lunes, 2 de agosto de 2010

THE IMPORTANCE OF CULTURAL AWARENESS IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

1) CONCEPT:
CULTURE: a) "The customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group"*
b)"Culture is the relatively stable set of inner values and beliefs generally held by groups of people in countries or regions and the noticeable impact those values an beliefs have on the peoples' outward behaviors and environment"**
AWARENESS: "Knowledge or perception of a situation or fact"***
CULTURAL AWARENESS: "Cultural awareness recognises that we are all shaped by our cultural background, which influences how we interpret the world around us, perceive ourselves and relate to other people. You don’t need to be an expert in every culture or have all the answers to be culturally aware; rather, cultural awareness helps you to explore cultural issues with your care recipients more sensitively".****

2) QUESTION: Which are the most important tips on US business protocol?
ANSWER: David Cotton, David Falvey and Simon Kent wrote in their book Market Leader, Intermediate Business English Course Book, the following tips:


"US business protocol
Timing
- You must arrive at business meetings on time. Only a 15-minute delay because of traffic problems is allowed.
Greetings and polite conversation
-You must shake hands during introductions.
- You don't have to make a lot of small talk. Americans like to get down to business quickly.
- You musn't ask about a businesswoman's marital status. It is considered rude.
Business cards
- You don't have to exchange business cards unless there is a reason to get in contact later.
Smoking
- You musn't smoke in many public, spaces. Most business, cabs and many restaurants nowadays have a no-smoking policy.
Gift-giving
- Business gifts shouldn't be given until after the business negotiation are over.
- You musn't give an expensive business gift. It may cause embarrassment.
Entertaining at home.
- You should write a short thank you note to your host and hostess if you are entertained at their home. You don't have to give a gift but flowers or wine are appeciated."*****
As we can see the form of doing business with the United States' people , is very similar to that practiced in our culture, you only have to pay much attention on certain key aspects such as punctuality and objectivity in the meetings, please be careful with these two points, despite U.S. people are direct in business, they have a good sense of humor and they are very open to dialogue outside of a meeting.

3) POINT OF VIEW: Cultural awareness becomes central when companies and business people have to interact with people from other countries and other cultures in order to make international business. Cultural awareness is important because people see, interpret and evaluate things in a different ways. What is considered an appropriate behavior in one culture is frequently inappropriate in another one. Misunderstandings arise when I use my meanings to make sense of your reality, for example if you compare the US protocol business with the Colombian protocol business, you can see that in many ways our culture is different to American culture. For all the things mentioned before, International companies must evaluate their business practices to ensure that they are doing the correct process acording with the foreing norms and behavioral characteristics, because international business includes people from different cultures. This means that problems arising every day as a managing workforce, marketing output, purchasing supplies, dealing with regulators, securing funds, and many others.
At this point is important to mention some of Peterson wrote in his book Cultural Intelligence: "Professionals need a communication strategy that is appropriate for each task and specific culture they do business with. This is true for writting simple letter and e-mails, but it is also important for bigger issues such as designing marketing pieces, selling product, dealing with complaints, making decisions, building workplace and social relationships, and managing people. Communicating appropriately with your international business partners certainly should not be left to intuition!" To summarize I am totally agree with this opinion and with the companies that awareness their employees about the importance of learning foreign cultures in order to make a successful business.

___________________________________________________________
*Oxford Dictionaries.(2010).Culture.[Online]: http://oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_us1237613#m_en_us1237613
**Brooks, Peterson.(2004).Cultural intelligence.Defining Culture.p 27.
***Oxford Dictionaries.(2010).Awareness.[Online]:
http://oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_us1414010#m_en_us1414010
****Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing.(2010).Cultural Awareness.[Online]:
http://www.culturaldiversity.com.au/NationalResources/ServiceProviderResources/CulturalAwareness.aspx
***** David, Cotton; David, Falvey and Simon Kent.(2007).Market Leader, Intermediate Business English Course Book, New Edition.p 58.
******Brooks, Peterson.(2004).Cultural intelligence.Overlapping the five Scales.p 60.

-Image 1: Gettyimages.Globe with people.(2010). Available at: http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/77384030/Imagezoo
-Image 2: Gettyimages.United States businessmen handshape.Available at: http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/84228339/Photographers-Choice

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