Culture is a predominant social aspect of society, which guides the way people think and act in their environment. Culture develops differently for all the various nations of the world, and in the context of international business, the challenge that arises for today’s managers is managing across these varied cultures effectively enough to render positive growth and productivity for the business organization. The influential factors such as individualism versus collectivism and masculinity versus femininity amongst others help categorize and identify cultural differences. The manager of international business has to be well aware of these differences and show consideration and care in dealing with cultural disparities that may be incurred both inside the organization and in the organization’s external environment. Introduction
Culture is a social phenomenon which helps define people’s interests, thoughts, ideas, models, and other behaviors they may exhibit in the social context. Culture goes as far as to directly influence how people communicate in different environments. At the highest level of psychological sophistication culture directly influences people’s values and beliefs. Thus, all communities of the world, been influenced by extraneous factors of their environment, own their own unique cultures (Walter Lippmann). Thus, it is evident from the above description that culture is an aspect of one’s social existence which defines how they behave in different social and business context. Culture influences one’s knowledge, understanding, values and beliefs.
How do Cultures Differ?
Cultural differences are most pronounced in social settings where much is at stake. In situations where individual’s personal life is involved such as marriage, death of a loved one, economic survival etc, individuals tend to exhibit there in-born cultural traits most evidently. Business relates to the individual’s economic survival. Thus, in business individuals tend to rely on their cultural influence in guiding their activities. Culture in the Context of Business
In the business environment, an individual’s economic survival is on the line. Thus, cultural traits are very easily visible amongst the various participants of the business. Doing business in itself is ‘risky’ business. As for an individual, to maintain economic stability they have to venture into the unknown economic world of supply and demand and put out their accumulated resources to use, so as to achieve positive gains. But, there is always the chance that one’s efforts may not prove as fruitful as expected. In such a situation of personal insecurity, individuals always tend to bank upon their learned cultural traits to carry them far, that’s because at a sub-conscious level individuals are more confident about their cultural traits as they have learned it well, and have had plentiful practice over the years, surviving in their respective societies. For example, in Japanese businesses, decision making is left to the upper-management as a whole and they themselves decide upon business ventures collectively as a group. This business antic stems from the traditional Japanese culture of collectivism and hierarchical reverence for the social elite, which has been instilled into the Japanese society over its historic past. From the individual’s perspective, cultural differences tend to become more evident during the phase of interaction amongst the different business participants making the business run. In this environment, the individuals that interact, hailing from different communities and societies across the globe, attach different meanings to the varied means of communication that are now utilized in business. Thus, there often arises the disparity in understanding of responses and situations. For example, it may often be mistaken by the American managers that a “yes” or a strong nod of the head by a Japanese manager to any discussion may be...
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