“Shanghainese only care about money.” “Beijingers are really pretentious.” “People from Shanxi are really cheap.” These are a few of the numerous stereotypes I have heard Chinese people say about other Chinese people while living in China. I even often hear Chinese people use these stereotypes to explain their own views: “Of course that’s how I see it; I’m from Beijing.”
I used to just get frustrated and think of how detrimental stereotypes can be since, as an American, I have been trained to find them abhorrent in any form. However, I have recently been considering how these stereotypes could affect businesses operating in China, whether foreign or domestic. Even if the stereotypes don’t apply to every individual, when people from a given area believe a stereotype is a cultural trait then it may just turn into a self-fulfilling reality as they play the cultural role expressed in the stereotype. This is something businesses need to be acutely aware of as they formulate their strategies in China.