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Although China is one of the top destinations worldwide where companies are transferring employees, it is also one of the most challenging both for companies and transferees, according to a report just released by Cartus Corporation.

The report, “Best Practices for Effective Relocation to China” point out that China is ranked as second worldwide in terms of importance for companies’ future business goals. But the list of challenges that employees must overcome for success there runs long and deep.

According to Cartus, the top five challenges in Greater China are:
1.     Intercultural issues
2.     Finding suitable local candidates
3.     Controlling relocation/assignment costs
4.     Housing
5.     Language issues

“Assignments can be extremely costly and can easily be derailed by an employee’s failure to adjust,” says Jenny Castelino, director, Intercultural and Language Solutions in Cartus’ APAC region. “A key component to avoiding assignment failure is understanding and successfully navigating intercultural issues—which is China’s number-one challenge.”

She continues, “A successful job transfer to China depends, to a significant degree, on an understanding of Chinese culture and of the traditional cultural values, such as hierarchy, saving face, and relationships.”

Castelino offers these best practices and intercultural tips for an effective relocation to China:

Guanxi
“Guanxi,” or relationships, are very important in China. Establishing and building trust are both key, and relationships with family or friends can make a huge difference in the potential for professional development or opportunities. To build trust initially, you will need to make a good first impression by having a third party introduce you to a new group or contact.

Hierarchy
The concept of hierarchy is deeply embedded in China’s culture. In Chinese business culture, this is reflected in a structure that is clear and unquestioned, and where everyone knows their role in the group. Subordinates are not likely to correct superiors in group settings, and decisions are typically made at the highest levels in the organization.

Saving Face
One way harmony is maintained in China generally, and in business specifically, is through careful attention to “face.” In China, face (or one’s reputation, to define the term loosely) can be lost, given, and/or saved. Even beyond not correcting their superiors, subordinates usually do not ask questions of them in group settings, and confrontation is to be avoided.

The “Best Practices for Effective Relocation to China” report is the first in a series from Cartus. Future reports will focus on best practices for relocations to Brazil and India.

For more information, visit www.cartus.com.

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