Photo Booth Colombia Business Idea Cultural Studies Essay

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Introduction

The present paper is aimed to explain different cultural concepts through the implementation of a business idea, enabling us to reinforce the knowledge acquired in the intercultural management course, by adapting the product to the national and regional identity and customs.

We will use parallels of both cultures, to show similarities and differences, between the national market and the foreign one, as well as the Hofsted dimension that will be the tool to compare those two nations. The objective is to pursue or reach a business opportunity, from the advantage giving by the cultural difference and similarity, and acquire a better understanding and knowledge of the cultures involve in the transaction, which for this specific case will be the Colombian market and the united states.

Abstract:

This paper work is based on a business idea which propose to import a Photo Booth (photo machine that looks like a cabin), where a single person or a small group of people will be able to take funny pictures of themselves.

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This machine will be bring from United States, and the target country is Colombia, been more specific Medellin city, where we will locate our product, in the two major malls of the city, el Tesoro and Santafe.

Getting more specific towards the target country, Colombia is a multi-ethnic country, with the influence of Spanish, Indians, and African decedents were Medellin city is located in la Vertiente, were the social life was given at church and in the market place; there is homogeneity in the language; used equally by rich and poor people.

The United States culture is often referred as a melting pot, due to the integration of the immigrant's cultures into the American one that created a more homogeneous country. But with the past of the years and the 9/11 the society has turns in a salad bowl. Both countries will enrich their respective cultures if they integrate the foreign values, to their owns and accept that they could learn from the other cultures instead of closing up, to it.

These two cultures have some similarities and differences that could help to understand it better, based on the five dimensions proposed by Geert Hofstede (Power distance, Individualisim, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance and Long-term oriented) and two dimensions of Edward Twitchell Hall (Context and Space)

Other similarity currently shares by both cultures, is the multiculturalism characteristic, that enables the domestic cultures to coexist with different ones within their countries.

Target market

The target country of our business idea will be Colombia, been more specific Medellin city, where we will locate our product, in the two major malls of the city, el Tesoro and Santafe.

Colombia is a multi-ethnic country, with the influence of Spanish, Indians, and African decedents; this due to the colonial conquers, when the withes from Spain arrived, with slaves from Africa. About 58% of the population is mestiza, a mix between withes and Indians. Now the Indians and the Afro-Americans account for the 26% of the total population.

The country counts with three major cultures, la vertiente (Antioquia, Caldas and part of Santander); in which it feels strongly the Europeans ancestress, and it was establish by free settlers, la Costanera (part of the Magdalena river); an African culture mainly with matriarchal system, and altiplanos (Nariño and la Meseta Cundiboyacence) were agricultural tribes were found and were transformed into servants making the social mobility scare.

The country has about 84 Indians communities, who have more than 75 dialects providing the country with diversity in the culture, and at the same time enrich in it. These dialects have been forgotten by the new generations and lost their importance on the national culture. According with the World Bank the total population of the country in 2008 was 45.012.096, making it the third most populated country in the region.

For a closer approximation to the specific city that was chose as the target market within Colombia, we will provide a brief description of the regional culture, Medellin city is located in la Vertiente, were the social life was given at church and in the market place; there is homogeneity in the language; used equally by rich and poor people. Its population of the metropolitan area is about 3.831.000 according with DANE.

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Paisa people, which is how is called the people that lives in Medellin is pretty regionalist, showing a deep root for their city, is a pretty conservative society, that tents to be close mind; As a result paisa people doesn't like changes imposed by the outside, but the ones propose by themselves.

And important factor of the nation, is a predominant civil war, that has lasted for more than fifty years, it is said that none current Colombian generation, has born under a peaceful country. The conflict arise between the Colombian government, and the guerrillas, such as the revolutionary armed forces of Colombia (FARC), the national liberalization army (ELN), and paramilitary groups within others, those groups are responsible of the incrementation of drug traffic and terrorism acts, as kidnapping, and massacres.

Those facts, have influenced the Colombian core values, and even thought the conflict has diminish, the international community has stereotyped the Colombian people as violent and dangerous because of the civil war, thinking that each one of the Colombians are drug dealers.

United States background

The United States is often referred as a melting pot, due to the integration of the immigrant's cultures into the American one that created a more homogeneous country.

The country experienced a high immigration from Mexicans, Asians, and Europeans, this affluence of people make the USA the nation with the highest immigrant population in the entire world.

It is important to say that there is an "Anglo majority that is politically and economically dominant, and that one of defining characteristics of the country as a nation, is its legacy of slavery and the persistence of economic and social inequalities based on race." [i] 

As Colombia, the United States is subdivided in different cultures according with the geographical location; the eastern part of the country is more populated, and highly urbanized, with big metropolis as New York and Boston within others.

the Midwest is both industrial and rural at the same time, and is where most of the corn fields are located, making this area a more family farm oriented, the western is highly influence by the Hispanic, European and native cultures, this region accounts for the 26% on Hispanic immigrants, due to the Mexican background of some of the estates, that belong to this region. The south was shaped by a civil war, in a framework of the struggles and battles to achieve civil rights for the African Americans, and it also has a strong slavery history.

One of the more representatives values in the USA culture is the freedom and the belief in equal opportunity for everybody, which translate in economic mobility, however this mobility in almost all the cases is very restricted, and the gap between poor and rich is getting higher.

Similarities and differences :

The tool implemented to conduct the analysis will be base in the 5 dimensions of Geert Hofsted, To provide a better description of the differences and similarities between Colombia and the United States.

http://www.geert-hofstede.com/graphs/5dgraph.php?c1=Colombia&pdi1=67&idv1=13&mas1=64&uai1=80&ltp1=0&c2=United+States&pdi2=40&idv2=91&mas2=62&uai2=46&ltp2=29

Chart : taking from http://www.geerthofstede.com/hofstede_dimensions.php?culture1=19&culture2=95#compare on October 28

The first dimension that Hofsted proposed is Power Distance (PDI); in this dimension the world average is 55. Colombia ranks 64, which shows a big level of inequity between the society in the aspects of power and wealth, being one of the major sources of the conflict in this nations, in the other hand the United States ranks 40 which shows a great level of equity between the society as well as government, family and organizations, giving a better social structure within the nation, this first dimension show a big difference between these two countries.

In the is Individualism dimension (IDV) Colombia presented a lower rank than the United States, the figures are 13 and 91 respectively, showing to a huge gap between both countries; the first one is culture mentioned, represent a society that care about the others, make commitments and take responsibilities with and within the different members of their group, those are typical characteristics of Collectivism societies. In the opposite side the United States has one of the biggest rank with other countries like Italy, Canada, Netherlands, Australia and the United Kingdom which indicates a society with individualistic action toward the other, they prefer to give benefits to their closet family and looking for their own goals.

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In the dimension of Masculinity (MAS) booth countries have a big rank, Colombia with 64 and the United States with 62, showing us that these 2 nations have a masculinity society were the male gender has a dominant role within the society despite this Colombia has a lot of aspects of a Feminism society because as the Individualism dimension proposed they have a big concern for the others, have a closer relationship with their family and their values plays a big role in their daily life, as a result this dimension could have an ambiguity within the Hofsted dimension.

In Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) Colombia has a big rank of 80, and the United States a rank of 46, this prove that the Colombian society do not like the big changes and have a low level for the uncertainty, for this reason the nations have a lot of rules, laws, policies and different regulations so they could feel safety, this dimensions could be in response of the civil war that has brought fear of the unknown and a constant search for safety within the society. The United States has a lower rank according to Hofsted but after the 9/11 this rank change increasing their rank, now the society is afraid of the outside world, increasing the rules, laws and the regulations in order to prevent another attack that could change their society.

In the last dimension of Hofsted, Long Term Oriented (LTO) Colombia can be located with a Long Term Oriented and the United States with a Short Term Oriented, this is reflected in the commitments that booth societies makes within the members of each group and the short or long relationships that they are looking whit their own society and with the societies around the world.

Another dimensions that could help to understand better this two cultures, could be two of the three dimensions proposed by Edward Twitchell Hall.

In the Space dimension is a big difference between this two cultures, for the Colombian society the space within them is close this is also related with the collectivist society that they have and with the closer relationship between the members of the different society groups but in the other hand the society of the United States need their own space, this could be related with the increasing Uncertainty Avoidance that they have develop since the 9/11 being more territorial that they used to be.

Another dimension that could be helpful is Context the United States cultures is a Low-context this means that they need a lot of explanation this give less opportunities for misunderstanding within their culture, this could be related whit the increasing rules, laws and policies so everything will be explain in order to reduce the gap of freedom of the unknown that could affect them. For the Colombian society which has a big level of socialization their culture is High-context despite the big amount of rules many things do not need to be said or write because the constant communication and interaction between the society

Other similarity currently shares by both cultures, is the multiculturalism characteristic, that enables the domestic cultures to coexist with different ones within their countries.

This has resulted into a society that turns more towards a salad bowl than to a melting pots; in the past the united states could be classify as a melting pot, but nowadays this concept doesn't apply to the current American society. Both countries will enrich their respective cultures if they integrate the foreign values, to their owns and accept that they could learn from the other cultures instead of closing up, to it.

Business idea:

The concept that is going to be develop as a business, is bringing a photo machine, that look like a cabin, where a single person or a small group of people will be able to take funny pictures of themselves, providing them with different backgrounds, themes, and decoration, to create a memorable picture. The pictures will be reproducing in strips that come in one line of 4 pictures or two columns with a line of 3 pictures; and can be printed in color, black and white or sepia. The machine gives the costumer two copies of the pictures, and allows them to personalize it, according with their desires and needs; enabling an interaction among the machine and the costumers.

The machine has a coin and bill acceptors, and the printing time takes about 1 minute, the interest person or group get into the cabin, insert the money in the acceptors, then they will choose the theme and decoration of the pictures, when they are satisfy with it, they will proceed to sit down or accommodate as they want to take the picture, in the monitor they will be able to see their faces and poses, once they are ready, they will push a bottom, and the picture will be taken. They have to fulfill the process 4 times, if they want to get 4 pictures line stripes; in case they choose the two columns, with a line of three pictures each one, they will have to do the process 6 times to, take the 6 pictures.

The different cabins will be located in high traffic places of the city of Medellin, as in this case two well recognize malls, el Tesoro and Santafe, mainly because mall are frequent visit by teenagers that will be our major clients.

The photo booth, was invented by a Siberian immigrant in 1925, called Anatol Josepho, and it big boom was during the world war two , because of the exchange of photos at that time was occurring , mainly soldiers that were going to war with their sweethearts, in order to have a memories of their love ones.

The photography has always play an important role in the American culture by telling the history, and as a way to preserve memorable situations and moments the Native American actually use the photography as a way to keep Their cultural heritage alive, "some modern native Americans artist cited photography as the medium with which they hope to carry their culture into the twenty-first century" [ii] . This show us a little bit of the importance of photos in the United States culture.

The photo booth can represent and show us the importance of friendship among Americans, with phrases as friends for ever, best friends within others, which are printed in the photo booth stripes; it is also notable that most of the people that use these cabins are looking for preserving a memory with a friend or a love one.

In order to adapt better the product to the Colombian market we will make some changes, as making the photo booth cabin a bigger one, in order to allow more people in. taking the fact that Colombia is a collectivist society, so probably more than two people will want to be part of the picture, usually teens hang out in groups of four or five so that will be our base for the cabin expansion, to fit 5 people.

Another change that we will implement is the option of printing more than 2 copies of the pictures; the photo booth will allow printing as many copies as the clients' desire, charging for each one of the copies the same amount of the original ones.

The product can adapt well to Colombian market, because the value of friendship in the target market is pretty reinforce as well as in the United States, teen likes for the American products and culture will also play in our favor. And the fact of having a different experience that could be share with friends and family or may be a boyfriend or a girlfriend will be attractive.

Conclusions:

Both nations could enrich their own culture if they were tolerant towards the foreign values and traditions, learning from the other cultures by having an open mind instead of closing up to them.

Despite of being two cultures with so many different in their culture and with a cultural background influenced by different nations, the concept of a closer friendship formed in the United States can be implemented in Colombia for being a collectivist society which is characterized by strong relationships with family and friends.

The dimensions proposed by Geert Hofstede many years ago, although it has a lot of ambiguity in many aspects due to the transformation of the different cultures studied by Hofstedes, these dimensions are still a good source for different studies before entering to a new culture with a business idea, in order to prevent many mistakes, misunderstanding and bad cross-switching attitudes.