Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to extend knowledge of differences between Western European and Chinese service organizations in typical manufacturing companies. Design/methodology/approach – The paper combines qualitative and quantitative research approaches. The qualitative study involved 23 minicases with Swiss manufacturing companies which operate a service organization in Western Europe and China. The results of the minicases were validated externally by using factor and discriminant analysis. Findings – The results suggest that the service orientation of corporate culture, human resource management and the entire organization is significantly lower in Chinese service organizations than in their Western European counterparts, leading to significantly lower financial service-related performance outcomes. Research limitations/implications – For service management theorists, the findings suggest that increasing financial service-related performance outcomes in China is affected to a high degree by Chinese cultural characteristics. Practical implications – For managers, the findings suggest that implicit logic for increasing financial service-related performance outcomes starts with overcoming typical and, in some respects, limiting cultural characteristics. Originality/value – Unfortunately, the existing literature provides surprisingly little in the way of suggestions as to the actual differences between Western European and Chinese service organizations. This research closes this gap by validating factors that differentiate Western European from Chinese service organizations.