Michael Jenkins

Avoiding Clashes of Culture 

Trading abroad is fraught with risk, not least the problem that different cultures do business in different ways. Michael Jenkins, Chief Executive of Roffey Park Institute, is well-versed in the customs of the Far East. Words: Ian Trevett

A  few years ago, there was a series of clever TV adverts for HSBC on the pitfalls of ignoring cultural differences when doing business abroad. The voice-over on one memorable ad read, “The English believe it’s a slur on your host’s food if you don’t clear your plate...,” with a close-up of a travelling executive struggling through an eel dish, slurping the bowl clean, only to see it constantly replenished by the stressed chef. The voice-over continued, “...whereas the Chinese feel you are questioning their generosity if you do.”

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