristics. Wherever there is communication, there is culture. (Fernández-Souto,Gestal, and Pesqueira 2015) Intercultural business communication study offersstrategies for overcoming difficulties in international business and enables businesspeople to communication more efficiently and smoothly. (Gibson 2005)8I would like to argue that intercultural business communication is a sub-field ofintercultural communication as a whole because the “business” part is only theapplication of the academic study for the purpose of business. Therefore, frameworksfor the field as a whole are also applicable for the intercultural business communication.Furthermore, in this thesis intercultural communication and cross-culturalcommunication will be treated as two different (but related) topics. What separates themis the definition which is the same as the definitions that William Gundykunstformulated in his book “Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Communication”:“Cross-cultural communication involves comparisons of communication across cultures.Intercultural communication involves communication between people from differentcultures”. (Gudykunst 2003)Relevant for this thesis is the theory of intercultural communication. In this field thereare two researchers which appear frequently in the literature: Edward Hall and GeertHofstede. (S. Liu, Zala, and Gallois 2014) Edward Hall is seen by some as the founderof modern intercultural communication studies and the Foreign Service Institute whereHall did a lot of his early work, is also seen as the starting place for modern interculturalcommunication studies. (Rogers 2004) In the latest decades Geert Hofstedes researchhas gained a lot of influence in the intercultural communication field of study. WhileEdward Hall’s work focuses on communication, Hofstedes work focuses onfundamental descriptors for culture which enables understanding and comparingdifferent cultures.9Chapter 3: Research FrameworksAs mentioned earlier, this thesis will use the frameworks of Geert Hofstede’s CulturalDimensions and Edward T. Hall’s High-context and Low-context metrics for culture.Hofstede’s framework will provide an understanding for what to expect with regards tocultural differences between China and Sweden. It will also aid in identifying if Swedenand China are low- or high-context cultures. The theory should be able to predict thingswhich we then later can check against observations.3.1 Geert Hofstede’s Cultural DimensionsGert Hofstede has conducted a very large scale study, both in terms of sample size andspan of time, to develop the model that he is known for. Hofstede began his worktogether with Geert Jan Hofstede, Michael Minkov and their respective research teamsduring the 1980s and has during the last 30 years and managed to study 76 differentcountries for the development of this framework. The study began at IBM with the aimto find out how culture influences values in the workplace at the national level. Fromthe vast data that has been collected, Hofstede has been able to statistically findfundamental descriptors of culture which he has decided to call Cultural Dimensions.The model contains 6 different dimension of national culture:Power Distance Index (PDI)Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS)Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI)Long Term Orientation versus Short Term Normative Orientation (LTO)Indulgence versus Restraint (IND)10Out of these 6 dimensions, only “Power Distance Index”, “Individualism versusCollectivism”, “Masculinity versus Femininity” and “Uncertainty Avoidance” Indexwere originally included in the model until recently when “Long Term Orientationversus Short Term Normative Orientation” was first added and then “Indulgence versusRestraint” was added as late as 2010. Hofstede has said that the cultural dimensionmodel is continuously reviewed as data comes in and if the data requires, the model willbe updated in order for it properly due to the complexity and dynamics of culture. Thissuggests that even more dimensions may be added in the future. Each dimension isrepresented through a scoring system where 0 is lowest value and 100 is the highestvalue. This system allows for comparisons to be made between countries. (Hofstede2005)3.1.1 Power Distance Index (PDI)The power distance index is a cultural dimension that expresses “the extent to which theless powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect andaccept that power is distributed unequally”. Humans have for a very long time hadsocieties in which very few individuals have had the power to control society. TheAbrahamic religious texts mentions kings (i.e. King Solomon) and common historybooks feature kings of ancient Greek states, Roman emperors, kings of Europe andemperors of China. Today democratic civic systems are most common where themajority of the population is able to participate at different levels to affect how societyis govern and developed. To summarize, countries with a high power distance index arehierarchical and tend to centralize power.3.1.2 Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)The individualism versus collectivism index is a cultural dimension that expresses “thedegree of interdependence a society maintains among its members”. Simply put this11expresses the focus on individuals in a population or the population at large, or the “I”and “We” mindset. Collectivistic tendencies are likely what many would see as “social”tendencies where people prefer gatherings and collectives, the social framework is moreclosely connected and complex. On the other hand, personal space and privacy areassociated with individualistic tendencies. With collectivistic tendencies, individuals arenot encouraged to exclude themselves from all types of social circles. Instead, they tryto involve into more in-groups by building up more networks with family-like care.3.1.3 Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS)The masculinity versus femininity index is a cultural dimension that expresses theextent of which society tends to lean with regards to stereotypical gender roles andvalues. By Hofstedes’ definition of this parameter, a masculine society is driven bycompetition, achievement and success while a feminine society emphasizes more on thequality of life and the balance between work and family in the context of business.Different value systems lead to different social cultures. A masculine society tends toseparate different genders into specific responsibilities and roles. It sets a limit todifferent genders’ image. For instance, men are considered more assertive and focusedon facts while women usually concentrate more on their emotional feelings. In opposite,differences between genders in a feminine society are not prominent and genderequality is expressed.3.1.4 Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI)The uncertainty avoidance index is a measure for how a society copes with uncertaintyand ambiguity, which also may be viewed as a tolerance index for uncertainty andambiguity. Hofstede defined it as “the extent to which the members of a culture feelthreatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs andinstitutions that try to avoid these”. What is the attitude of the members of society12towards unpredictable future? An uncertainty avoiding society has developed systemsmechanisms in an attempt to control how the future develops or to try to reduce theuncertainty to the lowest possible level since uncertainty causes stress and anxiety. Inorder to avoid uncertainty in a business setting, employees may tend to serve the sameorganization and do the same job for a long time (low mobility) and feel adverse whenchange and difference occur. An uncertainty accepting society holds a more relaxedattitude towards uncertainty, which enables job-changing decision to be easier.3.1.5 Long Term Orientation versus Short Term NormativeOrientation (LTO)This dimension index explains “how every society has to maintain some links with itsown past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future”. A long termoriented society is very pragmatic while a short term society is perceived as normative.A pragmatic society holds a positive and open attitude towards changes and is prepared,to a reasonable degree, for volatility or changes in general. It also has an open (or liberal)view on traditions in order to achieve higher goals..3.1.6 Indulgence versus Restraint (IND)This cultural dimension is closely related to how people are raised. Hofstede definesthis metric as “the extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses”.Fundamentally, this dimension is a metric of the degree of control with regards toindulgence and restraint (viewed as polar opposites). Weakly-controlled, indulgentcultures have a preference for freedom and life of pleasure while strongly-controlledrestrained cultures typically has the “life is hard” view. Indulgent societies tend to havea higher demand for leisure time and more extraverted personalities. While restrainedsocieties is more likely to be strict in life so that pessimism and introverted personalitiesare commonly acknowledged.133.2 Edward T. Hall’s (1976) Theory of Low-context andHigh-context CulturesAnother well-known framework in intercultural communication is high-context cultureand low-context culture that was introduced by Edward T. Hall in his book BeyondCulture in 1976.(Hall 1976) Edward T. Hall argues culture can be described accordingto how important the context is in different occasions and how clear the messages areexpressed in communication. The high-context culture and low-context cultureframework only has two dimensions, however, it does not mean that one culture shouldbe classified into only one of them. All societies have parts that belong to bothhigh-context culture and low-context culture. In the environment where people movearound frequently, low-context culture comes into being gradually in order to make sureimmigrates integrate into the society more easily under the help of explicit instructionsand guidance. (Hooker 2008) On the other hand, low-context culture social environmentcontributes to population mobility as open, easily-acceptable and dynamic society arepreferred. Countries where people prefer stable living style, pursue long-term sense ofbelonging and do not move easily could lead to the development of high-contextculture.In high-context culture, contextual elements such as the tone of voice, gesture, facialexpressions, time and location are of great importance. Messages are not implicitlyconveyed. In high-context culture society, unspoken rules and unwritten information areacceptable by people. Representative countries of high-context culture are countries likeChina and Japan according to Hall’s study. (Hall 1976) In low-context culture, messagesare transmitted explicitly. Written rule with unambiguous language is appreciated. Ingeneral, the United States and Scandinavian countries have distinctive features in many14ways as a low-context culture society. Straightforward explanation and writteninstructions are preferred.15Chapter 4: Research Methodology4.1 Research DesignIn this thesis, in order to answer the research question with the aid of research data, aqualitative research approach is adopted. In qualitative research, an in-depthunderstanding about research data may be formed with exposure and practice of thelatest developments or updates in the academic field, which is to be exact, interculturalbusiness communication between China and Sweden from a cultural-dimensional andmessage-contextual point of view in this thesis. The primary tool for qualitativeresearch that will be employed in this thesis is interview. In addition, academicliteratures are selected to assist with analyzing interview data and answering theresearch question. Interpretation and perspectives from academic literature are used asan aid to make sense of the information that is gathered from interview so that properanalysis can be performed. Through interviews, researchers may have direct contactwith research participants and acquire how people perceive certain issues and whatinformation they get from their own experience.Three types of interviews are common in the field of social science studies. These arethe structured interview, semi-structured interview and the narrative interview.According to the characteristics of the research content in this study, semi-structuredface-to-face interview is selected. In semi-structured interviews, interviewers prepareoutlined questions appropriate and relevant for the main research question and researchgoals. However, interviewees’ answers are spontaneous and not led or suggested by theinterviewer, which enables more possibilities and unexpected answers and information,but most importantly minimizes any potential introduction of bias. Open-endedquestions are very likely to create a chance for interviewers to be inspired by the words16from interviewees and gain a new perspective to learn about the research topic.Semi-structured face-to-face interviews need interviewers to listen with all focus,interact with interviewees according to their answers and react immediately if it isnecessary to ask more questions or ask about some part in depth. As an importantmethod of collecting data in qualitative research, interview’s quality significantlydepends on the questions that interviewers ask interviewees.Compared to other forms of conducting a semi-structured interview, face-to-faceinterview has its own advantages. Observation is commonly used as a complementarymethod during face-to-face interviews. From observing interviewees’ body language,tone, facial expressions, reactions to surroundings or people at the interview place,which are called “social cues”, a lot of unanticipated information could be revealed andbe compared with the answers that interviewees express in words. In face-to-faceinterviews, interviewees need to provide an answer within a short time after being askedby interviewees. Direct and instant answers, to some extent, reduce the possibility thatinterviewees “make up” an answer randomly in order to avoid risk. However, it isundeniable that experienced interviewees facing certain sensitive questions are preparedand intend to provide unreliable answers. (Opdenakker 2006)Voice recordings may be used as an aid in the semi-structured face-to-face interviewswith the permission of the interviewees. Since interviewers need to concentrate onlistening to and interacting with interviewees, it is not easy for them to take full notes orremember details at the same time. Voice recording could be transcribed into wordformat after interviews and then used in the research data analysis. It is also of greatimportance when the language used in the interview is different from the language inwhich the research report is written. For instance, in this research, some of theinterviews were conducted both in Chinese and English since the research topic isrelated to China and Chinese nationalities and at the same time, with Swedish17interviewees, the common language between interviewees and the interviewer isEnglish. Compared to telephone interviews or Email interview, face-to-face interviewsalso have disadvantages such as high cost of travelling to interview places and requiringmore time on making an appointment with interviewees and time spent on travelling.4.2 Research ParticipantsIn order to make sure that interviewees’ words, to a great extent, contribute to this studyand provide reliable information for answering the research question, the selection ofinterviewees are carefully designed. Qualified interview candidates for this thesis arepeople who were born and grew up in either China or Sweden, who speak eitherChinese or Swedish as their mother tongue and recognize Chinese culture or Swedishculture as their cultural identity, who have experience in doing business, living, workingin both China and Sweden for certain years, who have experience interacting withChinese and Swedish people and who could speak Chinese or English in the interviewsince the interviewer speaks Chinese and English.To pluck just one example: Person A who was born and grew up in China; speaksChinese as mother tongue and claims that Chinese culture is his/her cultural identity;worked and lived in Chinese company for many years and then moved to Sweden andworking in a Swedish company currently could be the qualified potential interviewees.Only people who could meet all the requirements that are mentioned above areconsidered qualified potential interviewees. However, if the final interviews could beconducted with selected qualified potential interviewees, depends on other unexpectedand uncontrollable factors as well. For instance, if the selected qualified potentialinterviewees are available and willing to accept an interview during this research period,if the interview could be conducted without being cancelled because of objective18reasons, for instance, weather, traffic and so forth.By the end of the research data collecting process, twelve interviews were conductedsuccessfully and are used as research data. As requested by most interviewees, thedetailed information about their personal experience, their occupations, the names oftheir working organizations and the like will not be exposed in this paper. Instead, alltwelve interviewees’ name will be replaced by Interview 1 to 12. However, in order toprovide a basic understanding of these interviewees, a brief introduction will bepresented here.The interviewer is based in Sweden, therefore, all twelve interviews were conducted inSweden. Among these twelve interviewees, three are Swedish nationals and nine areChinese nationals. Interviewee 1, Swedish, works in an organization that deals withbusiness issues between China and Sweden and had experience in working in the branchoffices that are based in different Chinese cities. Interviewee 2, Swedish, worked in aSwedish national key large-scale enterprise, was appointed to manage the Chineseoffice and did projects with other Chinese partners. Interviewee 3, Swedish, works as alegal counsel, specialized in labor dispute for cases related to China and travels to Chinaevery quarter. Interviewee 4, Chinese, CEO of a newly-established mobile applicationcompany in Sweden and hired both Chinese and Swedish in his company. Interviewee 5,Chinese, manager of an investment agency that aims at bridging investment projectsbetween China and Sweden. Interviewee 6, Chinese, owner of chain restaurants, facingSwedish customers mostly with Chinese staffs. Interviewee 7, Chinese, softwareengineer in a famous Swedish company. Interviewee 8, Chinese, working in an artgallery that exhibits art pieces from both Chinese artists and Swedish artists.Interviewee 9, owner of a home decoration products company, hires and works withSwedish employees. Interviewee 10, Chinese, Chinese language teacher for Swedish.Interviewee 11, Chinese, head of the branch office of a large Chinese state-owned19enterprise, was appointed to work in the Swedish branch office for five years.Interviewee 12, manager of the branch office of a large Chinese state-owned enterprise.4.3 Research ProcedureIn order to prepare for the interviews, a list of questions (see below in the interview data)was made. All questions were categorized based on the Hofstede’s cultural dimensionframework and Hall’s high-context culture and low-context culture framework that werereviewed in the previous part of this thesis and also on the information that was inspiredfrom other relevant academic research publications. In order to get interviewpermissions, all interviewees were contacted by emails at the first and informed aboutthe research topic and research goal before the interviews. But they are only exposed tospecific research questions during the interview process in case there is potentialpossibility that for certain reason, interviewees prepare answers to interview questionsin advance, which may reduce the reliability level of the research data. All twelveinterviews lasted around one hour and interviewees’ offices were the interview places.On the one hand, offices are where most interviewees suggested as a quiet andconvenient place during their working hours. On the other hand, since the researchfocuses on business communication, conducting interviews at places where observationcould be carried out at the same time is of great importance. Interview language wereeither Chinese or English since these are the common language between interviewer andinterviewees. Voice recorder was used during all interviews with interviewees’permission. After interviews, all tape recording were transcribed into words in Englishfor later reference and research data analysis.20Chapter 5: Interview DataThe research question for this thesis is “To what extent, do China and Sweden differ inintercultural business communication from a cultural-dimensional andmessage-contextual point of view?” In order to collect data for formulating the answerfor this questions, detailed questions were asked according to different aspects. Theinterview results are presented in the following part. All interview answers are shownfrom a first person perspective in order to restore interviewees’ opinion and maximizethe reliability of analysis in the following chapter. The answers are summarized basedon the interview transcripts. They are listed one by one so as to provide a clear image ofthe data and a foundation for the next chapter.5.1 Background QuestionsDo you think the concept “national culture” exist and has an impact on you whenyou think or act in your intercultural business experience? Interviewee 1: I think “national culture” is not a realistic concept since it is notpossible to condense a country’s culture into a simplistic form. Culture is acomplicated term. But I do think that my thinking and my actions are influencedby my national identity; Swedish. This identity is also the first step for people toknow me. Interviewee 2: Yes. National culture exists. This is why people can summarizecharacteristics and recognize a nationality according to them. I grew up andhave been living most of my life in Sweden. I am immersed in this culture, so ithas had a great impact on my thinking and my actions and even my business21experience. Interviewee 3: Yes, since people intend to first use their nationality to informothers about the cultural differences that they may encounter later on. When Iworked in China, I kept reminding myself that I was in a different country, so Ishould respect and understand people around me. Interviewee 4: I have to admit the existence of this concept although I do notlike it. We will be trapped into an established way of thinking, could be a totallywrong fact, if this phrase comes to our mind first. For example, you should notthink that he/she is cold and distant because you heard that he/she is Swedish.Instead, we all should be open and be international. I try to think in aninternational mindset with my profession at work. Interviewee 5: Yes but I perceive the cultural characteristics on me or when I amat work as both Chinese and Swedish. Although I am originally from China, Istudied in Sweden since high school and have lived and worked here for manyyears. My work enables me to engage with both Chinese and Swedish everyday,so I have to be flexible. Interviewee 6: Yes. My restaurants sells Chinese food, from which you couldsee a lot of Chinese cultural factors. Interviewee 7: I work in a very diverse and international environment withcolleagues from all over the world. I do not really feel national culture at work. Interviewee 8: Yes. You could see from paintings. Chinese ink painting is atypical example. Interviewee 9: Maybe not. Interviewee 10: Yes. Language is an important part of culture. Interviewee 11: Yes. Interviewee 12: Yes.22Did you anticipate any cultural differences before you started your interculturalbusiness experience? Interviewee 1: I was sent to a Chinese culture and language course in Swedenbefore I headed to China. It was arranged by my company. So I was informed ofa lot of cultural differences already. Interviewee 2: I had been interested in China for many years and read somebooks about China. I went to China for vacation with my family, which wasbefore I was assigned to work in China. So I already had some basic knowledgeof potential cultural differences. Interviewee 3: Yes but not very specific at the beginning. I got to learn moreand more gradually through my work. Interviewee 4: I was already quite familiar with Swedish society and culturewhen I set up this company. But of course, there are more or new differences inbusiness that I realized later on. Interviewee 5: Yes. And I started a consultation service regarding Chinese/Swedish business communication for companies and businessmen. Interviewee 6: Yes but more on the culinary culture and service practice.Therefore, all our cuisines have been adjusted to tastes that are preferred bySwedish people. Interviewee 7: No. Because I knew it would be an international workingenvironment. And for my profession, technique is the authoritative language. Interviewee 8: Yes. At the beginning, I planned to only promote Chinese artpieces. But I was afraid that the audience group would be too little sinceChinese art are quite different from Swedish ones. In the end, I decided tocombine them together. Interviewee 9: No. The style of our products and the customers we are targetingat are all Swedish. All staffs I hire are Swedish. Interviewee 10: Yes. As a language teacher, it is my job to present cultural23differences between these two countries. Interviewee 11: Yes. Interviewee 12: Yes.What were the most impressing cultural shock that you had during the beginningperiod of your intercultural business experience? Interviewee 1: I was invited to dinner for a lot of times after work by myChinese colleagues and they even paid for everything. This is very uncommonin Sweden. Interviewee 2: Chinese people are very polite and cautious about manners. Evenif I told my assistant many times that she could direct address me by my firstname, she still used “Manager L” all the time. Interviewee 3: Chinese are very “gentle”. When I talked to my clients, even themoment they were unhappy about some of my words, they still kept a smile ontheir face. But then afterwards, they expressed their complaint to my Chinesecolleagues who informed me in the end. Interviewee 4: My Chinese employees often work overtime on their owninitiative, especially when I stayed in office after office hours. Interviewee 5: My Swedish clients were very cautious when they wereintroduced to Chinese partners. They asked a lot of detailed questions andrequired correlation data. Interviewee 6: Swedish people pay for themselves when they come torestaurants even if with people who look like their good friends. This is veryuncommon in China since people always offer to pay. Interviewee 7: I found that my colleagues started to plan summer vacation inFebruary. Interviewee 8: In China, when I worked at art gallery, the visitors were mostlyyoung college students, who have an interest in arts and would not buy art24pieces since they do not have incomes. But in Sweden, most people who cameto my gallery were middle-aged or elderly people who have an intention to buyor invest on art pieces and they are willing to spend a lot of afternoons at mygallery talking about one art pieces before they decide to buy it. Interviewee 9: I was shocked that my employees asked for sick leaves fromwork just because of a little cold. This is impossible if I was in China. ButSweden has a detailed regulation and system to protect workers’ rights. As aforeign investor and new comer, I have to comply with those carefully. Interviewee 10: I have some Swedish students who have spent years studyingChinese only because they are interested in Chinese movies or travelling inChina. This is quite different from what Chinese usually do. We intend to dothings in order to reach goals or benefit from it. For instance, I probably wouldnever study Swedish with all my efforts if I don’t need to work with it or live inSweden. Interviewee 11: The working environment here in Sweden is more relaxing thanin China. Therefore, I have more free time. But in China, I socialize with myclients in my free time while here in Sweden, it doesn’t seem that my clientswould like to hang out after work. Interviewee 12: I was invited to have a meeting at a client’s house in Stockholm.The atmosphere was more like an “afternoon tea chatting”, which was quiteshocking for me at that moment.Did you make any changes/adjustments after you stepped into a new culturalenvironment in order to fit in the society? Interviewee 1: Yes. I changed my way of dealing with things in some cases. Forinstance, I noticed that if I asked my colleagues to give some critical commentsto our work or feedbacks about me in the meeting directly, most people wouldjust keep silence. But then I changed to ask them to put words on paper and25send it to me anonymously. In the end, I got useful feedbacks from everyone. Interviewee 2: When I heard that some of my colleagues were taking coursesstudying English for work on weekends, I was impressed. I started to takeChinese language courses under the influence from them. Interviewee 3: I learned that Chinese care about their public image very much.Therefore, I only praise my colleagues in public, while pointing out problems inprivate. Before I would not hesitate this much before I say something. Interviewee 4: When I first launched my mobile application, the feedback fromSwedish users were not very positive. Too complicated in interface andfunctions was the feedback that I received the most. Then I compared with andlearned from Swedish mobile applications and made changes. Interviewee 5: In Sweden, there are tons of rules and regulations that we need torefer to at work. But for our Chinese clients sometimes do not have the patienceto read through everything. They just want their projects to start and run as soonas possible. Interviewee 6: As I said above, with our chef, we made a lot of changes on thetastes and combinations of food. Since our main customers are Swedish, we tryto make food that Swedish people like but with some Chinese characteristics. Interviewee 7: I started to try accepting coffee and sweet pastry. Personally Idon’t like them at all. But I don’t want my colleagues to think I am weird duringoffice fika. Also it would be rude if my colleagues bring home-made snacks butI don’t try it at all. Interviewee 8: I started to take Swedish language course. Interviewee 9: I try to slow down and be less strict with my employees. Interviewee 10: I try to give students more freedom to express themselves anduse Chinese language in class. Interviewee 11: I try to learn more from my Swedish counterparts. Interviewee 12: I prepared Christmas gifts for my colleagues, no matter they are26Chinese or Swedish. They were quite happy about it.Do you consider cultural differences as advantages or obstacles during yourintercultural business experience? Interviewee 1: Both. It depends on different situations. But through sincerecommunication, even it is obstacles, it could be solved properly. Interviewee 2: I have to say in most cases, they are obstacles. Culturaldifferences are related to values. And values could not be changed easily foreveryone. Therefore, during intercultural interaction, we have to makecompromises all the time, which is hard. This is also why international businessneeds extra studies. Interviewee 3: Advantages. Actually differences between China and Sweden inlabor regulations and law are the initial point for my work. Interviewee 4: It depends how we use these differences. Interviewee 5: Advantages. My job is to point out these differences and help myclients deal with differences in business. So from a benefit point of view. Theyare advantages. Interviewee 6: Obstacles. Because of these differences, I have much more workto do and consider. If it’s all the same as in China. It would be much easier sinceI already had a lot of experience. Interviewee 7: Obstacles. It takes time and energy to adjust to a differentsurrounding. Interviewee 8: Advantages. For instance, Chinese art pieces attract Swedishcustomers’ more easily since it’s something new and different. Interviewee 9: Obstacles. Interviewee 10: Advantages. Opposites attract. With comparisons, culture andlanguage learning becomes more impressing and visualized. Interviewee 11: Maybe both.27 Interviewee 12: Obstacles.Do you often make comparisons between Chinese culture and Swedish culturewhen you talk to people from the other cultural background? Interviewee 1: Yes. It’s a good way to make people understand each other. Interviewee 2: Yes. I enjoy sharing with other about my observations and whenI had questions about Chinese culture, I asked my Chinese friends. They werealways happy to help. Interviewee 3: Yes. I am proud of my culture so I want to introduce it to othersas well. To bring Swedish culture to China as well when I learned aboutChinese culture. Interviewee 4: Not often. I prefer focusing more on specific issues instead ofgeneralizing things with a broad view. Interviewee 5: Yes. Sometimes at work I need to use comparisons to let ourclients understand the issue better. Interviewee 6: I talk about these differences mostly with friends in China whenwe chat. Interviewee 7: Yes. It’s a good entry point to break the ice in a conversation. Interviewee 8: Yes. It’s an important part of my work. Interviewee 9: With my Swedish friends, yes. But at work, I try to adjust myselfaccording to Swedish culture. Interviewee 10: Yes. Almost every time in class. Interviewee 11: Not often. Interviewee 12: Sometimes.28Have you turned to think about cultural differences and reasons when conflictsoccurred between you and your foreign colleagues/ clients/ customers/ businesspartners? Interviewee 1: Not at the beginning. When conflicts occur, I think most peopletend to solve conflicts first instead of thinking about reasons behind. The focuswould be more on the issue itself than on the cultural reasons. Interviewee 2: No. I would be happy if I see conflicts. At least it means peopleare actively engaged in this project. But it is important to emphasize that bothsides have the same goal. Interviewee 3: Yes. Cultural perspective is a good tool for explaining certainbehaviors that are not accepted by the other sides. People have higher tolerancefor unmeant behaviors. Interviewee 4: No. I would like to attribute the cause to individual mindsets. Interviewee 5: Yes. I also need to summarize what I found in order to avoidconflicts next time. Interviewee 6: Yes. Interviewee 7: No. I try to think about conflict itself instead of referring to ourcultural backgrounds. Interviewee 8: Yes. I would explain what I think to gain some understanding. Interviewee 9: Yes. Understanding Swedish people and society is veryimportant for the future. Interviewee 10: I haven’t met any conflicts so far. I think if both sides talk withmore patience and respect, conflicts would not occur easily. Interviewee 11: We are a united team so I have not had any conflicts with mycolleagues. Interviewee 12: Sometimes.29As a person who has rich intercultural business experience, what suggestions willyou offer in general to a newbie? Interviewee 1: I think respecting other cultures and be open to make changesaccordingly are very important. And when we meet some unpleasant situation,we should not lose confidence in the whole country or culture. Interviewee 2: It could be helpful if we are active learning about others anddifferent business traits. Sharing about your opinion directly in a friendly way toothers. Interviewee 3: If a Swedish is going to China, he/she must be careful with somedetails. Learning some basic Chinese words is very helpful. For instance, wordsin Chinese means “manager, director, teacher, please” could be used even youcan not speak in Chinese. Your Chinese clients would be happy with yourpoliteness and efforts already. Interviewee 4: I recommend Chinese who want to set up a company in Swedento learn about relevant regulations first. Interviewee 5: I think cultural differences are quite numerous and hard tosummarize in words. But no matter in which country or with which language,communicating with a humble and sincere attitude matters a lot. Interviewee 6: I think it is very important to be flexible when we are in anenvironment with different cultures. As Chinese, we are perceived ashard-working. If we keep working hard, we could definitely reach goals easilyeven in a foreign country. Interviewee 7: I think as a foreigner who is working in a multicultural company,we should be very open to different cultures. Interviewee 8: They should have expectations about both exciting changesliving in a new country and also annoying possibilities. Interviewee 9: For people who come to a new cultural environment, being calm Interviewee 10: I think language is an important way for new comers to30understand a country and its culture better. How people choose words and howthey structure their sentences are not a language issue, while it could imply alot. Interviewee 11: People should adjust themselves to the new environment with apositive attitude and if they don’t want to feel lost at certain point, a feasiblelong-term goal is very necessary. Interviewee 12: They should get themselves familiar with regulations and lawsin that country, which is the most basic requirement. However, I found somepeople they ignored regulations in some way when conducting business.5.2 Regarding Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension Theory5.2.1 Power Distance Index (PDI)How do you perceive relationships between employees and employers in China andSweden? Interviewee 1: This aspect is truly an obvious difference. In China, managersand subordinates are not very equal. Managers could ask subordinates to dothings for him/her even after working hours, which happened in my office whenI was with them. Interviewee 2: As I mentioned previously, Chinese care more about mannersthat they have been having for a long time. Addressing your boss by their titleswith surnames is common sense. Besides that, there are a lot of detailed rulesthat you have to be careful with. Interviewee 3: I could clearly feel the distance between employees andemployers when I was in China. Employees just accepted what they were toldto do by their managers. Even they have doubts sometimes, they would notquestion their employers directly.31 Interviewee 4: I think no matter in China or in Sweden, this relationship hasbecoming more transparent and simple. I mean finishing the working task andgetting our company better is the only goal for both employees and employers.At work, focusing on work itself is more important than focusing on how to befriends with your boss. Interviewee 5: I think in Sweden you do not need to think a lot about therelationship between you and your boss. If you have anything to say about work,then just speak up. Besides work, you don’t have to worry if you haveremembered sending him/her a new year wish by message. Interviewee 6: In catering industry, employment differs a lot between China andSweden. In Sweden, I pay my waiters by the hour. So I don’t assess theirperformance about whether they are willing to work for longer time. In China, Ipaid by the month. It is not stated clearly that how many hours you will workevery day. Interviewee 7: I think I am given more freedom at work here in Sweden. Tasksare distributed to me and I can add some of my own ideas after discussing withmy managers. When I worked at a governmental agency in China years ago, Iexperienced that my managers talked for several hours in the long meeting. Interviewee 8: I haven’t hired any other people so far in my gallery. But if Iwould, I think inviting my staffs to home party would help me get to knowmore about them and be friends with them. Interviewee 9: I think the relationship is more simple and direct. In China, wemay hesitate to mention salary raising or vacations to boss. But I found that mystaffs had no problem with these. It was me who felt a little awkward anduncomfortable when they talked about these. Interviewee 10: I think in Sweden the relationship is more interactive whilewhen I was in China, it was like “boss assigning tasks”. I hired a Swedishgraduate who studied Chinese in university. She really likes discussing teaching32methods with me. It was not only I shared my experience, but she gave memany good ideas as well. Interviewee 11: I think the relationship is quite similar in China and Sweden. Interviewee 12: I respect my employees and they enjoy working with me. Ithink we are a good team. Cooperation and communication are important atwork.How do you think about the hierarchy in China in comparison with Sweden? Interviewee 1: The hierarchy system is more obvious in China compared withSweden. Interviewee 2: I have to admit that hierarchy is a noticeable part if you dobusiness with Chinese, especially within the governmental sector. Interviewee 3: Sweden is less hierarchical than China. But I have also noticedthat this have been changed a lot during the past years. Now in large privateenterprises, equality and relaxing working environment are emphasizedfrequently. Interviewee 4: China is more hierarchical. But we should not regard it assomething totally negative. It is a part from Chinese culture and that isinfluenced by history. So it is not easy to abandon it or change it completely. Interviewee 5: It seems more hierarchical in China than in Sweden. Interviewee 6: No answer. Interviewee 7: China is more hierarchical. Interviewee 8: I don’t really have experience regarding this point. But I’veheard about Sweden people who did business in China compliant about Chinesehierarchical issues. Interviewee 9: I think it exists more apparently in China. Interviewee 10: I think in these two countries, the difference regardinghierarchy is people’s attitudes. In China, we accept hierarchy. Even if nowadays33people sometimes criticize it, we have to admit we all have done things tofoment hierarchy. For instance, we started to accept it even since primary schoolwhen there is a person who gets selected as a “class monitor”, which is similarto managers at work. However, in Sweden, people are more sensitive tohierarchy and try not to put it on the table. Interviewee 11: Hierarchy is something that you can not avoid in any society allover the world. There are always differences between managers andsubordinates. Interviewee 12: I think hierarchy exists in both societies.5.2.2 Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV)How was your relationship with your managers/colleagues? Did you becomefriends with them after work? Interviewee 1: I found that Chinese are still related to work somehow after work.I become good friends with most of my colleagues. They were so friendly andnice to me. They showed around the city on weekends. They invited me todinner after work. But I am not sure if it’s because I am their colleague orbecause I am a foreigner since in general Chinese are very friendly toforeigners. Interviewee 2: My counterparts said “we are friends” for a lot of times when wehad dinner party after work. And I was invited to a colleague’s wedding inChina, which is not common in Sweden. I think the definition of friend is quitedifferent in Sweden and China. Interviewee 3: Yes, business friends. It is interesting that Chinese divide theirfriends into different categories. People from business are called “businessfriends”.34 Interviewee 4: With my colleagues, we are not really friends after work.Because there is not really a connection between us after work although at workwe cooperate and communicate quite well and frequently. Interviewee 5: Not really friends here in Sweden. But I think it’s an acceptablesituation. After all, we spend most of time at work. So after work, everyoneneeds some space. Interviewee 6: The relationship is quite flat. I would perceive them as myfriends since if they need my help in any case, I would like to help. Interviewee 7: I only became really good friends with one colleague. We are atsimilar age, same hobbies and in addition, he’s really interested in Chinese food.I think in general it’s hard to hang out with your colleagues after work becauseof personal situation, age and hobby instead of personality or national culture. Interviewee 8: No, not in Sweden. Interviewee 9: Yes. I think we are friends. They help me at work and Isometimes bring snacks or food I made to them in order to express myappreciation and be friends with them. Interviewee 10: We respect each other and talk to each other at work, but notreally after work. Interviewee 11: The relationship between me and my colleagues is goodalthough we are not really friends after work. Interviewee 12: Mostly after work I have to spend time with my family and takecare of kids. But I do think my colleagues are my friends.What role do social network or personal relationship have played at work in Chinaand Sweden according to your experience? Interviewee 1: In China, relationship or “guanxi” is unbelievably important.Several Swedish clients of mine have told me that sometimes they lost the dealbecause they don’t have “guanxi” while their opponents have. For instance,35even their price is lower but their opponents got the deal because their managersare friends with each other. Interviewee 2: I think both social network and personal relationship areimportant no matter in China or Sweden. The hard part is how to maintain andsustain the relationship. Chinese put much more efforts building and improvingrelationships, especially in business. Interviewee 3: social network and personal relationship are important in bothsociety. The case that a person gets a job offer from a friend happens in Chinaas well as in Sweden. But I think in China, it seems more complicated becausemore people are involved in a person’s social network, which takes time, energyand money to maintain. Interviewee 4: “Guanxi” is unavoidable in both countries. In China, it has along history already and people try to weaken it in business nowadays. But it isstill common that friends decide to do business together, which is another formof “personal relationship in work”. In Sweden, LinkedIn got popular. It is anexample of how people use social network and personal relationship here. Interviewee 5: Social network should not be underestimated whether in Chinaor Sweden. A lot of my clients were introduced by previous clients and myfriends. It is hard to promote and advertise a small company. While my clientsbecame the “walking ad” for me. But the premise is your product is goodenough. Interviewee 6: Personal relationship is very important for my business inSweden. Quality of the food is important for sure. But when there is anothersimilar restaurant next door, why would this person choose you instead? Onerestaurant is owned by someone you don’t know; the other is owned by yourfriend. You would choose your friend because it’s important to help yourfriend’s business and maintain this friendship. As a return, I probably will givemy friends some free food or a discount. So it is win-win for both of us.36 Interviewee 7: I don’t think so far social network has influenced my work. But Ido understand why people try to building their network. Friend’s friends is verylikely to become your clients sometimes. Interviewee 8: I think personal relationship is very important in business. Irented this place from a friend with a very reasonable price. But if I havedifficulty with finance, it is ok that I postpone paying rent for some days. This isone example of how personal relationship helps me. Actually there are manysimilar situations. Interviewee 9: I think social network and personal relationship are essential inboth China and Sweden. Your friends could always support you no matter inbusiness or even just give your some sincere suggestions. But the difference isin China, sometimes relationships make you feel you are forced to dosomething. For instance, you don’t want to have drinks with your friend today,but in order to make them feel happy and maintain the relationship, you wouldnot refuse them. Instead, in Sweden, the relationship becomes simpler. Even ifyou refuse, they will understand you. Interviewee 10: I am an introvert person. And my social circle is quite simpleand limited. But I am fine with this and I would not like to spend a lot of timemaintaining relationships that I don’t really care. I prefer keeping several closefriends. Interviewee 11: I think relationship is important in China and Sweden. Weshould not emphasize the derivative meaning of a relationship from a negativeview. Interacting people and communicating effectively are soft power. Interviewee 12: Personal relationship exists in both countries. The commonattitude we should hold no matter with Chinese or Swedish is respecting eachother and think for others like what you do for your friends.375.2.3 Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS)Do you think men and women have equal rights at work in China and Sweden? Interviewee 1: In general, it seems men and women are quite equal at work inChina, However, sometimes I also find situation when companies only want torecruit man or women. Reasons could be that this job needs a lot of businesstrips, so men will be energetic and suitable for this job; or this office already hasa lot of guys, so women are wanted in order to balance the gender. Interviewee 2: I think it is not possible to assure completely equal rightsbetween men and women. It is more about the balance between these twogenders and when they want to make decisions or changes, they would not getpressure from social norms. Interviewee 3: Yes. As I have seen in China, women have the same rights asmen do, which is a surprise because it is not the same situation in other Asiancountries according to my experience. Interviewee 4: The situation has been changed towards an equal direction. Butdiscrimination from the Chinese society still exists. For instance, althoughpeople start to admit that male nurses are needed and important, when in realitya guy becomes a nurse, there are still people who laugh at them. Interviewee 5: I know that Sweden has a global reputation as a gender equalsociety. But honestly, around 90 percent of Swedish managers I haveencountered at work are male. This is the same situation with Chinesecompanies. So I think both countries still have a long way to go in genderequality. Interviewee 6: Not totally equal. But Sweden has carried out a lot of policies topromote gender equality. As for me, a Chinese woman, I experience equal rightsin both countries. In other words, it also depends on the person’s view. If a ladythinks she’s less capable than men at certain job, then she already creates the38inequality herself. Interviewee 7: Equal rights for men and women is stressed in both countries,through regulations and laws. But we still see more housewives thanhousehusbands in China and in Sweden. I think gender equality is more aboutdifferent social work division, which has been decided since ancient times. Interviewee 8: I think in Chinese society, it seems that women have even morerights than men at home, especially in cities. But when it comes to work, moremale leaders/ managers means equality exists for sure. But it is not possible toeliminate equality in any society, even in Sweden, which is known for its genderequality society. Interviewee 9: According to regulations and laws in China, women’s rights havebeen protected well. But in reality, there are unfair cases. For instance, somecompanies would not hire a lady who’s at her child-bearing age and has theintention to have a kid soon because they do not want to undertake the cost forher parental vacation. Interviewee 10: Yes. I think both China and Sweden has worked hard on thisaspect, especially Sweden. As we all know that, men have long parental leavetime in Sweden. Interviewee 11: Yes I think so. Interviewee 12: Yes.Are there apparent differences in solving conflicts between Chinese companies andSwedish companies from your perspective? Do you often experience workingovertime or on weekends now? How was it when you worked in China (Sweden)?How much time do you think you have devoted to your family besides work? Interviewee 1: I think my Chinese colleagues are afraid of conflicts and theyalways try to solve problems as soon as possible. Managers could take actionseven before they inform others. But the positive consequence is that the39potential risk has been reduced to the minimum efficiently. I don’t really workovertime neither in China nor in Sweden. I spend most of my after work timewith my family. Interviewee 2: Yes. I think through conflicts you could see differences clearly.My Chinese got very nervous when conflicts occur. If it’s about their work, theyare afraid that I would criticize them. I used to work on Saturdays with myChinese colleagues when I was assigned to China. It was already their traditionso I chose to follow them. But now in Sweden, I don’t work on weekends. Idevote a lot of time to my family and once or twice a year, I take vacations withthem together. Interviewee 3: Chinese tend to solve conflicts in a way that people’s feelings arenot hurt. They don’t want to be criticized by their boss in front of othermanagers. They will only ask for help from their colleagues when they seriouslycan not solve the problem because they do not want to be looked down byothers. I work overtime sometimes. I didn’t work overtime when I was in China.I think I spend a lot of time with my family. Interviewee 4: In general, neither Swedish nor Chinese likes conflicts. ButChinese tend to solve problems as soon as possible with a leader who makesdecisions; while Swedish people tend to turn to their team and discuss a bitbefore making any decisions, therefore, it takes longer time sometimes. Mycompany is still quite new. It is the busiest period at this beginning level. Butmy employees are passionate about their job since I promise them to becomepartner later on. I also always worked overtime when I was in China. I don’thave much time for my family recently. I feel sorry for it and I appreciate mywife for taking care of kids full-time. Interviewee 5: Problems solved faster with my Chinese clients while it takeslonger time with my Swedish clients. I don’t work overtime normally. Myfamily is in China so I only visited them once a year. But I do text or talk to40them every week. Interviewee 6: I think Chinese people sometimes take conflicts in work toopersonally. We could get offended if I point out their problems directly. So Ioften have to think how to express myself before talking to them. While it iseasier with Swedish employees. They would not keep being unhappy for threedays if I point out their issues. Working overtime is not common for me. I don’thave much time staying at home but sometimes my kids will come to myrestaurants and help me. Interviewee 7: I am quite gentle and ok with people pointing out my problemsat work. I actually wish that my Swedish could be straightforward to me. It willtake less time for me to rethink about what they really mean. I don’t workovertime here in Sweden. I contact my family twice a month. Interviewee 8: I move to Sweden because of my kids. I want them to have lessstress with study and more time for their hobbies. I spend most time after workwith my kids. Interviewee 9: My family is in China. Now I work hard in Sweden, so in thefuture, when everything goes well, I will ask my family to move to Sweden andthen we could stay together. Interviewee 10: I haven’t really encountered any conflicts. But in Chineseculture, we say “harmony is precious”, therefore, I think as Chinese, weunconsciously avoid conflicts with others. I don’t work overtime here inSweden. Instead, I have a lot of flexible time when I am not too busy with work.But this is more because of different occupation. I look after my kids most ofthe time since my wife is busier than me. Interviewee 11: I think Chinese companies are faster in solving conflicts. InSweden, no matter with restaurant or governmental agency, it always takes along time. I became more patient after I started to work in Sweden I guess.Working overtime is not very common since it’s related to labor law and costs.41But sometimes I will bring some materials home in order to prepare for somework. I spend more time with my kids now in Sweden since I don’t have to joinsome social gatherings after work like I did when I was in China. Interviewee 12: I don’t work overtime in China or in Sweden.5.2.4 Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI)How much did you know about the new environment for work and living beforeyou move to the foreign country? Were you feeling anxious or relaxed when youfirst moved to China/Sweden? How many times have you moved to other countriesbecause of work? How many jobs/companies have you experienced since youstarted your career? Interviewee 1: I was introduced a little about the working environment before Iwent to China. I felt excited and nervous at that time. I also had chancesworking in Malaysia, India and the US. Interviewee 2: I was a little worried because I knew that working in a foreigncountry would be a little challenging. I didn’t know about my colleagues beforeI went there. China is the only foreign country that I have worked in. Interviewee 3: I got a brief introduction about things that would encounter inChina. Accommodation and an excellent assistant were arranged. So I was notreally anxious. I have only worked in China and Sweden. Interviewee 4: I have checked information about Sweden before I moved tohere. But that was very basic. I felt anxious indeed. Only once. Interviewee 5: Not much. I felt excited and looked forward to living in anothercountry. Once. Interviewee 6: I heard that Sweden was one of the most livable countries in theworld and also it has good social welfare system. I felt anxious since I didn’t42speak Swedish and it was my first time going abroad. Only once. Interviewee 7: I was quite calm when I first moved to Sweden. Interviewee 8: I didn’t really know about Sweden at the beginning. It wasrecommended by my friend who have relatives here in Sweden. I was notfeeling anxious because I know that my friend would help me a lot. Only once. Interviewee 9: I didn’t know much about Sweden. I even mixed Switzerlandwith Sweden. But I knew Sweden is developed country with fewer people andbeautiful nature. I felt a little nervous. It was a big decision for me. Interviewee 10: Because of IKEA, Volvo and H&M, I started to notice thiscountry, not large but with advanced industry. But getting to know a countrythrough media, book or others is much different from what you learn fromliving in this country. Interviewee 11: It is important to learn about working environment before yougo there. My colleague in China who worked in Sweden before me shared a lotwith me about Sweden. I was not anxious when I came to Sweden. This is mysecond time working abroad. Interviewee 12: Not much. I didn’t feel anxious. Only once.5.2.5 Long Term Orientation versus Short Term NormativeOrientation (LTO)What factors are considered important in building a long-term relationship withChinese? Do you have a long-term goal or plan for your career/ life? Regardinglong-term, you could have your own interpretation. Interviewee 1: I think if a foreigner wants to build a long-term relationship withChinese, she/he has to find a way to connect with them after work. For instance,you try to know about her/his family and some other personal information.43Chinese regard talking about themselves as a way of getting close to each other.I think long-term for me currently is two or three years. There are too changesthat I can not predict. Interviewee 2: I think being active in the relationship is very important. Youneed to talk to them every now and then, show your sincerity by greeting orgiving them gifts on festivals or even remember their birthday. Interviewee 3: I think it is important to show your enthusiasm in knowing them,even they are just colleagues for several months. When you get their help, youneed to show your appreciation by returning help or through other ways. Itseems the balance of the equality in the relationship is maintained in this way. Ihave goal for my career for the coming five years, but I would not get stressedbecause of it. After all, enjoy everyday is more important than the final result. Interviewee 4: Personally, I think having a good reputation is very important ifyou want to build a long-term relationship. Because in a small social circle, forinstance, Chinese community around Stockholm, it is very likely that you havemutual acquaintance with each other. Therefore, if you image is bad amongseveral people, then it is very possible that you lose your reputation among a lotof people. I have long-term goals all the time, which is very important like acompass in my life. Interviewee 5: I think trust is very important in building a long-termrelationship with Chinese. China is an acquaintance society. People prefer doingbusiness or having financial dealings with people that they trust instead ofsomeone who just comes to promote for their own sake. I do not have a cleargoal for the future so far since I am still at the stage of exploring what I reallylike. Interviewee 6: I think a long-term relationship, no matter in which country,needs to be maintained with social interactions. People need to make effortscreating chances to interact with each other. For example, I always prepare44birthday gifts for my staffs and holiday presents before they leave work. Theyare grateful for it and then I know even other places offer jobs to them with alittle higher salary, they will still choose me because we are not employmentrelationship anymore. We have been friends for years as well. I have along-term goal of opening more restaurants in Europe. Now, we achieved agreat success because of my previous goal leading me all the time. Interviewee 7: I think respecting Chinese culture is the key to building along-term relationship with Chinese. Most Chinese are very proud of theirculture. Culture could also be a shining point in your talk with Chinese andwhen doing business with Chinese if you could borrow something from theirculture. I have goals for recent two years, then five years, then ten years. But Iam not sure if I could reach all of them. Interviewee 8: I think being hospitable and open to Chinese etiquette areessential in maintaining a long-term relationship with Chinese as friends orbusiness partners. Chinese make use of close interaction to prove that both sidesare willing to keep this relationship long-term. Therefore, involving them intoyour after work time, social time, vacation time could help you become theirlong-term business partner. I have goals for the coming five years. I hopeeverything could be complied with my plan. Interviewee 9: I think being flexible and accepting Chinese social rules are verynecessary if you want to have a long-term relationship with Chinese businesspartners. In Sweden, probably personal relationships are not mixed withbusiness relationships. While in China, being capable to handle the complexityof the mixture of these two types of relationships even became a symbol ofbeing outstanding in business. In Chinese, as the saying goes, human beings arealive and flexible; rules are dead and cold. It implies that in Chinese society,people regard their feeling superior to rules that are set by people. I have along-term goal for the future five years. I think it is important for everyone to45have a goal. Interviewee 10: I think being reliable and winning the other’s trust are veryimportant in building a long-term relationship with people all over the world.Trust is especially highly valued in China. At the beginning or say for the firsttime, setting up a business relationship with a Chinese enterprise, you shouldeither have outstanding products/services, or at least already have a networkwith this enterprise. If the trust system is ruined once, the next time will be hardto win their trust again. Therefore, building a long-term relationship is not easynowadays in China since everything changes too fast. I have a long-term goalfor my work and life. But I would also like to adjust it according to the futuresituation. Interviewee 11: I think being honest and humble is very important whenconducting business with Chinese from a long-term perspective. Since mostChinese are honest and humble, they expect others to behave similarly. The goaland plan for my career is much relied on the work assignments. For instance,my term in Sweden is five years. After five years, I will definitely be assignedto another position according to our regulation. Interviewee 12: I think respecting each other, setting up a commoncommunication system and adjusting ourselves according to changes anddifferent occasions are important for building a long-term relationship withChinese. These could be applied to a lot of cultures, not only with Chinese ones.My term in Sweden is six years. It was already written in my assignment letterwhen I came to Sweden. I will reach the age of retirement after this term.5.2.6 Indulgence versus Restraint (IND)What were your impressions about Chinese/ Swedish people when you were46abroad? What are their common personalities in your view? Interviewee 1: Chinese were very nice and friendly to me although sometimeslanguage barriers existed. But kindness and smile are common language forhuman being. Chinese are very shy and implicit. They reserve feelings nomatter about compliments or criticism. But it has been changed a lot. I seeyoung Chinese have their own personalities. Interviewee 2: Chinese people are very humble. When you give themcompliments, they will deny immediately, but actually they are happy in theirheart. When seating at a dinner, they always give seat of honor to others. Ilearned from Chinese that in China, if a person does not have a title or you don’tknow their exact position, you should call them “Laoshi”, which means“teacher”, to show your respect and manners. Interviewee 3: Chinese are known for working hard, which was proved truewhen I lived in China. I often saw that lights in a lot of Business Districtbuildings were still on after 9pm. Most breakfast stands even started to sellbreakfast before 6am. My clients sometimes sent me emails on weekends. Interviewee 4: Swedish people are more straightforward than Chinese. Theywill tell you what they think directly instead of polishing the language or hidesome opinions. Once I asked my colleagues about one design that I have beenworking on some several days, they said sorry but told me that it was not good.I guess my Chinese colleague would not talk like that sine they will be afraid ofhurting my feelings. Interviewee 5: I have to say that Swedish are distant sometimes. My Chineseclients always send me greetings and wishes on festivals or even gifts, while Inever received any from my Swedish clients. They are very quiet after ourprojects. Interviewee 6: I think Swedish people I’ve met are quite shy. I had to talk tothem first if I want to get to know them. It is a bit hard to be friends with them47as well. I tried to be very active and invited people to dinner and to my housefor several times before they do anything as return. Interviewee 7: In general, Swedish people are not flexible enough. They are tooserious with their regulations and stick to convention. Interviewee 8: The Swedish customers that I have met are very serious with arts.They dig deeply about the history of one art piece; the artist or ways of artisticexpression. While Chinese could buy an art piece just because they like thecolor or it’s a promising investment. Interviewee 9: I think Swedish people are very independent. The summer staffsin my store are university students. They work part-time to earn money on theirown. While most Chinese students get money from their parents directly. Interviewee 10: Swedish students are very active expressing their opinions andsharing with others. They are confident about what they say. Interviewee 11: I think Swedish people are very open to new surroundings andchallenges. Interviewee 12: I think Swedish people are always quite optimistic.In your opinion, what are the differences between China and Sweden in people’sattitude towards vacation? Interviewee 1: In Sweden, we have five weeks’ paid vacation days. Having avacation every year is as common as having weekends off. But I found that inChina, although some companies give employees paid vacation days, it isrelatively short and the exact dates will have to be decided by managers. Interviewee 2: Having annual vacation days in Sweden is a must as you can seeit is even written in law. But in China, my Chinese colleagues complained thatthey do not have additional vacations except national holidays, such asmid-autumn festival and Spring Festival. Interviewee 3: I think the speed of life is much faster in China and the job48market is more competitive. Bosses want their employees to make as muchprofit as possible otherwise they could replace their employees with others whodo not require vacations. While in Sweden, since vacation is protected by law. Interviewee 4: Because of life stress, not many Chinese would take a month offas vacation. For people who work for others, it is not even possible to bring thisidea up. People need to maintain their hard-working image by working all yearlong. Interviewee 5: I used to think having a vacation doing nothing serious in amonth is waste of time. But since I moved away from my family, annualvacation became the only time that I could stay with my family. Interviewee 6: I take summer vacation for travelling from recent years. I thinkrecent years, traveling abroad became popular among Chinese. Taking avacation for traveling abroad is not only for relax, it also became a symbol oftheir wealth. Interviewee 7: Before when I worked in China, I didn’t have other vacationdays except national holidays. But now in Sweden, like most of colleagues, Itake a vacation. Interviewee 8: I only took several days off for celebrating Spring Festival withmy family when I worked in China. But now I try to stay in China for a monthannually. Interviewee 9: I think with Chinese families having more disposable income,many of them chose to travel and take a vacation every year. I used to have twoweeks every summer as vacation. Interviewee 10: Swedish people and Chinese people have different preferencefor vacations. Sitting on the beach and reading a book sound boring for manyChinese while may sound relaxing for Swedish. Chinese prefer visiting moreplaces and doing more things in a day. Interviewee 11: I think both Chinese and Swedish love vacations. But China is49still at a developing stage, more competition exists. So even vacation is writtenin law, self-employed people, for instance, would still choose to work instead ofrelaxing at home. Interviewee 12: I think Chinese people will save money till they are satisfiedwith their financial status before they spend a lot of money or time on vacations.But Swedish people are very optimistic and they believe in “carpe diem”, whichmeans seize the day.5.3 Regarding Hall’s High-context Culture andLow-context Culture TheoryWhat are the differences between how Chinese and Swedish people expressthemselves? What’s the remarkable difference you have found between yourmother tongue and Swedish/Chinese if you have learned? Interviewee 1: Chinese is a very profound language that I will never be able tounderstand everything. But I don’t think Chinese people can understand theircountrymen sometimes either. My Chinese friends always said “we should hangout next time”. Then I started to expect and wait, but sometimes that “nexttime” never happen. I also learned that if they suggest dinner together“guoliangtian”, literally means “after two days”, in most cases, they do notreally mean exact two days. It could be after two weeks or even longer time. Interviewee 2: It was a bit hard for me to realize that there might be anothermeaning behind people’s words. But after several times, I keep remindingmyself to think one step further in case there are misunderstandings. Interviewee 3: I think Chinese language is hard partly because that one wordcould have several meanings according to different occasions. Tone of voicecould also imply different meanings. This is not only an issue about language,50but it is also related to mindsets. Interviewee 4: I think Swedish people are better at expressing themselves. Theyare eager to share their opinions at work and like discussing issues on meetings.But sometimes, I would think twice before I come up with my ideas. Interviewee 5: I think in Chinese, being implicit is regarded as a smart way ofcommunication. However, this would not help anything when talking to aSwedish. Therefore, I have to switch my way of expressing myself sometimesdepending on who I am talking to. Interviewee 6: I am a very straightforward person. My personality offended alot of people when I was in China. But here in Sweden, it seems not too badwith my personality. Interviewee 7: I think there are more exaggerated parts in Swedish language.Swedish people use more gestures and body languages. And they have a lot oftones that I found interesting. Interviewee 8: Swedish people focus more on details. For instance, when I talkabout a big/small city, they would like to ask the number of population of thatcity. Interviewee 9: I think Swedish people care a lot about how they feel. They willtell you clearly if they are happy at work. But with Chinese, we may hide ourfeelings on purpose or express ourselves in a vague way since complainingabout work in front of boss is something unacceptable from their perspective. Interviewee 10: It is undeniable that Chinese language requires more inunderstanding. Sometimes you even have to consider the status of speakers.Language receivers have to process the information they get and interpret onestep further. This feature also leads to the result that we reserve our opinionsinstead of speaking up since the more you talk, the more likely you makemistakes. Interviewee 11: Chinese tend to be implicit while Swedish tend to be explicit. It51is more important to set up a common communication style, which is beingsincere, open, and polite in a multicultural business environment. But of courseit is necessary to learn about each other’s language and culture. Interviewee 12: In communication, Chinese express themselves in differentways depending on how familiar or close they are with the person they talk to.If they are close friends, they would not say words like “please” or “thank you”all the time, which are regarded as language for talking to strangers. However,in English or Swedish, you use similar way to talk to everyone.52Chapter 6: Analysis6.1 Framework PredictionsThis subchapter explains to what extent China and Sweden differs in interculturalbusiness communication based on what can be derived or inferred from the theoreticalframeworks that were reviewed in chapter Cultural dimensions: Power Distance IndexChina scores 80, which according Hofstede’s research means that there exists a big gapbetween superiors and subordinates with regards to power, which is accepted andregarded as normal. Aspirations beyond rank is not encouraged; it is common to obeyand respect order from superiors; power is more likely to be abused by superiors;subordinates are easily influenced by superiors. In business, this feature could beembodied in the situation where directors or managers tend to make decisions, or lateron, take the responsibility as well, by themselves instead of encouraging theiremployees to manage themselves.Sweden scores 31, which means that individuals are expected to be more independent;hierarchy is less accepted; equal rights and approachable superiors is expected andwanted; power is less centralized; employees are consulted; and direct and interactivecommunication is more preferred compared to control and formalness from employers.These characteristics could be proved by examples like, decision-making meetings withemployees are highly expected; employees do not need to address managers strictlywith their job titles and so forth.536.1.2 Cultural Dimensions: Individualism versus CollectivismChina scores 20 with which indicates that China is a collectivist society where peopleprioritize the common interest of the group rather than their own interests. Employeecommitment to the organization is not too high since personal relationships are moreessential. Out-groups (those who do not belong to the same group) are often treated withcoldness and hostility by in-groups (those who belong to the same group). Thepossibility for in-groups to get hired and promoted is much higher. Gaining trust frombusiness partner from a long-term view by being friends is commonly acknowledged inChinese society. Relationship with “business friend” needs to be carefully maintained.Situation like a businessman showing up at the wedding ceremony of a customer’s son’sis widely accepted. (J. Liu and Alex 2002)Sweden is predicated as an individualist society with a score of 71 where socialconnections are much looser. Different from relationship-based society, hiring andpromotion are mainly based on performance. Confrontation in business relationship isregarded as healthy since more accurate discussion and debate will be followed.(Shaalan et al. 2013)6.1.3 Cultural Dimensions: Masculinity versus FemininityChina is considered as a masculine society with a score of 66. Material success could bethe driven factor for Chinese to sacrifice family and leisure time for work. In order tocompete with peers and maximize profit, it is common for Chinese shop owners to openshops till late night seven days a week or even every day in a year. This characteristiccould be seen in organizations as well. Employees are expected to have initiative andwillingness to work overtime so as to be proved by employers.54Sweden, with a very low score—5, is perceived as a feminine society. Its feminine traitsare not only demonstrated by paid annual vacation and long parental leave for both menand women; but also implied in the moderate and cooperative working atmosphere orbusiness settings. Disagreement is supposed to be resolved by discussion andnegotiation.6.1.4 Cultural Dimensions: Uncertainty Avoidance IndexIt is remarkable that both China and Sweden have a relatively low score in thisdimension. In other words, they are similar in this dimension. China scores 30 andSweden scores 29, which means both societies handle uncertainty with a relaxed andpositive attitude. In business, with this feature, practice matters more than fixedprinciples; schedules are more flexible and innovation is accepted more easily. Flexibleworking hours in Sweden is another evidence to prove the “uncertainty accepting”capacity in the Swedish society.6.1.5 Cultural Dimensions: Long Term Orientation versus ShortTerm Normative OrientationChina scores relatively high as 87 in this dimension, which indicates that changes couldbe made according to time, requirements and different situation. In business, Chineseare known for being humble and good at learning from others, which could be explainedby the feature in this dimension. Variation in organizations under the rapidly growingeconomy are all at the service of making progress later and eventually reach the finalgoal. Much time is required to build trust with Chinese and set up a long-termrelationship because long-term goals are preferred in the society. In Chinese business,“xinyong” (trust) is a key concept, which implies the basis of business strategy thatstresses personal relations and long-term connections. (Rothlin and McCann 2016)German sociologist Max Weber divided trust into two types, which are particularistic55and universalistic. Particularistic trust was based on blood ties and kinship.Universalistic trust was set up on community of faith, for instance, the Christianitybelief in the West. Weber argued that universalistic trust is rational and impersonal. Withtime goes by, when Christianity’s role became less decisive in the Western society, thebond for social actors turned more obviously to rules and principles, which could beexamined in the so-called rule –based culture as well. While in China, familial type ofbusiness was the foundation of business relationships according to history. (Nam,Weaver, and delMas 2015) With the influence of this historical background,particularistic trust is even still apparent in modern Chinese business. Thisrelationship-based culture in Chinese business implies what strategy should be takenand the significance of making the best of relationships. Sweden does not have a clearpreference in this dimension with a score of 53. But it is relatively normative as a shortterm orientation society in comparison with China. In business, it is noticeable thatSwedish organizations are willing to devote themselves to inherit the traditions, whichis an essential reference and take more social responsibilities with proud towards thecountry.6.1.6 Cultural Dimensions: Indulgence versus RestraintChina is defined as a restrained society in this dimension as it reaches a comparativelow score of 24. In contrast to indulgent societies, restrained societies put less emphasison the gratification of people’s desires. Expressions such as “I have to” and “I must” aremore common. Duty pushes people to make choices rather than following personaldesires. In business, seriousness and formalness stand out as stress comes from duty.Swedish culture is perceived as indulgent with a high score of 78. The key elementscould be found easily in this dimension are embodied in daily life. For instance, doingwhat you like instead of what you are expected to do according to social norms; being56open to make new friends is unspoken social rule and healthy lifestyle is moreimportant than saving more money.6.1.7 High-context Culture and Low-context CultureIn business communication, high-context culture and low-context culture are wellembodied. Managers from low-context culture society tend to seek solutions and makedecisions on the basis of articles of organization and employee handbook instead ofpersonal judgment that relates to previous experience. In high-context culture society,how many vacations days could an employee have, when a promotion could be granted,how many overtime hours does an employee need to contribute mainly depend onmanager’s decision, especially in small-scale business organization. In businesscooperation, verbal agreement is very common and usually have trustful personalrelationship as foundation. In opposite, contracts with legal effects could be even foundin daily occasion. Once a contract is signed by both parties, there is no room fornegotiation or adjustment anymore. In a Chinese setting, when a Chinese customer says“maybe” to your project proposal, there is a high chance that you are already denied byhim/her. Using a vague word like “maybe” is just a way to avoid face-to-face conflicts.But even if the proposal win a positive comment like “great”, it does not really mean“excellent” or “fabulous”. Instead, it is likely that the proposal is just alright with a lotof room for improvement. An important concept “saving face”, which focuses onpersonal feelings therefore is emphasized in China. (Li, Qiu, and Liu 2016) This kind ofindirectness in business communication from a high-context culture society is confusingfor an out-group. In high-context business occasion, using metaphor freely and havingan ability of reading between the lines are regarded as admirable advantage. Speakingup with straightforward words, which is used in low-context culture society, could beperceived as inexperienced or rude business behaviors.576.2 Data AnalysisAmong the twelve interview participants, nine of them gave positive answer regardingthe existence of a “national culture” and believe that they are influenced by nationalculture in their intercultural business experience. However, objections against theconcept “national culture” also exists. They believe that similarities in culture betweencountries (in a general sense) are larger than differences between countries. The generalconsensus between interview participants is that in an intercultural businessenvironment, if national cultural characteristics are focused on, it will be harmful incommunication because selecting one national culture means to neglect the othernational cultures that are represented by its people in this multinational environment.(Vaughn 2010)From this part, it is noticeable that not all interview participants agreewith Hofstede’s way of describing and stratification of culture. Interview participantswho believed in cultural differences also anticipated cultural differences before theystarted their intercultural business experience. However, these anticipations are notstructured in a systematic way. Hofstede has argued that culture can be only usedmeaningfully by comparison. The interview data proved this point with all positiveanswers from interviewees although the frequencies that they compare cultures aredifferent. More than half interviewees have considered cultural differences factors whenthey met conflicts in their intercultural business experience, which implies that cultureplays an important role in business practices.6.2.1 Power Distance in Intercultural Business CommunicationAccording to Hofstede’s research, power distance in China is more obvious than inSweden. The interview data is aligned with Hofstede’s research result. Interviewee 1, 2,and 3 all mentioned that the power gap between managers and subordinates in China isquite apparent. Hofstede has pointed out that there is a high possibility that power is58abused by superiors. This statement is supported by the example that one intervieweementioned; managers routinely asked staff members to work after working hours. Thestrong presence of hierarchy in China was also mentioned by interviewees, which issimilar to Hofstede’s statement. Certain manners seem to be tied to etiquette andcustoms but the root cause seems to hierarchy. (Bing 2004) Addressing managers bytheir titles together with surnames is regarded as a common way in China while inSweden it is very uncommon. (Chang 2007) Interviewees claimed that according totheir observations and experiences, power is more centralized in China; employeesmostly do what they are told to do and experience less freedom. But as suggested byone of the interviewees, the relationship manager and subordinate is normally lesscomplicated since in multicultural business environments, building a commoncommunication style is more helpful. It is necessary to point out that Hofstede’sresearch data is based on surveys over long time, including many countries whileresearch data here is gathered from smaller population people with different occupations.As mentioned above, interviewee 11 and interviewee 12 are working in the branchoffice of a large Chinese state-owned enterprise. They both answered questions in a veryreserved way. For instance, when they were asked about power distance relatedquestions, they did not provide a clear answer.6.2.2 Individualism versus Collectivism in Intercultural BusinessCommunicationAccording to Hofstede, Chinese society is collectivistic while Swedish society isindividualistic. People’s relationships with their managers/ employees/ business partnerscould reflect their attitudes towards interpersonal space. According to the interviews, allthree Swedish interviewees mentioned that they became friends with their Chinesecolleagues/ business partners after work, which indicates that Chinese tend to blur theboundary line of private life and professional life. Just as Hofstede pointed out, the59degree of trust among people depends on how much you are included as an in-groupmember. Interaction after work or beyond business occasion in China, which werebrought up by the three Swedish interviewees also prove that Chinese are trying hard towork for their enterprise, even on that condition that they need to sacrifice theirweekends or private time. For them, organizational benefit takes precedence overindividual leisure. Worth noting was that interviewees questioned the definition of whatfriendship really means. They think there might be different expectations and rituals forfriendship and different purposes for making friends. Interviewees also questionedwhether their collectivist behaviors can be called real collectivism since thefundamental purpose of these behaviors is to benefit themselves as individuals. Amongthe rest nine Chinese interviewees, two interviewees claimed that they think they arefriends with colleagues; while the other seven said they have a good relationship withtheir colleagues but not close like friends. Regarding the importance of social networkand personal relationship, more than half of the interviewees indicated that “guanxi” isimportant in both China and Sweden, which conflicts in certain way with what Hofstedeclaimed in the Individualism versus Collectivism cultural dimension. Guanxi, literallymeans “relationship” or “connection” , exists among people from business andorganizations. It is “ personalistic, particularistic and non-ideological ties betweenpersons—-based on a commonality of shared identification.1 This relationship variesfrom father-son, husband-wife, schoolmate and friends relationships to social, economic,business and political relationships. With this huge classification in all types ofrelationships, guanxi has become a significant part of Chinese’s personal life andChinese social structure. (Servaes 2016) According to Hofstede’s research, Swedishsociety is a typical individualist society where rules are followed and expected to befollowed. However, interview answers showed that currently in Sweden are also veryimportant. This suggests that Swedes value relationships but that the definition of what1J. Bruce Jacobs, “The Cultural Bases of Factional Alignment and Division in a Rural Taiwanese Township”, in TheJournal of Asian Studies , Vol. 36, No. 1 (November 1976), pp. 80–81.60a relationship entails is different from the global norm that Hofstede used. Thedifference here can also be explained by the social changes that happened in bothsocieties. In China, “guanxi” had a great impact and caused the abuse of power andcorruption in some cases. Therefore, the status of “guanxi” has been weakenedgradually in society to promote equality and fairness. However, in Sweden, it has been along time that things are proceeded strictly according to rules and regulations, which ledto lack of flexibility, increase of bureaucracy and indifference among people. Socialnetwork helps communication more efficiently sometimes. According to this research, itis noticeable that the so-called collectivist society and individualist society have beenchanging gradually and the standard of defining this dimension needs more elaboration.6.2.3 Masculinity versus Femininity in Intercultural BusinessCommunicationChina, as a representative of masculine societies in Hofstede’s research, is supposed toshow obvious gender inequality in business. However, according to interviewee 3,women have the same rights as men do in China. But at the same time, severalinterviewees also provided specific examples to show that in business occasion, Chinais still quite masculine. Recruitment preference for male, more male managers thanfemale managers and more housewives than househusbands all indicated that the role ofdifferent genders in China still are significantly different. It is interesting to point outthat although Sweden is known for being a feminine society, several interviewees couldgive examples of observed gender inequality in Sweden and they believed that in bothChina and Sweden, absolute gender equality does not exist. When it comes to dealingwith conflicts, most interviewees mentioned that neither Chinese nor Swedish peopleare prone to conflicts or are accepting of conflicts. To certain extend, both of them try toavoid conflicts at work. But with regards to solving conflicts, Chinese tend to be more61assertive and efficient, which is mentioned in Hofstede’s research as well. In this case, aworker would make decisions immediately and indecently for the sake of efficiency andassertiveness without consulting with colleagues. Masculine society focuses on successat the cost of sacrificing the balance between family and work. For this reason it issurprising to see that seven interviewees claimed that they did not work overtime inChina. According to explanations from interviewees, it seems people’s personal choicesto work overtime or not, which are decided by their occupations or organizations nomatter in China or in Sweden. Both Chinese and Swedish interviewees expressed theirdevotion to their family. In particular, several Chinese interviewees moved to Swedeninitially because of their family. Therefore, it is hard to measure if the gap betweenChina (masculine society) and Sweden (feminine society) is still as large as Hofstedes’framework states.6.2.4 Uncertainty Avoidance Index in Intercultural BusinessCommunicationUncertainty avoidance is the only cultural dimension that China and Sweden havesimilar scores. In other words, both countries have a high tolerance for uncertainty.People from an uncertainty accepting society tend to be open to job change and workwith people who are from difference cultural background. In the interview, all twelveinterviewees had experience working and living in a foreign country for at least once.Half of them did not feel anxious or worried before they moved to another countrybecause of prior preparations, previous experience, organizational assistance andrelatives’ support. Some interviewees did not know much about the foreign countryeven when they already decided to move there. But as a whole, only two of them hadexperienced moving to other countries for work more than once although they aresupposed to have high tendency to accepting new and uncertain environment as peoplefrom an uncertainty accepting society. Regarding job change, interview data shows that62the result mostly depends on interviewees’ occupations. Interviewees who work forlarge, renowned organizations tend to have long commitment to their jobs. However,interviewees who work as a self-employed or small-sized enterprises seems to changejobs more often. Therefore, the interview result in this dimension from this researchdoes not comply with Hofstede’s conclusion completely. Individual differences arewell-remarked in the interview.6.2.5 Long Term Orientation versus Short Term NormativeOrientation in Intercultural Business CommunicationHofstede framework states that China is more pragmatic than Sweden based on thecultural dimension scoring of long term orientation, although Sweden had a neutralscore which means that are neither long term oriented or short term normative. Based onHofstede’s research findings, it is more difficult to build a long-term relationship withChinese although long-term goal is preferred in this society. In the interview data,interviewees’ opinions on how to build a long-term relationship reveal the features ofChina being a pragmatic society with long term orientation. As some interviewees havementioned, in order to maintain the relationship with Chinese, extra efforts after workbesides interaction or communication at work is needed. Some behaviors, as forinstance, caring about others’ personal life, preparing gifts for them and engaging inactivities outside of the business or work setting are important for the development of along-term relationship in business. Good reputation, trust and social network werementioned by interviewees as important factors for the development of long termrelationships, which is also in agreement with Hofstedes findings. Chinese society ismore pragmatic and reaching higher goals could come at the cost of making concessions.However, as for long-term goal, both Chinese and Swedish interviewees said that theyare open to changes in their long-term goals. In addition, they have differentinterpretations on the definition of “long-term”.636.2.6 Indulgence versus Restraint in Intercultural BusinessCommunicationHofstedes’ framework describes China as a restrained society while Sweden as a typicalindulgent society. Chinese are shy, afraid to express for themselves and hide theirfeelings according to both Hofstede and interviewees’ statements. Although the restraintfeature is quite dominant in China, as interviewee 1 mentioned, the new generation ofChinese are quite diverse with their personalities. Tedious manners at work and wheninteracting with Chinese are also brought up by interviewee 2, which show thecharacteristic of seriousness and formalness in a restraint society. According to Hofstede,people in restraint society are more pessimistic compared to people in an indulgentsociety. In interview data, it is claimed that Chinese are more hard-working than theircounterparts in Sweden because of less sense of security toward life and the pressurefrom their duties. Instead, Swedes require more freedom in expressing their opinionsand pay more attention to the quality of daily life. Swedish indulgent culture isdemonstrated through their attitudes towards vacations as well. Vacations are welcomedby both Chinese and Swedish employees. However, according to most interviewees’experience, vacation is restrained in China while it is common and a legal right forworkers in Sweden. Competitive employment market and fast speed of life are talkedabout by interviewee 3 to explain why Chinese occupational life is more stronglycontrolled. Overseas trip and annual vacation started to become popular among Chineserecent years. However, several interviewees analyzed that the purpose behind thischange is not purely for enjoying the pleasure of life as Swedish society advocates.Making use of the vacation to fulfill family duty by visiting family on festivals andshow personal wealth by travelling abroad is commonly acknowledged.646.2.7 Low-context and High-context Culture in InterculturalBusiness CommunicationEdward T. Halls framework describes Chinese society as a high-context culture societywhile Sweden as a low-context culture society on the basis of how important context isin different occasions and how clear the messages are expressed in communication. Ininterviews, the differences between how Chinese and Swedish people expressthemselves were mentioned for several times as well. From interviewee 1’s example, theimplicit characteristic of Chinese language and expression was revealed. Multiplemeanings could be expressed through one sentence in Chinese according tointerviewees’ experience, which is in line with what Hall said about China being ahigh-context culture society. In addition, according to different occasions, Chinese aremore reserved in expressing themselves directly as interviewee 4 pointed out.6.3 DiscussionAs has been demonstrated earlier in this thesis, there exists differences with regards tointer-cultural business communication between China and Sweden. In this thesis,predictions were generated from the chosen theoretical frameworks which was thencontrolled against data collected through interviews. The agreement between theoreticalpredictions and interview data was fairly good, with the exceptions of a fewdiscrepancies.The interview data shows that not all interviewee’s answers are in agreement with thetheoretical frameworks. For instance, with regards to the power distance culturaldimension, interviewees’ 11 and 12 were quite reserved when answering questions onpower distance. This implies that different types of organizations may have different65styles of dealing with intercultural differences in business. Within the twelve interviews,all interviewees had their own distinct opinions expressed in their response to certainquestions. Between all 12 interviewees, nobody ever had the same response for thesame question. For instance, with regards to Sweden being a feminine society, severalinterviewees raised different examples that deviated from the theoretical prediction thatthe Cultural Dimensions framework had made. Furthermore, with regards to theuncertainty avoidance cultural dimension, the Cultural Dimensions frameworks statesthat both China and Sweden very similar with nearly identical score. This was not inagreement with the interview data where there was a general consensus that there is aclear difference in uncertainty avoidance. These deviations from the frameworkpredictions could simply be due to the nature of models that explain complex conceptsrelated to social sciences and anthropology. Models cannot account for all the individualdifferences but instead tries to describe the general characteristics of the complexconcept as well as possible. It is also possible that what individuals experience as truemight be different from what is independently observed due to subconscious bias andunintentional selective recall of memories. Finally it is also possible that the limitedsample size for data collection skews the results of the comparison. In Hall’shigh-context and low-context culture, the gap between China as a high-context culturesociety and Sweden as a low-context culture society is absolute. While according to theinterview data, this gap is dynamic and has been changed due to the development of thesociety. For instance, China used to be stable on population; while recent years, due tothe movement of population under urbanization, a lot of cities tend to be more explicitin regulations and managing the city. In business occasion, in order to avoidcommunication barriers and standardize management, clear and straightforwardexpression are encouraged. At the same time, management became more dependent oncompany written rules and regulations, especially in large-scale enterprises. (Harris andRobert T 2000)66With the exception of the discrepancies mentioned above, both Hofstede’s CulturalDimensions framework and Hall’s High and Low Context framework has suited thefoundation of this thesis well. With regards to the design of the interview questions, itwas easy to formulate relevant interview questions according to the theoreticalframeworks. However, answers were unpredictable and sometimes it was hard tosummarize answers by categories. The interview questions were formulated and askedin manner to disguise the relation to the individual theoretical frameworks in an effort toavoid introducing bias to the interview answers.The interview participant selection, as detailed in the methodology part, is considered tobe good as all participants had business experience, different nationalities and were wellfamiliar with both China and Sweden. However, during the interview process, it wasnoticeable that interview responses from interviewees with different occupations andworking experience, varied a lot. For instance, interviewees who work for largeorganizations with a higher position tended to have similar answers for certain questions.While interviewees from newly-established enterprises shared similar views on a lot ofquestions. The interview transcripts were given true to the source in this thesis in orderto give the reader an unbiased possibility to review all responses.Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension framework was easier to apply in this thesis as thenation specific quantitative data was easy to obtain and use for comparisons quickly.Guidance for the interpretation of the nation specific differences were also provided byHofstede. All of this provides for a comparison that is true and consistent to theframework.Hall’s High-context and Low-context cultures are however not of a quantitative natureas it does not provide a numerical way describe how much of “what” that a culturediffers from another culture. Rather the framework describes what a high and low67context culture is in general terms which one then has to match against. For this reasonit is not as easy to compare two cultures as there may be overlap or “fuzzy” boundaries.The frame work deals with High-context and Low-context which sounds like two polaropposites while the framework really deals with a gradient between the two poles, andpinpointing where something is in this gradient between High and Low context is thebiggest challenge. (Hall 1989)It was not easy to derive (or infer) the theoretical predictions, although part of thegeneral predictions are mentioned in previous research results of the two theoreticalframeworks. However, only predictions related to intercultural business communicationwas relevant for scope of this thesis. For this reason predictions had to be made with thescope in mind.This thesis has clearly shown that there are differences between China and Sweden withregards to intercultural business communication from a cultural-dimensional andmessage-contextual point of view. This thesis also clearly shown in a systematic way towhich extent China and Sweden differs with regards to intercultural businesscommunication from a cultural-dimensional and message-contextual point of view, mostclearly with the aid of the Cultural Dimensions framework which allows for quantitativecomparison. This thesis has also demonstrated that there is a good agreement betweenempirical observations and the framework predictions of intercultural businesscommunication differences and their extent.68Chapter 7 ConclusionThis thesis has successfully shown that there are differences with regards tointernational business communication between China and Sweden. The extent of thesedifferences have been shown in part by the empirical data that has been collected forthis thesis and part by the theoretical frameworks that have been used for this thesis.High level of agreement between empirical data and theoretical frameworks has beenshown although some deviations were also found.This research has provided a comparative view on the intercultural differences inbusiness communication. However, due to the limitation of time and research samples,it has its limitations. Further research could be continued with more detailedclassifications of interviewee selection. More conditions should be narrowed down inorder to assure the objectivity of the research result. For instance, gender, age,occupation and location of interviewees should also be taken into consideration. Thenumber of interview participants should be increased in order to increase the likelihoodof capturing the whole spectrum and density of potential answers.Hofstede’s cultural dimensions framework allows for the comparison of countries in aquantitative manner which, in practice, could help people work more effectively ininternational settings. Misunderstandings or mistakes caused by unawareness ofdifferences in cultures could be avoided or reduce the possibility from the beginning. Inan intercultural business setting, finding a shared language, rules and standards and thenacting according to them needs the foundation for a deeper understanding of each other.69Hofstede’s cultural dimensions framework has been criticized for several weaknesses.Hofstede assumes that one country only involves one national culture. He only studiedone industry and collected data from one particular company, IBM. 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