My recent Expert Witness engagement was to support the plaintiff (a China-born, Hong-Kong raised, but U.S. citizen owner of a California apparel liquidation firm--importing end-lots from manufacturers in China on 0-collateral credit terms); my client was suing a major American bank corporation (the defendant) for irreparable harm done to his supplier credit terms, resulting from a series of bank errors, most of which hinged on the bank not being familiar with Chinese business culture.
My client had wired funds to the supplier of his close and trusted Chinese-friend (plaintiff had no prior knowledge of the recipient of funds--a small but sharp apparel manufacturer in China). The bank sent a duplicate wire (an error) and was unable to get it back from the recipient). Neither my client nor his friend could get the error funds returned; and the bank never travelled face-to-face to the recipient to get the funds back. So the bank put a hold on my plaintiff's account--without telling him.
My client sent a payment check to one of his own suppliers, and it bounced. Almost immediately, his entire supplier network knew of this, and they saw him as in financial trouble. They cut off his 0-collateral/credit terms: my client lost face within his businss network and his business was destroyed. The bank never comprehended that in Chinese buisness culture, it is common for one to loan funds freely to a close "Chinese friend," and thus my client had no relationship to the recipient of the duplicate wire.
My business experience in China
I have travelled extensively in China since 1994, to coordinate communication between Western sources of capital investment and China-based growing businesses that seek growth capital. And I have been introduced to representatives of China’s old-family wealth funds for purpose of transacting private placement programs.
During the past 16 years, I have experienced the frequent misunderstandings that occur in cross-cultural business communication, and I have both used and grown my strength to mediate these communications.
Among the skills that I have learned is the ability to search for and comprehend, without pre-judgment, the root thought or need that separates two sides from executing shared action. For example, sometimes it may be a sense of organizational ego that wants the other side to take the first risk (or fear of taking the first risk)—as when a financial source wants the applicant to solicit first with detailed exposure of applicant’s identification, while the applicant wants to know the source’s true strength before submitting its information.
My network extends today globally (Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, America, and China), and I am frequently conducting Skype conferences that bring together diverse teams across multiple time zones and cultural understandings. I have l learned that just because all are using the same language, not to assume that all have the same understanding of what is being said.
I certainly can provide valuable guidance to individuals and business groups from non-Chinese cultures who are already involved in or thinking about a venture with Chinese-culture companies (located both in China or elsewhere in the world), in terms of the “nitty- grittys” which could conceivably make or break a situation.
B.A., Art (painting and sculpture, UC Berkeley
M.A., Urban and Regional Planning, California State University-Fresno
Ph.D., Government (cross-culture communication), Claremont Graduate School
Information available on request: firstname.lastname@example.org