China and other Asian countries are critical markets for Switzerland and especially for the Canton of Vaud as there has been a growing demand for innovative and high-quality products. This has been amplified as China is becoming a global innovation leader in areas such as robotics, biotech, clean-energy cars, and artificial intelligence. The policies launched by the Chinese government, such as “One Belt, One Road” and “Made in China 2025”, are reshaping the international business environment and are creating challenges, as well as opportunities, for innovative Swiss firms. Switzerland and China’s relationship has been further strengthened since January 2017 when the free-trade agreements between the two countries were improved.
However, firms based in Switzerland and China operate with distinctive mindsets influenced by socio-cultural and institutional factors. Therefore, doing business in China is an important challenge for European firms and through our research, we found that success in internationalization depends on Swiss entrepreneurs’ and managers’ international experience, intercultural skills and capability to adapt innovative Swiss products, services or the business models to the Chinese market.