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Chinese Entrepreneurs In NZ Explored In Research

Experiences Of Chinese Entrepreneurs In New Zealand Explored In Research

What happens when you try to invest millions of dollars in New Zealand?

That's the question Otago Polytechnic Hospitality and Tourism Management Degree Manager Paul Casson asked three Chinese entrepreneurs attempting to participate in New Zealand's $9 billion tourism industry, as part of his Master of Business.

This month, Casson will relate their stories at the Second Asia Pacific CHRIE Conference & The Sixth Biennial Conference on Tourism in Asia, to be held in Phuket, Thailand on May 27-29.

In his research, Casson paints a picture of confusion, mistrust and the occasional stroke of luck.

Casson explains that Chinese business practice is built on the principle of Guanxi (relationships), and time "sometimes several generations" is spent building trust and understanding. "For Chinese, business is not about one deal, but many deals."

However Casson's respondents described "feeling pressured to sign deals, and a sense that Westerners were concerned only with their bottom line."

Further, the concern among Chinese for "saving face" makes avoiding opportunities for public challenges, conflict and embarrassment a priority.

In their view, successful business in New Zealand could be somewhat random, a matter of meeting the right people.

The answer to improving cross-cultural business harmony? "Education," says Casson. "There are Chinese who wish to invest in New Zealand. Many of our students will have Chinese employers, either here or overseas. Greater cultural awareness on all sides is necessary."

Casson adds that an Introduction to International Business is a fundamental paper within Otago Polytechnic's Bachelor of Hospitality and Tourism Management programme.

Adequate support structures, such as government-sponsored business advisers would also be helpful, Casson says.

With this, Casson highlights that education needs to go both ways. "It's important that Chinese who seek to do business in New Zealand are aware that certain practices such as giving gifts to gain favour may be seen as ethically questionable, even though it is standard business practice in some other countries."

Casson's work appears in the September issue of Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research.

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