China: Managing a Diverse and Multicultural Workforce in Multinationals in a Growth Economy: Understanding the Chinese Workforce

China: Managing a Diverse and Multicultural Workforce in Multinationals in a Growth Economy: Understanding the Chinese Workforce

Andy Goldstein (Swiff-Train Company, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8167-5.ch001

Abstract

This case suggests a system of understanding the Chinese employees of a typical multinational company operating in China, based on attitudinal, behavioral, and psychological factors. The study particularly focuses on Chinese staff members of multinationals in terms of their career ambitions, consumer habits, and attitudes to each other, to foreigners, and foreign companies in China generally. Chinese staff, the author argues (based on more than ten years of observation and a detailed survey he conducted), can be categorized as in one of three main types: Chuppies, Westernized and Traditional, or “Mandarins.” They can be a mix of two or three of these types and their behaviors can evolve between types over time. Understanding these differences can help the non-Chinese manager and student of HR issues in China to operate more effectively and gain more insights – as the author himself discovered in the process of researching this case.
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Setting The Stage

Here we look at a general introduction to the main players in this case – the categories or types of Chinese employees in multinational companies. These are basically behavioral and psychological types, which may be a temporary phase in a person’s life, defined according to the author’s observation and the findings of the questionnaire she employed to understand the attitudes and behaviors (included in this case, as an appendix). Briefly, they can be defined as, in terms of the “core types” as:

  • The Chuppie: A young, upwardly-mobile, well-educated and professional Chinese, focused on self-improvement, increasing earnings, and having fun – similar to a Yuppie in the West but with Chinese characteristics.

  • The Westernized Chinese: With extensive overseas exposure, which could include birth and early years, education, work experience – now (back) in China.

  • The Mandarin: The traditional Chinese, perhaps born during the Cultural Revolution and still a strong influence, cautious of the West and modernity.

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