The Collision of Two Cultures


American Factory is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert. The documentary is about Chinese company Fuyao’s factory in Moraine, Ohio. The Chinese company bought a closed factory which used to be owned by General Motors. In the documentary you can really see and feel the collision of two different cultures – American and Chinese. Documentary is a very good example on how companies should know the new markets where they are entering. There are many things which are affecting, for example, to worker’s expectations, how things are done in different businesses in different countries and how regulations work. (Bognar & Reichert, 2019)

The effects of political environment to management system 

There are many external environmental factors that can affect to different businesses. It is common for managers to assess each of the following factors closely. The aim is always to take better decisions for the firm’s progress. Some common factors are political, economic, social and technological also known as PESTEL analysis. (PEST, 2015)

The political environment is perhaps among the least predictable elements in the business environment. Political system is different in each country and it affects a lot to country’s culture and in people’s visions. It is very important for firms to observe and track the political environment. The firms should follow how political systems are developing and/or changing in the countries where the firms operate. They should also follow what is generally happening all over the world since political changes might affect also in other countries, economics and businesses.

In this very case, there are two very different countries which have different political systems. The United States is federal republic where democracy is appreciated and China is socialist republic run by a single party, the Communist Party of China. Besides, China has socialist market economy which affects to the country’s businesses, nationally and abroad. It has created a system in which private and public companies, market prices and planning prices, protection of private property and communist ideology, competition and state intervention, simultaneously coexist. (Aversa) 

Political systems have lots of power which affects to management system. In the documentary you can really see the socialist background in Chinese CEO’s as well as Chinese managers and worker’s behaviour. For them work is the most precious value and they think that a person should sacrifice all for it. For them the free time is not valued as much as for the Americans. The managers think the American workers are lazy because they only work around 8 hours per day and have loads of free time. The Americans are also very worried about the work safety which means a very different thing for the Chinese. The managers don’t want their workers to be part of the work unions in the States. The Chinese managers think that unions will make their work more difficult, slower and that it would cost lots of money for them. For them time is considered to be money – things and work should be rolling non-stop. 

The hierarchy, related to political system, is different in China. In China people appreciate and are even scared of people who have more power than they do. For everything there has to be permission from the boss and the worker’s work very long hours and they barely have any free days. The whole management style could be measured with Human Capital, which is a measure of the skills, education, capacity and attributes of labour which influence their productive capacity and earning potential. In agriculture and manufacturing, human capital was easier to measure. The human capital of an assembly line worker could be measured in simple terms of productivity – e.g. the number of widgets produced per hour. In a job, such as management, important characteristics will be factors such as interpersonal skills, ability to work in a team and the creativity to problem solve. (Pettinger, 2017) In the document the managers care about quantity over quality and safety, they just think that workers should be more efficient and work more. They don’t really care how workers feel, or do they have enough free time to sleep and have more energy for work. Besides, the workers would have more productivity if they would keep having balance between the work and spare time.

Culture’s influence into leadership styles

Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. (Zimmermann, 2017) Culture has enormous impact on how we see the world. Our own culture gives as a base of believes and values. Americans value family, freedom and individuality. Chinese value wisdom, honesty, loyalty, and filial piety.

China has collectivistic culture, which means that social rules focus on promoting selflessness, working as a group is important, you need to do what’s best for society as well as families and communities have a central role. Collectivist cultures are usually contrasted with individualistic cultures. Collectivism stresses the importance of the community, while individualism is focused on the rights and concerns of each person. Where unity and selflessness are valued traits in collectivist cultures, independence and personal identity are highly stressed in individualistic cultures. (Cherry, 2019) The United States is considered to be individualistic culture, where individual is prioritised over a group. For Americans it’s very important to work and also have the free time. They care about their rights, for example, in this documentary about the safety and rights to be part of the union. Americans can’t realize how the Chinese can work non-stop hardly without any free time. In the documentary some Americans are visiting Chinese factory and are shocked about the safety regulations. That some people collect broken glass with normal gloves, which don’t protect their hands at all.

Chinese value the society and whole nation over individuals. For them it’s more important that how to make the company succeed. Managers are more tough in China and they make decisions based on the results and money, more than thinking what’s best for the workers. In the documentary some Chinese managers are talking bad behind the workers who are actively supporting work nations. They made some of the people work alone so that they could say they are lazy and fire them because of weak work results. Of course, this kind of behaviour, is not only linked to collectivistic culture – at times, it can be seen in individualistic countries.

The culture affects quite a lot into different leadership styles. The culture enhances different believes, ideas and ways, how to work. Naturally, it also affects to leadership styles. In some countries it’s good to keep the distance between bosses and workers, bosses work alone and don’t let workers speak up. Some bosses involve workers into brainstorming and really want to listen them to know how they see the work and what they would do differently. There are many different ways how to handle things. There’s no one and right way to lead people since the cultures are different. Though, it’s important to find the balance where company is doing well, employees feel that they are important and someone values their work as well as overall results are great.

How to benefit from different cultural work ethics

Work ethics include not only how one feels about their job, career or vocation, but also how one does his/her job or responsibilities. This involves attitude, behavior, respect, communication, and interaction; how one gets along with others. Work ethics demonstrate many things about whom and how a person is. Work ethics involve such characteristics as honesty and accountability. Essentially, work ethics break down to what one does or would do in a particular situation. The begging question in a situation involves what is right and acceptable, and above board, versus what is wrong, underhanded, and under the table. (All about philosophy)

You can learn a lot from different cultures, good and bad. The beautiful thing is that after managers, employees and companies can collect the best ones and try to follow those work ethics. For example, it is important to follow safety regulations because those are important to many people and they will also affect how willing employees are to do the job. In the documentary some workers refused to do some jobs because they didn’t want to risk their fellow colleagues. 

Although it is not easy to decide which ones are again the right work ethics to pick up from different cultures, since it is very collective how people see them. Especially in this documentary, we have two very different cultures. Even though Americans and Chinese are explaining their own work ethics to each other, it is not easy to think from other person’s perspective.


In-text reference: (All about philosophy)
List of references: All about philosophy. What are work ethics? URL:

In-text reference: (Aversa)
List of references: Aversa, G. Socialist Market Economy. Bankpedia. URL:

In-text reference: (Bognar & Reichert, 2019)
List of references: Bognar, S. & Reichert, J. 2019. American Documentary.

In-text reference: (Cherry, 2109)
List of references: Cherry, K. 2019. Understanding collectivist
cultures – How culture can influence behavior. URL: . Accessed: 13.10.2019

In-text reference: (PEST, 2015)
List of reference: PESTLE analysis. 2015. Political factors affecting
business. URL: . Accessed: 24.2.2015

In-text reference: (Pettinger, 2017)
List of references: Pettinger, T. 2017. Human capital definition and
importance. URL: . Accessed: 22.9.2017

In-text reference: (Zimmermann, 2017)
List of references: Zimmermann, K. 2017. What is culture? URL: . Accessed: 13.6.2017


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