This is my response after reading the case study by Xin and Haijie, ‘HBR Review, Culture clash in the Boardroom’ and being asked to give my suggestion (before we got to see what was the HBR suggested response).
My suggestion is that they find some way to allow for something that fits within the United States’ rules for business conduct for the company, but also is seen as a benefit to the Chinese company. Perhaps a golf game does not break the rules? Perhaps a trip to the German office can be for business reasons as well? I don’t think they should give in to the demand for commissions as that seems to more directly violate the rules. However, I do not think it is a black and white issue that should be completely rejected if a creative and legal solution can be found.