All business students realise the importance of understanding global markets and the prominence they bring to economies at home and around the world. As near neighbours and as a close trading partner, it is especially useful to know one in particular – China. Business students from Macquarie recently discovered the meaning of ‘guanxi’ in China.
China is a growing economy with significant influence in the business sphere. The question arises however, what makes doing business in China so difficult yet easy at the same time? And, how do you conduct business in such a fast paced, mass-market economy with an emerging and increasingly influential and affluent middle-class?
During the mid-semester break, 18 students from a broad cross section of the Faculty of Business and Economics embarked on a 13-day China business study tour in Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou to find answers to these questions.
The concept of ‘guanxi’ is an old tradition in China and roughly translates as ‘relationships’ or ‘connections’. Something that is crucial, now more than ever, to living and successfully conducting business in China.
Participating student, Lara D’Arcy found the experience an exhilarating one. “The China business tour opened my eyes to a world which was previously unknown to me. I learnt about the complexities of doing business in China and how culture plays an essential role,” she said. “I developed a first-hand appreciation of global businesses outside the four walls of a classroom and Australian borders. I also made new friends, enhanced my network and, most importantly, learnt vital skills for my future
The itinerary delivered diversity with 12 local corporate companies, three government agencies, an NGO and a local manufacturer. Senior executives happily engaged with the group and delivered their remarkable insights into to the business sphere, culture and history of China. Fudan University in Shanghai also welcomed students and shared their unique perceptions and experiences.
Booming technological company Lenovo was a highlight for many, alongside public relations corporate Weber Shandwick. Students also had the opportunity to visit Austrade in Beijing and the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. Educational perspectives were transformed at Fudan University and hearts were touched at the Renewal Centre – a homeless shelter in Shanghai.
Cultural highlights were also warmly received with visits to the Great Wall of China, Beijing Olympic Park, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, People’s Park and People’s Square.
Fellow traveller Jennifer Jerram found it a life-changing experience. “The study tour (BUS304) afforded me the opportunity to experience the Chinese culture, lifestyle and approach to business first-hand. It was an amazing opportunity to develop my understanding about how business is done within China.”
Jennifer continued, “I had an incredible time and would definitely advise any student who is looking for a life-changing experience – to develop essential skills, knowledge, networks and friendships – to enrol in this course.”