This article seeks to highlight the various cultural international business elements and the influence they have on international business cultural diversifications mainly such as the manners, language, attitudes and values. With the progression of globalization, its effects on global business activities are more evident, in the drastically evolving world of economic globalization and on this aspect, the urgency and importance of cross-cultural negotiations in international business is heightened.
It is common knowledge that each country exhibits a unique culture, and this makes cultural barriers and communication an issue in business communication, since it can easily influence the international bargaining decisions. This can be viewed from the aspect of values existing in groups that have similar norms and beliefs and it is from these same values that they base their attitudes (Rarick & Winter, 2005). It is with the above understanding that the unique cultural standards are the main factors that affect the decisions made, strategies implemented, and way of thinking. If enforced correctly, it can address the international business cultural conflicts while coordinating the right attitudes in the international business that can facilitate adaptation to the new culture, and avoid any unnecessary miscommunication or misunderstanding.
The initial selection of the Canada Timber team can be said to have been selected based on the cultural attributes of the Canadian country, which could be reviewed by using Hofstede analysis. Hofstede identifies five different dimensions that include individualism versus collectivism where a collective society individuals’ identity are put on the social system. The second dimension is high versus low power distance that outlines the levels of equality in a society. The third is uncertainty avoidance that involves risk avoidance or tolerance among people governed by formal rules and regulations. The fourth is the masculine versus feminine dimension which entails the issues of gender sensitiveness in society and the attitudes that people have towards achievement in men and women. The last is confucianist dynamics that involves the long-term versus short-term approach to results. This was a mistake of the company since it was biased. Regarding Canada Timber, the dynamics that were applicable include the individualistic and self-reliant nature of the Canadian society, which often portrayed as having loose bonds as seen with the CEO when he chose his brother in law to be the company representative. Societal and organizational culture influence the way leaders undertake their roles including the effectiveness of human resource practices (Meshksar, 2012).
In terms of uncertainty avoidance, the CEO did not observe the formal rules and regulations when selecting the people right for the job based on their qualifications. He used his own style and belief of the people that should fit certain positions.
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Anthropologist Edward T. Hall theory of high and low culture helps in understanding the effect of culture in communication. In high-context cultures, people emphasize on interpersonal relationships developing trust. Here, cultures are collectivist. In low-context cultures, people value logic, directness and facts and decisions are reached based on facts rather than intuition. Regarding Canada Timber, the CEO is from high-context culture because he valued interpersonal relationships as seen in his choice of his brother-in-law to fill the position of company representative. He also based his selection decisions based on intuition as seen in his selection of regional sales person because he had married a Japanese woman. This was to attract Japanese trust (O’Hara-Devereaux & Johansen, 1994).
The regional sales person was also wrongly chosen since the CEO knew that he married a Japanese, but the only reason for taking him along was for boosting his image even though, he knew the person had limited grasp of both the language and the culture in that country. This was a low power distance dimension exemplified by the CEO. It can also be said that he mainly chose the specific management and production team members to accompany him due to their wide knowledge on the topics and their success, which reflected the aspect of the Canadian society that uses personal achievement to measure success, while also demonstrating the low (PDI) power distance in the company. The choice the CEO made would have been appropriate if he included an agent or collaborator who had vast experience in dealing with foreign cultures and through that, they would have been able to overcome the various obstacles on communication that were relayed through the nonverbal means like the body language, gestures ,eye-contact and facial expressions. The failure to do that showed an aspect of individualism dimension according to Hofstede (Rarick & Winter, 2005).
The main differences in the Canadian and Japanese culture include things like in the Japanese culture the meetings are mainly held for exchanging information, building a rapport, or confirming on the decisions that had been made previously. This is in contrast to the Canadian culture where the meetings are mainly for finishing and signing on agreements like in contracts or projects. The Japanese culture utilizes the first meeting to access the individuals’ suitability in terms of doing business, which contrasts with the Canadian culture that ascertains an individual capability by analyzing previous success. The Japanese culture allows for implicit communication, which is mainly revealing of less information and leaving the other person to fill in the rest, while the Canadian culture allows for practice of explicit, which is direct opposite to the latter. The Canadian culture does not support routine giving of gifts, which it has reserved for celebrations example on finalizing a contract deal, but in the Japanese culture, gift giving is a common tradition. They also value things like exchanging of business card, which they regard as signs of respect to the individual and honor it with celebration, unlike in the Canadian culture that does not place any value on card exchanging. The Japanese culture is more accommodative and flexible compared to the Canadian.
The Japanese culture is more reserved and it is demonstrated by well calculated expressions of emotions and choice of words, as compared to the Canadian, which tends to support a more free expression of thoughts and feelings as exhibited by the favored expression of moods on the faces mainly, happiness, joy or exhaustion. The nature of development culture in Japan also differs since it is mainly based on long or high term basis, as compared to the low or short term basis of the Canadian culture (Rarick & Winter, 2005).
The things that should have been done differently include the management understanding what the foreign business partners considered as normal in their country, which is of relevance, and needs careful evaluation and critical thinking since it encompasses a holistic view that includes relationships, time, communication, and human condition. In addition, the management could have hired a professional agent who could have taught them the basic different cultural aspects they were likely to encounter as a way of reducing the culture shock and the misunderstanding that occurred. Moreover, the selection of the team to travel would have had a wider criteria rather than the one led by feelings. The management should have also done some research to find out the perception the foreigners had about their culture, and through understanding those aspects of the cross-culture, they would have been aware of the general business environment, ethics, regulations, and negotiations that were available (Terpstra & David, 1987).
Exercising more patience and trying to understand the cause of the sudden silence instead of panicking, pushing for the contract closure and constantly reducing the initial price, as the CEO made these rash decisions resulted in losing credibility and eventually, the contract, according to the Japanese culture since the culture distrusts an inconsistent person. Instead, I would have refocused the emphasis to retaining the harmony in the context of the Japanese culture in forms that would adequately allow many forms of vague expressions and the cultural relevance. In fact, by avoiding explicit or direct statements, there was a better chance of not causing any offense.
In conclusion, competition success and communication has been known to be influenced by cultural factors, and it is with this that cultural awareness helps in the shaping of the behavior of a firm in international markets that have a reflection of cross-culture tendencies. The broad recognition that cultural factors often hinder global business communication and a firm can understand the various cultural differences and implement the right skills to address the issues. This is one of the key strategies they can implement in order to have a competitive edge in global business. It is with this understanding that economic growth can better be explained by culture as compared to material changes or structure. The acceptance of valuing perseverance, thrift and hierarchy legitimacy without undue emphasis on social and traditional obligations could impede the initiatives of business, competitive tendencies that disregard cultural harmony, values and individualistic tendencies all have changing and pervasive influences on the global markets. Due to these factors, markets often have to either adopt or change to address the change.
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