Case 12: Managing a Chinese-South African Restaurant in Port Elizabeth, South Africa

  • Zhaoyi Liu
Part of the Palgrave Studies in African Leadership book series (PSAL)


Increasingly, Chinese small and medium enterprises are investing heavily in South Africa. Many of these Chinese businesses encounter difficulties in dealing with the management of employees from different cultural backgrounds, but very little attention has been focused on how to solve this problem. This chapter attempts to lay a foundation for cross-cultural understanding, leading to strategies that can facilitate both knowledge and practice in this area. Aspects of Chinese and South African cultures and different leadership styles and influence of culture on centrality of work are explored. J’s Restaurant is used as an example of a Chinese-South African cross-cultural business. Culture-specific solutions are provided from both Chinese and South African points of view. It is recommended that an appropriate leadership style is selected in order to manage the business and to build up a healthy communication system to bridge the gap in understanding between employees from different cultures.


Cross-cultural management Leadership style Cultural value Centrality of work China-South Africa 


  1. Adler, N. (1997). International Dimensions of Organizational Behaviour. Cincinnati, Ohio: South-Western College Publishing.Google Scholar
  2. Aust, P. J. (2004). Communicated Values as Indicators of Organizational Identity: A Method for Organizational Assessment and Its Application in a Case Study. Communication Studies, 55(4), 515–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baloyi, L. (2012). The African Conception of Death: A Cultural Implication. Indian Journal of Palliative Care, 22(4), 369–372. Scholar
  4. Bass, B. M., & Riggio, R. E. (2006). Transformational Leadership (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fan, Y. (2000). A Classification of Chinese Culture. Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, 7(2), 3–10. Scholar
  6. Feild, H. S., & Hirschfeld, R. R. (2000). Work Centrality and Work Alienation: Distinct Aspects of a General Commitment to Work. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 21(7).<789::AID-JOB59>3.0.CO;2-W
  7. Hofstede, G. (1991). Empirical Models of Cultural Differences. In N. Bleichrodt & P. J. D. Drenth (Eds.), Contemporary Issues in Cross-Cultural Psychology (pp. 4–20). Lisse, Netherlands: Swets & Zeitlinger Publishers.Google Scholar
  8. Holmes, J., & Stubbe, M. (2003). Power and Politeness in the Workplace: A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Talk at Work. UK: Pearson Education Ltd.Google Scholar
  9. Kiazad, K., Lloyd, S., Restubog, D., Zagenczyk, T., & Kiewitz, C. (2010). In Pursuit of Power: The Role of Authoritarian Leadership in the Relationship Between Supervisors’ Machiavellianism and Subordinates’ Perceptions of Abusive Supervisory Behaviour. Journal of Research in Personality, 44(4), 512–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Li, J. (2016). The Structure of Chinese Values: Indigenous and Cross-Cultural Perspectives. China: Paths International Ltd.Google Scholar
  11. Lin, S. (2018, February 27). South Africa and China Are Beneficial Partners. Pretoria News. Retrieved from
  12. Liu, Z. (2018). Development Report on Chinese Private Enterprises in South Africa. In China-South Africa Cultural Exchange Development Report 2017–2018 (pp. 30–45). Zhejiang People’s Publishing House.Google Scholar
  13. Lu, Q., Xu, H., & Bond, M. H. (2015). Culture and the Working Life: Predicting the Relative Centrality of Work Across Life Domains for Employed Persons. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 47(2), 277–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mead, R. (1994). International Management: Cross-Cultural Dimension. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  15. Rokeach, M. (1973). The Nature of Human Values. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  16. SA History Online. (2013). Defining Culture, Heritage and Identity. Retrieved from
  17. Turner, J. R., & Müller, R. (2005). The Project Manager’s Leadership Style as a Success Factor on Projects: A Literature Review. Project Management Journal, 36(1), 49–61. Scholar
  18. Zhang, L. (2013). China’s Traditional Cultural Values and National Identity. Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhaoyi Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ManagementRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations