One of the most significant current discussions in the vast area of business refers to the difficulties of establishing a stable trade in a wide range of countries, knowing the need to internationalize from companies. In fact, it appears that a great recent deal, in this global context, could be to fully understand the implications of cultural differences on the business and the consequences on the managing process in 'foreign' countries. That's the reason why an explanation of the keyword culture is expected so far. While a variety of definitions of the term culture have been suggested, this paper will use the definition first suggested by Max Weber, the famous German sociologist and political economist to the end of nineteenth century, who saw culture trough the innovative idea of status group as a certain type of subculture. Moreover, status groups are based on things such as: race, ethnicity, religion, region, occupation, gender, sexual preference, etc. These groups live a certain lifestyle based on different values and norms. They are a culture within a culture; hence the label subculture.1 Likewise, over the last decades, culture has been sawn as sub-national or regional, national and supranational. The different scales lead us notably to diverse problems. This essay critically examines, in one hand, which cultural factors may affect the internalization of firms before to focus on the case of a specific country, in the other hand.
Firstly, each country distinguishes from others by the specific elements composing its culture. It could be interested to investigate on this system of values and norms, component of a society, which obliged firms to develop specifically skills and to adapt its strategy. More precisely, norms can be divided into two types: folkways and mores. Indeed, in everyday life, it can be seen that many formal or informal conventions named Folkways or a several number of rules guided the social life known as mores, are articulated the whole society. For example of a Folkways, as mentioned in Hill's book2, in western culture, businesspeople are especially aware of the time they are spending to meet or to discuss with a collaborator and try to manage it, depending their schedule. In opposite, in Arab, Latin and Mediterranean cultures, businesspeople are more flexible and inclined to establish a relationship than to mind taking care of time, as it is underlying by the famous saying 'time is money'. So, now, after having defined what folkways and mores are, it appears interested to have regards to the determinants of the culture and the interactions which are resulting from. Therefore, at this level, four big categories could be pointed out. The first one is the social structure. Considered as the basic social organization, the social structure is planned around a number of several dimensions, divided mainly into two parts: The relationship between people in the society (individualism versus communitarianism/neutral versus emotionalâ€¦) and the social stratification (classes versus castes).3
In relation to the first point, Alfons Trompenaars and Charles Turner's cross-country analysis (1994)Â showedÂ that a classification of the main differences of managing a business between an individualistic society and a community could be done. In fact, according to this survey, 39% of Japanese and 41% of French are responding opting for individual freedom, meaning that respectively 61% and 59% are replying that they are more group oriented. In opposite, 69% of Americans and 89% of Israelis are retorting they are rather individualist as interested in group! Due to these variances inter-country, it is arguable that the way of managing has to be also different. That's the reason why, some practical tips for doing business in individualist and communitarian cultures are advised in Trompenaars and Turner's book. For example, imagine a manager in an individualist Region/Country/Thinking area and one in a communitarian culture. The individualistic one, working in a region (New York City area), in a country (The United States) or in a thinking area (North America) will try to adjust individual needs to organizational needs; introduce methods of individual incentives like pay-of-performance, individual assessment; expect job turnover and mobility to be high; give people the freedom to take individual initiatives; make a quick deal during negotiations; let people achieve alone and assume personal responsibility. Whereas, concerning the manager working in a region (Corse island in France for example), in a country (England from the nineteenth century) or in a thinking area (Arabic world) more collective, the leader will develop completely different skills as he will seek to integrate personality with authority within the group; give attention to esprit de corps, morale and cohesiveness; have low job turnover and mobility; hold up superordinate goals for all to meet; build lasting relationships before to conclude an agreement; let people achieve in groups which assume joint responsibility.4 Also in Riding the waves of culture- Understanding cultural diversity in business, Trompenaars and Turner's survey, another general and main factor in the way a businessman have to run his firm or at a different scale, his department, is to take into account the neutrality or the expression of feelings. In this particular case, it could be judicious to draw a parallel with the previous situation. On the first hand, a manager employed in a region (KantÅ in Japan), a country (Ethiopia) or a thinking area (North America or north-west Europe) with commonly very neutral feelings. And on the other hand, a manager, working in a region (Tahiti), a country (Kuwait) or a thinking area (Arabian Peninsula or South America) where temperaments are generally more expressive. It could be interested to note that all these places aren't choosing by chance but are following the Trompenaars and Turner's study.5Indeed, concerning practical tips for doing business in neutral and affective cultures, the first manager who's neutral, will, for example, not reveal what he is feeling; make known (accidentally) his tension in face and posture; lack of emotional tone which doesn't mean he is disinterested or bored; avoid warm, expressive or enthusiastic behaviours which are standing for a lack of self-control incompatible with high status. In contrast with the communicative manager who will reveal thoughts and feelings verbally and non-verbally; be transparency and expressiveness; show his enthusiasm, willingness to agree or vehement to disagree as it is not meaning that he has made up his mind; avoid to be detached or ambiguous as it could be interpreted as a dislike or a social distance.6 Finally, It could be conclude that a number of several differences exists intra-country, inter-country and inter-supranational area in the way of running a business. Not to mention, that Trompenaars and Turner target still 5 other dimensions of the word culture related to relationships upon people: Universalism versus particularism; Specific versus diffuse; Achievement versus ascription; Attitudes toward times; Attitudes toward environment.
Let's turn to the point regarding the social stratification. To cut a long story short, the social stratification refers to the hierarchical division of the society into a several number of categories also named strata. In fact, through Weber's view, each group is in competition with the others without necessary being in conflict. That's the reason why there is not central conflict upon categories. And sometimes, a class can replace the group/category when a class consciousness is the rule. Not to mention that a class system is a quiet open structure of stratification. This permits, in the vast majority of western countries, for example, to be born in the lowest class and to go up, thanks to the social elevator in opposite to the fixed caste system of India. Thus, it appears that the implications in term of international business are fundamental, as running a business in France, for example, suggests that the manager must be aware that the French society is relatively more rigid than the American one. To illustrate my point, it could be interested to take the example of the American Caterpillar, the world's leading manufacturer of construction which knew a hostage-taking of its executive chiefs the 1st April 2009, in Grenoble (France). Moreover, this case is standing for a regular dispute in France between business runner from 'foreign' companies and workers. 7
Now, after explaining some technical words of the sociologic field, a great focus could be realized on some other determinants of a culture. Knowing the importance of the political and economic philosophies to the culture (South America culture is generally considered as revolutionary because of its politic philosophy directly inspired from Ernesto "Che" Guevara way of thinking/ The United States Culture refers commonly to the self-made man or to the golden boy myth because of the high degree of mobility between classes which is part of the economic philosophy), it seems to be interested to stress the role of religion as part of the concept of culture. Indeed, a religion, as a set of shared beliefs and rites and as a way to gather many people, may have consequences in terms of globalization. Let's turn to the a great example concerning Islam and Judaism.10 p.49 It is commonly admitted that about 1.57 billion Muslims and 13 million Jews are living worldwide.10 wiki This is standing for a potentially market of one quarter of all world population. What is their common belief? A strict religion diet which doesn't allowed people to eat pork. And this difficulty has been faced for ages by the world famous seller of gummy bear-candies named HARIBO AG. And that's because the company introduced the pork as an essential component of its candies, permitting to these lasts to be sticky. That's the reason why, HARIBO AG planned a four-year mission to developed kosher candies (for Jews) and halal candies (for Muslims). Finally, this adaptation to differences in religion beliefs authorizes HARIBO AG to dream about $2billion â€¦annually! At a final point, it seems to be obligated to deal with the issue of the language. Through that, it could be understand the spoken language and the body language (gestures,...). In fact, it is important to adapt the supranational business main language, English, to national or subnational language. It permits notably to conclude agreements faster, thus to have better business relationships and also to avoid some mistakes of translation as General Motors did. Its car named Chevrolet Nova translated into Spanish "no va" means "it doesn't go". Afterwards, General Motor changed the name into "Caribe". Not to mention that education is part of the culture, as the concept of school style could find different applications between USA and Germany, for example.
After having shown the general factors impacting the culture on different scales (subnational, national, supranational), the essay needs now to focus on the specific case of Nigeria in order to face a concrete situation. For lack of general knowledge on this African country, it could be interested to focus first on a general description of Nigeria, to fully understand the modern issues before to analyze, with precision, the key cultural factors which will influence a "foreign" company to establish itself and operate in that particular environment.
Firstly, Nigeria, as a federal constitutional republic, is a country of 158.259.00011 residents and covers a total area of 433.8 square miles. The capital is Abuja and the largest city, also the business centre is well-known under the name of Lagos. In addition, the West African country is surrounded by Benin, Chad and Cameroon in West, by Niger in East and by the Atlantic Ocean in the south. More precisely, in demographics terms, Nigeria is divided into more than 250 Tribal groups (Managing cultural differences) including three main groups: Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. These latest accounted also for recognised languages in which could be add the Kanuri tongue, a Saharan dialect. Not to mention that the official language is English as a consequence of the British colonization that ended in 1960. Similarly, the issue of religion appears also as really complex. In fact, according to a World Religious Survey (WIKIPEDIA), Nigerian society is composed of 60.4% of Muslim, 15% Protestant, 13.7% Catholic, and 19.6% other Christian, and 1.4% are believer from other religions. This diversity of religions is very important to be noted in view of the need to develop cross-cultural literacy. In addition, the number of students has been up to over 14 million which finds it causes in a high increase of literacy. Finally, in terms of economics, Nigeria is one of the top growths worldwide. Indeed, as reported by the IMF, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) per capita stands for $2,357.83 in 201012 and the HDI (Human Development Indicator) ranked Nigeria at the 158th place with 0.51113. And as the 7th global Oil exporter, the third African's economy is leading the whole continent. Now, after briefly introducing the main elements of Nigerian situation, it could be judicious to highlight the different key factors of Nigerian culture.
As regards as the Nigerian culture, a wide range of elements, from the social structure to the business tips, could clearly explain what the cultural specificities of this West African country are. Firstly, the social structure is here dominated by the family. It can be also seen that the social stratification of Nigeria depends on the regions. In fact, in Northern, rank is more important than it is in the south. In the east, it appears that people are more egalitarian than in the west, where individuals are referring to a certain aristocracy. Also, as a group oriented society, three kinds of business could be distinguished. The first one, the old family business tradition which does not share any information because it is liken to a loss of competitive advantages against competitors. The second type of business refers to Muslims outlooks (risk aversion, traditionalism,..). And the third one which stands for all new businesses as result of an important wave of young US-trained managers (Managing cultural differences). Therefore, a 'foreign' corporate has to pay attention to fully respect all these regional actors. And on account of a several number of tribes existing nationwide (each one having it own subculture), it could be easily argued that these tribes are impacting the approach of doing business. To illustrate this point, it seems judicious to raise the case of Shell. According to Uwem15, after two failed attempts (the CSR program in the sixties and the CD program in 1998) to provide help for the host communities near Shell exploration, the petroleum MNC decided to remove it previous behaviour through the born of the SCD (Sustainable Communities Development) program in 2004. In this way, SCD includes any activity necessary to provide communities with enough help to control their own economic progress and quality of life, giving them now for the first time sole responsibility for their own well being, moreover including the environmental issue. In parallel, Shell supports also each Nigerian having entrepreneurial projects by allowing micro credits. In a nutshell, Shell's strategy in Nigeria aims to obtain communities enough confidence to avoid protesters against it different exploitation projects and thus, to be criticized. As in 1993, in the Ogoni region where 2000 people were killed 17. The petroleum MNC tries here to establish a national strategy in link with corporate social responsibility and stakeholder management, taking into account the various numbers of communities around the Niger delta, as is it suggested by Boele, Fabig and Wheeler's survey in 2001. 16
An additional idea could analyze diverse tips to do Business in Nigeria. In fact, the role of a manager working in Nigeria is, for example, to take a somewhat kind of paternalistic behaviour to their employees. Also, it is strongly recommended to 'foreign' managers to demonstrate concern to their employees in targeting to stay purely in a professional context.14 As regards the approach of time which is seen as simply unlimited for Nigerian. In consequence, punctuality could not be considered as a great folkway of Nigerian culture. Additionally, deadlines and timescales are very flexible. Now, in relation to the decision making, a vertical division inside enterprises is commonly spreading. It means that a single manager is nominated and then, their subalterns are expecting to show him respect. However, it appears, as underlined by Haris and Moran's investigations (managing...), that in the case of a "fast-tracked" young Nigerian manager who's giving orders to an older employee, the status makes no really odds because the respect of elder is an important issue in Nigerian culture. Also, as a group oriented society, Nigerians are actually inclined to work in team to develop a big synergy. Finally, on the question of the negotiations, a 'foreign' manager has to learn patience. It is relatively significant to be surrounded by old businesspeople as the age is indicative of wisdom.18Not to mention that the final decision rests to the CEO and that having governmental supports is very protective. That is rising, notably, the issue of corruption, in other words, the level of proximity between political power and business and the possibility to introduce it into the concept of Nigerian culture. As the case of Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) in 1998 is showing us, corruption is still endemic into Nigerian society.20 Furthermore, in Nigeria, all levels of government are hitting, ranking thus Nigeria at the 64th place in the 2009 Global Integrity report.21Indeed, after focusing on the key cultural factors which could influence a 'foreign' company to establish itself and to operate it Nigeria, a great deal could be to summarize all these elements in order to make recommendations.
Definitely, it could be concluded that political or economical philosophies as well as the social structure, religion, language or education are the main determinants of a culture. In fact, a several number of folkways or more articulates societies and necessitates the 'foreign' manager, through the company, to be aware and very adaptive of these elements. Also, the last but not the least components of the concept of culture may be the importance of the relationships into the society (individualistic or collective type of society) and besides the social stratification (society divided into classes or castes). Indeed, the implications in terms of international business are undeniable and various, suggesting notably the progress of cross-cultural literacy/preparation/training.22Concretely, as reported by Simon Price23: "Recent economic pressures have persuaded many companies that attending to the emotional well-being of expats and their spouse in a new culture is a costly "soft option", regardless of the substantial medium and long-term dividends associated with cultural awareness training and assimilation help," underlying that the cross-border behaviour is a current big issue, particularly in our globalized context. Not to mention, that relations between culture and competitive advantage or links between culture and ethics in the decision which are taken; also appeared as numerous implications for international business as the system of value and norms could stand for a cost for the company and the cost as an influence of the establishment of a company.24More precisely, the case of Nigeria is very atypical. To conduct a business there, the 'foreign' company has to be aware of the weight and the diversity of Tribal groups. In fact, as each group as it own language and system of codes, it could be, finally, very difficult for an outsider to enter the Nigerian market. In addition, . At this point, some recommendations could identify the cultural factors which are going to be of particular significance in Nigeria, and some strategies could point out to minimize the particular cultural 'risks' and enhanced the level of success, in the one of the wealthiest African country.