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Chinese business culture essentials

​Knowledge of Chinese etiquette has become invaluable as business dealings with China increase. But what is also crucial is an awareness of the much broader context of Chinese culture. Core cultural values and beliefs exist throughout the Chinese community, including business relationships. Understanding them can be essential to the success of a business meeting or negotiation.

In this short course you’ll discover a broad overview of Chinese culture. You'll explore topics including language, building trust, hierarchical society and gift-giving. It will also identify the potential challenges these present. You'll even learn some useful expressions in Mandarin Chinese along the way.

Standalone study only

This module is available for standalone study only. Any credits from this module cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.

Module

Module code
LXC050
Credits
0
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
OU SCQF FHEQ
0
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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What you will study

Business dealings with China are on the increase. More and more people are realising that they need to do more than have knowledge of a list of the ‘dos and don’ts’ of Chinese etiquette. Following rules such as presenting business cards with both hands, or not opening gifts in front of your hosts, can help a business meeting or negotiation be successful. But to create positive, long-term business relationships, what you’ll need is an understanding of the much broader context of Chinese culture and values that permeate Chinese business contexts.

This short course introduces you to some core Chinese cultural beliefs and values. Using stories and reflections from Westerners who have lived and worked in China, it will also highlight some potential challenges you may face.

China is a huge country with diverse cultures, and this course focuses on just a few fundamental aspects of Chinese culture, engaging you with reflective activities. You’ll gain a critical appreciation of different approaches. You’ll develop a better understanding of Chinese business culture, and more effective communication in Chinese business contexts.

This course is divided into four blocks:

  • language, culture and intercultural competence
  • hierarchical society and power relationships
  • guānxi, miànzi and building trust
  • harmony, gift-giving and traditional festivals.

As part of the course you will learn some useful expressions in Mandarin Chinese, share your thoughts with other students via a dedicated online forum, and keep an online downloadable record of your thoughts and answers to some questions, which will help you consider and reflect upon a number of cultural scenarios.

By the end of the course you’ll have developed a degree of cultural intelligence and intercultural sensitivity that can be applied beyond Chinese-speaking cultures.

You will learn

In the context of working within Chinese culture, whether this be business trips, hosting delegations, partnerships with Chinese organisations, or simply doing business in this market, this course aims to help you:

  • raise your cultural awareness and improve your intercultural competence
  • develop and integrate intercultural skills and strategies in Chinese business contexts
  • reflect on and deepen your understanding of why China is a hierarchical society, and its impact when conducting business in China
  • explore the concepts of guānxi, Confucius values, harmony and miànzi that underpin Chinese business dealings
  • communicate more effectively with the Chinese people you interact with
  • master some essential Mandarin Chinese expressions.

Learner support

The course is taught entirely online. You will have access to online forums that you are strongly encouraged to participate in, as they are an excellent source of support and information. These forums combine self-help from fellow students with input from language specialist learning advisers.

Course length

You'll study 8–9 hours per week, for 4 weeks. In total, this course will require around 36 hours to complete.1

1Previously, this description stated the course length of Chinese business culture essentials as around 64 hours. This was incorrect and was updated on 05 October 2020.

Future availability

Future availability of this course after October 2021 will be confirmed later this year.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations, which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    No examination
    No residential school


    Entry requirements

    There are no entry requirements to this course. It’s suitable if you are completely new to Chinese and to language learning, and it does not assume any prior knowledge.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact us.

    Course length

    You'll study 8–9 hours per week, for 4 weeks. In total, this course will require around 36 hours to complete.

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    27 Feb 2021 Jun 2021 £199.00

    Registration closes 18/02/21 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    26 Jun 2021 Oct 2021 £199.00

    Registration closes 17/06/21 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    30 Oct 2021 Feb 2022 Not yet available

    Registration opens on 18/03/21

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.

    Ways to pay

    Credit/Debit Card – We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

    Sponsorship – If this course is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

    The fee information provided here is valid for short courses starting in the 2020/21 academic year. Fees for short courses starting in the 2021/22 academic year or later may increase in line with the University’s strategic approach to fees.

    What's included

    All learning materials are delivered entirely online. You’ll have access to a course website, which includes:

    • a week-by-week study planner
    • course-specific materials and activities
    • audio and video content
    • discussion forums and a course forum
    • support from language-specialist learning advisers.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    The course is delivered online and makes use of a variety of online resources. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs. If you are a new learner with the OU, make sure that you look at our website.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.