When you are doing business in another country, it is important that you understand the local culture and customs. Here is what you need to understand about Taiwan business culture and some tips to help you be successful.
Influences on Taiwan Business Culture
Taiwan business culture incorporates elements of mainland Chinese and Japanese customs, which are highly influenced by Confucianism. Of particular importance are the concepts of a strong social network, solidarity, loyalty and respect.
Due to these influences, many Taiwan businesses are hierarchical in nature. Seniority and age are widely recognized across the workforce, right alongside a person’s rank within the organization.
Because guanxi is important to the Chinese, expect to spend some time first getting to know business contacts before getting down to business. You may be able to develop your local social network by entertaining potential business partners. Sometimes gifts may be exchanged as a token of your appreciation and overtures for friendship.
When you first meet new business contacts, greet the oldest and highest ranking individuals first.
The Taiwanese have greater respect for formalities than business people in other cultures. Meetings often have a set agenda, but they are not always closely followed. However, deadlines are taken very seriously and missing one is sometimes interpreted as a sign of disrespect.
Make appointments in advance and do not expect to meet a business partner in Taiwan without one. Schedule your first meeting in person instead of over phone or video conferencing to make a better impression. If your contact is not fluent in the language you speak, inquire whether a professional interpreter is recommended.
Arrive to the meeting on time since punctuality is so important.
A slight bow is a common greeting when meeting someone, as is a handshake, although handshakes are not as common for women. Many Taiwanese people look toward the ground when greeting rather than maintaining direct eye contact since looking down is seen as a sign of respect.
Greet or introduce the most senior person first to show respect. Be sure that you use the appropriate title for the individual. Avoid using first names unless you are given specific permission. If you are a man introducing yourself to a woman, wait for the woman to extend her hand first before shaking hands or copy her bow.
It is common to give Taiwanese businesspeople business cards after introductions. You may also receive business cards from new contacts.
Take the business card in both your hands when receiving it. Carefully examine it to show respect. Then, place the business card in a holder or a surface near you instead of holding onto it. When handing your business card out, do so with the typeface showing. You may also want to include a translation of the card in Chinese.
All of this socializing should yield some follow-up meetings and negotiations. It is important to manage your expectations and understand what a typical business meeting in Taiwan looks like after your initial introduction. Business meetings in Taiwan tend to last long, even if there was initially a scheduled end to the meeting.
It is important to be well prepared for these meetings since the Taiwanese are often tough negotiators. You need to have a firm understanding of the issues on the agenda and be able to sell yourself and your company. Bring an equal number of people to match the Taiwanese team, including at least one senior member of your team who has decision-making authority.
Avoid teasing or criticizing since saving face is important in Asian cultures. It is common for Taiwanese individuals to pause for a moment to consider something; do not interrupt these moments of silence.
It is also important that you know how to dress for business meetings in Taiwan. Dress tends to be more formal for both sexes in Taiwan. Men often wear dark, navy blue, charcoal or other dark-colored suits and ties. Women may wear dresses or business suits and formal blouses.
If you would like to learn more about doing business in Taiwan, the experts at New Horizons Global Partners can help. We are familiar with local customs and culture. Contact us today to find out about our extensive line of business services.