Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2008

Etiquette and Process Puzzles of Negotiating Business in China: A Questionnaire

by James K. Sebenius and Cheng (Jason) Qian


Cultural differences can affect negotiations in many ways, from influencing the basic motivations and perceptions of the players to guiding the surface aspects, such as etiquette, protocol, and process, of business interactions. Navigating the challenges of these surface behavioral issues is useful to plumb some of the deeper cultural factors and differences in governance and decision-making of cross-border business negotiation. As suggested by an iceberg analogy, though etiquette, protocol, and deportment comprise the visible tip, they might be linked to more deeply rooted, less obvious forces that are fully capable of sinking the ship. This working paper, through a questionnaire format-intended as an instrument to collect data from a range of people with varying China-related negotiating experience, presents a series of situations of a typical Sino-foreign business negotiation to address both the surface and the root cultural factors. This questionnaire will serve not only to evaluate subjects' appreciation for Chinese culture as it bears on negotiation, but also to better understanding of the process aspects of cross-border negotiation in general.

Keywords: Decision Making; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Governance; Questionnaires; Negotiation Process; Behavior; China;


Sebenius, James K., and Cheng (Jason) Qian. "Etiquette and Process Puzzles of Negotiating Business in China: A Questionnaire." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 09-077, December 2008.