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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 by completing 4 units, with each unit expected to take 8–9 hours to study. Over a total of 36 hours, 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 and simplified characters along the way.

After successfully completing this short course, you will receive a digital badge. This can be shared on social media, added to email signatures or act as a certificate.

Standalone study only

You will not be awarded credits for studying this course. It is available for standalone study only and cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.

Short course

Short course code
LG002
Credits
This is a non-credit bearing course.
Study method
Distance Learning
Short course cost
See Registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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 units:

  • 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.

Please note that although this course is non-accredited, it can be used towards the module Making your learning count (YXM130) to gain OU credits.

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 specialist learning advisers.

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. 

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying LG002 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

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.


    Entry requirements

    There are no entry requirements for 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

    This course is made up of 4 units, with each unit expected to take 8–9 hours to study. In total, you'll need around 36 hours to complete the course.

    You can begin at any time during the life of the course and study at your own pace. The course will be open to you for a time period of between 6 and 18 months depending on your course registration date and you will be advised of the specific time limitations upon enrolment.

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    At anytime before registration end date Jun 2023 - see Entry requirements for more detail £195.00

    Registration closes 31/12/2022

    Register

    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 2022/23 academic year. Fees for short courses starting in the 2023/24 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 and there is no formal tuition for this course.

    Your study is self-directed and you’ll have access to a course website, which includes:

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

    Computing requirements

    You'll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS (10.15 or higher).

    Functionality may be limited on mobile devices. For example, voice recorder activities, which are common in language short courses, may not work on iOS/Apple devices.

    Our module websites comply with web standards and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

    Our OU Study mobile App will operate on all current, supported, versions of Android and iOS. It's not available on Kindle.

    It's also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you'll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.