Interesting piece on Chinese public sentiment following a tragic accident during the week. It’s only a vignette, but could it be an indicator of how Chinese negotiating needs may change over time?

Yue Yue, A young girl of two was run over by a car in a hit and run accident. Nobody came to help and the driver drove off without stopping to assist. The child was left injured in the road. 18 passers-by walked on and didn’t stop. It was only after she had been hit by a second car that people came to her aid. This story has prompted a period of moral reflection in China, about whether the Chinese have become so fixated with money and material progress that they have no time for morals. Lawmakers are even meeting to discuss whether they need to introduce a ‘Good Samaritan’ legislation.

This is interesting. Individual’s needs in life (and in negotiation) often go through a progression, starting with survival needs, and moving through to a need for reassurance, then respect, then belonging, and then through to achievement. Each level of needs must be satisfied in turn.

China has been on a fast-track journey of economic growth, catapulting its population through these various stages of need. Negotiations with the Chinese are often characterised as being very hard-nosed; which is consistent with levels of need such as “respect”. It is also consistent with a negotiating need to “belong” – to be taken seriously as a leading economic super-power.

However, as China’s population becomes wealthier, a new imperative for “achievement” develops. It was interesting to see in the Sunday Times that China is pre-occupied with a desire to develop its own original internet businesses rather than copying western internet businesses (e.g. Baidu aping Google).

Achievement negotiators are looking for unique, innovative deals, but they understand that the needs of others must be met in order to secure those achievements. Achievement negotiators are often more collaborative than those with other levels of negotiating need. Achievement negotiators would cross the road to save an injured girl. After the incident Wang Yang, party secretary of the Province in which the incident occurred, said “Everyone should use the knife of conscience to dissect the ugliness in themselves”. It’s only a vignette, but maybe it suggests that China is on the road to projecting a different kind of negotiating need to the world…