Posts Tagged ‘Business Culture’

Asian Business Culture Exemplified in a Hong Kong Ramen Shop


Hong Kong, like much of Asia, is great for many things. From landscapes and architecture to food and nightlife, it’s a vibrant, bustling city full of energy. But, also like much of Asia, don’t expect creative thinking or ability to improvise in a work setting to be one of the traits you notice. While there are certainly creative communities throughout Hong Kong and Asia as a whole, and actually many governments are actively making an effort to encourage the development of more, Asian companies still tend to exercise a firm grip over the thought processes and freedoms of their employees. In other words, coming up with your own way of doing things is not encouraged here, like it is in Silicon Valley firms or other creative hotbeds around the world.

A ramen shop, of all places, would be the least likely place I’d expect to notice this approach to management, but sure enough I did while having lunch at Hong Kong International Airport. Like many restaurants, this particular shop offers set combo menus to make it easy for time-sensitive travelers. Given that I had several hours to kill, however, I was in no rush. As I looked over the menu, I noticed that there were different side dishes available with different main courses, but the offers were specific. In other words, you could not choose one main course ramen and one side—it was strictly Ramen AB with Side C, or Ramen DE with Side F, etc. I wanted Ramen AB with Side F, and figured it would be no trouble by simply asking the waitress. When I did, however,  the expression on her face became as if I had just asked her to disprove the Fibionacci Sequence—total confusion. She said tersely that I could not order those dishes together, but offered me another combo instead.

It certainly wasn’t a big deal, but something I noticed so typical of many Asian business cultures—don’t challenge the authority. The restaurant obviously knew much more than me which dishes I would like to compliment each other.

Ramen Bowl

Make sure your palette doesn’t want something different from the standard offering!

12 Tips to Help You Fit Into the Netherlands


Imagine some of those perfect contradictions that make this world a better place—sweet and sour, fire and ice, kick and snare—the possibilities are endless.

Now imagine an actual city that works that way. That city is Amsterdam. The perfect contrast of order and disorder, organization and discord, beauty and dirt, righteousness and sin—Amsterdamers are not easy to classify.

To the uneducated outsider, one may easily mistake the Dutch for being incredibly laid back, grungy, and perhaps even a little wild. After all, this is the country known outside of its borders for marijuana and open-window prostitution. But spend 10 minutes talking to a local, and you’ll quickly see that your preconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here are your 12 tips to help you make sure you can fit in here in the Netherlands:

  1. Be direct. Beating around the bush is not typically a part of communication here.
  2. Respect everyone’s opinion—no matter what someone’s title or place on the hierarchy, everyone’s voice gets heard here.
  3. Along these same lines, decisions are typically made in the spirit of group consensus.
  4. In light of that, get rid of that idea that these are liberal people. Conservatism runs deep in many aspects of the culture here, and change is slow to come by.
  5. They probably know more about your culture than you do about theirs. And they definitely speak your language better than you speak theirs.
  6. Don’t be pretentious. It won’t make you friends here.
  7. Of course the Dutch have a sense of humor, but refrain from trying out your new material in a business meeting.
  8. You may be used to going to happy hour with your colleagues after work. They are not. There is actually a fairly strong separation between work and personal life.
  9. You may be proud of your education, and that’s great. But they are probably just as educated as you.
  10. If you are going to work here, don’t plan to hop jobs as one may do elsewhere. Continuing the theme of conservatism and slow change, Dutch workers tend to maintain loyalty to one company for a long time.
  11. As such, employers are loyal to employees—Dutch labor laws make it difficult for them to get rid of unwanted workers.
  12. Don’t let the conservatism intimidate you—it is common to address colleagues informally, by first name.

Now you’re all set to navigate a social or business situation in the Netherlands like a local!