Questions a Taiwanese (me) can't answer

Hi guys :smiley:

Just quickly introduce myself. I went to study in the overseas since when I was 19 and after graduated I’ve never have a full time work in Taiwan so I don’t really know the Taiwanese culture and business situation well even though I’m a Taiwanese (bad excues, eh? :noway: ) I’m now 28 and is working in Tokyo as software engineer.

Anyway, here I have a situation that I hope you can help me out.

My boss today sent me a e-mail asking me three questions for my advice:
[ol][color=blue][li]How do you characterize the personality of the people from your country?[/color] For example, the Japanese are known to be very shy, hard working, group oriented, etc.
[color=blue][/li][li]How do you think your country is different from the Western world and what would be the do and donts[/color] (esp. when a company entering your country’s market.)
[color=blue][/li][li]How do you think your country is different from the other Asian countries?[/color] For example, today’s China is much more hungry than Japan, etc…[/li][/ol]
Honestly, I’m just a software engineer I don’t really know (or maybe I’ve never think about it so seriously) about the general aspects of Taiwan VS the Western, maybe because I went to the Western countries when I was teenager so I can’t really tell the difference. Anyhow, for question [color=blue]1.[/color] my temporary answer is:

[quote]Taiwanese people are generally characterized as: Hardworking (as in energetic) and easygoing (as in optimistic), most of the young people have a dream to initiate their own business. One of the reason why Taiwan is multi-cultural is because it has been administered by many different government in the past, including the Westerns, therefore it is easy to find Taiwanese companies using a management model that is very similar to the Western societies.

Taiwan is a democratic country and has a capitalized mood in the general public, individurals are more important than group.[/quote]
How do you think? As for [color=blue]2.[/color] and [color=blue]3.[/color], although I can’t say that they (Taiwanese and the Western mode) are the same, I’d say they are very much similar… Can anyone comment?

Thank you!!!

well just one bit. To say that Taiwan is multi-cultural is because it has been administered by many different government(s) in the past including the western(er)s is a bit of a stretch. The only Europeans ever on Taiwan were the Dutch and the legacy they left behind amounts to about as much as a teaspoon. Well technically, the Dutch were responsible for drawing tons of immigrants from Fujian to populate the island asides from the aboriginals, but they didn’t leave any cultural or political legacy behind at all.

Okay :smiley: I’ll try not making it too controversial and over exaggerated :stuck_out_tongue: But is there a general Taiwan characteristic?

I’ve been working in a Taipei based company for 6 months in the past, the mood is very much similar to a U.S.’ one… people stay in there own cube, having regular progress meetings, and I think the organization model is not as hierarchical as the Japanese one… :unamused:

Any other differences?

A bit of a stretch. :astonished: A HUGE stretch.

What is said outloud and what is actually going to happen may, shoot in most cases, be two entirely different things.

Ethics, not just a catch word, heck, not really in most managers vocabularies.

Taiwan is driven by the dollar. Employees are valued by “time on seat” and not overall productivity. People work long hours only to do less work than one person could do in an eight hour day, but then it’s all about bums on seats.

I know this sounds not at all positive. There are many good points to the work culture of Taiwan, but most of the good points are clouded over by the shocking management styles that go on in many companies in Taiwan.

Large international companies, or large Taiwanese companies, can be the exception to the rule. These kind of companies tend to adopt western practices and move away from exploitation.

Taiwan, to the foreign businessman at least, is a nation of shopkeepers and engineers. These are good, solid things to be, and the fundamentals look promising. They are well-educated, self-reliant, and hard-working.

Taiwan society is quite a bit more disorganized than countries like Japan or Korea, but compares favorably with China or the Philippines. This tendency applies to legal matters as well, for the benefit of potential investors. (Sorry, I can’t think of a list of particular “do’s” and “don’ts” that wouldn’t apply everywhere else.)

Unlike all these countries, Taiwan has little nationalist sentiment, particularly against other nations, since they cannot agree on what country to be nationalistic about (and therefore aim what nationalistic sentiment there is at the other faction).

Major aspects of local culture come from all four compass directions–Southeast Asia, China, Japan, and the West–and Taiwanese are well aware that they are poised between giants.

"Unlike all these countries, Taiwan has little nationalist sentiment, particularly against other nations, since they cannot agree on what country to be nationalistic about (and therefore aim what nationalistic sentiment there is at the other faction). "

I agree with Screaming Jesus’ statement on this and I’ll go one step further as an outsider observing in. I think this begins to identify the Taiwanese people. I wouldn’t call it complacency or submissivness but almost.

My impression has been that the Taiwanese people are kind and hard working and have a good attitude about life in general. I believe though that they tend to focus on surface change and not demanding real change. Are you a democratic free society or are you part of China. Tell me, maybe I’m confused?

I’ve had all this crap from the Japanese before- I felt that they love to find ways to make us the non-Japanese, out to be different- they really want to know what is different from the Japanese and have a hard time accepting what is the same. I can imagine that as you look asian - he may have an strong urge to marginalise you- or I cpould be having a really crappy day and he could be genuinely interested. One thing i can say for sure is that (although I’m doing it myself) ‘they’ really love to generalise a whole race of people and have problems accepting that there isn’t a unified (e.g) British way of peeling an orange (believe me on that one)

I think we’re discounting the actual influences of all parties. The Dutch lasting legacy was uniting the aborigines on the plain as a unified 'one". Land Day was the firs time all the western tribes were at peace in the known history of Taiwan. The united aborigines laid the ground work for future cooperation that changed the direction of Taiwan’s history.
The Dutch systems of taxation were expanded by both the Kixinga regime and the Qing. The taxation policy heavily influenced the development of the western plain resulting in land policies that eventually resulted in the emergence of the dynamic of Taiwan’s indigenous economy. It could be supposed that modern Taiwan’s economic miracle is the indirect result of Qing era land rights and the rights of plains aborigines to own tribal land as Da Fan zu.

THe west has also had a major impact on Taiwan with the frequent comparisons by Taiwanese to the American system of Democracy as a benchmark. The list continues…
Taiwan is multi-cultural and multi-ethnic. Everyone who has come and gone left a mark on the landscape and the people. The collective memories that like the generations together have played a major part in Taiwanese identity development.

I interviewed an elder of the Dao (Tao/Yami) tribe, and he recalled a story of Europeans in boads landing on his island with guns and pikes. The men tried to catch the Dao, but the people ran into the hills.
The man’s story corresponds to a Dutch record of the attempted depopulation of lan Yu.

Even Taiwan’s own understanding of Taiwan history comes from many sources that are not Japanese or Qing.

The Western influence is obvious. What kind of clothes are they wearing? What’s on television? What form of government do they have, and what are their jobs like? How is the school system set up? The answer, in all cases, is–almost the same as ours.

I agree that most people have this submissive streak. If China invaded Malaysia there would be a serious guerrilla war / terrorism campaign. If China invades Taiwan, the sheep would mostly wait and see what the rancher would do, if they couldn’t get away.

I forgot to mention an important point about Taiwan society, which would distinguish them from the West though not from other Asian societies, and that is the degree to which they organize themselves around the (often extended) family. Adult children don’t move away from home, parents often run their kids’ lives–this is the negative side, but the positive side is that they have a strong social support system. If someone loses their job, someone else will help them–AND push them to get another one.

Similar personal networks (not necessarily familial) are crucial in business as well, as outsiders often notice.

I’d like to thank everyone who replied my message :smiley: It not only helped me to get credited by my boss but learnt a lot myself, too! Again thanks for the valuable advices and comments! :wink: