Taiwan, China flag Taiwan, China: Business Environment

Business Practices in Taiwan, China

Opening hours and bank holidays

General Information
Commisceo Global, Business culture seen by Commisceo Global
Opening Hours and Days
Shops are usually open every day and close at 10 pm. Banks are open from 9 am to 3.30 pm, Monday to Friday. Companies generally work from 9 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday.

Public Holidays

Chinese Lunar New Year January or February
Peace Memorial Day February 28th
Tomb Sweeping Day April 5th
Labor Day May 1st
Dragon Boat Festival In Chinese Lunar calendar: June 12th
Moon Festival In Chinese Lunar calendar: September 20th
National day October 10th

Periods When Companies Usually Close

Chinese New Year 1 week in January or February.

Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Taiwanese business culture has changed considerably ever since the country fully embraced capitalism in the 1980s, leading to the emergence of an entrepreneurial spirit. Furthermore, the culture continues to bear some of characteristics of mainland Chinese and Japanese customs. As such, the business culture has been shaped by Confucianism, more specifically the concept of Guanxi (relationship network) and the values of solidarity, loyalty, modesty and courtesy. Saving face plays a notable role in the business culture and has shaped the way the Taiwanese communicate with their foreign counterparts.

The organisational structure in most Taiwanese firms is hierarchical; however, there is less emphasis on protocol and procedures than in Japan and South Korea. Seniority and age play an important role in addition to the rank within the firm. It is considered polite to greet the oldest/most senior person at meetings. Decisions are usually made from the top down and not questioned by subordinates. Nevertheless, managers seek a consensus to ensure a majority agrees on the decision. Consequently, the decision-making process tends to take a long time. 

The Taiwanese value long-term friendships in business and want to ensure they can count their foreign counterparts as part of their "guanxi". Therefore, they usually want to get to know their business partners personally before engaging in a deal. Guanxi is crucial to develop business opportunities, have access to crucial information and get help in times of trouble. Business entertaining is an important aspect of guanxi-building. As the relationship develops, the process may also involve the exchange of valuable gifts.
First Contact
Appointments should be scheduled in advance, and it is better to have a first meeting face-to-face rather than a conference call. Appointments that are scheduled through a third-party are common in Taiwan as the business culture is shaped by the concept of 'guanxi' (personal network).  While Taiwanese are mostly proficient in English, it is courteous to ask whether an interpreter will be necessary.
Time Management
Punctuality is highly valued in Taiwanese business culture. It is recommended to arrive on time to meetings. Meetings may have a set agenda; however, it usually serves the purpose of initiating negotiations and may not always be followed strictly. On the other hand, deadlines are taken very seriously and not meeting jointly agreed deadlines is seen as a sign of disrespect.
Greetings and Titles
A slight bow of the head is accepted as a form of greeting; however, handshakes are also common (less so among women). Men usually wait for women to extend their hand first. Maintaining direct eye contact is not as important as in Western countries and most Taiwanese look towards the ground as a sign of respect when greeting another person (especially an older person). The oldest or most senior person should be greeted or introduced first out of respect. Titles are very important in Taiwanese culture, and foreigners should address their Taiwanese counterparts by using Mr., Mrs., or any academic title followed by the surname. It is not appropriate to address directly by using the first name unless invited to do so.
Gift Policy
Gift giving is somewhat common in Taiwan as in other East Asian cultures. Gifts of value, including scotch, ginseng and desk attire, are appropriate for an initial meeting. It is customary to reciprocate with a gift of equal value. Gifts should be neatly wrapped as the container and wrapping of the gift are as important as the gift itself (similar to customs in Japan). It is also polite to refuse a gift. Foreign business contacts should insist politely until the gift is accepted. Knives, scissors and letter openers are to be avoided as they are usually seen as a sign of severing of a close bond.
Dress Code
Business attire is rather formal and conservative both for men and women. It is appropriate for men to wear dark coloured suits with shirt and tie while women should wear conservative business suits or dresses and blouses. Tight fitting and sleeveless attire should be avoided. It is common for men to take off their jackets during meetings. Both genders are expected to be well groomed and neatly dressed.
Business Cards
The exchange of business cards usually takes place after the initial introductions. It is recommended to use both hands to give and receive business cards, with the typeface facing the recipient. Taking time to examine the card instead of storing it right away is seen as a sign of respect. It is also better to place the business card in a holder or on the table in front of you during the entire meeting. It is a good idea to have the one side of the card translated into Chinese (using traditional Chinese characters and not simplified ones, which are used in mainland China).
Meetings Management
Business meetings tend to be long, as completing a meeting to a satisfactory standard is considered more important than keeping time. First meetings allow parties to get to know each other rather than close a deal. As such, meetings usually start with some small talk, which may include issues that would be considered personal in most Western countries.

As Taiwanese are known to be hard negotiators, it is important to be well prepared, have a substantial amount of knowledge about the items that are on the agenda. It is very common to bargain and foreign business partners should not refrain from compromising, as Taiwanese can start negotiating very high or low depending on the situation. Nevertheless, pressure tactics, conflict and confrontation are to be avoided. It is recommended to bring a team that matches the Taiwanese one in number and rank. Bringing one senior person with decision-making power is a good idea as this enhances the status of executives and reflects on the seriousness of the meeting. The spoken word is the contract; however, it is a good idea to follow up with a written confirmation. Lawyers are usually not part of negotiations and legal conflicts are expected to be settled by arbitrators.

As in most East Asian countries, Taiwanese prefer indirect communication and saving face is an important aspect of business interactions during meetings. It is a good idea to refrain from humour and direct criticism, which Taiwanese tend to take personally and could make them lose face. Taiwanese are often very unlikely to openly say ‘no’. Instead, they may give a vague response or simply say ‘yes’ not to confirm but to mean ‘I understand’. Moments of silence are common and it is not recommended to interrupt someone. Foreigners should also avoid being too loud or coming across as overly confident. It is a good idea to speak directly (or make the presentation) to the most senior person in the room, even if they do not speak English.

Business entertaining is an important aspect of Taiwanese business culture and meetings are most likely to be followed by dinners or karaoke. Dining can be elaborate and go on for hours. It is important to reciprocate with a dinner of equal value. It is not a good idea to discuss business unless the Taiwanese counterpart brings up the issue. Tea is served at the end of the meal and usually means the end of the party.

Sources for Further Information
Careeraddict - How to Master Business Etiquette in Taiwan Culture Crossing - Taiwan Business Culture The Culture Trip - Etiquette Tips for Taiwan

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Latest Update: July 2024