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Are American Logistics Companies More Reliable Than Chinese Logistics Companies?
When it comes to logistics, perception counts for a lot. American companies will perceive that American logistics companies are better than foreign logistics companies like those in China, even when accounting for the difference in price. The difference will be determined via language and cultural barriers, which can affect business decisions.
English is the Lingua Franca of the Business World
English is spoken around the world when it comes to business. While learning a foreign language will help you break into foreign markets, you will find that English is simply more popular when it comes to actually negotiating business deals and writing up contracts. This is because there is a difference in “knowing” English, and knowing how to speak English.
English is a tough language to master. Many rules and conventions in the language can be bypassed, and even ignored, making it very difficult to understand others when language becomes more complex. When it comes to logistics, you need to ensure that your logistics company understands what you want, and can deliver on what you want, 100% of the time. If not, you will have unfortunately wasted money that you will need to re-spend on logistics.
Having agreeable grammar and syntax between two contracted parties matters, and confusion can even erupt between two English-speaking companies. In Canada, Rogers Communications and Bell Aliant famously went to court over the use of a comma in a 14-page contract.
This necessity to share a similar level of language comprehension is not the only connecting compatibility that businesses must share with their logistics companies. Culture is another.
The Concept of “Saving Face”
In China, there is a concept of “saving face.” Saving face is a form of mutual respect in the Chinese workplace, where individuals will act to ensure they and their workplace are seen in a positive light. It is a very important social construct in the workplace, to the point where the concept of saving face may result in a difference of perspective between American and Chinese logistics companies.
American companies are more forward about their goals and ambitions, and individuals working within American companies are willing to put themselves and their company’s goals at a higher priority than the goals of others.
An American businessman, for instance, may interrupt a speaker in a meeting to ask a question. While respect is taken from the speaker in such a scenario, the respect will be mutual if the question is good. For a Chinese businessman, such an interaction would be perceived as a loss of face, and therefore respect.
How Saving Face Can Affect Logistics
Failing work expectations is another way to lose face. If a Chinese logistics company is transporting cars from Los Angeles to New York, a representative of that company may write that “the cars are on their way,” rather than “the cars will arrive a day later than expected,” if the cars are not able to make the trip. This little choice of words can mean the difference between understanding and efficiency.
Logistics shipments are sometimes late. It happens. However, in the first phrase, an American company may believe that the logistics company will meet their intended deadline. In the second phrase, they will not. If your logistics company will not be able to make a deadline, you need to know about it, regardless of the temporary upset of social cohesion in the workplace! It is less painful to rip a band-aid off than pull it off slowly.
The Bottom Line
In the end, saving face is about restoring social harmony. However, the business world is not characteristically socially harmonious, especially in America. Companies live and die by the bottom line. When it comes to deciding whether to use an American logistics company, or a Chinese logistics company, you should consider how cultural and language differences that exist between America and China will affect your logistical needs.