A Culturally Balanced Work Ethic

An interesting article outlines the differences in cultural approaches to work by the Brazilians and Chinese.


  1. Want vacations
  2. Want personal co-worker relationships
  3. Have (long) process driven results
  4. Lax work ethic e.g. lack of punctuality
  5. Desire days off and beach visits


  1. Want constant productivity
  2. Maintain order through hierarchy
  3. Seek immediate results: ‘Just get it done now’
  4. Want workers physically in office all the time so they could control their work
  5. Think that higher up hierarchical demands would boost productivity
  6. Demean local managers in front of staff

The Brazilian culture is too lackadaisical and the Chinese too ‘results at any cost’. The Chinese need to understand that process is part of the destination and life as well as work should be simultaneously enjoyed. The Brazilians need to understand that enjoyment must sometimes be subservient to work because beaches don’t pay the bills (though one wishes they did).


Brooks, Bradley. 2011. Culture clash complicates China’s Brazil push. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2015173298_apltbrazilchinacultureclash.html [accessed: 2012-07-16].


4 thoughts on “A Culturally Balanced Work Ethic

    • I recall reading about Spanish students having a different concept of time like going home for midday naps and classes till 6!

      • Once upon a time, we wanted a work life balance. Family came first. Bosses understood.

        I almost think this recession was created to disrupt the balance of life and turn us into automatons.

        The Chinese work ethic is fierce but so is their burn out rate. Perhaps we can’t have it all.

      • The Chinese from what I’ve seen don’t burn out for too long but my problem is that working harder isn’t necessarily working smarter. I think they can make more money and have more R&R time if they didn’t see work and money as primal achievements.

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