The MGS Blog

Monday, February 20, 2012

Am I dealing with Guanxi yet?

The problem with Guanxi for non-Chinese dealing with China based or culturally influenced organisations is figuring out when Guanxi applies.

Q&A on the topic of gifts:
  • Does it start with big gifts? 
    • No, someone starts the process out with longish introductory engagements, these are usually set up by mutual parties or intermediaries.
  • What happens in the build up, before? 
    • Generally a lot of ground work has to be done in advance.
  • Who gets gifts? 
    • Usually gifts may be given by equivalents at each level. The most important at the level of business/organisational owners.
  • If the first meeting doesn't go well, does that stop the relationship getting closer? 
    • No, anything can be recovered, but no one expects a screw-up at the eventual formal kick-off, which anyway happens after all the ground-work is done in advance (months of interaction).
  • Who presents and receives a gift? 
    • The highest representative at the highest level present.
  • When selecting a gift what should I consider? 
    • Things like value, symbolic importance, scarcity, use. Get advice from a suitably respected and experienced organiser.
  • Do you need to bring a gift to every meeting?
    • The first meeting for the agreement between organisations is the most important (but of course preparation has taken place earlier, see above).
  • When should the gift be opened? 
    • Well you should ask 'can I open it?' usually if it's ok the gift will be a small thoughtful token, but if it isn't ok to open it it may be a high value, socially 'heavy' gift, one that generates an obligation of sorts.
  • Does the big visit (agreement visit) to the host require a reciprocal visit to the guest's site? 
    • Often, yes, and consider again, to eat with the guest is very important, particular consideration should be given to what food is offered.
  • What role does food play? 
    • To eat with the guest is very important.
  • What kind of food should be ordered? 
    • Again, the best of everything makes for auspicious relationships.