Topic 8 - Applications:



Globalization - is making international business commonplace and the need to intercultural communication skills essential.


Adler & Gunderson (2008) global enterprise and modern business management have become synonymous.

The role of Culture in management and organizational structures need to interact to create a need for professional intercultural competence.

They emphasize value awareness, cultural knowledge, and intercultural competence embracing a collaborative/synergestic approach to communication and that values, attitudes, and behaviours of a culture influence the business context.

Eg: research shows that personal values influence corporate strategy and that managerial values affect “all forms of organizational behavior” (leading, negotiating, rewarding, conflict resolution et cetra) (Adler & Gunderson, 2008, p.20).

Cultural diversity within organizations is increasing at home or abroad - today we all interact in an increasingly multicultural workforce, ( Cooper et al., 2007) suggest increasing interpersonal competence by having general guidelines in the workplace.

Communication is rule governed - rules are present that indicate what are the appropriate behaviours and responses for communication in a given setting or with given people (i.e., gender in Iran vs. USA).
- Verbal (turn taking, volume, formality of language) and non-verbal behaviours are governed by such communication rules (i.e., touch, smile, eye contact, whispering, dress).

Context and communication - as outlined previously, the context of the communication plays an important role in defining what and how communication occurs. Some cultures place a higher emphasis on context which makes meaning more specific.

As such knowledge of the contextual rules can be very important, especially when there is a lot at stake.

Cooper et al (2007) pose questions to consider when doing business internationally.

Communication rules are culturally diverse for verbal and non-verbal communication. In business lunch or dinner in NA will often share the cost while in other places (i.e. Turkey) will have all entertainment paid for by the host.

Context specifies communication rules - vary considerably from context to context (i.e, classroom, court, party, ice rink, opera, wedding, funeral). Expectations are present and social sanctions may occur for departures from those norms. Business is a culture within a culture.


Culture and the Business Context:

Formality and informality - In dress, posture, and language vary, where NA is often quite informal and direct, avoiding titles, rituals and conduct that is more formal.
- People tend to wear casual clothes, denim or track suits, use slang (idiomatic speech) and slouch or lean. Compare west coast culture with Quebec culture.

In contrast, India, Japan or China have much more formal and hierarchical relationship (i.e., teacher student-use full title- "Professor Tonks" and expect to be lectured to rather than have a casual conversation. Samovar & Porter (p. 206) note that Hall & Hall also point out that in Germany this is also the case.

UK is also a good example of formality. An American Executive was sent to London to manage his company’s British headquarters. If people wanted to meet with him, they first went to the receptionist, secretary, office manager, and then to him. He had to learn patience for the formal process important in UK.

When business dealings arise for people from these two types of cultures there can be great challenges.

Critical Incident

Assertiveness and interpersonal harmony - American culture is known to be assertive in its style of interaction as direct communication with little beating around the bush is expected. This communication trait appears to go hand in hand with the culture of individualism and standing up for one's rights and being outspoken. This is also a trait of the Israelis.

In contrast interpersonal harmony is valued by many Asian cultures where they may appear to be passive and uninvolved when in fact they are actually avoiding loud voices or directness of communication which is seen as aggressive or hostile.

This is the case for the Thai people who, according to S&P "value calmness, equanimity, and interpersonal harmony" (p.208).

Filipino people likewise have amor propio and pakikisama to describe harmony.

As described previously about the Japanese self, it is seen as part of a larger whole, like Chinese Jen, where subordination of personal interests to the social harmony is valued.

In business the Japanese rely upon nemawashii or "binding the roots of a plant before pulling it out"
where points of disorder will be addressed prior to entering into business to avoid discourteous behaviour.

Hofstede’s research on 60 countries and organizations found that “national culture explained more of the differences in work-related values and attitudes than did position within the organization, profession, age, or gender.” (Adler & Gunderson, 2008, p. 51).

Individualism/Collectivism Power Index ( Hoffsted 1 - IC-PD)


Trompenaars & Hampden, Dutch Researchers asked managers from different countries – which of the following two options would be most likely to improve quality of life for employees:

Canadian, American, Norweigian – all choose option 1,
while Nepal, Kuwait, and Egypt selected option 2

High power distance countries – bypassing is insubordination

Low power distance countries – bypassing employees are expected to bypass their bosses frequently in order to get their work done – Title, status, formality command less importance in low power-distance countries.

Uncertainty Avoidance ( Hofsted 2 - UC-PD)

High Uncertainty Avoidance – more lifetime employment, more common in Greece, Japan, and Portugal

Low Uncertainty Avoidance – more job mobility, USA

Organizations have different “personalities”  - village market, traditional family, pyramid, machine

Career Success vs. Quality of Life (workplace motivation)

Scandinavian Societies – Quality of Life

US emphasize career success more so – more rigid definition of gender roles in comparison to quality of life societies


Culture & Management: International Business Context

Adler (2008) references Andre Laurent, who studied managers in 12 different countries (US, ASIA, WESTERN EUROPE). He examined their responses to 60 common work situations.

Examples of his research include. Perspectives on the role of manager  - experts or problem solvers? Insert role of managers Figure2-2 (p. 49).  Managers Role 


Other statements he collected data on include:

“The main reason for a hierarchical structure is so that everybody knows who has authority over whom”

Indonesia, China, and Japan rated above 50% in agreement with this statement.

US managers thought the main reason was to organize tasks and facilitate problem-solving around those tasks.

“In order to have efficient work relationships it is often necessary to bypass the hierarchical line”

Sweden – but of course – no problem – has to happen

Italian Managers – frequent bypassing of managers indicate poorly designed organization

Cultural views toward management and managers - since the new business reality is often of teams from mixed countries and cultural backgrounds, particularly in the high tech industry.

North American management culture - tend to be goal and achievement oriented. Americans tend want liberty and freedom in the marketplace, Canadians also do somewhat, but both may want support or grants from government.

Professional managers sell their organizational skills to highest bidder, often moving from company to company. Tend to have a strong (protestant) work ethic driven by profit making, competitive, assertive and informal in style. Cultural hero.

Western European Management Culture - More social oriented than the typical American profit style.

Germans, for example driven by ordnung (order) and technologically mastery driven, highly motivated.

French tend towards logic and clarity, reliance upon rules and regulations for authoritative approach. Tend to be high on power-distance and move toward elitism and are class conscious like the British.

British tend to be more diplomatic, tactful, reasonable and compromising than the Americans who tend to tend to employ exaggeration and tough talk.

Asian Management Culture - tend to follow Confucianism and the ideals of harmony and interdependence.

Organizational structure tends to be more familial and generally smaller with decision making made by one dominant member of the family (father) while also maintaining values of thrift and persistence.

Seniority usually comes from age and commands respect while dissolving criticism.

Japanese structure tends toward "groupism", obligation and hierarchy of position.

Japanese tend to value communication, interdepartmental relations and paternalism while Americans tend to favour control, superviory style and decision making.

Japanese will often leave sentences unfinished to allow others to complete them, dress neatly and stress group harmony.

Latin American Management Cultures - A collection of cultures often grouped together by United Statesians, have many languages and cultural traditions. Generally tend to much like the French, having a familial style with authoritative and paternalistic structure.


Negotiating Business Relationships

As with ongoing interpersonal relationships, relationships in business are central to well-being. A look at some styles of intercultural negotiation of permanent relationships is presented by Martin & Nakayama (2007).

These styles may emerge through any ongoing intercultural relationship especially within the world of business.

Negotiating Styles Table 9-2 (Adler & Gunderson, 2008). Negotiation Styles 


Negotiating Traits Table 9-3 (Adler & Gunderson, 2008) Negotiator traits


Intercultural Negotiation - Values and implicit assumptions about what negotiation entails will play important roles in the process of negotiation.

Table 9-1 persuasion styles (Adler & Gunderson, 2008) Persuasion Styles 

E.g., having a woman negotiate with Iraqi minister, context message. All of the contexting, verbal and non-verbal behaviour are significant in business or diplomatic negotiations.

Pacing - is the speed at which negotiations occur and varies across cultures. In NA there is a fast pace approach where hesitation or snoozing is where one loses. Middle managers often do the negotiation with having to consult with the big boss.

Latin America generally takes a slower pace to business where relationship takes a more important role than getting the deal done. Making concessions is part of the process (bargaining back and forth). Dress codes are more formal and work for success.

Styles - American styles are more direct in negotiating, wanting to get right down to business and get the deal done, while Germans tend to want orderly negotiations, being up front and sometimes blunt.

Russians will try to wait out the other side, not wanting to compromise, often getting dramatic to emphasize their position. They are idealistic in negotiation.

Israelis are looking for short term gain or successes, and are often confrontational.

Mexicans can take a long time to negotiate, spending initial periods of socializing and getting to establish the relationships before the negotiation begins formally.

Pacific Rim cultures tend to emphasize trust, respect and long-term prospects. Conversation is usually directed at the elders and often uses a emissary to facilitate the process. Concessions usually start small and get bigger only with more lasting negotiation. Koreans may repeat questions to ensure correct decisions while the Japanese will often take months to negotiate a significant deal.

Indonesians will defer to superiors and often keep the truth from them until revealed later in private.

Chinese will try to build relationships while Hong Kong people will tend to be more rushed and direct.

Evidence and truth - notions of truth and evidence to be revealed in business differ too. NA tend to use "objective facts" and statistics while others, like Mexicans may use subjective data, as in Pac Rim, (i.e., feng shui and I Ching in business). Subtleties of relationship and harmony are more important than the rushing in to make a deal and messing things up.

Social trust - Personal character and trust are seen as very important, especially in high context relational cultures.


Collaborative Cultural Negotiating Style – Table 9-4. TPS styles of Negotiation 


Culture-specific Business practices


Business protocol

Initial contacts - are made through a variety of methods, including telephone, letters of introduction, or the use of an emissary or "go-between".

In Latin America make appointments a month in advance then follow-up one week prior often using a well connected person to make the introduction.

Egypt - using an emissary to introduce you, setting up an appointment well in advance.

African countries also use this approach where friends or acquaintances are the route to find contacts.

China - through local business contacts and government contacts will make them happen.

Saudi Arabia - need a sponsor to make the contacts as in Italy

Be sure to avoid trying to start business during national holidays or holy days E.g., Saudi's Ramadan, Japan's Golden Week (Apr 29 -May 5) or Obon (Aug), China's New Year, Israel's Sabbath or American Christmas.

Greeting behavior - Once the meeting has been set, be sure to take an appropriate stance in greeting.

NA - Shake hands, hugs or small kiss on check between women or man and woman, but not usually between men, exchange business cards.

Saudi - many expressive handshakes, women are not usually present for business, titles are important and business cards are exchanged.

China - Communication is important and punctual to start. Low tolerance for ambiguity and require clear communication usually sent prior to meeting.

Touching is to be avoided and seating indicates social rank and respect as you will be lead to your seat from the door. Exchange business cards and use both hands looking them over.

Finland - Shake hands firmly, women first, hugs only for those you know well.

Gift giving - NA will often look a gift horse in the mouth, while others make use of it to show respect.

In Japan gift giving is standard in all aspects of life. In business give gifts at midyear and year end as when going to a home to bring flowers, cakes or candies. Gifts are to be opened later, not immediately in front of the giver as that shows that one is greedy. Wrapping and presentation is important in Japanese culture. Clocks or odd numbered gifts are bad omens or insults.

International Marketing - Is a delicate business where there may be challenges of translation and use of symbols in different cultures. The NOVA awards are a good example of challenges.