August 27th, 2012
06:16 AM GMT
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(CNN) - For more than a year, Chris Bayer, a Canadian student, waited tables alongside Chinese migrant workers in a restaurant in Shanghai. While there he received an intimate glimpse of what work life is like for millions in mainland China.

"Nothing was ever really clear," said Bayer, who is now back in Canada. "In the West, people state their mind. In China, there was no sharing of ideas. When it came to new processes, no one ever offered any input. There was no teamwork. People were so afraid of doing something wrong."

Though Bayer's circumstance in China was rare - a foreigner working alongside migrant workers in local eateries is not common - his experience in a Chinese workplace is one that experts say is common.

Whether a restaurant or a massive company, businesses in China revolve around perplexing power structures, where innovative thinking is often stymied, partly by an education system that prioritizes rote memorization over creative thinking, and partly because employees are afraid of offering input that might insult the intelligence of their boss.
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