Taiwan can be found right off the southeastern coast of China, between Japan and the Philippines. Despite their origin stemming from China, Taiwan developed its own unique culture for people to experience. Once there, you will be immersed into a very diverse linguistic population. Mandarin Chinese is not only the national language, but it is also the language of the education and government. Although there are seven distinct aboriginal languages, most Taiwanese and aborigines speak both Mandarin and local Taiwanese languages. Apart from their vibrant colored costumes and accessories during festivals, Taiwan has more to offer towards their cultural experience. The one thing that allows a country’s culture to really stand out is their food, and that is something we can all agree on. Taiwan provides many variations of soups, noodles and seafood dishes, all which complement each other when together or separate. A couple of ingredients in particular are clams and shrimps. Looking at this from a restaurant’s perspective, utilizing Taiwan’s geographic make up of an island would be advantageous when competing with other restaurants. Seafood is a known delicacy worldwide, and many restaurants in the U.S for example, flourish solely on imported goods. When approached and implemented the right way, a restaurant could be extremely successful within Taiwan having more access to such goods. The most prominent downside is the specialization of one type of food. However, Taiwan’s amount of versatility will compensate for that.
When it comes to values, there are many Do’s and Don’ts in the Taiwan’s culture. When dressing, they dress the same as Americans and Europeans do. When dressing for business, ladies wear dresses, skirts, or suits. Men wear ties and leather shoes. While wearing shoes, you should take them off while entering someone else’s home, and will be provided some sort of slipper. Also, wearing flip-flops is inappropriate. You also should never show anger in public because it is offending. A greeting can make or break a deal when it comes to the business industry, so knowing Taiwan greeting culture is something that would need to be known when negotiating business here. When greeting one another in Taiwan, the most common greeting is a handshake while keeping your head down to show respect. When meeting people for business, the most common greeting is also a handshake. Men wait for women to reach for a handshake first which is different from the United States. While introducing people, you introduce the most important person first. People are also addressed by their title and surname. When exchanging business cards have one side in Chinese and exchange the card with both hands.
When viewing Taiwanese culture based on the Hofstede Model, there is one category that sticks out more than the others. Taiwan has a high score of 93 when looking at long-term orientation. This means that they have a high standard for modernizing the world around them. This is also referred to as the pragmatic approach. For example, they support using modern techniques in education because they want to be able to prepare and understand the changes that will come in the future with improved technology. However, the United States is basically on the opposite end of that model. For our long-term orientation score, we recorded a score of 26. This means that we really like to hold true to traditions. This is referred to as normative society. In the United States, it is common knowledge that the entire population struggles with societal changes. This is a characteristic of a normative society. Although Taiwan is open-minded when it comes to technological changes, they are close-minded when it comes to what the future holds. Their score for uncertainty avoidance came in at 69, whereas the United States scored a 46. This means that Taiwanese people do not like the unknown of the future. To avoid uncertainty, they will work hard, have many rules, and keep certain behaviors that they do not stray from. Therefore, Taiwan is not open to other cultures’ ideas and behaviors, but the United States is. This is why we are often referred to as a “melting pot.” Next, Taiwan culture scores a 58 in power distance. Power distance refers to the fact that workers within a country understand and accept that not all power is equal within an organization. Taiwan’s score is relatively high when it comes to power distance, so they are referred to as a hierarchical society. The chances of an entry-level employee questioning the manager’s position in a Taiwanese company are slim. The United States scored 40 in power distance. This means that we are beginning to stray away from this idea of a hierarchical society. Taiwan’s score for indulgence falls right in the middle of the scale at 49. According to The Hofstede Center, indulgence is “the extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses.” Since Taiwan comes in at the middle of the scale, this means they do not have a clear indulgent or restrained society. The United States scored a 68 in indulgence, so we are referred to as an indulgent society. This basically means that we are more prone to celebrating and enjoying life rather than sticking to the social norms. Taiwan scored a 45 on the masculinity scale, so they are considered to be a more feminine culture. The United States scored a 62 on this scale, we are considered a masculine society. Taiwan people focus more on working to support your family, but Americans work more for the competition and to get the highest rank. The largest difference between the United States and Taiwan on Hofstede’s scale is individualism. Taiwan scored a 17 in individualism, but the United States scored a 91. We focus more on working and supporting ourselves and our immediate family. However, the Taiwanese work to support an entire group. This includes your family, but it can also include your extended family, work family, etc. When looking at Hofstede’s model, there is no constant difference between the two countries. The United States and Taiwan can vary a lot or a little depending on the different categories.
When mapping cultural distances, it is evident that the relationship of the cultural dimensions is very different when comparing Taiwan to the US. Taiwan is considered a harmony oriented culture in this category. This means Taiwan is trying to live in relative harmony with their environment which is very different from mastery oriented culture. The U.S. is a mastery oriented culture which means they are trying to seek and control their natural and social environment. This difference in relationship in environment can have an effect on many things. One major thing this can affect is how mangers set up their structured leadership style in the work place. For instance mastery oriented Culture is more set for personal gain where as in harmony oriented culture is more set up for participative group success. As you can see this relationship with the environment can play a big impact on what the workers are used to in their country. This could potentially cause problems if you were to open a business in Taiwan with a more autocratic leadership style. The social organization dimension of culture is also very different in Taiwan and the U.S. This basically means that with Taiwan being a collectivist society, the social group in this country would prefer to work as a group in interpersonal relationships to fix problems in society. In The U.S. where the culture is much different, it is the complete opposite because the U.S. is an individualistic social organization. This means they would rather work alone to fix their problems in Society. As you can see these countries are very different in this aspect. The power distribution in Taiwan and the U.S. is setup differently. Taiwan is a Hierarchal system where the U.S. is an egalitarian system. Neither of these system are bad, but you would want to know this information if you ever had to do business in Taiwan. Taiwan has a Hierarchal power, which basically means their power is based by order or rank. However in the U.S., their power system in egalitarian is much different. The equalitarian system believes all people are equal no matter the rank or position they hold. You can see how this can be very different in these two countries and how it might affect a business.
Taiwan is a relationship based area. They tend to influence people more than trying to have rules and those types of things. This means that the influence can come from anywhere. It can come from parents, teacher, and other peers. As a result, nations like Taiwan are big on relationships because these sets of relationships are based off of trust. These bonds that are built are what set the foundation for the rules and regulations. The difference between the two nations, in this aspect, is that the United States is rule-based. That means that everything is based on set rules. Failure to comply with these rules comes with consequences. This means they just want to limit things, and have a system based off of these rules. The United States is a monochronic time oriented nation. By this, I mean we value individual task, and we enjoy simplifying things. We separate our personal life from our work. We also take a single-minded approach toward things, and that means we like to have a certain goal that we are aiming towards. The difference between the two nations is they are the total opposite from each other. Taiwan is a nation of multiple tasks. They like to take on a lot of goals at once. Their approach to things are never unfocused. Commitment is to the people and the relationships they build through them.
The Taiwanese culture is very different than that of the United States. This can add a great deal of stress to managers of a restaurant organization that is considering adding an additional location in Taiwan. The managers would not be able to focus entirely on conducting business at first. They would be focusing much of their attention to learning the cultural norms of the Taiwanese society. As a result, the company must be mindful of the many differences that exist between the Taiwanese and the American cultures. Otherwise, it could be devastating to the entire company.
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