There is no better arena for observing a culture in action than business. Cultures tend to reveal themselves in situations where much is at stake, because it is here that their resources are most needed. Marriage, family obligations, because economic survival is at stake. Business practices are shaped by deeply-held cultural attitudes toward work, power, trust, wealth and communication.
Communication is fundamental in business, because business is a collaborative activity. Goods and services are created and exchanged through the close coordination of many persons, sometimes within a single village, and sometimes across global distances. Coordination of this kind requires intense communication. Complex product specifications and product schedules must be mutually understood, and intricate deals between trading partners must be negotiated. Communication styles vary enormously around the world, and these contribute to a staggering variety of business styles. In order to understand the opportunities of cultural diversion we must keep in mind:
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Identifying the nature and implications of national cultural differences within the team.
Establishing a basis for building understanding and awareness of cultural differences and how they may be managed.
Formulating a framework for developing a high performing team which takes account of cultural differences and leverages the diversity present in an international team.
Global marketing presents a tremendous opportunity but is also a challenge. Most world trade either originates-or is purchased-inÂ North America, Europe and the Middle East, and Japan and the Pacific Rim. To succeed in these markets, sales managers and sales teams need to understand how such factors as geography, culture, technology, and legal systems impact on business.
The subtlest of these influences is culture because we each perceive our own culture as normal and are puzzled when we meet unexpected behavior that stems from different cultural standards. By developing cross-cultural awareness we can begin to understand different perspectives, to adapt our own behavior so that we respect local cultures, to suspend judgment of what is normal or better and, using this knowledge, adapt our sales campaigns and business interactions to specific localities and situations instead of assuming that one approach will work everywhere.
Some disadvantages of discussing the cultural differences in a team:
If the conversation of cultural attributes are not held then stereotyping can have intense negative effects, especially when educators or managers make fewer attempts to involve those of other cultures because they have been taught not to expect participation or do not realize there may be something wrong when a student or employee of a different ethnicity makes little eye contact with them.
Sometimes the conversation can also lead to a source of conflict. Sometimes knowing the cultural differences creates conflict among the employees. Strong reasons will be labors legislation and informal arrangements, national management styles, types of labor organization and the character of social movements.
Lastly we can conclude by saying that the discussion of cultural differences is indeed desirable because this way, the employees can know each other better, they can communicate better, they can anticipate potential problems and which results in better management. Just like in FPD the real estate agent from Florida, the marketing expert from France and the sales expert from South Africa can work better once the barriers of cultural differences between them are broken.
Greeting is an act ofÂ communication in which human beings intentionallyÂ make their presence known to each other, to show attention to, and to suggest a type of relationship orÂ social statusÂ between individuals or groups of people coming in contact with each other. While greetingÂ customsÂ are highlyÂ culture and situation specific and may change within a culture depending on social status and relationship, they exist in all known human cultures. Greetings can be expressed both audibly and physically, and often involve a combination of the two.
Greeting rituals in USA:
The hand shake is the common greeting.
Handshakes are firm, brief and confident.
Women tend to hug each other.
Maintain eye contact during the greeting.
In most situations, they can begin calling people by their first names.
Most people will insist that call them by their nickname, if they have one.
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
When meeting people the first time, they will engage in small talk, which includes asking about their trip, where they from and what they do.
Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual.
Greeting rituals in France:
In France, greetings are highly personal and individual.
A general wave of the hand to say hello to everyone when arriving at the office.
Always shake hands when being introduced or when meeting someone, as well as leaving. In general, the woman offers her hand first.
In social settings, with friends, expect to being the touching of cheeks and kissing in the air.
Maintain eye contact during the greeting.
It is a good idea to include any advanced university degree on your business card.
Greeting rituals in South Africa:
Handshakes are the most common greeting.
Wait for a woman to extend her hand first.
Shake hands at the beginning and end of meetings.
It is a good idea to lower your eyes when meeting someone who is older or more senior.
Titles are important. Use the honorific title plus any academic or professional title and the surname.
Wait until invited before moving to a first-name basis. This is not a first name culture, although that may be changing with people under the age of 35.
Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual.
Present and receive business cards with two hands or the right hand, never with the left.
Never write on your business card. If the information has changed, have new cards printed.
Making contact: Another aspect of the initial encounter is the amount of physical space considered necessary to be comfortable. Observations of how people get to know each other, the degree of formality and personal contact preferred, reveal underlying assumptions about what is considered to be public versus private space.
Making contact in USA:
Americans tend to be more open, informal and easy to approach than Europeans or Asians. However, Europeans often complain that relationships with Americans tend to be superficial. While it may be more difficult to get to know a European, the relationship once established is often more enduring.
Making contact in France:
French business behavior emphasizes courtesy and a degree of formality.Â
Creating a wide network of close personal business alliances is very important.Â
If do not speak French, an apology for not knowing their language may aid in developing a relationship.
Appointments are necessary and should be made at least 2 weeks in advance.
Meetings are to discuss issues, not to make decisions.
Making contact in South Africa:
South Africans are transactional and do not need to establish long-standing personal relationships before conducting business.
Networking and relationship building are crucial for long-term business success.
There are major differences in communication styles depending upon the individual's cultural heritage.
Most South Africans, regardless of ethnicity, prefer face to face meetings to more impersonal communication mediums such as email, letter, or telephone.
Dress codeÂ is theÂ unwritten but understood by most members of the societyÂ rules of clothing as an aspect ofÂ human physical appearance. The dress code has built in rules or signals indicating the message being given by a person's clothing and how it is worn. This message may include indications of the person's gender,Â income, occupation andÂ social class, political, ethnic and religious affiliation,Â attitude, fashion, traditions, gender expression, marital status etc.
Dress code in USA:
In USA dress code may also single task orientation.
American business women dress in like man-like business suits, sometimes with running shoes. In addition, corporate dress seems to be color-coded.
Casual Friday is common in many companies. High technology companies often wear casual clothes every day.
For an initial meeting, dressing conservatively is always in good taste.
Women can wear business suits, dresses or pantsuits.
Men can wear a business suit unless you know the firm to be quite casual.
Dress code in France:
Business dress is understated and stylish.
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Men should wear dark-colored, conservative business suits for the initial meeting.
Dress later is largely dependent upon the personality of the company with which is conducting business.
Women should wear either business suits or elegant dresses in soft colors.Â
The French like the finer things in life, so wear good quality accessories.
Dress code in South Africa:
South Africa is a conservative society and it is best to err on the side of caution in terms of dress.
Business attire is becoming more informal in many companies.
For the first meeting, it is best to dress more conservatively.
Men should wear dark colored conservative business suits.
Women should wear elegant business suits or dresses
Power distanceÂ is aÂ cultural index derived byÂ sociologist Greet Hofstede. There are four dimensions of culture identifiedÂ in his study of national work related values. Power distance measures how much aÂ culture hasÂ respect forÂ authority. This also represents inequality, but defined from below, not from above. It suggests that a society's level of inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders.
In a high power distance culture:
It is acceptable for a supervisor to display his authority
Superiors rarely give their subordinates important work
If something goes wrong, the subordinates are usually blamed for not doing their proper job
Managers rarely interact or socialize with workers
Teachers are treated respectfully
Revolutions are, or were, common
Class distinctions are emphasized
In a low power distance culture:
Supervisors are expected to treat employees respectfully
Subordinates may do important work, thus having the opportunity to get promoted quickly
If something goes wrong, the superior or authority figure is usually blamed for having unrealistic expectations or being too strict
Managers socialize and interact with workers more often
Teachers are simply employees and parents are merely people
Totalitarianism and revolutions are rare
Uncertainty avoidance index:
Uncertainty avoidance deals with a society's tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity; it ultimately refers to man's search for Truth. It indicates to what extent a culture programs its members to feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations. Unstructured situations are novel, unknown, surprising, and different from usual. Uncertainty avoiding cultures try to minimize the possibility of such situations by strict laws and rules, safety and security measures, and on the philosophical and religious level by a belief in absolute truth.
Fig: Hofstede's map
(G. Hofstede (1991) cultural and organizations, McGraw-Hill, Maidenhead)
Fig: Emerging cultural profiles.
From the graph we can see that:
USA has a Power distance index score of about 40 and an Uncertainty avoidance index score of about 43. So the orientation in which USA falls is the 'village market' which has a small power distance and which also has a weak uncertainty avoidance which is the best among the four. The characteristics of the village market are:
People as free agents
Coordination through informal
FRANCE has a power distance index score of about 70 and an Uncertainty avoidance index score of about 86. So the orientation in which France falls is the traditional bureaucracy 'pyramid of people' markets which has a large power distance and which also has strong uncertainty avoidance. The characteristics of the traditional bureaucracy 'pyramid of people:
Centralized decision making
Coordination at the top
Strong role of staff
Pyramid of people
Elitist power and authority
SOUTH AFRICA has a power distance index score of about 48 and an Uncertainty avoidance index score of about 48. So the orientation in which SOUTH AFRICA falls is the 'family or tribe' which has a large power distance and which also has weak uncertainty avoidance. The characteristics of the family or tribe:
Strong social versus task roles
Creating a sense of purpose:
In the individual life or organization or in a team each and every spare of life has their needs and aim or purpose to finish a project or achieve a goal. Without setting a proper purpose a team cannot work properly. It will be difficult for the team members to achieve their goal working without setting a purpose. Team members must know what their accomplishments will be. So the team members of Florida Property Developers Company have to create a purpose as well as the purpose will for the company also. When the members can set an ideal purpose and can work according with their purpose they will get the success.
Ordered sequence ofÂ items discussed in a formal meeting. The objectiveÂ Â of an agenda include to familiarizeÂ participants with theÂ Â topics to be discussed and issuesÂ to be raised, indicate whatÂ Â prior knowledge would be expected from the participants, and indicate what outcome the participants may expect from the meeting.
As the team of Florida Property Developers Company is a multicultural company so there needs the consideration of the countries cultural difference in the team when they set their agendas. There are some differences to set their agendas in the team members' countries. It is different for their cultural attitudes. In the USA the employees do not care more about setting agendas. But for the meeting they set agendas. And the agendas information should inform them before meeting. But in the South Africa agendas are very important issues before meeting. The entire member who attends the meeting must have to inform them about the meeting and what is the meeting about. And after concluding the meeting all members have to inform about the final decision. On the other hand in France they also have good consideration on setting agendas. They also like to inform the members before two weeks of the meeting. So the Florida property developers company needs to consider all the issues that are discussed about the three countries about setting their agendas when they set their agendas for meeting.
Assigning roles and responsibilities for the Florida Property Developer Company:
Assigning roles and responsibilities is important for all kinds of organization and team. Without assigning roles and responsibilities a team cannot run the work because if the team members do not know what is their responsibilities in their job. Roles and responsibilities can be implementing by setting a framework.
Â Â Â
Corruption: Giving or obtaining advantage through means which are illegitimate, immoral, and inconsistent with one is duty or the rights of others. Corruption often results from patronage.
Motivate the employee for ethical behavior:
Ethics is about behavior. In the face of dilemma, it is about doing the right thing. Ethical managerial leaders and their people take the right and good path when they come to the ethical choice points.
To stop the practice of corruption organization should follow some steps such as:
Create an ethical environment in the organization.
Making the operating efficiency among the team members.
Creating awareness about morality among the team members.
Make aware the members about the company roles and responsibilities.
Recognizing and encouraging others for their contributions.
Making aware of social responsibilities among the team members.
Cultural differences should be discussed among the team members:
Media: Role of media is very important to discuss among the team members. It inevitably influences different cultures.
To know the legal context about that country made the team is also very important. When an organization is going to perform a business another country it is important to all the legal context of that country to perform properly.
Knowing about the stakeholder behavior for all kind of business is important. In some aspect stakeholder make some control on the business. For the housing business stakeholder play very important role.
Code of conduct:
A code of conduct of a corporation, or any organization for that matter, defines the platform of the acceptable set of behavior within the group. Its main objective is to further promote a higher standard of practice within the organization.
Importance of code of conduct in an organization:
An entity's code of conduct will ordinarily include these sections:
Use of company assets and resources for business and not personal use
Use of telephones, email and the internet
Avoiding actual and potential conflicts of interest
Protecting the company's confidential information
Maintaining complete and accurate accounting records
Investigating and reporting any accounting, auditing and disclosure concerns
Retaining and disposing of records and documents
Prohibiting discrimination and harassment
Prohibiting use of alcohol and illegal drugs
Complying with laws, rules and regulations
Protecting intellectual property and using copyrighted materials
Giving and receiving gifts, meals, services and entertainment
Understanding disciplinary actions for code violations
Reporting concerns and code violations
Rational view of culture:
Systematic step by step method in which hard (quantitative) data obtained through observation or mathematical (statistical) analysis or modeling is used for making long term decisions.
This view of strategy has been generalized, in an organizational sense, to imply that rational strategic planning by top management teams as the main strategists, create the best plans in becoming a leading company within an industry. Therefore the purpose of this essay is to critically analyze the perspective that a rational and formal approach restricted to top management alone as detrimental to the business in the long run. In Hill, Jones, Galvin and Haidar (2007) a strategy is defined as an action that an organization takes to attain one or more of its goals. More precisely it can be defined as an action a company takes to attain superior performance. In traditional strategic planning undertaken by organizations, these involve a number of rational and formal actions. Firstly the process involves the formulation of main mission goals, such as their purpose as an organization and the objectives they wish to achieve in reaching that main goal. This enables the direction and creates a specific pathway for the company to follow. Second, the process involves analyzing both the internal and external operating environment in order to assess the strengths and weaknesses they posses as well as the threats and opportunities that surround the organizations ability for success.
Dynamic view of culture:
Culture as a dynamic system for informing group members of successful memes, and further, as a system for the development and propagation of these memes, all overlapping the individual's perception and execution of personal and social success. Thrown in the mix are the sense it which culture, and the adoption and adherence to cultural norms, can be a process of affinity and organizational recognition and mutual agreement. Again, some degree of experimentation goes on here, more easily online, which is part of the revolution happening in our culture, due to online interactions. And if the experimentations are successful, the practitioners may have increased status, improved confidence, better, new, interaction skills, a new social role, and/or enhanced expectations from those around and the culture may have a new meme to discuss, evaluate, and possibly adopt.
At this moment of time the viewpoint more appropriate for FPD is the dynamic view of culture and strategy. This is because the dynamic view of culture and strategy works as a system for informing group members of successful memes, and furthers, as a system for the development and propagation of these memes, all overlapping the individual's perception and execution of personal and social success whereas the rational or economic view does not always fulfill these attributes.
Finally we can come to a decision that because FPD has within their company agents from three different countries, therefore they must have a complete understanding of the cultural issues that affect their business in various ways. First of all they have to recognize their cultural differences in order to anticipate potential problems and opportunities in a business context. They must also keep an eye on the ethical behavior which will have an effect on the whole process. And finally, FPD must abide by the dynamic view of culture and strategy because it is more suitable for them.
Reference and Bibliography
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Managing across culture, second edition by Susan C. Schneider and Jean-Louis
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