Cultural Misunderstanding during International Business

Topics: Cross-cultural communication, Nonverbal communication, Culture Pages: 3 (834 words) Published: March 16, 2006
Nowadays, with the development of modern technology, the world tends to be a global village. It is quite convenient to contact people from other countries by telephone, fax or on the internet. Therefore, firms get more opportunities to sell their products overseas. However, as we all know, different countries have their own unique cultures. Hofstede who is a pioneer of comparative intercultural research describes culture as "the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one category of people from another" (Henk, Joseph Soeters and Peter Ester 2004,34). Owing to diverse company management, languages as well as customs, cultural conflict will arise from communication between people of different cultural backgrounds. This essay tries to present the main elements of cultural misunderstanding during cross cultural business and then find some effective ways to avoid or mitigate those problems.

Different cultures make the world diversified. However, unfortunately, it also causes some negative effects on international business, which can lead to misunderstanding, confusion even anger. It usually appears in following aspects:

1). Misunderstandings based on power distance: According to Gallois and Callan(1997,28 ), "the distance" between a manager and subordinate can be considered as to extent to which employees can agree with their bosses or managers. It has two different styles: high distance and low distance. High power distance culture is usually found in some oriental countries, especially in Japan, Korea and China. Superiors seem to be entitled to more privileges. They are the centre of the whole company, their status (based on age, experience, or position) gives them the right to tell others what to do, and subordinates always esteem the managers. On the other hand, in western countries, an employee can have different opinions to his/her boss and can discuss problems with their manager face-to-face. Actually, deference of power in...

References: Gallois,C and V.Callan (1997) Communication and Culture. JOHN WILEY&SONS
Vinken,H, Joseph Soeters and Peter Ester(2004) Comparing Culture Dimensions of Culture in a Comparative Perspective. BRILL
The Content of Intercultural Communication http://www.ahtvu.ah.cn/jxcl/zhykch/1107/supplementary%20reading2htm 25/01/2006
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