Friday, June 02, 2006

Bibliography #9

Kloss, Ingomar. "More Advertising Worldwide." 2002. pp 9 - 15

Elements of the Cultural Environment of International Business.
(I find that is it very important to consider these elements in developing the Mediator agency service)

Language and Communication
- Of all the cultural elements, language is perhaps the most obvious difference between cultures & probably the most difficult to acquire & understand. The ability to speak and understand the various interpretation of the language of a foreign country is essential for anyone planning a career in international business. The study of the foreign language should include both the verbal language, or factual knowledge, and the non-verbal language, or interpretive knowledge. Matching words with identical meanings from one language to another, without being aware of the nuances of the local language, double meanings of words and slang and the various interpretations of the cultural terms and concepts, could lead to confusion, embarrassment and expensive mistakes. Not all communication is written or spoken. Non-verbal language, often referred to as the silent language can pose serous problems to international business managers.

Each society has different attitudes towards time. Punctuality, for example, can cause confusion and misunderstanding in various cultures.

The body language determines how to behave correctly in a foreign environment. The smallest details of body language can be extremely important to the conduct of international business. The ways in which people move their bodies, stand, sit, cross their legs, touch and walk differ from one country to another.

Language of space, for example, refers to the size of offices and their location. In most US and Western firms the president and high executives of the company will have the largest offices, usually on the top floor. The Japanese, on the other hand, prefer to work together in an open area. In the Arab world, and in Saudi Arabia in particular, women are not allowed to work in the same offices as men. The Chinese conception of the proper social distance between people in a room, or in an elevator, is somewhat closer than that common to many Western cultures, especially in Germany and America.

- It is not enough to know how people behave in other cultures and how to do business with them. It is also important to understand why they behave the way they do. Religious beliefs shape many kinds of individual behavior, whether economic, political, legal or social. Ignorance of differences in religious beliefs could lead to frustration and misunderstanding, poor productivity and a drastic reduction in the sales of products, or even cause the ultimate failure of a business.

- Refer to the art, folklore, music, drama, myth, legends, sculpture and architecture of a culture. Understanding and interpreting the symbolic meaning of various aesthetics can be problematic for business managers. Use of symbols, for example, could have a distinctive meaning unique to a particular culture.

The use and meaning of colour is also of particular importance to international business, because in most cultures colour is used as a symbol that conveys specific messages. Colour perceptions vary greatly from one culture to another.

Green, for example, is a very popular colour in muslim countries, but is also associated with disease in countries with dense, green jungles, while in France green is associated with cosmetics. Black is the colour of death in the America, Europe and the Middle East. In Japan and Asia white is the colour of mourning, and black symbolizes power, luxury, prestige and high quality.

- Understanding the educational environment in foreign countries is crucial to successful international business operations. Looking at the educational background of the foreign country in which a multinational firm is contemplating doing business could provide important information for the personnel manager in determining, for example, the quality of local workforce available for employment.

Understanding the level of education can also assist marketers in evaluating and assessing the levels of sophistication of local customers, the nature of the media to be used and the kind of approach to be used in advertising. If, for example, the local customers are largely illiterate, advertising and package labels would have to be adapted using more visual aids.

Social Institutions
- Social institutions, beliefs and values refer to the ways in which people in different cultures relate to each other. Elements of social organization include, gender, age, family, class structure and social hierarchy.

Attitudes and Moral Issues
- To successfully deal with a new culture, whether with a person from specific company or different country, you must make an effort to identify their cultural values and inherent priorities, and how they differ from.

Business Practices
- The way you present yourself during the first encounter may open or close the door to many other opportunities. People from every culture have different procedures they follow and different expectations when interacting with others the first time.

These are based on the beliefs of each culture and are additionally derived from the individual value system of each person. This is why the initial meeting with an executive from a different culture must be approached with care and understanding.


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