When the East and West business cultures converge – MBA students tour MNCs in Atlanta, U.S.
Thirty MBA Guangzhou class students from School of Business set foot in Atlanta from 7 to 11 December 2015, with the aim not only to learn, but to find the commonalities among Chinese and American business culture. The visit was deemed opportune and insightful as students visited the headquarters of The Coca-Cola Company, United Parcel Service (UPS) and Home Depot – three Fortune 500 companies, as well as CNN, one of the world’s most significant media players. Besides industry leaders, students also had a chance to explore and exchange ideas with companies having distinct American culture, such as Trader Joe’s, a supermarket chain with innovative decoration and products, and Chick-Fil-A, the largest fried chicken fast-food chain in the U.S. Through dialogue with senior managers, our students not only gained valuable insights, but also shared their Chinese approach to business management.
The American business culture focuses on independence, freedom, competition and individuality, while the Chinese business culture stresses relationship, etiquette and hierarchy. Equipped with management experience in Mainland China, our students engaged in active debates with their American counterparts, providing ground for synergies and deeper understanding in both directions.
The Chinese businessmen usually had an eye on operational efficiency and profit margins, while industry leaders in the U.S. are more devoted to innovation and customer experience. For instance, “Chick-Fil-A’s “Hatch” Innovation Centre demonstrates the company’s dedication to providing quality customer service. They explore different ways to shorten the distance between the cashier and customers by filling the very last 36-inch gap at the food ordering counter. The Hatch Innovation Centre also has a stimulated branch outlet, where they can test customer experience before putting forward new business ideas.
“The visit to the logistics centre of UPS was particularly rewarding,” the students commented. The centre is dedicated to provide logistics solutions to a pharmaceutical company. As medicines are highly temperature and time sensitive, special care is required during its transportation. “The rigorous and meticulous packing and storage processes clearly demonstrated their professionalism. From the slogan “It’s a Patient, Not a Package!” displayed in the logistic centre, you could feel their strong dedication,” many participants claimed.
With kind help and arrangement from Georgia State University, the visit was staged in the vibrant Atlanta, which houses the third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the world. An important cluster in the southeastern part of United States, the city has a diverse economic composition with a few dominant industrial sectors, including logistics, information technology, media operators, professional and business services.
(Adapted from HKBU, School of Business)