Culture Clash at a Chinese-Owned Plant in Ohio

a major culture clash is playing out on the factory floor, with some workers questioning the company’s commitment to operating under American supervision and American norms.

.. The union, which began meeting with workers in 2015, escalated its public efforts in April with a fiery meeting highlighting arbitrarily enforced rules and retaliation against those who speak up.

.. a former employee named James Martin said the company had exposed him to harsh chemicals that blistered his arms and diminished his lung capacity. (Mr. Martin lost his job for excessive absences while on workers’ compensation leave in January.)

.. But projects can suffer when investors are unfamiliar with the American regulatory and political environment, as is true for many executives in China, where labor standards tend to be less strictly enforced.

.. He said the Chinese had little interest in training, sharing responsibility with or even engaging with American employees.

.. He lamented that productivity at the plant “is not as high as we have in China,” adding that “some of the workers are just idling around.”

.. entrepreneurs like Mr. Cao often populate their factories with migrants from rural areas, whom they expect to be relatively submissive, unlike American workers, who expect a more collegial management style. “He hasn’t ever had probably this type of pressure from a work force,” she said.

.. But he conceded that “the fundamental difference between Chinese and Americans is that the Chinese have a bias toward speed; Americans like to process things, think it through from all angles.”

.. Chinese overseas investments in Africa and Asia showed a pattern of reluctance to transfer operations to local control.

.. “At the managerial level, you see that the technical staff tends to be from China,” she said. “The one local employee they hire at a senior managerial level would be the human resources director.”