Recently, senior managers at Judith Carey's company concluded that some of the company's operations needed to be produced in lower-wage locations for the company to stay profitable. They placed Judith in charge of learning about options in China, a country she had never visited.
After several months of making contacts via phone and email, Judith traveled to China to meet some potential manufacturers. She brought two of her staff members along with her on the trip. She also asked Mei, one of the company's sales representatives in China, to join the group and act as an interpreter. Mei had joined the company's sales department in China two years ago. Because she gained a marketing degree in a Canadian university, Mei's English was excellent.
The first stop on the trip would be with representatives of the Shunde Manufacturing (SDM) Company, a potential manufacturer for the company's line of dolls. After a long plane trip and a sleepless night at a hotel in Shanghai, Judith started the first day of work in China tired and slightly disoriented. Her team first met the company's president, Bo Chen, and seven other men from SDM for lunch. Judith was seated next to the company's president for the duration of the two-hour lunch, which included course after course of foods Judith had never seen or eaten before. Judith sampled most of the dishes but was clearly uncomfortable.
During the meal, the company president asked Judith, "Ms. Carey, what are your impressions of China?" Judith replied, "Well, Bo, I don't really know too much. I'm not quite used to the air here, with all of the pollution. Of course, I've always known about the one-child policy, but not much else. Do you think the policy is fair?" Bo stated, "China and America must solve their problems in their own ways." Then, he talked about the final dish for the meal—a fish. He explained that ending the meal with the fish had special symbolism in China and signaled a prosperous future for their relationship.
Near the end of lunch, Bo told Judith, "We'll meet for dinner and a reception later at 6 p.m. I've arranged a tour for you this afternoon. Several of our staff members will take you for a walk along the river, to some beautiful Chinese gardens, and to the Shanghai Museum." Judith was a bit dismayed. She wasn't really in the mood for touring. Rather, she wanted to get down to business, but she obliged for the afternoon tour. During the tour, Judith asked Mei, her interpreter, "What should I do this evening to make sure we can talk about business?" Mei replied, "Tonight, you should make friends with President Chen. Give him a nice toast in front of his employees. Enjoy the wonderful food. Tomorrow you can talk about business."
That evening, Judith and her team were taken to a large private room at a restaurant. The SDM Company was now represented by more than 20 employees. Judith and Bo spent most of the dinner discussing family and professional experiences. Judith enjoyed the food, gave a toast mentioning "future cooperation" and thanking "President Chen for his hospitality," and even sang karaoke when invited.
The next day, Judith arrived at the company's headquarters. She and her team discussed options for a partnership with SDM representatives for the duration of the day. At the end of the day, both parties agreed to continue their conversations in approximately one month.
Which of the following elements of cultural intelligence should Judith work on the most? A. Possess curiosity and interest in other cultures. B. Adjust conceptions of time and show patience. C. Manage language differences.
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