Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Cultural Mistakes Essay

Globalization has opened the borders of many countries allowing businesses to enter new foreign markets with millions of potential clients. Indeed, globalization is everywhere; it has affected the majority of existing developed and developing countries, changed economic, political and cultural setting of the world. Large multinational and national corporations have become the leaders operating in the global market; they offer goods and services to any country or any consumer who would like to pay for them. Despite of the fact that business is always about making money, the pattern of making money is different in different countries as it is affected by culture, which makes every country unique and unlike any other country.

Companies that decide to enter overseas markets sometimes can make so-called "cultural mistakes", which bring no results at best or negative results at worst. Such mistakes include: “improper gestures and body language” [1], language barriers, because language has the “most impact at the individual level” [2], formal and informal relationship between the parties, eating habits, especially the usage of alcohol during business meetings and etc. Modern world of business has already learned the importance of culture while establishing any new business relations. Special patterns were then developed in order to get to know about culture prevailing in the target country, as culture appears to be one of the essential elements of successful establishment of business links between the countries.

When a company plans to have negotiations with potential partners from a foreign country, it is necessary to learn about certain cultural habits which exist in the country in order not to offend or confuse interlocutors by making certain gestures or saying something inappropriate. It is effective to hire a professional translator to be present at the meeting, who has sound knowledge not only in both languages, but also in economics allowing him/her to come up with the best suitable translation. Formal language would be more preferable during the first meeting, the usage of which is more common in other countries rather than in the USA. Very often cultural mistakes occur while a company is conducting an advertising campaign across the border, for which it normally uses one of the two basic methods, which include standardization and adaptation of advertising campaigns.

Standardization means conducting the same advertising campaigns in all countries, while adaptation means adapting a campaign to peculiarities of a foreign market. Though, sometimes it is possible to use the same picture or video while advertising products in different countries, it is still necessary to bear in mind the existence of cultural differences, which influence people’s understanding of the same advertising. Indeed, advertising can have a negative effect on the viewers, who are not used to seeing, for example, showing affection in public or half-naked women. This refers to the majority of Muslim countries, where the usage of such advertisements is totally inappropriate. The situation is similar with religions. For example, in India it will be offensive towards Indian people to use cows in advertisement as these animals are considered to be holy there. Cultural mistakes may have different impact, causing little misunderstanding and confusion, however, “in some cases, people have lost million-dollar deals” [1] as a result of making some cultural mistakes.

1. Wade, J. (2004). The Pitfalls of Cross-Cultural Business. Risk Management. Vol. 51, 38-43.
2. Holden, R. (2001). Managing people’s values and perceptions in multi-cultural organizations: The experience of an HR director. Employee Relations. Vol 23,614-627.
3. An Overview of Edgar Schein’s “Organization & Culture”. Retrieved November 14, 2006.
4. Do you really know your organization’s culture? Retrieved November 14, 2006. http://www.hcgnet.com/research.asp?id=6

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