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Trust in China

Concepts of trust differ in China and the West, David De Cremer writes in Harvard Business Review.

Trust in China
To understand how the notion of trust differs in China and the West, it’s important to understand the “trust default,” David De Cremer, KPMG Professor of Management Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School, writes in an article entitled “Understanding trust, in China and the West” in the Harvard Business Review.

In general, the default position for people in the West is “trust” – giving the benefit of the doubt until something is done to shatter that trust. In China, however, the default tends to be “distrust” – a wariness until someone actually shows that they’re worthy of trust, the article says.

So De Cremer urges Western businesspeople to invest considerable time in building interpersonal relationships in China, even if this is initially frustrating, because “things will move very quickly” once you are deemed trustworthy.

And once established, trust lasts a long time in China. As said in a popular Chinese expression: “Once a promise is made, it cannot be withdrawn, not even with the forces of four horse powers.”