For my big surprise, my topic is about Human Resources (my professional career area). It was incredible to learn about HR in a totally different environment/culture.

First of all, for analyzing and understanding Human Resources in China we must consider two perspectives: a society level, which involves the labor market and the Chinese culture, and an individual level, related to company policies/practices and how people live their jobs in a day by day basis.

In terms of the labor market, we are speaking about a country with a low amount of high skilled professionals (considering the proportion to the Chinese population) and a significant part of population working in low-skilled jobs gaining very low wages. This is attractive for investors, because the HR costs in China are low. But is this fair? China has a high rate of poverty, and for sure is necessary to develop new macroeconomic policies to create structural changes in terms of education, employment and compensation, in harmony with their strong culture.

When we analyze the culture, we see that Chinese are oriented to family, honor, society (Nation), reputation and status, and professional relations are based in affection; this is different from our Latin culture where we are more oriented to our individual purposes.  This values have an impact in the HR practices such as recruitment, where the criteria for selecting candidates has a strong component of sympathy. While in our culture networking is important, in China is absolutely essential to get a job: a company won’t call you if they don’t know you or do not have a nice reference, or if you don’t feel trustful. Also, candidates choose jobs considering stability, the company’s status, reputation and how honorable is, to the society’s eyes, to work there.

About career development, if you are a qualified professional, you can have a very fast career growth, assuming new positions and responsibilities in the short term. This is very attractive for western professionals.

I think that the key to success as a western doing business or working in China, is truly understanding their culture, additionally with their economic and political systems. It would be a mistake to assume HR related projects related to China without learning in certain measure about this fascinating , but different, country.  Although It was an amazing experience and a great trip, I must admit that I’m not ready to assume HR projects in China or related to Chinese people (yet!); probably in a couple of years.

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