The Role of Culture

After studying this chapter, students should be able to: > Discuss the primary characteristics of culture. > Describe the various elements of culture and provide examples of how they influence international business. > Identify the means by which members of a culture communicate with each other. > Discuss how religious and other values affect the domestic environments in which international businesses operate. > Describe the major cultural clusters and their use to international managers. > Explain Hofstede’s primary findings about differences in cultural values. Explain how ethical conflicts may arise in international business.


LECTURE OUTLINE OPENING CASE: E-culture The opening case illustrates the impact of the Internet on the world's business cultures. Some cultures seem more suited to the Internet environment than others. Cultures that promote risk taking, for example, might be more likely to engage in providing capital for dotcoms. Key Points • Internet related businesses require managers that are not risk-averse and structures that allow quick response to changing conditions. • Cultures which are more accustomed to tall decision-making hierarchies may find the transition to decision-making in an environment as dynamic as the Internet more challenging than it would be for cultures less hierarchically oriented. • Cultures that reward creativity may also be more suited to success in the dotcom environment.

customs. and values and attitudes. then moves on to consider how culture affects international business. CHAPTER SUMMARY Chapter Four explores the issue of culture. Students can be asked to describe some differences in culture they experienced on trips to other countries. the stratification of a society.S. Discuss Wiring the World: The Internet.51 > Chapter 4 • Even cultural attitudes toward compensation affect a culture's attitudes toward e-commerce. risk and trust all affect the likelihood of success in the Internet environment. group decision making. Culture is shared by members of a society. I. and individuals’ mobility within a society is its social structure. when living in another country. Families. • Individuals. and offspring). II. In the U. Social Structure The overall framework that determines the roles of individuals within a society. ELEMENTS OF CULTURE The basic elements of culture are social structure.1 (which depicts the basic elements of culture) here. This type of discussion is particularly interesting if foreign students relate their initial reactions to living in this country. Culture is important to companies because it determines the rules within which businesses operate. and Groups. This Box follows naturally from the opening case. language. behaviors. the term is usually used to describe the nuclear family (father. communication. Teaching Note: Instructors may want to begin their lecture on culture with a discussion of cross-cultural differences experienced by students. It evaluates what it takes to succeed in the Internet Age. the Wiring the World box ties in nicely with the opening case. The way in which the elements interact affects the local environment in which international businesses operate. Societies differ in terms of how family is defined.. • Culture is a learned behavior that may be transmitted intergenerationally or intragenerationally. Attitudes toward compensation. Alternatively. Show Figure 4. religion. and may change to adapt to external forces. National Competitiveness and Culture. while in other societies the term refers to an extended . Culture’s elements are interrelated. or simply as a result of interaction with a foreigner. CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTURE • Culture is the collection of values. Some cultures will be more receptive to compensation in the uncertain form of stock options than others. It begins with a discussion of what comprises culture. beliefs. The chapter provides many specific examples of cultural differences. mother. and attitudes that distinguish a society.

Show Map 4. In others. occupation. • The importance of an individual to a group also reflects cultural differences.S. capital formation. as well as with Review Questions 3. work ethic. individualism is stressed. and obligation. This information can be used by international businesspeople as they develop their marketing and business practices. • Language also provides information about the cultural values of a society and helps in the acculturation process.K. share a language. Individuals’ attitudes and behaviors towards labor relations. The text provides examples of such conflict.. the Box explores how four elements of Japanese culture. and/or other attributes) differs by society. and the U. the ability of individuals to move from one stratum of society to another. Linguistic ties may create important competitive advantages because the ability to communicate is so important in conducting business transactions. However. The importance of family to business is determined in part by a culture’s social attitudes. It filters observations and perceptions and thus affects the messages that are sent. risk taking. China and Japan) the role of the group is emphasized. the term takes an even broader definition. • Social mobility. is facilitated by a common language.K. • Language as a Competitive Weapon. Discuss Going Global: The Impact of Japanese Culture on Business This Going Global Box examines how Japan’s culture impacts its business practices. In fact. Language • Language is a primary means by which members of a society communicate with each other. and the U. The Box fits in well with a discussion of social structure. educational achievements. it has been shown by researchers that language itself alters the nature of the information that is being conveyed. In countries such as India where more than one language is spoken..S.S. The Box also raises the question of whether Western firms should adopt Japanese business techniques. The importance of social stratification (the categorizing of people on the basis of their birth. Canada.The Role of Culture > 52 family. In particular. • Countries that share a language may not share a culture. groupism. and entrepreneurship may be determined in part by social mobility. and/or educational achievement. New Zealand.1 here. is higher in less stratified societies. The text notes that commerce among Australia. For example. . 8. the U. while in other cultures (for example. the text notes that while the U. affect the way business is conducted in Japan. language provides information about a country’s population and suggests that there may be differences in income. many domestic firms will initially seek countries that speak the firm’s home language when expanding abroad. • Major linguistic groups within a country may also be an indicator of potential political conflicts between groups. because cultural similarities facilitate the task of doing business internationally. and 10. wa. In the U. MNCs must be aware of the level of social stratification in a particular country when making personnel decisions and also when developing advertising campaigns. there are actually many differences between the two countries. • Social Stratification. hierarchical structure.

The text provides some examples of companies who have ignored this point and consequently had problems resulting from direct translation of words. Even students who have not traveled to Britain may be aware of differences in some terms that exist within the U. Philips and Asea Brown Boveri) have adopted English as their corporate language. or the use of soda. • Even though English has become a lingua franca. Show Map 4. • While most experts agree that mastering a foreign language is an optimal means of gaining information about a culture. and loo or W. the Academie Française is fighting to preserve the purity of the French language by coining uniquely French words and phrases for well-known Internet buzzwords..2 here. • Although the existence of English as a lingua franca may seem to be advantageous to native English international businesspersons.S.C.S. Instructors may wish to ask for some examples of such differences. they agree that even modest levels of language training can provide important clues about cultural norms and attitudes that prove helpful in international business. of international business. pop. Translation is one means of overcoming linguistic differences.e. Some of the more common responses include the British use of bonnet and boot to refer to a car’s engine compartment and trunk. company that closed its Mexican operations because of this problem. countries such as France and Britain frequently trade with former colonies that share cultural and linguistic ties. English has emerged as the predominant common language. "The Web" is officially known as "la toile" (the spider's web). Consequently. Teaching Note: Some students may have encountered differences in the English language in their travels. • To reduce translation problems. "Hackers" are known as "le fouineurs" (the nosy people). it has made considerable headway in persuading the French to adopt its substitutes for nonFrench words. hoagie or sub to refer to a long sandwich. it is important to recognize that communication problems may still exist because the meaning of some common English words vary among English-speaking countries. Failure by English speakers to learn a second language may spell failure for a firm’s operations in a second country. Translators must be sensitive to subtleties in the connotations of words and focus on the translation of ideas. firms can hire local native speakers as translators and use backtranslation as a check that the intended message is . • Lingua Franca. not words themselves. • Translation. or cold drink to refer to a carbonated beverage. however. such as the use of poor boy. Discuss Wiring the World: French Language Experts Coin New Web Words Though English is the most common language on the web.53 > Chapter 4 Indeed. and some companies (i. it can actually put them at a disadvantage when negotiating or operating on foreign turf. or lingua franca. to refer to a toilet. The text provides an example of a U. the translation process requires more than simply substituting the words of one language for those of a second. Since the Academie Française was founded in 1653. some countries such as India and Singapore have adopted English as an official language.

depicting the major world religions.1 lists many common forms of nonverbal communication. International businesspeople also may face a situation whereby words may have different meanings to persons with diverse cultural backgrounds. a second person is hired to translate the translated version back into the original language. Religion • Religion affects the ways in which members of a society relate to each other and to outsiders. should help international executives make more successful presentations to their foreign counterparts. The chance for miscommunication increases substantially. Backtranslation is a process whereby after one person translates a document. It may be necessary. • Gift Giving and Hospitality. Communication • Communication.3. gift giving and hospitality are an important means of communication. the sender encodes a message using his/her cultural filters and the receiver decodes the same message using his/her cultural filters. and with Discussion Question 2. . It is important for international businesspeople to be aware of each culture’s set of rules on the subject. to repeat points of agreement in order to avoid misunderstandings. the Japanese avoid the use of the word no because it is considered impolite. when negotiating with Japanese businesspeople. It also presents four principles of presentation that. Map 4. Seventy percent of the world’s population follows Christianity. The text provides an example of a cross-cultural misunderstanding involving Boeing. The word yes is used by the Japanese in a different way than it is used by Americans. Discuss Going Global: International Communication: A Primer This Going Global Box presents five principles that international businesspeople should follow when conversing with foreigners. whether verbal or nonverbal. should be shown here. In many cultures. The text provides several examples of different attitudes toward gift giving and hospitality. • Nonverbal communication can often lead to misunderstandings. The text illustrates this concept with several examples involving various types of nonverbal communication. when people are from different cultural backgrounds. for example. • Nonverbal Communication. with Review Question 7. or Buddhism.The Role of Culture > 54 actually being sent. can go awry between people who share a culture. Hinduism. Between 80 and 90 percent of all information is transmitted among members of a culture via nonverbal communication such as facial expressions and hand gestures. however. Table 4. if followed. This frequently creates misunderstandings. Islam. • In cross-cultural communication. The Box fits in well with a discussion of language. In fact. • Saying No. Outsiders may find it difficult to understand nonverbal communication.

On the other hand. A country’s formal education system transmits and reflects the cultural values of its society. or being interrupted during a meeting. business meetings follow a precise. Conversely. • Countries that are religiously diverse may represent a greater challenge to companies than those in which a single religion dominates. and education is available to everyone. frugality. • Age. Status in some cultures is inherited. education is linked to the class system. however. • Time. companies operating in a given culture. In the U. its homogeneity of religious beliefs. and lost sales. French. Attitudes about time. and rewards reflect an individual’s deep-seated values and shape the behavior of. stresses individual hard work. and an elite education is available only to a few. a state of spiritual perfection. and Japanese attitudes toward education. attitudes encompass the actions. depending on a country’s legal system. Islam emphasizes the individual’s responsibility to society. education. • In low-context cultures. authority. consumption. Values and Attitudes • Values are the principles and standards accepted by members of a society. education system.K. The text provides examples of the impact of the Muslim faith on business in Saudi Arabia and Catholicism in South America. individual responsibility. and opportunities available to.55 > Chapter 4 • Religion shapes the attitudes its followers have toward work. The impact of religion on international business varies from country to country. In Anglo-Saxon cultures the prevailing attitude toward time is that it is valuable and should not be wasted. NOT THE TREES This section looks at the dimensions and characteristics of culture. time is initially spent deciding whether there is trust between the participants before focusing on the business at hand. feelings. while in high-context cultures. III. The text provides several examples of attitudes toward status and its effect on business. while in others it is earned through individual achievements. SEEING THE FOREST.S. The Protestant ethic for example. Hall's Low Context-High Context Approach . well-planned agenda. • Status. by leading a progressively ascetic and pure life as one’s reincarnated soul goes through the cycles of death and rebirth. youthfulness is considered a virtue and young “fast-trackers” are nurtured. the goal of a Hindu is to achieve nirvana. and thoughts that result from those values. instead of looking at cultures individually.S. Latin Americans and Arabs do not share this attitude and think nothing of starting a business meeting late. and its tolerance of other religious viewpoints. The text also provides examples of German. How status is acquired affects job attitudes and performance. Individualism is stressed in the U.. and achievement as a means of glorifying God. while in Asian and Arab cultures age is respected and reflects a manager’s stature. • Religion may constrain business activities and the types of products consumers may purchase. • Education. Firms operating in countries with diverse religious beliefs must accommodate followers of each religion or risk absenteeism. In the U. low morale. Attitudes toward age differ by culture. and planning for the future.

for example..S. His work identified five dimensions along which people seemed to differ across cultures. 1.. manage workforces. The Cultural Cluster Approach • International businesspeople must recognize cultural differences as they market products. U. • Cultural similarities may impact a firm’s choice of entry method. are compensated according to their individual achievements. is a person’s beliefs about the relative importance of the individual and the groups to which the person belongs. The text notes.2 should be used here to discuss differences in negotiating style across cultures. Each cultural cluster comprises countries that share many cultural similarities. The dimensions include social orientation. • Eight country clusters have been identified by researchers. Examples of high-context cultures include Japan and Arab countries. in reality there are similarities between cultures. uncertainty orientation. power orientation. Examples of low-context cultures include Canada. A highcontext culture is one in which the context in which a conversation occurs is just as important as the words that are actually spoken and cultural clues are important in understanding what is being communicated.3 here. A lowcontext culture is one in which the words used by the speaker explicitly convey the speaker’s message to the listener. that Canadian firms are likely to expand into Britain via a joint venture with a British partner. While one may initially conclude that business practices must be customized to meet the demands of each local culture. for example. and time orientation. the U.S. and Germany. A society’s type of culture will have an impact on its business behavior. however. Social Orientation • Social orientation.K. Discuss Table 4. The text notes for example. and deal with host country governments. • Many companies formulate their internationalization strategies using the country-clustering approach.2 here. and collectivism (the belief that the group comes first). One of the most influential studies was done by Geert Hofstede. Many studies today focus on this area. Discuss Map 4. Japanese firms are likely to enter the market via a greenfield investment (a brand new one) because they are less comfortable working with British partners. Table 4. the U. Present Figure 4. that a country’s reward system will reflect its cultural values. the first dimension identified by Hofstede. goal orientation. although differences do remain. • It is important to be aware of the differences in the cultural orientations of countries along the social orientation dimension. Discuss Figure 4. managers.The Role of Culture > 56 • Edmund and Mildred Hall have identified two distinct types of culture. On the . Two extremes of social orientation are individualism (the cultural belief that the person comes first).4 here. Hofstede's Five Dimensions International businesspeople need to understand how personality traits and need structures differ across cultures.3 here.

• Cultural differences also impact worker mobility. 3. quality of life. cultures such as Japan. In contrast. a fifth dimension in Hofstede’s framework. and concern for others. U. Uncertainty Orientation • Uncertainty orientation. Discuss Figure 4. People exhibiting aggressive goal behavior place a high premium on material possessions. Those individuals characterized by uncertainty acceptance are stimulated by change and new opportunities. Hofstede’s fourth dimension. is the manner in which people are motivated to work toward different kinds of goals. is the extent to which members of a culture adopt a long-term versus short-term outlook on life. 5. people tend to accept the power and authority of their superiors simply on the basis of the superiors’ positions in the hierarchy and to respect the superiors’ right to that power. work. and assertiveness. 4.4 here. Hong Kong. and other aspects of society. while Pakistan and West Africa have a shorter-term outlook. while those individuals characterized by uncertainty avoidance dislike and avoid ambiguity. Introduce Table 4. is the feeling that people have regarding uncertain and ambiguous situations. INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT AND CULTURAL DIFFERENCES Many experts believe that the world is currently experiencing a cultural convergence. money. Those who exhibit passive goal behavior place a higher value on social relationships. refers to the beliefs that people in a culture hold about the appropriateness of power and authority differences in hierarchies such as business organizations. in cultures that are characterized by power tolerance. the third of Hofstede’s dimensions. managers are expected to accept new jobs that offer better salaries. In contrast. and South Korea have a long-term orientation. a Japanese manager’s compensation is linked to group performance. Power Orientation • Power orientation. Discuss Table 4. . individuals who switch jobs are considered disloyal. • In cultures characterized by power respect. Because Japanese workers focus on group goals. much less significance is attached to a person’s position in the hierarchy.4 here. Show Table 4. the second of Hofstede’s dimensions.5 here. 2. Time Orientation Time orientation. Goal Orientation • Goal orientation.S. As noted by the text.57 > Chapter 4 other hand. as cultures grow more similar as a result of improvements in communication and • IV.6 here.

Both noticed that their hotels do not always provide exactly what customers want. the two hotel managers note that there can be huge differences in what travelers actually want. Both managers felt that by exchanging positions for a week. This involves achieving cross-cultural literacy. technologies. • The text presents two ethical dilemmas to illustrate the impact of ethics on international business. and the relationship between ethics and cultural values. Key Points • Two hotel managers. • The industry servicing business travelers is increasingly emphasizing the idea of serving customers with similar wants and needs.The Role of Culture > 58 transportation. what the hotel thinks they want. Cross-cultural literacy is best achieved through experiences. do as the Romans do” philosophy. although cross-cultural training programs and information about specific cultures can facilitate the process. Cultural Differences and Ethics • Ethical problems may exist as a result of cultural differences. but instead. However. CL OS IN G CA SE The Benefits of Foreign Exchange The closing case examines the results of a management swap between two hotel managers. • Acculturation occurs when an individual not only understands a foreign culture. the other from the Ritz in Atlanta agreed to swap positions for a week so that each could better identify the needs and expectations of business travelers. one from a hotel in London. but also modifies and adapts his or her behavior to make it compatible with the foreign culture. they could better understand their customers. • Both managers agreed that the actual managing process of the hotel is very similar. She feels that this time spent . Understanding New Cultures • Individuals who rely on their self-reference criterion (the unconscious use of one’s own culture to assess new surroundings) may find themselves making numerous cultural blunders. MNCs facilitate cultural convergence through their advertising and through their transfer of new management techniques. The British manager noted though. It is important that international businesspersons attempt to follow a “when in Rome. What is considered acceptable behavior in one culture may be considered immoral in another. and cultural values. Acculturation is particularly important to the international businessperson that frequently interacts with foreigners. that American senior staff tend to spend far more time than their British counterparts on the floor.

In particular. many customer needs may still go unmet simply because those individuals who interact with the customers daily. there is still a wide range of people who may find that their expectations are not being adequately met. have not had the chance to see the cultural differences first-hand. or the provision of fruit in the room. Additional Case Application Instructors may want to ask students in the class to play the role of business travelers from different parts of the world. Case Questions 1. For example. they note that maids and restaurant workers could benefit by knowing more about foreign customers’ expectations. business travelers are not limited to Americans and British. However. Other students can play the role of an American hotel manager trying to understand what his/her customers want. Students will probably point out. What business characteristics lend themselves most to organizational learning from this practice? What characteristics are least conducive to learning from this practice? The managers involved in this swap probably found that they learned more about issues such as understanding the customer rather than issues such as how accounts are handled and so forth. . In this case. but distributed to many nations around the world. because the swap was limited to two general managers. Furthermore. She plans to institute the practice at her English hotel. were actually culturally bound practices--that their counterpart hotels did things in a different way. 2. however. 3. both managers discovered that practices they felt were quite appropriate. What lessons might an international manager learn from this case? Most students will probably agree that even managers who are in contact with foreigners on a daily basis have much to learn. although both managers feel that they have gained much insight. that a swap involving a different type of manager. such as maids. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using the method described in the case? Clearly. for example.59 > Chapter 4 interacting with guests provides managers with a better idea of what the customer really wants. a great advantage of this management swap was the opportunity to better understand the customer and how customer needs can be met. • Both managers feel that they should extend the swap to other positions. and play an individual from that culture. as the case notes. which reflected local customs and attitudes. Students can either assume the role of travelers from their own countries (assuming there is a good mix of foreign students present) or research a foreign culture. would gain an entirely different set of benefits. such as tea or coffee services. a member of the human resources staff.

. beliefs. behaviors. It is a learned behavior that is shared between members of a society and it changes to adapt to external forces that affect a society. 5. Far Eastern.S. 2. values. The process thus provides a check that the intended message is actually being sent. language. or some other cultural element. Latin European. and Germany. Germanic. a speaker’s words explicitly convey his/her message to the listener. Nordic. and values and attitudes. 3. Describe the difference between high-context and low-context cultures. What are the primary characteristics of culture? The primary characteristics of culture are social structure. What is a lingua franca? Why has English become a lingua franca? A lingua franca is a predominant common language. since World War II. Latin American. Within each cluster. and Arab. the context in which the conversation takes place and accompanying cultural clues are just as important as the actual words. 6. English has become a lingua franca as a result of the economic and military dominance of the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century and the U. 4. customs.The Role of Culture > 60 C H A P T E R R E VI E W 1. religion. What is backtranslation? What problem is it designed to solve? Back-translation is a technique used by firms to ensure that they are actually sending the right message to their customers. and attitudes that distinguish a society. a second person translates the translated document back into the original language. whereas in high-context cultures such as Japan. Lingua francas emerge because international businesspeople need to communicate.S. At least eight cultural clusters have been identified: Near Eastern. How these elements interact affects the local environment in which international businesses operate. communication. The technique involves a process whereby after one person translates a document into another language. Anglo. What are cultural clusters? Countries can be grouped into cultural clusters based on similarities in their cultures. countries may be similar in terms of attitudes. In low-context cultures such as the U. What is culture? Culture consists of the interrelated values. language.

Those who exhibit passive goal behavior place a higher value on social relationships. refers to the beliefs that people in a culture hold about the appropriateness of power and authority differences in hierarchies such as business organizations. 12. People exhibiting aggressive goal behavior place a high premium on material possessions. What is power orientation? Power orientation. 8. and assertiveness.S. In cultures characterized by power respect. and Japanese firms. Discuss pay systems between the U. while those individuals characterized by uncertainty avoidance dislike and avoid ambiguity. These differences in pay systems are very much rooted in the differences in the two countries’ cultures. money. Those individuals characterized by uncertainty acceptance are stimulated by change and new opportunities. To what extent are these differences culturally determined? U. people tend to accept the power and authority of their superiors simply on the basis of the superiors’ positions in the hierarchy and to respect the superiors’ right to that power. quality of life. 9. What is uncertainty orientation? Uncertainty orientation. Individuals from individualistic cultures typically possess a high degree of self-respect and independence.S.61 > Chapter 4 7. Hofstede’s fourth dimension. the third of Hofstede’s dimensions. . 10. the second of Hofstede’s dimensions. What are individualism and collectivism? How do they differ? Individualism is the cultural belief that the person comes first and collectivism is the belief that the group comes first. and concern for others. much less significance is attached to a person’s position in the hierarchy. employees are typically compensated according to their individual accomplishments. On the other hand. 11. What is the self-reference criterion? It is the reliance. while those from collectivistic cultures tend to put the good of the group ahead of their own personal interests. is the feeling people have regarding uncertain and ambiguous situations.S. while the U. In contrast. Using one's own culture as a reference point can lead to problems when dealing cross-culturally. stresses individualism. on one's own culture to help assess new surroundings. is the manner in which people are motivated to work toward different kinds of goals. usually subconscious. Japanese employees are compensated on the basis of the group’s achievements. in cultures that are characterized by power tolerance. The Japanese culture is a group-oriented one. What are aggressive and passive goal behaviors? How do they differ? Goal orientation.

However. and may in fact put a firm at a competitive disadvantage. International businesspeople who rely on their selfreference criterion when dealing with people from other cultures run the risk of creating ill will. How important is it for native English speakers to learn a second language? Should all business students whose native tongue is English be required to learn another language? Why or why not? Responses to this question are likely to vary depending on the composition of the class. raise the question of what would have made the adjustment process easier. It is important for an individual doing business in another country to remember that he/she is the foreigner and must adapt to the culture of the other country. a class that has a large foreign student representation is likely to take the perspective that learning a foreign language is important and all students should be capable of doing so. experts have concluded that mastery of a foreign language is not necessary and that much can be gained from modest levels of training. How can international businesspeople avoid relying on the self-reference criterion when dealing with people from other cultures? Reliance on the self-reference criterion refers to the unconscious use of one’s own culture to help assess new surroundings. particularly ones who had difficulty with an introductory foreign language course. A class that is primarily made up of native English speakers. as the text notes. . widespread usage of English does not solve all communications problems. 2.The Role of Culture > 62 Questions for Discussion 1. One should attempt to achieve cross-cultural literacy and become familiar with the other culture either directly through personal experience or indirectly via training programs and publications. will probably conclude that since English is a lingua franca. Instructors can ask foreign students in their classes about any cross-cultural preparation they received prior to moving to this country. and on the basis of that response. Moreover. Teaching Note: This concept can be illustrated directly if there are foreign students in a class. native English speakers can make better use of their time if they pursue goals other than learning a foreign language. However.

If an individual attempts to use only nonverbal communication to converse with a foreigner.S. the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (discussed in Chapter 8) prohibits U. though.S. home country rules should be followed. For example. For example.” The U. but many countries do not offer women such protection.S. manager’s perspective. 4. the correct response would be to take a gender-blind approach to the selection process for these positions. In fact. . U. law protects women from job discrimination. these factories are located in countries that severely restrict the working rights of women. some researchers believe that between 80 and 90 percent of all information is transmitted among members of a culture by nonverbal communication. Should you adopt gender-blind selection policies for these positions? Does it make a difference if you have good reason to fear for the physical safety of your female managers? Does it make a difference if the restrictions are cultural rather than legal in nature? This is a difficult question to answer and instructors may wish to simply raise the issue rather than suggest a correct or incorrect response. misunderstandings are likely. others will probably point out that women can be taught to protect themselves. however.63 > Chapter 4 3. the ethics of the U. 5. However. Under what circumstances should international businesspeople impose the ethics of their culture on foreigners with whom they do business? Does it make a difference if the activity is conducted in the home or host country? Acceptable behavior in one country may not be acceptable in another. Suppose several important job opportunities arise at overseas factories owned by your firm. In some cases. Thus. culture is imposed on foreigners. This latter concept is reminiscent of the question of whether women in the U. Is nonverbal communication more important or less important when two people speak different languages? What are the pitfalls of trying to use only nonverbal communication to “talk” to someone from another country? Nonverbal communication probably becomes more important when two people speak different languages. means “yes. Armed Forces should be permitted to engage in combat. however. from an international business perspective it is important to recall the saying “when in Rome. while if business is conducted in the home country.S. manager’s task may be made easier if the restrictions are legal rather than cultural because the manager would have a tangible reason for not using a gender-blind selection process. do as the Romans do. In general. a Bulgarian and an American would certainly miscommunicate.” but in Bulgaria nodding means “no.S. International businesspeople must be cautious about relying on their self-reference criterion when doing business with foreigners and adapt their perspectives as much as possible to fit with the foreign culture.” Unless there is verbal communication. if business is conducted in the host country. the rules of the host country should be followed. companies from using bribes when dealing with foreigners. legal restrictions can force international businesspeople to impose the ethics of their culture on foreigners. nonverbal communication may be difficult for a foreigner to comprehend and may lead to miscommunication. You fear that female managers thus will be ineffective there.S. From a U. While some students will probably argue that females should not be selected if they could be at risk physically. however.S. nodding in the U.

students considering a highly individualistic culture might suggest that reward systems should provide incentives for individual performance rather than group performance. Students might then suggest that managers attempt to translate that knowledge into specific ideas about how business might be conducted. Answers to the follow-up questions. How would you go about assessing the country’s culture along Hofstede’s dimensions? How would you incorporate your findings into conducting business there? Most students would probably suggest that examining the dimensional maps that identify where different countries lie on each of the dimensions would be a good starting point in assessing the culture of a foreign location. Lear ning abou t Cultu ral Valu es WO RKI NG WIT H THE WE B: B UI LD IN G G L O B AL S KI LL S . Essence of the exercise This exercise asks students to select one of the countries included in Hofstede’s study and. using the Internet. For example. work. 1. locate information about that country. This question can be particularly interesting in a class with students from a range of countries and cultures. and figures presented in the section discussion Hofstede’s work. tables.The Role of Culture > 64 6. Typically. 7. students may have direct experience with another country through travel. Students are asked to identify sites that both support and refute Hofstede’s characterizations of the countries. or even as an exchange student. Assume you have just been transferred by your firm to a new facility in a foreign location. What were your primary sources of information about the three countries? How easy or difficult was it to find information? Students will probably rely on various publications for information about the assigned countries. Students are asked to determine how a particular set of products would be received in another country and what changes would need to be made for their sale to be a success. How would you evaluate yourself on each of Hofstede’s dimensions? Students will probably have a fairly good idea where they stand on each of Hofstede’s dimensions and they may choose to confirm their beliefs my exploring some of the maps. In some cases. Essence of the exercise This exercise is designed to provide students with insight as to how cultural and social factors affect international business. students find it easier to research developed countries as compared to developing economies.

Students will probably conclude that because the American culture is a melting pot of many cultures. and so forth). . Other Applications An interesting way to illustrate the impact of culture on a company is to identify a real product that is sold in multiple countries. and what. market? Most students will probably suggest that foreign firms assess the American culture in much the same way as Americans assess foreign cultures: that when introducing products one first determines if a product will sell as it is. McDonald’s is usually a good company to start with. Can you think of specific products that are in high demand in the United States that would simply not work in specific other countries because of cultural factors? Students will probably rely on their own purchasing patterns when responding to this question. neither of which would sell well in the Middle East because of religious beliefs.65 > Chapter 4 2. Products in high demand among most college students include beer and hamburgers. there is probably a market for most foreign products somewhere (although some may be rather small). advertising. changes had to be made to make the product a success. Students can then identify how the product is sold in each country. and then considers the impact of making changes in the product (and packaging. How do you think foreign firms assess American culture as they contemplate introducing products into the U. 3.S. if any.

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