In the business world, you face globalization and diversity and in order to be successful in other countries, it is important to understand the cultural differences that a country may have while you are working abroad. It is important to understand these cultural differences as they bring upon many opportunities for businesses to expand and venture out and become global. “Businesspeople need ways of accessing the internal workings of culture and using those insights when problem solving” (Ferraro, Pg. 29). Also, it it important to understand cultural differences while working abroad so that there is no misunderstanding when communicating and no conflicts in the business environment. Ways that managers can learn to understand these cultural differences is through direct experience, comparison between other situations, observation, case studies, discussions with other cultural experts, artifacts, reports, and so on.
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As the article puts it, “Culture is generally defined as the values, beliefs, rituals, and attitudes held by a certain group of people”. These cultural groups can bridge multiple nations together and any cultural groups or subcultures within those borders. Culture can also be broken down into a different number of distinct groups, such as religion, language, aesthetics, customs, and traditions. For example, language can have a major affect on culture. The affect that language has on culture is that it varies from country to country and often times may have a dialect that has derived from that language so the English that is spoken in America may differ from the English spoken in England and the Spanish spoken in Mexico may differ from the Spanish spoken in Spain. Because of this difference in language, often times business managers tend to default to the lingua franca, or the common language, which is usually a language that is more widely used for example, English has taken the lead as the primary lingua franca in the business world.
Values may also have an affect on culture because cultural values also tend to vary from country to country including religion, customs, and traditions. “Unfortunately, our own values, the result of cultural conditioning, are so much a part of our consciousness that we frequently fail to acknowledge their existence and consequently fail to understand that they may not be shared by people from other cultures” (Ferraro, Pg. 30) Hofstede has developed five cultural dimensions where they are designed to capture cultural beliefs about the ability to cope with ambiguity, respect for authority and power, assertiveness, group versus individual orientation, and the perception of time. For example, The United States are highly more individualistic than Japan, who were found to be more collectivist. Also, people in the United States were able to cope with uncertainty better than Japan, who tend to avoid uncertainty by using structured planning as a coping mechanism.
I believe my values are similar to those in my culture since I was raised in an individual-oriented culture as I am encouraged to make my own decisions especially now since I am older. “Some national cultures such as the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and the Netherlands, and organizational cultures such as General Motors and General Electric, place a high value on individualism. These cultures emphasize the worth and dignity of the individual over the group, independence rather than interdependence, and relatively few social obligations” (Ferraro, Pg. 33). I agree that personal traits explain the behavior of others’ instead of by group norms, Success is attributed to own ability, I value independence and autonomy, I dislike depending on others for work to get done, and task completion is important to me. Also, I don’t value modesty as it is more group focused and it doesn’t allow one to show their true ability and that they can bring more skills to the business. The values that may be different from my own culture is that I do believe that relationships are important and that strong connections to a few groups are beneficial since you cannot do everything by yourself. At times harmony is great, but you do need confrontation in order to know what is going on inside of business and to make sure everyone is on task and doing the work they are suppose to do.
The way that cultural universals define me is that although that there are many different cultures all around the world and despite many differences, we all face a number of common problems among us and we also share a number of common features. Everything that people do in their lives are similar in a way regarding their culture. It may seem different to us, but we are actually exhibiting a similar, basic human behavior. We just have a different approach on how to perform this behavior. For example, in The Cultural Dimension of Global Business text by Ferraro, there is two pictures comparing a Masai girl to a North American woman. “This Masai girl and this middle-class North American woman put holes in their ears for exactly the same reason—because their cultures teach them that it enhances their feminine attractiveness” (Ferraro, Pg. 13).
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