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?one,?two,?three,?four,?five,?six,?seven,?eight,?nine,?ten?and eleven?of my journey so far.

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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.?

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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.?

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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.?

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