America vs China: The Workplace

America and China are very different countries in terms of culture and its diversity of people. China is nearly mono ethnic while America has many people from all over the world. It’s only natural that things are handled in ways that deeply contrast with each other. Both countries have common misconceptions and can often seem offensive when addressed. This is especially apparent in the work place. Things to note about the Chinese work culture is that the boss has the final say. The Chinese value efficiency which is best performed when everyone is working towards a common goal. In the American work environment, opinions are valued and sometimes arguing or speaking up is even encouraged.

To learn more about Chinese work culture, we interviewed Shimeng Wang, a software engineer at Continental.

VNR: What do you think of the American workplace. Are there some things you like or dislike?

Wang: I feel America is really inefficient. People argue or debate too much and nothing ever seems to get done.

VNR: Do you think that might have something to do with culture?

Wang: Yeah I do. In China, things you say should have meaning or a purpose. You also should not speak more than the boss. The boss can ask for your opinion, but ultimately you just do what he says and support his decisions. Everything moves faster that way.

VNR: Do you think some common misconceptions may have developed as a result of that way of thinking?

Wang: I think so. Many people think we are weak or passive, but really we’re just showing respect.

VNR: You informed someone here at VNR that you were getting promoted soon. Is this true? Why do you think this is? Do you speak up at work often?

Wang: Yes. I will be getting promoted. My work ethic overall is good. I don’t say a lot at meetings, but my boss has told me that I should speak up more. I really only want to say something if the input is valuable. Before I speak, I usually decide whether or not something is important. If it’s not, I don’t say anything.

VNR: Well, it looks like that’s all the time we have. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

Wang: No problem.

After the interview, we talked with Mr. Wang about why American workplaces can seem inefficient and how they differ. We mentioned that Americans value their opinions and there are so many people here who want their voice to be heard. We don’t always get along and we don’t always agree, but end goal is to have a better understanding of one another. America has and always will be under a magnifying glass. It’s the place where people are allowed to be themselves and get their voice heard.

Here at the American workplace, those who give valuable input often get promoted faster. Fresh ideas that work is what makes America, America. If you’re going to have people from different countries with different cultures work together, you have to expect conflict. It’s the people who speak up with a solution that keeps American businesses running and taking huge leaps forward.