Cultural Environment of International Business
Cultural Environment of International Business
This article seeks to highlight the various cultural international business elements and the influence they have on international business cultural diversifications mainly the manners, language, attitudes and values. With the progression of globalization its effects on global business activities are more evident, in the drastically evolving world of economic globalization and on this aspect the urgency and importance of cross-cultural negotiations in international business is heightened. It is common knowledge that each country exhibits a unique culture, and this makes cultural barriers and communication an issue in business communication, since it can easily influence the international bargaining decisions. This can be viewed from the aspect of values existing in groups that have similar norms and beliefs and it is from these same values that they base their attitudes.
It is with the above understanding that the unique cultural standards are the main factors that affect the decisions made, strategies implemented, and way of thinking, which if enforced correctly can address the international business cultural conflicts while coordinating the right attitudes in the international business that can facilitate adaptation to the new culture and avoid any unnecessary miscommunication or misunderstanding.
The initial selection of the Canada Timber team can be said to have been selected based on the cultural attributes of the Canadian country, which could be reviewed by using Hofstede analysis and this made it to be a mistake on the company since it was bias. These attributes include the individualistic and self-reliant nature of the Canadian society which often portrayed as having loose bonds as seen with the CEO when he chose his brother in law to be the company representative, mainly since he had close family relations instead of someone who would have been more knowledgeable on the Japanese culture (Sarah Mady, 2013).
The regional sales person was also wrongly chosen since the CEO knew he married a Japanese but the only reason for taking him along was for boosting his image even though he knew the person had limited grasp of both the language and the culture in that country. It can also be said that he mainly chose the specific management and production team members to accompany him due to their wide knowledge on the topics and their success which reflected the aspect of the Canadian society that uses personal achievement to measure success, while also demonstrating the low (PDI) power distance in the company. The choice the CEO made would have been appropriate if he included an agent or collaborator who had vast experience in dealing with foreign cultures and through that they would have been able to overcome the various obstacles on communication that were relayed through the nonverbal means like the body language, gestures ,eye-contact and facial expressions.
The main differences in the Canadian and the Japanese culture include things like in the Japanese culture the meetings are mainly held for exchanging information, building a rapport, or confirming on the decisions that had been made previously, this is in contrast to the Canadian culture where the meetings are mainly for finishing and signing on agreements like in contracts or projects. The Japanese culture utilizes the first meeting to access the individuals’ suitability in terms of doing business, which contrasts with the Canadian culture that ascertains an individual capability by analyzing previous success. The Japanese culture allows for implicit communication which is mainly revealing of less information and leaving the other person to fill in the rest, while the Canadian culture allows for practice of explicit which is direct opposite to the latter. The Canadian culture does not support routine giving of gifts, which it has reserved for celebrations example on finalizing a contract deal, but in the Japanese culture gift giving is a common tradition, they also value things like exchanging of business card which they regard as signs of respect to the individual and honor it with celebration, unlike in the Canadian culture that does not place any value on card exchanging.
The Japanese culture is more accommodative and flexible compared to the Canadian. The Japanese culture is more reserved and they demonstrate this by their well calculated expressions of emotions and choice of words, as compared to the Canadian which tends to support a more free expression of thoughts and feelings as exhibited by the favored expression of moods on the faces mainly, happiness, joy or exhaustion. The nature of development culture in Japan also differ since it is mainly based on long or high term basis, as compared to the low or short term basis of the Canadian culture.
The things that should have been done differently include the management understanding what the foreign business partners considered as normal in their country, which is of relevance and needs careful evaluation and critical thinking since, it encompasses a holistic view that includes relationships, time, communication, and human condition. In addition the management could have hired a professional agent who could have taught them the basic different cultural aspects they were likely to encounter as a way of reducing the culture shock and the misunderstanding that occurred, the selection of the team to travel would have had a more wider criteria rather than the one led by feelings. The management should have also done some research to find out the perception the foreigners had about their culture, and through understanding those aspects of the cross-culture they would have been aware of the general business environment, ethics, regulations, and negotiations that were available (Vern Terpstra, et, al 1987).
Exercising more patience and trying to understand the cause of the sudden silence instead of panicking, pushing for the contract closure and constantly reducing the initial price, as the CEO did these rash decisions made him loose credibility and eventually the contract according to the Japanese culture since the culture distrusts an inconsistent person. Instead I would have refocused the emphasis to retaining the harmony in the context of the Japanese culture in forms that would adequately allow many forms of vague expressions and the cultural relevance behind this implementation would be that by avoiding explicit or direct statements there was a better chance of not causing any offense rather than if let alone.
In conclusion competition success and communication has been known to be influenced by cultural factors and it is with this that cultural awareness helps in the shaping of the behavior of a firm in international markets that have a reflection of cross-culture tendencies. The broad recognition that cultural factors often hinder global business communication and the fact that a firm can understand the various cultural differences and implement the right skills to address the issues is one of the key strategies they can implement in order to have a competitive edge in global business.it is with this understanding that economic growth can better be explained by culture as compared to material changes or structure
The acceptance of valuing perseverance, thrift and hierarchy legitimacy without undue emphasis on social and traditional obligations could impede the initiatives of business, competitive tendencies that disregard cultural harmony, values and individualistic tendencies all have changing and pervasive influences on the global markets and due to this markets often have to either adopt or change to address the change.
Sarah Mady (2013) Cultural Environment of International Business, How CULTURE works, KOGOD School of Business American University, Washington, DC
Vern Terpstra and Kenneth David. (1987)The Cultural Environment of International Business, Printed in the United States of America by SOUTH-WESTERN PUBLSHING CO. Cincinnati, Ohio.