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Impacts of Cultural Differences on Sino-American Business Negotiations

摘 要

随着全球经济合作的迅猛发展,国际商务谈判日益增多。在过去 20 年里,中美两国的商务谈判 也显著增加。中国是最大的发展中国家,有着几千年的历史,已经形成了系统化的文化取向。相比 而言,美国是一个相对年轻的国家,同时也是世界上最繁荣和发达的国家,也有着它自己独一无二 的文化价值观。其结果是中美两国存在着巨大的文化差异,而这些文化差异对中美两国的商务谈判 有着消极的影响,比如说,造成谈判双方不必要的误解和争吵,引起双方之间的经济纠纷,等等。 因此,人们普遍认为理解文化差异对中美两国商务谈判至关重要。为了更好的理解中美两国的文化 差异,本文从跨文化的角度对比分析了中美两国的谈判风格,所以说本文的研究方法是对比。本文 共包如下三个章节:第一章分析了文化和文化差异,第二章主要分析了影响中美谈判风格的六方面 文化差异,第三章为中美商务谈判代表在今后的商务谈判中提一些切实可行的建议。本文的写作目 的是提高中美两国商务谈判代表对与两国文化差异的理解以及为将来的商务谈判代表提一些切实可 行的建议。


美国; 文化差异; 商务谈判; 谈判风格


With the rapid development of global economic cooperation, international business negotiations are on a dramatic increase. In the past two decades, business negotiations between China and the US have been growing remarkably. China, the largest developing country with a history of thousands of years, has formed its own systemized cultural orientations. In contrast, America, the relatively young and most prosperous country in the world, also has its own special and unique cultural values. As a result, there are huge cultural differences between the two countries and the cultural differences always have a negative effect on Sino-American business negotiations, such as producing unnecessary misunderstandings and arguments, causing various economic disputes to the negotiating parties involved, etc. Hence, it is widely accepted that understanding cultural differences is vital to Sino-American business negotiations. In order to better understand the Sino-American cultural differences, this thesis presents a comparative analysis of Chinese and American negotiation styles from a cross-cultural perspective. And so the research method of this paper is comparison. This thesis consists of the following three chapters: the first chapter gives an analysis of culture and cultural differences; the second chapter mainly analyzes six aspects of cultural differences influencing Sino-American negotiating styles; the third chapter makes some feasible recommendations for the future Chinese and American negotiators. The objective of this paper is to improve the understanding of the cultural differences between China and the US and put forward some feasible recommendations for the future Chinese and American business negotiators.

Key words: China; the US; cultural differences; business negotiations; negotiating style

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the vision of a global village is no longer regarded as an illusion but a reality due to the technological advances in communication, travel, and transportation, which has made transnational business a common phenomenon. As international business relations grow, so does the frequency of face-to-face business negotiations among people from different countries and cultures, which will definitely create

considerable challenges for business negotiators who are unfamiliar with the cultural differences of their counterparts. In effect, cross-cultural business negotiations are becoming more and more important to multi-national firms, or even a part of life for an increasing number of international enterprises. With the deeper development of economic globalization and China's accession to WTO, China has become one of the largest economic powers in the world. Nowadays, enterprises in China are conducting more and more business negotiations with foreign corporations, especially with American companies. At present, America is the second largest trading partner of China, while China is one of the America's distinctly important trading partners, to be exact, the third largest trading partner and the most common negotiating counterpart in international business negotiations. However, during these negotiations, both Chinese and American negotiators sometimes feel uneasy, confused, lost, and even offended because of the differences of Sino-American cultures. Cultural differences between China and America are the critical factor which leads to misunderstandings and collisions in Sino-US bilateral business negotiations, even to the result of the negotiations. Transnational business negotiation is not merely a kind of economic activity, but also a process of cultural collision. Different cultural factors can form different business negotiating styles. Thus, understanding and mastering cultural distinctions is the key to getting over cultural barriers and is extremely significant in the business negotiations between China and the United States. Besides, there is no denying that culture is the crucial determinant of the strategies in Sino-American business negotiations. In other words, culture has an overwhelming influence on Sino-US business negotiations. Recently, Sino-US business relationships have been developing at a soaring speed and consequently Sino-American business negotiations become more and more frequent. Therefore, it is of great practical significance to study the impacts of Sino-US cultural differences on business negotiations. The increasing frequency and importance of international business between China and the United States has called for both American and Chinese business negotiators’ effective cross-cultural negotiation skills. Based on a comprehensive analysis of the influences of Sino-US cultural differences on business negotiations, this thesis is aiming to help both Chinese and American businesspersons out when negotiating with each other in a diversified

cultural environment.Moreover, this paper is also designed to bridge the cultural differences between Chinese and American negotiators and lead to more successful business negotiations in the foreseeable future.

Chapter 一 Analysis of Culture and Cultural Differences
一(一) The conception of culture It is known to all that culture differs from country to country.In 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn listed 164 definitions of culture that they found in the anthropology literature. And ever since, an increasing number of new definitions have come out. Culture has so many definitions that different people have different understandings. The earliest and classic definition was brought forward over a hundred years ago by Taylor, a famous British anthropologist, who defined culture as “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” (Taylor, 1874:1). About one hundred years later, Harris (1975) says “A culture is the total socially acquired life-way or life-style of a group of people. It consists of the patterned repetitive ways of thinking, feeling, and acting that are segments of society”. Hall (1976), whose theory is widely used in business studies today, explains: “Culture is man's medium; there is not one aspect of human life that is not touched and altered by culture. This means personality (sic), how people express themselves (including shows of emotion), the way put together and function.” He further suggests that culture has three characteristics: it is not innate, but learned; and in effect, it defines the boundaries of different groups. In addition, Hofstede (1980) defines culture as “… the interactive aggregate of common characteristics that influence a group's response to its environment”. He (1984) redefines

culture as the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes one group of people from another. The follow definition comes from Terpstra and David (1985): Culture is learned, shared, compelling, interrelated set of symbols whose meaning provides a set of orientations for members of a society. These orientations, taken together, provide solutions to problems that all societies must solve if they are to remain viable. Besides, Culture determines how people view others and themselves, how they behave, and how they perceive the world around them. Another definition is that culture is a set of learned core values, beliefs, standards, knowledge, morals, laws, and behaviors shared by individuals and societies that determines how an individual acts, feels, and views oneself and others (Mitchell, 2000). As culture has come to be recognized more and more in recent years as a powerful undercurrent in international business, the concept that “business is business” has also been challenged (Schneider and Barsoux, 2003). Liu and Mackinnon (2001) have summarized the vast amount of definitions of culture within business studies into three themes: sees culture as a psychological concept; sees culture as a tool that bonds a group of individuals together; sees culture as a framework to analyze behavior. Despite the fact that culture has such a large number of definitions, the majority of these definitions share three key features: - Culture is a group-level phenomenon – Although each group essentially consists of individuals and despite the fact that culture is manifested through individuals, culture itself is a phenomenon that can only be observed once it is shared by the vast majority of the individuals belonging to a certain group. - Culture is acquired by individuals from the group they belong to – either through socialization or acculturation – This implies that culture not only has to be shared by the individuals belonging to a certain group but also that it has to be preserved in time and transmitted from one generation to another.

- Culture is a unique set of attributes that subsumes every area of social life – These attributes can possess intangible or intangible characteristics. The first group, for instance, includes: meanings, values, beliefs, etc. the second – their expressions such as behavior patterns and artifacts (Cohen, 2004:11; Lewicki, Saunders, Minton, & Barry, 2006:413). 一(二)The impacts caused by cultural differences

Nowadays, in international business communication, the process and outcome of the business negotiation are under the influence of cultural distinctions. Cultural differences have proved to be a major challenge of cross-cultural expertise. Cultural differences have been frequently pointed out by researchers and organizations as a primary cause of unsuccessful business negotiations. In fact, comical situations often occurred when cultural differences were not recognized and observed. Thus, an ability to recognize cultural differences and appropriately cope with the consequences exerted by them is essential for achieving success in international business negotiations. As a matter of fact, cultural disparities will probably exert deep influences on the negotiators’ sensitivities to time, their forms of agreement and their willingness to take risks, which will be discussed in detail in the next chapter. In addition, people’s perception of negotiation and the strategies they take during the process of negotiation will be highly affected by cultural differences. In some cultures, negotiators regard the negotiation as a problem-solving process and are more likely to take a comprehensive strategy, whereas in other cultures, they tend to regard it as a competition and have a strong abomination to the word “compromise”. Besides, negotiators from some cultures are long-term oriented and they are willing to sacrifice short-term profits in order to reap future gains while negotiators from other cultures are short-term oriented and they try their utmost to earn as much as they can in the one-off deal. Also, some other aspects related to negotiation are going to be influenced to a large extent by cultural distinctions. For example, the preference for negotiating dates and sites differs from culture to culture. Some negotiators treat time as money and prefer to set

fixed agendas, but others argue that time is abundant and people should not follow the timetable rigidly, instead, they should be flexible. Plus, the criteria of choosing negotiating team members vary a lot. For instance, negotiators in some cultures are supposed to be senior and in high prestige in the enterprise, while in other cultures, people are qualified as negotiators as long as they have enough negotiating experience regardless of their age and position. According to Hendon et al. (1996), cultural differences affect business negotiations in the following four ways: by conditioning one’s perception of reality; by blocking out information inconsistent or unfamiliar with culturally grounded assumptions; by projecting meaning onto the other party’s words and actions; and by impelling the ethnocentric observer to an incorrect attribution of motive. Negotiators bring their values, beliefs and even prejudices of their own culture to the negotiating table. These factors, undoubtedly, influence their negotiating styles, the negotiating objectives they pursue, the means they adopt to pursue their goals, and the expectations they hold of the behaviors of their partners. Even worse, cultural divergences tend to cause misapprehension, sow the seeds of distrust, generate negative emotions among negotiators involved and thus lead to a number of negative consequences. Firstly, cultural differences, if not undermine the negotiations completely, will reduce the efficiency of the negotiations. Second, misunderstandings caused by cultural discrepancies may prevent negotiators from gaining the benefits to the maximum from the business negotiation. Besides, cultural differences can also damage the trust among parties involved in a negotiation. When negotiators do not trust each other they are less likely to exchange ideas and establish business relations for fear of business fraud. Instead, they are likely to be overcritical of the negotiation terms advanced by their counterparts and even think the terms are extremely unreasonable. Finally, lacking of trust lessens the negotiators’ motivation to bridge the cultural differences that exist among them. All in all, the impacts and consequences resulting from cultural differences are a frequent threat for smooth cross-cultural negotiations. The huge cultural differences are likely to give rise to potential cultural conflicts and unnecessary failure in negotiation

among different nations.

一(三) The reason of studying cultural differences Culture is the unique profile of a social group concerning psychology (e.g. values, norms,and behaviors) and social institutions (e.g. 1egal, economic, and political structures). It has a better appreciation to the way that societies deal with social exchanges such as negotiation, which is a dynamic process of adjustment frequently employed in international business, in which the buyer and the seller confer together to arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement on a matter of common interest.The activities that are involved occur beyond national boundaries, for instance, a cross-cultural negotiation will take place in different countries with various cultures. Therefore, culture acts as one of the major elements influencing negotiation processes and result.Furthermore, understanding the different cultural situations that exist among nations and thinking about the underlying cultural dimensions in all sides of business are considerably crucial to the operation of international business negotiations. Although globalization has reduced the temporal and spatial gaps among negotiators across the world, it often widens the gap between negotiating parties because of cultural differences(Min and Galle,1993).Globalization also gives the wrong impression of convergence of human behaviors,consequently, negotiators may not make enough preparations to handle the problems that arise due to cultural differences of negotiating parties.In the near future, cultural barriers are likely to pose a major challenge to enterprises and individuals intending to do business globally. Thus, it is highly necessary to study the cultural differences that may cause cultural barriers in order to succeed in international business negotiations.

Chapter 二 Comparative Study of Sino-American Business Negotiating

Styles from a Cross-Cultural Perspective

二 (一) The definition and characteristic of business negotiation Business negotiation is something that businesspersons do all the time and only used for business purposes, which is often regarded as a compromise to settle an argument or an issue to benefit businessmen themselves as much as possible. Hence, the business negotiation is more concerned with profits. Besides, business negotiation means the ability to deal with business affairs, to arrange by discussion the settlement of terms, to reach agreements through treaties and compromise. Moreover, business negotiation is a give-and-take trading process where the trading parties discuss the conditions of a transaction and reach an agreement. In addition, it is the process of bargaining over a set of issues for the purpose of reaching an agreement. It also refers to coming to closing a business deal or bargaining on some product. Plus, it means exchange of negotiable instruments such as bills of exchange, checks and so forth in exchange of goods, service or money. Furthermore, in business negotiation relationship, parties communicate with each other, because they think that they can influence the process in such a way that they can get a better deal than simply accepting or rejecting what the other party is offering. A good outcome in business negotiation is one where both sides win. Thus, in a true commercial negotiation, both parties have something to offer and something to gain. To better understand business negotiation, seven characteristics of it are listed as follows: Business negotiation is a process of information exchange between two sides. Business negotiation is at the heart of every transaction and, for the most part, it comes down to the interaction between two sides with a common goal but divergent methods. Business negotiation should be to the satisfaction of both parties. It can be a very trying process with confrontation and concession. In a business negotiation, both parties share open information. They attempt to find something in common.

During a business negotiation, both sides try to make the other side accept their own viewpoints. In a business negotiation, both sides try to make the other side accept their own viewpoints. Both parties know that they have common and conflicting targets, so they try to find a way to achieve common and complementary objectives acceptable to them both. Everything is negotiable. There’s no such thing as “take it or leave it” in business negotiations. 二 (二) The understanding of negotiating styles Negotiators’ culture is expressed in their negotiating styles. Generally speaking, negotiating style refers to the way people from different cultures behave in negotiations (Salacuse, 1999:221). This definition implies that there is a strong link between a person’s culture and his negotiating style. To identify cultural differences in negotiating styles the scholars typically concentrate on selected aspects of negotiators’ behaviors called negotiation factors or traits. These traits are usually chosen on the basis of their relevance and potential variability across different cultures. In this paper, the approach pursued by Jeswald Salacuse together with the results of his painstaking study on international negotiating styles would be presented. Table 1 lists ten negotiation factors that he used in his study together with the range of possible cultural responses to each of them.

Table 1 The Impact of Cultural Differences on Negotiating Styles NEGOTIATION FACTORS Goal Attitudes Personal Styles Communications Time Sensitivity Emotionalism Agreement Form CULTURAL RESPONSES Contract or Relationship Win/Lose or Win/Win Informal or Formal Direct or Indirect High or Low High or Low Specific or General

Agreement Building Team Organization Risk-taking

Bottom Up or Top Down One Leader or Consensus High or Low

二 (三) Six aspects of cultural factors influencing Sino-American negotiating styles Negotiation practices differ from one culture to another and such culture can affect “negotiating style”—the way persons from different culture conduct themselves in negotiation session (Liu Fengxia, 2006). The aim of this section is to demonstrate through Salacuse’s research, that culture does affect negotiating styles. Based on a review of the literature as well as 85 interviews with practitioners,Salacuse (1998) outlines ten factors related to the negotiation process that seem to be influenced by a negotiator’s culture in the above section.In the rest of this section, Chinese and American negotiating styles will be compared in detail by following the most common aspects of negotiation process as parameters : negotiating goal, risk taking, team organization, personal styles, communication, and agreement form.
二 (三)1. Negotiating Goal: Contract or Relationship

Negotiating goal refers to the purpose or intention of the parties in the negotiation process; however, the purposes of negotiation differ from culture to culture. Chinese business negotiators prefer to build a sustainable cooperating relationship rather than only establish a certain contract. They are not in a hurry to strive for an agreement or a contract. Instead, the primary goal of them is to create or maintain a good and long-term business relationship. More often than not, the failure in relationship building leads to the collapse of negotiation. Chinese business negotiators believe that mutual benefit, long-term cooperation, friendship and trust are greatly significant. As a result, they are more likely to engage their American counterparts in activities that can build trust and friendship before the formal negotiation, such as sightseeing tour, banquet and so on, with an aim to establishing a good relationship by demonstrating their hospitality. Actually, banquet after the negotiation also serves for relationship establishment. They also tend to initiate a

negotiation by informal discussion and trust building. Although they will have signed the contract that prescribes the rights and responsibilities between both parties at the final negotiation stage, they still think that a negotiation is not a signed contract but the creation of a relationship between the two sides. Although the written contract expressed the relationship, the essence of the deal is the relationship itself (Salacuse, 2005). For the Chinese negotiators, a business relationship is a type of special friendship and the contract does not mean finality but a starting point. There is an old Chinese saying: “There can be no deal, we should be friends” among Chinese businesspersons, but which shows trust and long-term relationships often take priority over monetary benefits. By comparison, American business negotiators regard a business negotiation as a problem-solving activity and the best deal for both parties is the solution. They like to put the negotiation goal on the first priority. Their primary objective is to conclude a lucrative contract after negotiation. They consider a signed contract as a definitive set of rights and duties that strictly binds the two sides and determines their interaction thereafter. Thus, they are eager to bring their Chinese counterparts into agreement, devote their energy and time to the contract itself and push for the finalization of the deal. Furthermore, they have little interest in building any relationship and argue that the establishment of relationship is incidental, or in some cases, partly favorable to the negotiation. Consequently, they consider the relationship building to be unnecessary and time-wasting, or in some situations to be an opportunity for contract and profits.
二 (三)2. Risk Taking: High or Low

Risk taking focuses on people’s attitudes towards risk. Cultures vary a lot in terms of their willingness to take a risk. A negotiator's culture can greatly affect his or her willingness to take a risk in business negotiations. In cultures where risk propensity is high, negotiators are able to seal a deal as long as the business opportunity looks attractive regardless of the lack of certain information, whereas negotiators belonging to risk-averse cultures require additional information to discreetly examine a deal in all directions before reaching a final agreement.

The Chinese business negotiators, with their emphasis on demanding enormous amounts of information tend to be risk avoiders. Most of them are conservative and are not likely to take risks for fear of making themselves at a disadvantageous position or even fail in negotiations, which may consequently cause them to be blamed or even dismissed. Thus, if they want to take risks, they are prone to ask permission from the leader of the negotiation team or the headquarters in order to transfer the risks. As defined in Hofstede's cultural dimensions, Chinese culture is characterized by high uncertainty avoidance. In this culture, people tend to avoid uncertain situations. Moreover, high uncertainty avoidance cultures tend to have many formal bureaucratic rules, rituals, standards, and formulas, which make the risk-taking environment impossible to form. The word adventure carries a positive meaning in English but its counterpart in Chinese has a negative implication. So, taking a risk is not viewed as a merit in Chinese culture, instead, it is considered to be dangerous and harmful for social harmony. Under such a cultural background,taking risk is strongly discouraged.Therefore, Chinese negotiators are risk-avoiders, that is, they are more likely to make concessions and are willing to take every possible step to avoid the risk of failing to achieve an agreement. American business negotiators, by comparison, are risk takers. They like to try new approaches. They are always prepared to come up with adventurous or risky ideas that can promote the negotiation towards a contract, which is frequently done without prior approval from their leaders or the headquarters and without demanding enough information. American culture stresses creativity and self-realization, where independence and nonconformity are greatly encouraged and valued. In such an egocentric cultural environment, competition among individuals is fierce and the ends justify the means. The individuals are cultivated at an early age to take charge of their own life and destiny. Besides, the goal of an individual is to find true self-creativity in the enhancement of material welfare and to increase his or her material comfort in a utilitarian fashion.In such a social environment, individuals are likely to take risks for self-fulfillment and self-satisfaction.According to Hofstede, uncertainty avoidance is low in America, where

people feel less threatened by uncertain and unpredictable situations. Plus, challenges were always welcome in real life. Therefore, they are more ready and relatively willing to take risks. Last but not least, the journey to conquer the West equipped the Americans with frontier and adventurous spirit, during which period they were taught to be progressive, open-minded, self-motivated and aggressive. Therefore, American business negotiators are said to be more likely to take risks in a negotiation, and they tend to reduce rather than avoid risks. They are less inclined to make concessions and are willing to run the risk of failing to reach an agreement in business negotiations.
二 (三)3. Team Organization: One Leader or Group Consensus

In any international negotiation, it is important to know how the other side is organized and makes decisions (Salacuse, 1998:234). Team organization refers to the culturally specific ways that different groups organize themselves and how decisions are made within the group. Culture is one critical factor that influences the way groups are organized and the way organizations function. Some cultures focus on individuals, while others emphasize the group. Chinese culture is renowned for hierarchy and collectivism, so individuals are expected to obey their superiors, but the superiors are also supposed to make decisions on behalf of and in the interests of the whole enterprise where their subordinates work. Usually, a Chinese negotiation team will have a leader who is expected to make decisions on some tricky issues, but this does not mean that the leader has a final say on all decisions. He or she may need to ask for advice from higher authority or turn to key stakeholders for help, which makes the negotiation team relatively larger in formality and partly explains the reason why slow progress in a negotiation is common when negotiating with Chinese businesspersons. However, this will also annoy the American negotiators and be falsely regarded as stalling tactics to gain advantage in negotiations, such as gaining more time for reaction or pressing for more concessions by protracting the negotiation process due to the misunderstanding of Chinese decision-making process-to achieve consensus from all the involved parties. As Worm (1997) commented, “The tendency toward group identification is apparent in the decision-making process. No single Chinese is willing to take the responsibility for a

given decision. Historically, status and responsibility have been separated. In many cases, the individual with high status and great influence on decision making was not the one held responsible for the decisions.” Hence, for the Chinese business negotiators,

decision-making power rests with the group and the final decision is made through group consensus. In America, however, individualistic culture prevails and individualism makes people focus on himself. Thus, people attach importance to the role of the individual and the individual ability is always stressed and valued. Additionally, individuals prefer to have personal autonomy and try their utmost to achieve personal goals because "I"-conscious is stressed and self-actualization is highly esteemed in America. As a result, Americans like to act as individuals rather than a member of a group. In an era that is filled with competitiveness and emphasizes efficiency, American bosses firmly believe that each qualified and capable employee should be authorized to enjoy certain power, be encouraged to take responsibility and be empowered as decision-maker in his or her area of excellence. For the majority of American negotiation teams, the team leader will be given absolute power to make all the decisions as long as he or she thinks that the decision made makes sense. Due to the fact that one-leader negotiation team is very common and popular in U.S., American negotiators can make quick decisions without involving so many stakeholders and bosses who are not on the spot, which makes the negotiation team comparatively smaller. Therefore, for American business negotiators, decision-making power resides in one leader who is generally fully authorized for decision making and the final decision is made individually.
二 (三)4. Personal Style: Formal or Informal

Personal style refers to how negotiators interact with their counterparts at the negotiation table. Different cultures produce different personal styles, each of which is unique. And cultural differences strongly influence the personal styles of negotiators. Negotiators with a formal personal style prefer to address their counterparts by the family names, job titles or a combination of both, while negotiators with an informal personal style love to be called on a first-name basis.

The Chinese have a high concern for social rituals and social status and so they are supposed to be obedient and respectful to their superiors. In a strictly hierarchical society, individuals in China must recognize their social positions and then behave accordingly. In China, honorifics and titles are also extremely important. Chinese people expect “leaders” to behave like “leaders” and to be treated like “leaders”. Usually, Chinese negotiators abide by the strict and complicated social rules, traditions and customs that govern their personal styles in negotiations. Consequently, Chinese negotiators are accustomed to addressing their counterparts by the surnames combined with their job titles, such as “Wang Jingli (Manager Wang)”, or by the titles related to their educational levels if they do not have proper job titles, such as “Prof. Wang or Dr. Wang” during negotiations. For Chinese negotiators, formal personal styles can be reflected in the seating arrangement. For instance, they should take their seats according to their job titles, that is to say, their leaders should be seated in the middle, surrounded by other team members in accordance to their ranks. In addition, the order of speech is a reflection of Chinese negotiators’ formal personal styles, too. For example, the order of speech depends on the speaker's position in the negotiation team, namely, the speech is supposed to start from the person with the highest position, followed by the middle and end with the lowest ranked negotiator and interruption to the superiors’ speeches is deemed as disrespectful and ill-mannered. Therefore, Chinese business negotiators have a more formal personal style than their American counterparts in negotiations. Comparatively speaking, American business negotiators have a more informal personal style during negotiations. The Americans have relatively low concern for social rituals and social standing, thus they prefer a much looser prescribed set of social rules, traditions and customs that dominate their personal styles in negotiations. Strict, rigid and ritualistic behavioral patterns are also rarely noticed upon them because they view them as obstacles to communication. Americans often feel uncomfortable in those situations where they have to follow prescribed etiquette and behavior patterns. Besides, they are less restricted by social ranks and job titles. More often than not, the use of first names is very common and popular in America and most people prefer to be addressed by their first names instead of family name, job titles or a combination of both. Moreover, they care

less about the seating arrangement. For example, leaders are not required to be seated in the middle; instead, leaders can choose any seat they like as long as they think it is comfortable and others just sit down casually. In addition, for American negotiators, the sequence of speech is rarely set in advance and should be flexible so that they can express themselves freely and openly the moment a wonderful idea occurs to them.
二 (三)5. Communication: Direct Versus Indirect

It is apparent that methods of communication differ from one culture to another. In some cultures, people are habituated to use direct and simple methods of communication; in other cultures, people like indirect and complex methods better.In a culture that values directness,one can expect to receive a clear and definite response to proposals and questions; however , in cultures that emphasize indirectness, the reaction to suggestions and issues is probably gained by deducing from indefinite and ambiguous words.In some cases, what is actually said carries only part of the meaning of a message. Nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, silence and so on can generate other implied meanings. Chinese business negotiators are inclined to choose indirect communication in business negotiations. Chinese culture belongs to high-context culture. In high-context communication, most of the information that the speakers want to convey is either in the context or implicitly transmitted via indirect expressions, whereas little information is explicitly delivered only through the words. High-context communication is like communication between twins who were raised together. In high-context cultures, communication is deeply influenced by nonverbal cues. And people need to rely heavily upon covert clues to interpret the information given under certain context. Besides, Chinese languages carry many subtle meanings and a lot of meanings are conveyed by inference. Chinese negotiators are more reliant on nonverbal cues. For example, they usually show their interest and agreement by nodding or smiling. They also tend to use more subtle and indirect languages like rhetorical phrasings to state their views. For the Chinese negotiators, one of the most common situations in indirect communications is the

reluctance to say “no” directly. In order to avoid an open conflict, they will send the signal of "refusal" through various channels such as ambiguous words including “maybe”, “perhaps”, “rather”, "inconvenient", "I'll try" and "I'll consider it", particular facial expressions and so forth in place of "no”. Sometimes, they even use "yes" to express "maybe". They also use silence a lot, which has the following interpretations: It can be interpreted either as comprehension or incomprehension; It can also be considered as thinking about the matter being discussed seriously and sincerely; It can be thought of as agreement or disagreement, too; It may also be regarded as lack of interest in the topic or in others’ opinions. Unfortunately, in most cases, their American counterparts fail to decode this signal, so misapprehension will generally take place. By comparison, the American business negotiators tend to prefer directness during business negotiations. They are less likely to depend on nonverbal cues in communication, and thus they prefer to express their interest and agreement in words directly and make their statements be brief and to the point. American culture is a low-context culture. In low-context communication, the majority of the information that the speakers intends to convey is chiefly transmitted through words. Low-context communication is like a computer program where everything must be specified in the coded message otherwise the computer program will not run. In low-context cultures, nonverbal cues are scarcely used, and thus more explicit information is needed for communication. So, in low-context communication, people must express themselves as explicitly as possible. Moreover, ambiguous and implicit words are seldom heard in communication so that people need not take the trouble to figure out the extended meaning of the words. Besides, Americans believe that they can get their ideas across and express their feelings freely as long as they choose the proper “words” and use these words in a direct way. Consequently, American business negotiators would naturally interpret the message according to the words they just heard from their Chinese counterparts without taking the context into consideration, which often leads to misunderstanding between both parties. In addition, silence can be interpreted as disinterest or boredom, hence, American negotiators try to avoid silence in

communication and are more willing to express "I don't know" or "I don't agree with you" rather than silence.
二 (三)6. Agreement Form: General versus Specific

Agreement form varies considerably among different cultures. The written agreement that is binding to the parties involved is called contract, which specifies what each party has agreed to do in the process of executing the contract. According to Salacuse, “Chinese negotiators prefer an implicit, broad and oral contract in the form of general principles, expressing mutual cooperation and trust between the concerned parties. If unexpected circumstances arise, the parties should look to their relationship, not the details of the contract to solve the problem (Salacuse, 1998:232)”. They hope to establish mutually-beneficial and win-win cooperation with their business partners, and they prefer to build a good business relationship and personal relationship rather than make out a detailed and specific contract. Plus, it has been previously discussed that their negotiation goal is to establish a long-term business relationship rather than the contract itself. Besides, trust that is built on the relationship instead of the written agreement is the basis of a successful negotiation. Therefore, when unforeseen events prevent the execution of the signed contract from proceeding smoothly and some terms of the contract need modifying, they are more willing to make some compromises or persuade their counterparts to make concessions in order to maintain a good long-term cooperative relationship and are inclined to turn to bilateral consultation and conversation, trust and relationship for solving disputes. There is no denying that no matter how detailed and specific a written agreement is drafted, it can never cover all contingencies and disputes may occur at any time. Hence, Chinese negotiators think it is not necessary to make out specific written agreement, instead, they prefer to draft a general contract which is more flexible to modify when needed. American business negotiators, on the contrary, prefer an explicit, specific and detailed written agreement. The reason that they tend to make out such an agreement is because they view contract as the primary negotiating goal, which has been discussed before. Additionally, because the “deal” is the contract itself, and to a law-base, text based

society, one must refer to the contract to handle new situations that may arise in the future (Salacuse, 1998). An American contract is supposed to be as specific and detailed as possible so that it can include almost all possible circumstances as well as various contingencies. The American negotiators think that this kind of contract can minimize the risk of business loss and they will immediately turn to the contract signed beforehand for solution if any disputes arise. Furthermore, providing their counterparts break the contract and cause them to suffer great economic loss, they are definitely more willing to resort to arbitration or even lawsuit to resolve the disputes according to the duties and responsibilities agreed in the contract. No modification is permitted to be made unless there are specific contract terms related to amendment stipulated in the contract. Besides, they firmly believe that trust should not be built on the basis of relationship but the specific written agreement, which will be served as legal evidence if infringed. Therefore, American negotiators would love to draft a specific written agreement for the purpose of protecting themselves from suffering a loss.

Chapter 三 Recommendations for Chinese Negotiators and American Negotiators
Through the above analysis of the differences between Chinese and American negotiating styles, there is no doubt that cultural differences have a great effect on Sino-American negotiating styles. As a result, the business negotiations between both countries are prone to collapse if the negotiators can not comprehend the cultural differences of both parties. Conversely, if both parties are able to understand the culture of the other party, the success of the negotiations can be achieved. As the Chinese economy is getting stronger and stronger, more and more American businessmen will be attracted to do business with Chinese business people. It is predictable that the business negotiations between China and the U. S. will be doubled or tripled in the near future, and the business chances between two countries can be expected to grow in an amazing speed.

In order to achieve a growing number of successful Sino-American negotiations, the author would like to make the following suggestions for the future Sino-US business negotiators, which are expected to be helpful to them.

三(一)Suggestions for both Chinese and American Negotiators
三(一)1. Have a clear idea of the other side's culture

It is crucial for negotiators to learn the cultures of their counterparts during international business negotiations. In fact, many cultural aspects need to be learned, such as the values, beliefs, business etiquettes and taboos of the other party’s country, etc., which may take plenty of time and efforts to study. Gift-giving is part of business protocol in numerous countries including China and US. According to American business etiquette, presents tend to be smaller and less expensive, and are expected to be opened directly in front the gift-givers; however, in accordance with Chinese business etiquette, gifts are usually much bigger and more costly and are supposed to be put aside and will not be opened until the gift-givers leave. Actually, giving gifts is just the tip of the iceberg among the whole cultural factors, and there is a long way to go in the process of studying culture. Of course, it is impossible and not necessary for any negotiator to completely master the culture of the other party. As long as the dominating cultural aspects have been learned, there is no need to worry about the consequences caused by cultural disparities in international negotiations. Thus, enough preparations related to learning culture should be made before any multinational business negotiations.
三(一)2. Show respect to the other party's culture

Each culture has its own system of values, beliefs, norms, thinking patterns and social behaviors, which are quite familiar to the people of that culture but very strange to those out of that culture. Certain values are widely accepted and even worshiped in some cultures but may be regarded as unacceptable or even ridiculous in other cultures. For example, in China, humbleness is generally considered as a wonderful personal character, while it may be taken as hypocritical, unconfident, coward, and even weak in America. Moreover, aggressiveness in America stands for energy, courage and enterprising, but may be thought of as invasive, angry and hostile in China. Therefore, negotiators should not judge one another from the standpoints of their own culture, instead, they should show due respect

to the culture of their counterparts.
三(一)3. Get rid of the negative side of cultural stereotype

A stereotype is an exaggerated belief associated with a category (a group of people, such as a racial or religious group) (Allport, 1954). It is derived from plenty of sources such as textbooks, magazines, newspapers, television programs, authorities, historical events, etc. A stereotype can either be positive or negative. The formation of cultural prejudice is based on the negative side of cultural stereotype. Generally speaking, people in some countries are inclined to make judgments about people in other countries according to their own cultural orientations and cultural values, which are usually prejudiced. It is known to all that not all the arguments put forward by scholars are convincing. For example, when analyzing the attitude of negotiation, some scholars hold that Americans prefer win-lose negotiating attitude to win-win negotiating attitude. As a matter of fact, with the soaring development of global cooperation, more and more business people, no matter which country they come from are apt to choose win/win negotiating attitude. Consequently, thinking that Americans are always win-lose negotiators belongs to the negative side of cultural stereotype, which is generally misleading and has a bad influence on international negotiations. Thus, multinational negotiators should get rid of the negative side of cultural stereotype and judge their counterparts objectively when negotiating with them.
三(二)Recommendations for American negotiators

Develop and maintain good relationships with their Chinese counterparts before a formal negotiation starts. In China, relationships are everything. An open criticism of others or argument with others threatens such relationships and so should be avoided. Besides, try to save the Chinese negotiator’s face and treat them with due respect Pay more attention to non-verbal communication because most Chinese negotiators will not discuss their feelings when dissatisfied. Moreover, be more discreet about body language and try to read the Chinese negotiators’ minds through their gestures, tones of voice, silence and facial expressions. Be patient. Negotiations in China often take time because numerous stakeholders are involved in decision-making during the whole negotiation process. Try to figure out the ambiguous words during the business negotiations. For instance, it

should be noticed that "no" is generally not expressed directly but put through blurred words such as “maybe”, “possibly” and so forth. Eating first and business second. In China, negotiators meet for dinner and talk about general topics first before getting down to business.
三(三) Suggestions for Chinese negotiators

Try to improve the efficiency of negotiation and accelerate the process of decision-making. Make quick decisions during business negotiations, because in the eyes of their American counterparts, time is money and should be cherished. Get down to business instead of having excessive amounts of red tape. Cast off all the unnecessary and over-elaborate formalities that slow down the pace of negotiation. Say “no” explicitly and directly. State an opinion straightforwardly. Make out specific and detailed written agreements or contracts in earnest and execute them step by step according to the stipulated terms in the signed contract. Do not expect that arguments and disputes can be easily resolved through personal friendship or relationship when doing business with American business people, instead, resort to legal proceedings promptly when necessary.

The issues discussed in this thesis serves to analyze the impacts of cultural differences on Sino-American business negotiations. It is apparent that each country has its own special and unique negotiating style and one of the major elements affecting it is culture. Culture can influence negotiating styles in numerous ways and it is impossible to cover all of them here in this thesis. Therefore, six typical negotiation factors have been selected to be analyzed here in this paper. Through the analysis, a conclusion can be safely drawn that there is a huge difference between Chinese culture and American culture and accordingly Chinese business negotiating style differs sharply from American business negotiating style. Thus, finding a

way to bridge the gaps in negotiating style caused by cultural differences are of great significance to the progress of Sino-US business negotiation. However, negotiators are prone to be misled by cultural biases, which are very difficult to overcome. It is often the case that individuals from a certain culture may behave in strict accordance with their own cultural stereotype especially in particular situations, such as international business negotiation. One of the most effective ways to rise above cultural prejudices is to cultivate cross-cultural awareness by studying the other party’s cultural orientations and cultural values as many as possible. Nevertheless, the objective of this dissertation is neither to tell one party to abandon its own cultural orientations and cultural values nor to make the other change its way of conducting business.Instead, the goal of this thesis is to improve the understanding of the cultural differences related to Sino-American business negotiation and make some feasible recommendations for both Chinese negotiators and American negotiators.


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