Kimberly Kirkendall | How To Evaluate a Business Opportunity in China


Manage episode 272666705 series 2638833
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Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Kimberly Kirkendall, founder and President at International Resource Development, on adjusting to the business environment in China as a Westerner.Kimberly discusses the foundational cultural differences in doing business with the Chinese as opposed to Westerners. She had an advantage getting her start in China when she was in her early 20s, as she was able to quickly adapt to the implicit and analogous manner of speech that is characteristic of the locals. She and Todd both agree that a foreign professional in their 30s would have a much more difficult time making this adjustment as they would already be hardwired to interact with others in a particular way according to their own cultural norms.In the early 2000s, Kimberly was told that the China she had experienced in the late 1980s had completely changed and that the culture she had so familiarized herself with no longer existed. Her reply was that the so-called new, modern, Capitalist China was just an observation “at the veneer level”. Beneath this, China was still fundamentally the same as it was in the 1970s and 1980s, with the Communist Party apparatus completely intact. However, in the last five years, some of the veneer had begun to crack and is being replaced by a new one, namely, a “more muscular Communist Party engagement in the world and in business.” To Kimberly, this is simply proof that China’s attitude and worldview as a country never really changed.“China and many high-context language countries are relationship-driven,” says Kimberly. The first thing to understand in any negotiation is that the Chinese are looking to you as a partner, even if you do not yet see it that way yourself. That is, to the Chinese, you are perceived as someone who is either selling or buying, and this perception will remain throughout the negotiation. It is a relationship that is rooted in human nature, taking the emotionality and relative unpredictability of human beings seriously. They do not simply look at a company as a soulless, paint-by-numbers entity.

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