Understanding Business Culture in Singapore

Singapore has an undeniable business culture, but it isn’t the same as any other place. Globalization and a diverse workforce have given rise to a unique business environment with its own set of values, customs, and expectations. Business culture in Singapore is very different from what you might expect, so if you’re planning to move there or send employees on assignment there, it’s important to understand the local culture so that your company won’t run into unnecessary friction. If you’re moving your company to Singapore or sending employees there on assignment, it’s essential to understand the local business culture so that your company won’t run into unnecessary friction. This article will give you an overview of the general business culture in Singapore and explain some of the key differences between Western and Eastern cultures.

Confucianism and the Singaporean Culture

The Singaporean culture is unique, but it has many parallels with the Chinese culture. Singapore’s business culture is heavily influenced by Confucian ideology. Confucianism is a philosophical and ethical system developed by the Chinese sage, Confucius (551-479 B.C.). It focuses on the cultivation of virtuous conduct, proper social relationships, and achieving harmony within oneself. The basic tenets of Confucianism are influenced by a hierarchical society, where people with certain statuses are expected to behave in certain ways, and certain values and virtues are expected in all members of society. One such virtue, which greatly influences business culture in Singapore, is the value of “ren”, which means “humanity, benevolence, righteousness”.

The influence of Buddhism in Singapore

Buddhism is a religion that originated in Nepal or northern India around the 5th century B.C. It is based on the teachings of Prince Siddhartha, who sought to end human suffering. He taught that all life is transient, that all people are subject to suffering, and that the only way to end suffering is for people to attain nirvana, or a state of bliss. Many of the principles in Buddhism are also found in Confucianism, the most notable being the values of “ren” (humanity, benevolence, righteousness) and “li” (proper social relationships). Similarly, one of the core values of Buddhism is “karuna”, which means compassion and kindness. Buddhist practitioners believe that you should always be aware of and care for others, as well as yourself.

The Importance of Family in Singapore

In any culture, the family unit is extremely important. Depending on the culture, the significance of family can vary drastically. In Singapore, family is extremely important. Depending on which survey you read, the percentage of Singaporean adults who are married is between 54% and 63%. This suggests that an overwhelming majority of Singaporeans are single, living with parents, or divorced. This is very different from many other Western countries like the U.S., where the percentage of adults who are married is much higher. Singaporeans place a high value on family, and it is important to respect elders. This is true of all cultures, but in Singapore, it is particularly so. The family unit is incredibly important in Singapore, and most people live with their parents until they get married. This means that many people save up to buy their own homes later in life than they would in other parts of the world.

Etiquette and Manners in a Business Context

Business culture in Singapore values etiquette and manners very highly. It can be helpful to remember that Asian cultures are more formal than Western cultures. In Singapore, people may be more reserved in meetings than they would be in other parts of the world, and they may be more likely to shake hands when meeting or parting from others. It’s important to be aware of this, and make an effort to be polite and respectful. When hosting meetings with Asian clients, it’s a good idea to serve them tea and light refreshments. This can be a useful icebreaker and a way to break the ice so that people are more relaxed and comfortable when discussing business.

Women in the Workplace

In general, Singaporean business culture values equality among employees, which means that women are expected to be treated the same as men. This can be a refreshing change for women who work in Western countries where there is a significant pay gap between genders. In Singapore, women make up a large percentage of business owners. 30% of business owners are women, which is a very high percentage compared to most other places in the world. Additionally, women make up 50% of the workforce in Singapore, which is very high compared to other countries.


Business culture in Singapore is unique and can be a challenge for people who are not familiar with it. This article has discussed the general business culture in Singapore and has explained some of the key differences between Western and Eastern cultures. You can keep these differences in mind when doing business in Singapore, so that your company can avoid unnecessary friction.