Monsanto Europe

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Monsanto Europe

This case reflects the importance of cultural knowledge when introducing innovations in different countries, needing not to assume similarities between cultures but to study their differences, given that they can result in contrary behaviors or reluctance to such innovations. Monsanto, a US bio-tech company, successfully introduced genetically modified (GM) foods in the US and Japan in 1996, obtaining an overwhelming consumer approval of the high-tech foods. Problems began for Monsanto when they tried to introduce such GM foods in Europe, since they underestimated a series of factors.

• First of all, and due to the previous experience of introducing such innovative products in the US, Monsanto focused on obtaining the acceptance of European regulatory bodies first instead of the consumers’, resulting in boycotts held by opponents in a series of European countries that went to the extent of burning and uprooting farmers’ crops.

• Different cultures have different contexts and ways of thinking and behaving; something that Monsanto overlooked when taking the decision of entering its products in Europe in 1997. “Countries with a strong focus on careful engineering often have thinking-orientated cultures”. Germany is the perfect example of it, a well-known country for its manufacturing industry. German and Austrian are thinking-oriented cultures, and their consumers were among the least willing to purchase GM foods since they carefully think before taking action. This also relates to the fact that “an American is a risk-taking European”: US consumers did not doubt when GM foods were introduced in their country and quickly began consuming them; whereas several countries in Europe are known for their uncertainty avoidance, unwilling to consume Monsanto’s products because of the link that had been drawn between them and the Mad Cow disease. In addition, Monsanto focused on highlighting the benefits of its products to farmers instead of doing it...
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