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International Biz and Diversity and Etiquette

International Biz and Diversity and Etiquette

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Published by prajwalkhanal

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Published by: prajwalkhanal on May 07, 2010
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Prajwal Khanal, MBA – 4
trimester, International business2010/1/16
Question: Different countries exhibit different culturalcharacteristics as well as varying business etiquette. Outline itsimplications for an international business firm and explain howthe cultural diversity could be managed effectively. You mayillustrate your answer with a suitable example.
Differences across the nations are so vast that people who live in differentcountries are different in almost each and every aspects of life. There arenumber of things that contribute to the formation of these differences.Education, social standing, religion, personality, belief, past experience,affection shown in the home, and numerous other factors affect humanbehavior & culture.People are different in different countries so if a person from one countryenters in another country, he must take into consideration that he need tomodify and adjust in the culture of another country otherwise it may lead toa big business failure. There are differences in approach as to what isconsidered polite and appropriate behavior both on and off the job. In somecultures yes means, “I hear you” more than “I agree”. Length of small talkand greetings before getting down to business, level of tolerance for beingaround someone speaking a foreign (not-understood) language, politenessmeasured in terms of good manners or etiquette (e.g. standing up for awoman who approaches a table, yielding a seat on the bus to an olderperson, etc.) and manner of expected dress are all examples of possiblecultural differences and traditions.Modern business is global and demands people travel to foreign countriesand mix with foreign clients, colleagues or customers. Each one of thosecultures will also have their own etiquette rules, many of them unwritten.When two or more different cultures mix, it is easy for small etiquettemistakes to be made that could have negative consequences. For example:Americans and English people may feel annoyed when a foreignbusinessman does not shake hands while greeting, Chinese people do notlike people writing on their business card and Indians do not like people flatlyrefusing an invitation for a meal. Sometimes, not understanding theetiquette of another culture means you show a lack of manners. Throughout the world people from different cultures have varying etiquetterules around areas such as personal space, communication, gift giving, food,
Prajwal Khanal, MBA – 4
trimester, International business2010/1/16
business meetings and much more. For those wanting to make a goodimpression and understanding of international business etiquette is crucial.International businesses require familiarity with a different set of businessethics and cultural differences that are not ordinarily understood. Even whena nation’s businesses are headquartered at home but operate facilities orsubsidiaries abroad, understanding these differences is essential tosuccessful relations. This is even more true when relationships are carried onin countries who are not English speaking.Multinational companies face differences in culture, legal systems, languagebarriers, standards of living, ethics and business operating methods thatmust be realized, understood and embraced. These international businesscompanies include banks, insurance companies, trading firms,manufacturers, heavy construction, shipping, fast food, vehiclemanufacturing and many more and they continue to grow as economiesbecome more global in nature.It is the appreciation of and respect for regional country and culturaldifferences or cultural diversity that must be understood in order to besuccessful in international business operations. This is proven by the factthat MBA programs at leading business schools in Nepal as well as worldwideemphasize these factors as an essential part of their programs for studentsseeking advanced business degrees. Some universities abroad even offerMBA programs specifically for international business.In order to remain competitive, companies continue to search for top andmiddle management people who have relevant knowledge, experience andtraining in international business. Having a clear view of the culturaldynamics of a region or country makes it easier to figure out why people actthe way that they do. It also is important to help people related tointernational business know how they must act while doing business abroad. The best way to know the cultural differences where the international firm isabout to operate is to read extensively about the target country, its customsand its people. There is also extensive coverage about the etiquette withinspecific countries available on the Internet by searching under internationalbusiness etiquette. This will provide insights on do’s and don’ts in areas likegreetings, introductions, conversational behavior, gift giving, dining,meetings, customs, set of rules, negotiations and general behavior.
Prajwal Khanal, MBA – 4
trimester, International business2010/1/16
Corporations today have to deal with the reality of cultural diversity not juston the international business scene but also within their organizations. Assuch, if they are to truly make use of the increasing opportunities andbenefits that the global economy is providing, they have to make sure thattheir employees have sufficient intercultural competence.Studies have also shown that people who are sent on internationalassignments often face serious problems in achieving a good working andsocial relationship with people from the foreign country. This createsproblems on the individual front, the family front and starts taking a toll onthe productivity of the individual as well as the business. At times, thesecultural differences prove to be the biggest obstacle in achieving theexpected success for any international business. The main reason for themanagers to fail to complete international assignments successfully asexpected has very little to do with the person’s technical or managerialcompetence. It has got to do more with the dynamics of two cultures tryingto work together as one. To handle these dynamics one requires a specialunderstanding of the differences between the two cultures, how to developrelations by appreciating these differences and to develop an acceptingattitude on both fronts so that the necessary goals can be accomplished.It is therefore very important to understand that culture and etiquetteimpacts international business far more than domestic business. The basicsof conducting business remain the same for both domestic and internationalbusiness but there are certain added complexities that one has to be awareof and be trained to handle.Introducing some of the key areas within international business etiquette weshall look at the following common areas:
Business Card Etiquette:
When you exchange business cards (even if youexchange them) do you simply pass it over and forget about it? In manycountries the business card has certain etiquette rules. For example in theArab world you would never give or receive a business card with your lefthand. In China and Japan you should try and use both hands to give andreceive. In addition it is always good etiquette to examine the card and makea positive comment on it. Whereas in the UK it may be OK to sling thebusiness card into a pocket, in many countries you should always treat itwith much more respect such as storing it in a business card holder.

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