The Eye Opener: Corporate Culture in Malaysia
Our guest blogger, Nigel continues to share his journey in our series, The Eye Opener, as he works abroad for a construction company in Malaysia. Nigel, a recent graduate of the Architecture program at Georgia Tech, writes about his experiences on his blog: Selamat Malam: The Road Less Traveled.
This week, he shares the differences between American corporate culture and Malaysian corporate culture.
Malaysia is an interesting study in corporate culture because each of the main three races have vastly different opinions on business. The Malaysian Chinese have taken over the business world with a spirit of entrepreneurship; they play to win. The Malaysian Indians are also making moves in the business world. The native Malays are behind professionally due to relative lack of ambition, laid-back style, and priority on family over education.
Coming from the US, even with limited work experience, I can spot many differences that stuck out to me. Some are small and pleasant surprises changes to everyday life and some as large and overhauls to the construction process:
· Each day the workers get two ‘tea’ breaks a day.
· The convergence of the three main races makes for a diverse culture of public holidays. Chinese New Year’s (early February) and Hari Raya (end of fasting month of Ramadhan) are the biggest.
· Malays themselves rarely do manual labor like construction. So immigrants – mainly Bangladeshis and Indonesians – make up the work force and they live on the job site in houses they’ve built themselves out of job materials.
· In the US, you have to embrace technology as the future. Technology is very optional in Malaysia. Some people, important people, just don’t do e-mails, so mail and faxes live on. It’s odd to be in a meeting and hear many complaints because faxes or letters did not come through.
· Elders always deserve respect and old men always will be a bit set in their ways; but it’s more serious over here. Old men can get so senile that they’re no longer acting in the interest of the project many times. Young people can’t even ‘respectfully disagree’ without them making a scene. To some of them, anyone who disagrees is incompetent.
· In the US, you almost have to be open to the prospect of relocating for an opportunity and offers chances for upward mobility. Here, the concept of relocating or striving for upward mobility is not always there; some are ambitious and care about rising, but most just care about keeping a steady paycheck for the next 50 years.
· Many people are very hesitant to take time off work to do something they might enjoy. So many locals tend to be very jealous of me and my spirit of traveling and enjoying myself.
Leave a comment using Facebook