UWM: Bridges Chinese Business Culture Gap

Issued by:
Justin A. Smith 414-227-3153 or [email protected]


Milwaukee—The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is helping local businesses bridge the global gap to China.

The UWM-School of Continuing Education provides a Chinese Business Culture training program.
In its second year, the program has prepared many professionals to understand and participate in the protocols of Chinese
corporate culture. This knowledge is increasingly important as trade with China continues to grow.

Governor Jim Doyle encourages expansion of the Wisconsin-China connection. The Business Journal of Milwaukee reports that the Wisconsin Department of Commerce opened an office in Shanghai, China to support such an expansion. The satellite office underscores Wisconsin’s open door policy on Chinese trade. After Doyle’s 2004 trade-building trip to China, he commented on his administration’s commitment to building Chinese partnerships. “Our goal was to open doors for Wisconsin companies,” said Doyle. “China is ripe for Wisconsin exports and should be viewed as an opportunity.”

UWM is at the forefront of educating Wisconsin professionals on how to successfully conduct business in China. The two-day Chinese Business Culture program delves into the governmental role in Chinese businesses and teaches professionals how to manage the bureaucracy and avoid corruption. The program also provides hands on experience with business and banquet protocols.

The Chinese Business Culture program instructor, Sherry Liu, operates an outsourcing business in China and brings to the classroom her expertise on suppliers, negotiations and alliances with government officials. She understands the culture and its mark on business relationships. “The deep roots of Confucianism and 55 years of Communism influence the way Chinese people think and act. American businesses value individualism and open communication, while Chinese culture prefers a collectivist way of thinking,” says Liu. She stresses that in order to operate successfully in China you have to follow the appropriate business etiquette.

This is sound advice considering the growing percentages of Wisconsin businesses that are looking for Chinese partners and suppliers. According to the World Trade Center Wisconsin, China is the state’s fourth largest trading partner with close to $600 million in trade in 2004. The US Department of State reports that the Chinese economy represents the United States’ third largest trading partner, with 2004 volume approaching $235 billion.

“The importance of China to the Wisconsin market is obvious,” says Patrice Burns, program director of foreign languages for the School of Continuing Education. “What is not obvious is the cultural competency professionals need to do business effectively in China. Cultural concepts such as ‘connections’ ‘face’ and ‘harmony’ mean little in the US workplace. In China, success depends on the ability to understand and implement these ideas. That is where our program comes in.”

“The course provides an excellent summary of what we can expect when we interact with Chinese professionals and business people. Most valuable is understanding the Chinese approach to life and business,” said Christopher Noyes, of Godfrey & Kahn, S.C., a recent program participant.

UWM School of Continuing Education is offering a free Introduction to Chinese Business Culture seminar on September 27, 8:30-10:30 am at The Peony Restaurant, 11120 W Bluemound Road in Wauwatosa. This informative presentation includes complimentary Dim Sum, the Chinese brunch delicacy. The event is free and open to anyone with an interest in understanding Chinese Business Culture. To register or to learn more contact Patrice Burns at 227-3118 or [email protected]