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We all know that today's world is changing and it is getting smaller every day. The globalisation effects our daily lives and the Maltese companies needs to adjust to the fact that we have to work with foreign countries. Nowadays there are many issues that are influencing the Maltese companies. This thesis is focusing on particular issue that many businesses find it difficult to cope with - culture. This study will look at the relationship between one country to another, through this the aim is to evaluate culture as a factor of international business relationships. For this reason the thesis focuses on the comparing and contrast of the Maltese Island and Libya. By means of qualitative and quantitative research the two countries will be compared. The findings of this research will show the differences between Malta and Libya.
Most of the people may think that going to a foreign country is just an experience and will bring different views about that particular country. The outlook of this is based on the meeting of different culture, although people in way will already built a certain vision about that country. Sayings such as: "Maltese are more task oriented and hard work driven". When someone will decide to go abroad, sometimes the people will find it difficult since local people don't exactly have the same way of thinking. On the other hand, what happens when a business will decide to work with different country that have different surroundings? Are these differences important at the place of work? In today's world the companies are expanding and also are entering into foreign markets, this means that becoming part of the international business is important. As a result, culture collusions are more likely to become visible. The cultural differences between Malta and Libya can have positive and negative effect on the negotiations and this is mainly depends on the understanding of the cultural differences.
This dissertation aims is to make a comparative analysis between Malta and Libya. Throughout this dissertation will show some of the cultural differences and also will simplify which of these have an impact on the business relations.
The two countries are separated by just 290km of the Mediterranean Sea and through this Libya and Malta have shared a long and entwined history. We can say that Malta and Libya have been trading partners for centuries and also have many cultural similarities, although they both speak different language and have different believes.
The Malta Employer Association (2011) explained that at the beginning of the war in 2011 Libya have marked the start of incredible changes to one of our closes trading partners. It also stated that the war took place on our Maltese doorstep that this has affected all the social partners, as businesses having their company in Libya had their operations suspended, the livelihood of many employees was and still there is, at risk and the Maltese government had to strike an unsafe balance between non-involvement, and lending humanitarian support for the civilians in crisis.
As I have already said the number of businesses that operate internationally is expanding continually. Through this when a company like Medilink International decided to work with Libya have faced a lot of challenges and these were new and unfamiliar. Culture barriers is one of the obstacles that Medilink is suffering and is affecting the entire company operations.
Libyan geographics, demographics and politics can affect the business operations in different ways such as language problems, distance, currency exchange rate, inflation rate etc...
One of the cultural barriers for Medilink International is language. Nowadays learning a second language is considered an asset especially a small island like Malta that have its unique language. The first language for Libya is Arab and the second one is English.
By the civil war in 2011, there were hopes that there will be more intellectual development in Libya that this include domestic higher education capacity and problems to send students abroad. After the death of Gadhafi the country has remained unstable but by some accounts it is showing that eagerness to be involved in the international education circles. (ICEF Monitor, 2012)
The currency vary from one country to another, we use the Euro while Libya uses Dinar. For the Maltese businesses and citizens this may cause problems of currency convertibility and not to exclude the problem of exchange rate fluctuations. If a business like Medilink is offering product or services overseas one needs to be aware of the foreign exchange rates while comparing them to other countries. The currency rates are changing from one second to another that this can either move in any good direction or not. Ralph Chami (2012) stated that after the revolution in 2011 the Central Bank of Libya had a lack of access to its foreign assets and unfortunately was not able to sell the foreign exchange with the same market value of the Libyan Dinar that felt at lowest oh half of its official value.
Medilink company must be able to handle these challenges to ensure smooth operation of its business. Medilink International needs to keep in mind that Libyan cultures have different ways of doing business. The most significant thing is to remember to respect and understand the Libyan culture without forcing their own beliefs.
The research area of this proposal is mainly focused on the broad area of international business. The focal point of this research will be the culture and logistical challenges that Medilink company might encounter whilst deploying different medical and other related services in Libya.
During this study I will compare and contrast the continuous challenges that Medilink International face in pre liberation and is currently facing in post liberation in Libya.
Medilink International has been operating in Libya since 1993, offering specialised medical services mainly to the petroleum industry in Libya. Throughout the 2011 Libyan revolution, Medilink International kept its clinic in Tripoli functional with the service of a skeleton staff; yet its working environment has surely changed in the meantime since the revolution left a significant impact on their expatriate clients and the majority of them just left the country. One example of these major changes that Medilink International had to sustain is the reality that like many other foreign companies operating in Libya today, they contracted ‘professional security’ third-parties to escort staff and clients whilst also protecting their premises.
Evidence currently shows that companies who have the resilience to maintain a minimal yet continuous presence in Tripoli, just like Medilink International, are most likely to gain ‘first-mover’ advantages in the near future. However there is and will remain, numerous challenges in their business continuation. This is also published in the 2014|2015 Discovering Business on the Middle East Association website.
Another example the Medilink International have to maintain is the E-Learning challenges that are in Libya. In 2009 Kenan did some studies about Technological barriers. The study shows that technology has the highest percentage of 34%. After the post war in 2011 Medilink International is finding it a bit difficult to communicate with the personnel. As Kenan states that the majority of the Libyan doesn't have internet access and unfortunately Libya is still a way behind other countries in terms of access to personal computers.
One can identify two main variables in this cause and effect relationship. The opening of Medilink international in Malta this the independent variable. It mainly effects the Clinic in Libya that reflect the dependent variable since the business performance is a subject to change as the Libyan culture is changing especially after the revolution in 2011.
A third variable can also be affected that is the European Union. After the revolution in Libya there were direct impacts of the instability since there was a high unemployment rate in Malta since they citizens felt that they had a job insecurity.
According to the problem discussion the following research questions has been developed: What are the challenges that Medilink International might encounter whilst deploying various medical or services in Libya?
Although this study is careful prepared, I am still aware of its limitations and shortcoming.
- First limitations would be, since this study is based on a case study the number of interviews and questionnaires that I will distribute will be small and it might that not everyone will finish on time to fill in my questionnaires.
- The possibility of the respondents can also be biased.
- Sometimes the company may not want to give accurate information.
- The survey is to be distributed in a limited span of time.
- Moreover since this thesis is about Libya I cannot do interviews with the management that work in the clinic.
Significance of the Study (Stakeholders?????)
The significance of this study is to analyse cultural differences between Medilink International Malta with Medilinic Clinic in Libya. In identifying these challenges between the countries the goals is to try to build a framework of the Maltese culture and the Libyan culture (on the basis of interviews and questionnaire). Moreover, to define which differences will be the most problematic to Medilink International in Malta. The objective is to prepare a set of recommendations to Medilink International about the cultural barriers that they are having.
Organization of the study
This proposal is categorized into five chapters, in which this proposal will start explaining the background of the study and then the background is narrowed down to problem analysis. In chapter two I have chosen different hypothesis that these are mainly based on the research question and are about the cultural barriers that companies might find when they have an international businesses and have to deal with different people. In chapter three there is the research methodology that this include the qualitative research, interviews, the data collection, and the data analysis. Chapter four will include the findings, what I have found out from the interviews with the Malta Head Office team, especially the Chief executive officer, the general manager, the medical services manager, the recruitment executive and the international procurement executive. This chapter will also include the questionnaires that these will be distributed online by making use of ‘off-the-shelve’ software like Survey Monkey. Chapter five is the last chapter and this chapter will be dedicated to the problems, recommendations and limitations in order to serve as an aid for the future to improve the cultural barriers for Medilink International.