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This country report is to analysis the differences of cultural dimensions present in Singapore by providing and evaluating the facts. This report also highlights the concept of the Hofstede`s model and Trompenaar`s value based model as well ass how these concepts fit into the prospect of new company. At the end of this report the recommendations will be given in order to help organization to address and customize its strategy for the host country.
Singapore located at the crossroad of the world; the country is situated to be the cultural hub in the region. Company entering into Singapore may experience massive cultural shock due to the complexity of Singapore culture, hence organization enters Singapore have both positive and negative impacts. (Contact Singapore, 2012)
This report will more focus on applying the Trompenaar`s seven cultural dimensions to analysis the Singapore culture. Trompenaar discusses the cultural dimension in seven terms, namely:
Universalism vs. particularism
Individualism vs. collectivism
Neutral vs. emotional
Specific vs. diffuse
Achievement vs. ascription
Sequential vs. synchronic
Internal vs. external control
Each of these values provide a direction when analyzing the Singapore`s culture and how these values affect Singaporean`s behaviors and values.
Xiaomi as a Chinese cell-phone company and new entrant of the offshore market, the management of Xiaomi expects to build up procedures of evaluating the host country`s cultural profile and gain knowledge through building the country report.
With much terrorism surrounding developed countries such USA, England and Spain etcâ€¦. Finding a country with stable politics, environment and economics to expand the company`s operation has become a challenge. Singapore, located at the central of Asia, had created the ideal environment for investment, unlink many other developed country such as USA, England, Singapore`s culture has its own characteristic and complexities. Entering Singapore without doing any research will suffer massive culture shock, however with proper analysis of Singapore unique culture will help the company achieves success.
3. Background Information
Singapore is an island country, which is located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula Singapore's history is denoted in many travellers' accounts and historic records, as early as the 13th century. Malay archives record Singapore's original name as Temasek. Even then, the island was noted as a port of some significance (Singapore promise, 2011). Singapore is one of the richest countries in Asia, which is important in financial, service and shipping center.
In 1832, Singapore became the Straits settlement of Penang of government centre. When Suez Canl opened in 1869, it increased more trade. In 1860, the population of the country had increased from 150 to 80792, comprising mainly Chinese, Indians and Malays.(Singapore Tourism Board, 2012)
After the second war, Singapore became a British colony. In 1959, the growth of nationalism led to autonomy, the people's action party won 43 seats, and so Lee Guangyao won Singapore's first prime minister. Singapore failed to join Malaysia and it became an independent republic in 1965.
There are many different races of people in Singapore. The Malays make Singapore become more colorful. The early Arab merchants affected them who converted to Islam. They have a strong unity of nationality and they like to help other people. The Indians play the role of labor and they participate in various construction projects. They also keep its characteristics on art, religion and food. It shows the diversity of Singapore culture. There are other kinds of people in Singapore such as a few Arab, Armenians and Jewish. They play a very important role in Singapore's history.
b. Religion and worship
Singapore has varies religion because of Singapore's multi-ethnic and different religion has different religious buildings. Singapore's main religion is Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Zoroastrianism.
Buddhism and Taoism
Early Chinese immigrants like other races of immigrants, brought their religious beliefs and customs. Most of people are Buddhist in Singapore, which belongs to the Mahayana, followed by Theravada and Vajrayana.
HinduismÂ Â Â
It is the oldest religion in the world. The most popular manifestations of God worshipped in Singapore are Ganesha, Rama, Krishna, Murgan, Hanuman, Durga, Mariamman, Lakshmi (Rekha Guruswamy. 2013). India temple becomes the focus of many festival and celebration.
The Armenian church, which is one of the oldest Christian church in Singapore in 1835. You can also find other church in Singapore. The national council protects most of Christian churches. There are about 18.3 percentage Christian people in Singapore.
Sixteen percentage of Singapore's population is Muslim, which has high authority in Singapore. Muslims Masjid Sultan is one of the oldest mosques in Singapore.Â (Rekha Guruswamy. 2013). Malays, Indonesians, Bangladeshi, Pakistanis and other foreign groups believe in Islam. There are about 400,000 people in Singapore who are Muslims, accounting for eighteen percentage of the population.Â
"Face" in Chinese refers the attribution of admiration by other on to oneself; many other languages have equivalent words assigned to this specific term, "prestige, honor, reputation".
Singapore as a country that has the majority of Chinese especially cares about their "face". Michael Harris Bond from Hong Kong University observed that, Chinese culture has many plethora relationship politics, having face is this most important thing in their life. The "having face" sense of feeling is depends on the individual`s sensitivity to insult, eagerness to associate with the rich and fame, lavish gift-giving and the sedulous avoidance of criticism etcâ€¦ (Bond, M. 1991)
Not only Chines cares their "face", other races stay in Singapore have also adopted this sociological concept. There are many example of "having face", in selecting of cars, within the high charge of COE (certification of equity), still many Singapore tend to buy cars to represent their social status.
d. Background of Xiaomi
Xiaomi is a mobile Internet company founded by former talent engineers of Google, Microsoft, Kingsoft on April 2010. The company focuses on the research and development of high-end smartphones. In the end of 2010, Xiaomi established group messaging app Miliao and the registered members break through three million in the following six month. In addition, the company developed MIUI which is a custom firm based on Android. However, Xiaomi's success is on the combination of short supply and high-quality, low-priced products. For example, Mi phone has similar appearance in size and weight to other smart phone brands Samsung Galaxy and iPhone, but it costs 50 percent less than others in the Chinese market. The model also has better graphic performance and quad-core CPU to supply Mi phone. (Xiaomi, 2010)
a. Social Etiquette
Because Singapore government pays attention on protecting traditional of all ethnic groups, manners and customs also shows the characteristics of diversification. For example, Chinese people like to shake hands and bow, while Malaysia people like to use national tradition of "touch one's hands"
In hospitality, Singaporean want to meet customers with a smile and polite. For Singaporean, they must treat people with courtesy and have a good manner. It is not only everyone should have the basic training, but also a basic code of conduct of society. There is some limitation for disrespectful. For example, in many public places, you can't eat gum in Singapore and you can't eat or drink on bus or MRT.
b. Relationships in business
Whether you realize or not, relationships are the fuel that feeds the success of your business. In order to build better business relationships, an open honest relationships demands clear communications of how each party is performing. In other words, encourage evaluation and be honest can help firm perform better. In addition, taking notes is also necessary on everyone you meet. Because you will want to be able some keywords during the conversation and concentrate what your client talking about. Take time to learn about their business since it is as important to them as your business to you. With good understanding of your client, business will go to work successively. And be proactive and real by using your knowledge of your relationships, like get ready for all the information about your business partner and do not be afraid to be vulnerable. Sometimes it is good to send an actual physical letter or card of appreciation as opposed to an e-mail during the holidays. It could make relationships longer. Finally, invite your contacts to an event that you would both enjoy. You will naturally deepen the relationship and get to know each other better. You could also make plans to catch up at or join someone at a networking event. For some people, networking events are challenges and having at least one friendly face there can give them the confidence to network better. Plus, you will strengthen the relationship.
Singapore is pretty much international country so that we can be at ease in public area. Littering and spitting would be punished if caught and you would be fined up to S$1,000 for smoking in prohibited areas. Smoking is not allowed in all public area, for example, transportation; all air conditioned places, and restaurants, including food court. Only a handful of establishments have a small smoking section at their outdoor area. Singaporean normally have good attitude and they are very courteous especially the person to travel to their city.When you have any difficulty during the journey, you can ask Singaporean for help, they would be very enthusiastic help you.
Since Singapore has such a diverse ethnic mix, it has adopted these four languages- Malay, Chinese, English and Tamil as its national language. For all business and political purposes English is the preferred language because of its worldwide usage and its importance in the international business community. All Singaporean schools must teach in the English medium. Overall the English speaking ability among Singaporeans is quite good thus encouraging a good business environment and heavy investments in the service industry sectors.
In Singapore, shaking hands is accepted but not necessary. You would typically exchange your greetings then provide your name card. If in doubt, wait until your counterpart offers his or her hand first (Dor Jesscia, 2007). Eye contact is usually brief and longer stares are to be avoided as a rule of thumb. Please remember do not use your left hand for greeting or eating with a Malay, Indonesian, or Indian person because for them, the hand traditionally used for toiletry purposes. Refrain from kissing or touching the opposite sex because some communities might be unhappy (Cross cultural in Singapore, 2012). Many Singaporeans rely on facial expression, voice and posture to tell them what some people feels. In Singapore, Silence is an important factor of communication and pausing before responding to a question means that they have given the question careful thought and consideration. Therefore, Singapore is considered to be more 'Neutral' in Trompenaar's culture. Foreign company representatives should receive training to practice their inference and interpretation skills so that it can help them in researching the hidden meanings behind the gestures and nonverbal. This would greatly increase their chance of business deal in Singapore.
e. Business Meeting Etiquette in Singapore
People who are doing business tend to be cautious in Singapore. They need to make sure that they are doing business with the right person and get the best deal. Therefore it needs to take things slowly and clearly. They will spend some time to establish a good relationship with the other parties, and demonstrating their capabilities.
If you are doing business with Singaporeans, you should make sure you are polite and professional at all time. Therefore you should try not to be so direct in asking question and giving the answer. The most important is you cannot lose your temper. Try to always speak in gentle and remain calm when you under the great pressure. That will let you get more respect. Then it is easy to deal with the business.
The meeting should be made at least 2 weeks in advance. Try to use the most formal way to make an appointment. Singaporeans usually schedule an appointment by fax, e-mail and telephone.
Punctuality is a virtue for the Singaporeans. You should arrive on time at meeting.
During the meeting you need to be accompanied by including charts, backup material and figures. Finally pay attention to non-verbal communication, such as a smile when the end of presentation.
Singaporeans emphasize the long-term orientation in the society and business. In the meeting, the other parties can think the business as a long-term relationship. Therefore you should provide more conditions or privileges for the future. For example, Xiaomi should demonstrate great determination in Singapore, to let others see its persistence, saving and capacity for adaptation.
f. Business Negotiation in Singapore
Singapore is a high 'power-distance' society. Due to the centralized power structure in Singapore culture, the top managers will have the rights to make decision; therefore it is necessary to know who they are negotiating with. In high power distance countries, the individual with less power will have to accept power relations which are more autocratic and paternalistic in management style. Based on where the subordinates are situated, they admit the power of others in certain formal, hierarchical positions. (Geert, 1984) in order to convince in this high-power distance culture, negotiators may negotiate with them in two ways:
Firstly, 'face' is an important thing that it will influence the deal. Both sides need to remain friendly during the negotiation, because of the having 'face' culture. It can avoid many unnecessary conflicts throughout the negotiation. Therefore the culture will facilitate a win-win outcome since this is the best approach for both parties to maintain the relationship during the negotiation.
Secondly, the sharing of information is the essential part. Negotiator will spend a lot of time to collect information and discuss different details before and after the negotiation; sometime it will be many weeks or even months. Therefore the information of sharing can be the approach in building a relationship and trust. Such as send a list of members who join the negotiation and the title to other party. And send some information in advance.
Finally Singaporeans utterly detest corruption and bribery. It is the lowest corruption rate in any Asian country. And bribery is illegal and it will get harshly punishment. The way of giving gift of significant value and making offers will be see as bribery. Therefore you cannot use corruption and bribery to win the business or negotiation.
Singapore has a complex cultural environment; therefore for young player in the world market, Xiaomi has to carefully evaluate Singapore`s culture from all aspects to cater to avoid certain cultural clash. In external environment, company has to follow certain cultural rule in order to survive in the culture shock. In internal environment, the company has to be careful in managing its employee to meet their expectation and avoid the cultural clash.
In order to synergize outcomes and avoid conflict, the management is advised to implement following:
Do not underestimate nor overlook culture
Culture is one of the most underestimate parts in the consideration of multinational business operation, yet it is an important factor in determine the business`s success or failure. Cultural behaviors will affect the usage of the cellphone, therefore when Xiaomi entering the Singapore market, the management should conduct a multi-cultural training program in order to understand the Singapore culture and achieve a good atmosphere in the organization.
When in Rome, do as Romans do
Regarding to local social norms for Islamic women such as non-exposure of skin or wearing shape defining clothes, it would be beneficial if the company has a dedicate rule that allows them to wear cultural clothing to work. Successful adhere of local social norms will increase the employee`s loyalty and motivate them to maximize their potential capability. Social etiquette such as gift-giving to make people feel "having-face" will demonstrates the company`s dedication and sincerity in potential business dealings. Since many Singaporean are oriented to be "ascription", a reward standard according the employee`s seniority needs to be adopted.