Singapour

Singapore - Facing Cultural Differences

{{Every newcomer to Singapore is confronted with cultural differences, either in his/her relation with customers
or partners, or internally within office environment. Three French entrepreneurs from various sectors
explain how they face these differences.}}

Every newcomer to Singapore is confronted with cultural differences, either in his/her relation with customers or partners, or internally within office environment. Three French entrepreneurs from various sectors explain how they face these differences.

INTERCULTURAL MANAGEMENT IS KEY
After having been employed for several years as Financial Controller and Finance Director for various corporations, first in France then in Singapore, Stéphane Benoist felt the need to be more independent and not constrained to only one industry or one company. In 1997 he set up Orchid Link, in order to provide management accounting services, operational support and strategic advice to companies and entrepreneurs starting or developing their activities in Singapore and the Asia- Pacific region.
Stephane explains that the management of cultural differences is not so much an issue with his customers, as most of them are French or European, but that the challenge is more internal to the company.
“In our company we are two French, three Singaporeans, one Indonesian and one Burmese, both men and women. So you can easily imagine that cultural differences are real.
I have come to realise that it is essential for us, the non-Asians, to be careful in the way we communicate. For instance we tend to be direct and confrontational when things go wrong, that doesn’t work well in an Asian environment.
On the other hand some westerners feel that there should not be too many boundaries between team members. Well, in Asia there is still a strong tradition of hierarchy and there should be a clear relationship chart (formal or informal) so everyone knows where to stand.
Finally, at a deeper level, life’s expectations and goals do differ between our cultures and one, as a foreigner, has to be careful not to impose his/her paradigm to his/her colleagues or clients.”

ADAPTING TO EACH CUSTOMER
Richard Le Sand has set up Le Sand & Partners, a design studio offering a full range of services including furniture, interior design and providing assistance developing from CI/VI to product. Thanks to his past experience in China, he shares his views on cultural differences.
“Obviously, cultural differences vary from country to country, but if we are talking about China, the differences are simply huge! I have had more than 10 years experience in dealing with Chinese companies and individuals and yet despite of this I still encounter things that surprise me. You have to be very open and flexible in your work ethics in order to meet with traditions, personalities and behaviors to make it easier for you to win the project.”
As far as business is concerned, “We all have heard of bad experiences in doing business here. It is true that you have to behave differently here than in Europe to succeed.
With Asians being very careful, describing your services in detail in your business agreements (even if contracts are useless in China), having face-to-face meetings and explaining money matters when you deal with them, will prevent you from creating very uncomfortable situations.”
In countries such as Singapore, Taiwan or Hong Kong, “differences are not that large as they have been exposed to Western culture for decades.”
“Business in Singapore itself is totally different since we work within the parameters accepted by both parties. I would say that Singaporean clients have a higher level of expectations than in France, asking us to provide perfect service at all times.” [...]

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<doc654|left>Un article issu du magazine Focus une publication de la Chambre de commerce française à Singapour

The French Chamber of Commerce in Singapore
Nicolas AVRIL
Tel : +65 6735 5523 Ext 204 - Fax : +65 6735 5394
@ : [navril@fccsingapore.com->navril@fccsingapore.com]
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