How China’s short-term thinking will hurt long term

I recently retired as UK senior partner of BDO after 23 years as a partner with the firm. Last year, I took up a position as visiting professor at Xiamen University, China. My wife is Chinese and I decided to spend three months exploring business opportunities in the region and trying to learn some Mandarin.

I’m blogging about my experiences in China for Real Business – catch up on part onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineten and eleven of my journey so far.

Blog 33

My recent comments on short-term thinking and merely doing something “well enough” seems to really chime with Chinese friends, who have added a couple of factors, which they think contribute, certainly when it comes to building and infrastructure. 

One is that there is an expectancy that today’s buildings here will be obsolete in a generation anyway, so they do not need to be built to last; and secondly, corruption is present in most such projects and the contract is rarely awarded on the basis of expected quality, or monitored for such when being built. 

Blog 34

Surfing the net, a blog (which I can’t now re-find to cite it, apologies) caught my eye. It noted “I think we all have to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture and the value stack. 

The stack is: u8bb2u4ebau60c5uff0cu8bb2u548cu8c10uff0cu4e0du8bb2u662fu975e (speak in terms of relations (guanxi), harmony, do not speak in terms of right or wrong). 

This is fundamentally a different value stack from those of us who grew up in the Western world.” This insight helps inform some of the things I have noticed, such as Chinese pragmatism, acceptance of authority (and status quo) and business relationships. 

Blog 35

In some of my earlier postings, I have commented on fraud, corporate governance and accounting in China. 

I will continue to comment on these as I observe more issues in my travels. In the meantime, I have come across an excellent blog. It is the work of Professor Paul Gillis of Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, and I commend it for those interested in these matters, which it covers, often in forensic detail. 

Share this story

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Send this to a friend