Puma s Poor Intercultural Communication

Topics: United Arab Emirates, Culture, Sociology Pages: 9 (2139 words) Published: April 20, 2015


Puma’s Poor Intercultural Communication
Karen Deal
COMM 360
May 27, 2014
LaTrica Henegar, Ed.D, LPC, NCC
Puma’s Poor Intercultural Communication
In an age of new technology enabling one to work from anywhere in the world, important business decisions now effect citizens of more than one country. Business dealings with partners and customers from other countries entail communication with those from different cultural backgrounds. The following paragraphs provide an example of a corporation's failure to research a country's cultural pattern and how one seemingly innocent action comes close to ending a thriving business. Examination of the corporation’s near-fatal business decision provides a better understanding of the important role effective intercultural communication plays in today’s business. By clearly defining each country’s cultural patterns and taxonomies, one can begin to determine where communication fails, and how best to correct the problem. Suggestions for improvement of intercultural communication between the two countries are provided by applying communication theorists Kluckholm and Strodbeck’s Value Orientation theory to the example situation. Further examination of this corporation’s poor intercultural communication, clearly demonstrates the need for countries to be constantly aware of and respect each other’s beliefs, values, social practices, and socially shared expectations. Puma’s Near-Fatal Mistake

Puma is a large supplier of sporting apparel, footwear, and accessories. The company, “distributes its products in more than 120 countries, employs more than 10,000 people worldwide, and is headquartered in Herzogenaurach/Germany” (PUMA, 2013, p. 1). The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is second only to Saudi Arabia in Germany’s export business with reported sales worth 9.77 billion euros in 2012 (Federal Foreign Office, 2014, p. 1). In December of 2011, UAE celebrates its fortieth anniversary as an independent nation. Ahead of UAE’s National Day, Puma launches a pair of limited edition tennis shoes bearing the red, black, and green colors of the UAE flag. The release of the uniquely designed tennis shoe sparks anger among the Emirate and Arab citizens of the UAE, who view the shoes as a direct insult to their nation (CNN, 2011, p. 1).  By defining the countries' cultural patterns and communication devices, one can begin to understand Puma's business decision and the response of UAE and taxonomies. Cultural Patterns

Cultural patterns are shared interpretations regarding one’s beliefs, values, social norms, and expectations (Lustig & Koester, 2010, Ch. 4). In order to experience successful intercultural communication it is necessary to understand these differences of interpretations between the countries involved. UAE Culture

UAE is a member of the Arab culture and as such are of the Muslim faith, Islam. Religion is a vital part of the Arabic culture and is evident in the rules established for their daily lives and politics. Family is most valued in this culture, and elders are highly revered and looked upon for wisdom. Public confrontation is avoided at all cost as respect for others is expected at all times. Arabs prefer to do business with those of whom they have friendly relations. Prior to discussing business, much time is spent in getting to know rituals, allowing for the formation of friendship. Rather than focus on the outcome of one’s accomplishments, Arabs find more value in one’s persistence to finish the task at hand (Federation of American Scientist, 2013, pp. 5-28). German Culture

Germany is a member of the European culture. Christianity is the dominant religion practiced in Germany, split evenly between Protestants and Catholics. Individual accomplishment is valued among Germans; therefore, structure, privacy, and punctuality are high priorities in the German culture. Germans are task oriented making hard work, as well as, the need to complete...

References: CNN. (2011). UAE flag colours on Puma shoes anger nationals. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/blogarchive/insidethemiddleeast.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/28/uae-flag-colours-on-Puma-shoes-anger-nationals
Federal Foreign Office. (2014). United Arab Emirates. Retrieved from http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/EN/Aussenpolitik/Laender/Laenderinfos/01-Laender/VAE.html
Federation of American Scientists. 2013. Arab cultural awareness: 58 fact sheets. Retrieved from http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/army/arabculture.pdf
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Lustig, M.W., & Koester, J. (2010). Intercultural competence. Interpersonal communication across cultures (6th ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.
PUMA. 2013. PUMA. Retrieved from http://about.Puma.com/category/company/conloc
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