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Cultural Influence On International Businesses

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Running head: Cultural Influence on International Businesses

Touro University International

Wendell K. Speegle

MGT 501

Module One: The Nature of Organizations and the Contemporary Environment

Dr. Donna DiMatteo


Culture will play a major part in the dynamics of the way we operated in international business circles. Managers today will need special skills in order to meet these challenges. Language differences, culture awareness, and management skills are necessary for success. These challenges often lead to a debate in which is better for a company, expatriate or foreign national workers. There are pros and cons to the use of each, but it will depend on several factors to which managers will be better suited for the challenge of dealing with cultural differences. Business accomplishments in the future will depend greatly on the ability of managers to meet the challenges of culture and its impact on international commerce.

Today’s business world is becoming ever closer as the world almost seems to have shrunk overnight. Successful organizations competing in the global economy are faced with a new set of challenges. The pace of business has quickened with the introduction of the World Wide Web and the evolution of computer technology. This would seem to make the way we do business easier, and it can, if we identify and overcome some of the unique challenges of different cultures and its relation to competing in current world markets. Specific problems that arise today are language differences, understanding the culture, and specific managerial skills for dealing with different cultures. Cultural differences can be extremely detrimental to any business overseas if not handled properly.

Language is the major hurdle in conducting business overseas. Although English is now becoming more increasingly used through the international business community we cannot always count on business clients using this language. It is estimated that only seven percent of today’s world speaks English as the primary language. It is also estimated that 30 percent of people speak English as a second language. (Lum, 2007). We can see that the majority of the world uses a primary language other than English.

If English is the main language used in a business transaction it can still become complicated depending on the proficiency of the individuals that we are working with. For example, if English is the primary language used, there can still be a burden if dealing with person’s from countries that use the Queen’s English as in the United Kingdom, or Australia. The rate of speech, pronunciation of words, and local dialects can be as challenging as an entire different language (Lum 2007).

To move forward in any business association overseas one must understand the culture of the persons that business is conducted. Not understanding and respecting the culture of a host associate can be disastrous. We will need to find out about the history of the culture and customs to include past armed conflicts and there effect on the society (Burman 2007). A business partner might hold some ancient grudge that if we were aware of past history and related conflicts it could save embarrassment or potentially the loss of a business prospect. One such example would be in South Korea were so many people having the same last name, such as Kim or Jong. It may seem odd to us or the presumption of large family trees. The truth of the matter, many of the Korean names were lost in an attempt by the Japanese to erase Korean culture during their occupation in the early 20th century. This still is a sensitive area with many older Korean citizens that may harbor harsh feeling toward the Japanese.

From the initial meeting with a client, culture will play a major part in the possible outcome of conducting business. Learning the general greetings becomes very important even if we still have a remaining language barrier. This action will show a potential client that his or her culture is respected and will set a positive tone for the meeting. In Middle Eastern countries for example, men kissing on each cheek and holding hands while walking is common. This may seem odd to many Americas, however if meeting with a business partner in Kuwait it would be extremely offensive not to undergo this practice. This could therefore chill the whole meeting, dooming it from the beginning.

The future success of doing business abroad depends on global managers having the necessary skills to bridge cultural differences (Song, 2002). Already stated is the hurdle of language. The ability to be multilingual is the strongest advantage in today’s global market. One way to overcome this shortcoming it to place greater importance on our education systems in the United States encouraging students to become proficient in one or more languages to be better prepare them to compete in international markets. In addition to language abilities, the knowledge of the culture were business is taken place and aware to practices of local customs within the scope of interfacing with clients.

As well as the language and cultural awareness, strong managerial skills will be needed for success. Managerial skills that include and are not limited to the ability to understand



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