Cultures around the world differ in ways that are fundamental to how all aspects of business are conducted and the international marketer must be
sensitive to them. Fons Trompenaars, an expert in cross-cultural management, describes the kinds of dilemmas these differences pose and
looks at ways of resolving them
The impact of culture has long been recognised by marketing professionals in organisations that operate internationally. The necessity of understanding local forms of consumer behaviour and the careful attention that must be paid to language used in advertising for international campaigns are the two most conspicuous areas where cultural differences reveal themselves. But more important and more pervasive are the ways different cultural orientations influence managers and the decision making process itself.
Every country and every organisation faces a series of dilemmas in relation to people. There are basically five dimensions describing how we relate to other people and these five value orientations greatly influence our ways of doing business and managing, as well as our responses in the face of moral dilemmas. Our relative position along these dimensions guides our beliefs and actions through life.
1. Universalism versus particularism (the importance of rules versus relationships)
2. Individualism versus collectivism (primacy given to the individual versus the group)
3. Neutral versus emotional (how emotions are expressed)
4. Specific versus diffuse (the range of involvement expected)
5. Achievement versus ascription (how status is accorded)
For example, we all confront situations in which the established rules do not quite fit a particular circum-stance. Do we do what is deemed right' or do we adapt to the circumstances of the situation? If we are in a difficult meeting do we show how strongly we feel and risk the consequences, or do we show admirable restraint'? When we encounter a... [continues]
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