Today, business world is becoming increasingly smaller and globalization brings people closer. Yet, cultural diversity is more present than ever.
A firm engaging into international trade should be mostly concerned with making the best impression on clients at the host country. To achieve this, it has to realize that each culture favors its own values in business relationships and therefore it is absolutely essential to appreciate different business etiquette around the globe to conduct business effectively. In the context of global trade, it is essential to appreciate cultural diversity and to develop skills of inter-cultural communication. Otherwise lack of knowledge about cultural values in the host country may lead to misinterpretation, disturbance and embarrassment.
Inter-cultural communication is vital for building successful business relationships, yet it is also difficult to handle. Managing cultural diversity is a difficult process as cultural characteristics are not always easily identifiable. Often, to understand the opposite partner’s expectations and intentions and to respect them requires valid assumptions for the implied cultural values. This insinuates that an international firm should not enter into discussions with the host country under the assumption that own culture is correct. Such type of ethnocentrism favors cultural misunderstanding.
In order to promote multinational synergy standard business etiquette for any international venture would be:
- Be prepared before visiting the particular area. Do ample research on the business and personal etiquette of the country you plan to visit. Purchase a travel book or do search on the Internet.
- Learn key phrases in the language of the country you plan to visit. It is a smart way to bridge the gap between cultures and natives will be pleased about the attempt.
- Avoid the use of idioms and choose words that convey specific and clear meaning
- Be careful listeners and when in doubt ask for clarifications
- Respect local communication style and body language connotations
- Do not assume superiority in inter-cultural communication, avoiding the event of being ignored or disapproved.
- Follow the rules of the country you plan to visit in terms of in social behavior, dress code, appearance and interaction.
- Learn how people at host country perceive your culture.
Written by Christina Pomoni
Financial Adviser – Freelancer Writer
Interacting with people from other cultures can be fascinating. Whether you are abroad or on home turf, you are often exposed to new and fascinating ways of doing things. If you are about to take a trip to another country, it is a good idea to brush up on the culture and traditions in advance of your departure. This can be instrumental in avoiding potential miscommunication. If you are dealing with people from many cultures on a routine basis, some fundamental information about value systems and how people relate in certain parts of the world can be invaluable. It will help you know how to interact in an appropriate way. Concentrating on five basic categories will give you a running start when interacting with individuals from other cultures.
INDIVIDUALISTIC and COLLECTIVISTIC CULTURES
Individualistic Cultures foster individualism and focus on individual goals.
There is a preference for â€˜equal’ relationships, and behavior cannot be predicted from group memberships. Representative Cultures: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States.
Collectivistic Cultures focus on group goals. There is strong emphasis on traditions and conformity. Representative Cultures: Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, Guatemala, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.
MASCULINE and FEMININE CULTURES
Masculine Cultures have differentiated gender roles and are characterized by power, assertiveness and performance. Representative Cultures: Arab cultures, Austria, Germany, Italy,Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland and Venezuela.
Feminine Cultures value quality of life and service. Sex roles are androgynous. Feminine cultures have overlapping gender roles. Representative Cultures: Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, East African cultures, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Thailand.
LOW and HIGH POWER DISTANCE CULTURES
With Low Power Distance Cultures, individuals are viewed as equals. Emphasis is placed on legitimate power. Superiors and subordinates are interdependent. Representative Cultures: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States.
With High Power Distance Cultures, individuals are seen as unequal. Subordinates are dependent on those above them. Representative Cultures: Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Panama, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
LOW and HIGH UNCERTAINTY AVOIDANCE CULTURES
Low Uncertainty Avoidance Cultures are characterized by low stress and anxiety. Dissent is acceptable. There is a high level of risk taking. Uncertainty is OK. Representative Cultures: Canada, Denmark, England, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Sweden and the United States.
High Uncertainty Avoidance Cultures are characterized by high stress and anxiety. There is a strong desire for agreement. People do not like to take risks. Representative Cultures: Egypt, Argentina, Belgium, Chile, France, Greece, Japan and Mexico.
LOW CONTEXT and HIGH CONTEXT COMMUNICATION
High Content/Low Context Messages are direct and clear with most of the message explicit in the code. This form predominates in individualistic cultures.
High Context/Low Content Messages are indirect and ambiguous. Most of the information is internalized in the person or his surroundings. This form is found more typically in collectivistic cultures.
Be aware of cultural differences and how they should impact your communication. When you’re not sure how to proceed, be respectful. That goes a long way in successfully establishing relationships.
Article Author: Carol Dunitz, Ph.D.
Carol Dunitz, Ph.D. is president of The Last Word LLC, a communication and creative services company. She is a professional speaker and author of ‘Louder Than Thunder,’ a parable about listening and interpersonal communication. Dunitz is the playwright, lyricist and composer of ‘Bernhardt on Broadway,’ a musical about Sarah Bernhardt. She can be reached at 312.523.4774, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.DrCarolDunitz.com.
Article Source: http://www.articlealley.com/article_1175282_15.html
As the foremost “hot spot” for America’s offshoring and offshore outsourcing of technology and business services functions today, India presents an important case study of differences in business culture. In the course of years of giving seminars to both American and Indian teams working together, I have found recurring themes and incidents that point to underlying cross-cultural differences in mindset, values and approach to business interactions.
Once you get past the more obvious mutual adjustment issues of time zones, logistics, work and holiday schedules, accents, names and language (American vs. Indian English), there are five elements of American business culture that pose special challenges for Indian teams interacting with their American counterparts – whether in the ITO, BPO or call center environment.
1. Mindset about Management Hierarchy
In American business culture, rank and title aren’t as important as they are in India. Hierarchical forms of behavior are frowned upon. The expectation is that subordinates will speak up, offer suggestions, push back and take initiative rather than just do what they’re told. Decisions tend to be less top-down, authority is more delegated, and managers expect team members to take responsibility and assume ownership of results.
2. Attitudes Towards Appointments and Deadlines
For Americans, strict adherence to time commitments is seen as a basic principle of professionalism and courteous behavior. Because everything tends to be strictly scheduled, delays in one appointment or deadline can have a serious ripple effect on a colleague or customer’s other work commitments. The more flexible and open-ended approach to time of Indian business culture can create tensions and unfavorable impressions on American counterparts.
3. Meaning of Agreements and Commitments
Americans have a preference for clear, detailed agreements and are uneasy with vague expressions of general commitment. In business interactions, commitments are taken literally and seriously. Failure to follow through on them precisely is viewed as a sign that a person isn’t trustworthy. Indian business culture tends to view agreements more flexibly as intentions and guidelines for future action.
4. Results vs. Process Orientation
In Indian business culture, following the rules and implementing correct processes is highly valued, but in American business culture, it’s all about results. There is impatience with individuals who come across as more concerned with following established processes correctly than with achieving the desired goal. Americans don’t like to be told all the procedural reasons why something can’t be or hasn’t been done.
5. Directness … Especially in Addressing Disagreements
The American style of communication is characteristically direct, candid and relatively unconcerned with face-saving or the avoidance of conflict. The expectation is that questions will get answered with a clear “yes” or “no,” and that disagreements will be dealt with openly and straightforwardly, in a “tell it like it is” manner. Indians and people from other cultures that tend to avoid conflict and loss of face often find it hard to say “no” or raise problematic issues effectively with their American counterparts.
Cultural awareness and the ability to adapt effectively to another culture’s way of doing things are complex skills – whether you’re a programmer in Bangalore or a project leader in Sunnyvale. Everyone tends to take their own cultural ways of doing things for granted and to assume they are self-evident to others.
In recent years, American companies offshoring or outsourcing to India have shown growing awareness of the hidden costs of cross-cultural mismatches in work-related behaviors. They have been willing to invest in general and region-specific cross-cultural training for their onshore employees and those who are asked to travel to India. They have also learned to devise process accommodations to circumvent the negative effects of certain cultural tendencies in their offshore teams.
What these companies seldom undertake to address directly is the need to seriously educate their offshore teams in the fundamentals of American business culture – the attitudes, thought patterns and behavior norms that Americans expect. They’re missing a golden opportunity to improve the productivity and experience of their onshore-offshore teams.
Article Author: Karine Schomer
© 2006 Karine Schomer. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Karine Schomer is President of Change Management Consulting & Training, LLC, and leads the http://www.cmct.net/india_practice.html CMCT India Practice, specializing in cross-cultural training and management consulting for doing business with India. For more learning resources check the CMCT Articles Archive http://www.cmct.net/india_articles.html.
Article Source: http://www.articlealley.com/article_96747_15.html