August 4, 2014
Understanding and respecting the culture of an individual or country is important for a person or business that aspires to be successful. Culture can be defined as the norms based on attitudes, values, and beliefs of a group of people (International Business, 2007). Other elements of culture include language, traditions, ceremonies, arts, etiquette, and body language. These elements affect business development in several ways. When doing business with others, one will have to how to handle people that may come from different backgrounds. What is the norm in that business person’s country may not be the same as his or hers clients abroad. This applies to businesses that expand in other countries as well. Not understanding and respecting the culture of a host country can be detrimental to the business. The business may come off as being inconsiderate or disrespectful which could deteriorate the relationships with the locals. When this happens the business will more than likely take a big hit. This purpose of this paper is to examine a national culture of a Non-North American country and how the cultural elements have an effect business practices.
A business that decides to expand into another country should take into consideration that country’s religious views and beliefs. An example of this is the countries in the Middle East where the Islamic religion is dominant and strict. People who practice Islam pray five times a day. According to the text, International Business, “McDonald’s dims its lights, closes its doors, and stop attending customers during the five times per day that men are called to pray” (Daniels, Radebaugh, & Lawrence, 2007, p.47). Prayer can last up to 30 minutes each time businesses close to allow prayer. While vacationing in Dubai, bells and alarms could be heard everywhere to alarm the locals that it was time to pray. It could be a frightening moment for a tourist or person travelling there for business for the first time that is not aware of the Islamic religious practices. Businesses would shut down in respect to Islamic people praying and re-open afterwards. Foreign business organizations should be mindful of this because local employees will expect to be allowed to pray while at work.
In the middle eastern countries it is an insult to cross an ankle over a knee and display the sole of a shoe while talking to someone. It symbolizes that you have no respect for the person and they would be considered to you " the scum of the earth." Body language in the middle east to women is very different than in the United States. For example, lets say a woman was in the tube and someone walked in on her. The first thing a woman from the United States of America would do would be to cover her chest and private area. In the Middle East a Middle Eastern woman would only cover her face. Other cultural uniqueness would be different types of body languages that are unique to the Middle Eastern culture. Generally facial expressions are the same or common in every culture, for example smiles, happiness and fears. The biggest cultural difference exists mainly in relation to territorial space for example, eye contact, insult gestures and touch frequencies. Middle Eastern countries are known to have the most different local signals. Another example of body gestures would be two Middle Eastern men holding hands in public. Holding hands in public in the Middle East is considered to be a mutual respect for the people holding hands. It is also common to touch often in the Middle East.
Language is one of the most important elements of cultural development within businesses. One of the first barriers that companies face on the path of international development is differences in foreign language. The most serious barrier to language research in business has been the absence of clear conceptual frameworks and operational language development.…