The Role Of Alcohol In Business Negotiations In East Asia
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In the absence of a legal structure that legitimizes contracts, loose, flexible written or verbal agreements between two parties who share a social bond are the common in East Asia.Modern alcohol use in the region is heavily colored by the lasting influence of Confucianism. The forming of social bonds that are developed within rigid hierarchies in the family, the workplace, and really all facets of daily life, are based on respect of filial piety—honoring one’s “superiors” in relationships. Today, alcohol’s ancient use as a tool for expressing respect, facilitating social interactions, and maintaining relationships remains intact in social structures in East Asia—especially in business. The rigid social rules, hierarchal structure, and collectivist culture in the three countries create social barriers in which rigid behavioral rules restrict interactions between employees in different hierarchal positions. These rules are broken down after work at office wide drinking parties in order to achieve the group harmony that is considered necessary to the function of business. I sought to examine the specific functions that alcohol plays in each of the three countries in order to evaluate the necessity of participation. I found that the function that alcohol serves varies in China, Japan, and South Korea, and those differences are important for businesspeople to observe and consider when entering into business with East Asian companies. Ultimately, I found that participation in post-?work drinking events is considered an unstated obligation in most businesses in East Asia.