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The Role of Culture in Business

Communication is the process by which information is exchanged and understood by two or more people, usually with the intent to motivate or influence behaviour. Culture is the set of values, attitudes, beliefs, behaviours and customs that distinguish a society. A society culture prescribes the rules, which determine how companies operate in that society. Culture affects and reflects the values and attitudes of members of society. Values are the principles and standards accepted by members of a society. Attitudes that result from a society values have three componentsthoughts, feelings and actions. Cultural values often stem from deep-seated beliefs about the individual position in relation to his or her deity, family and social hierarchy. Cultural attitudes about factors such as time, authority, age; education and rewards reflect these values and in turn shape the behaviour of and opportunities available to International Businesses operating in a foreign culture.

Differences in cultural attitudes towards communication in Mexico and United States In US, the manager would deal with problems on his own whereas in the case of Mexico, the secretary would assist the manager and handle the emails, and only direct it to the boss if its urgent. This can be seen from the case of Chuck sending a thoroughly professional e-mail to Vicente, the Mexican plant manager, but it was Vicentes secretary who acknowledged the receipt of Chucks e-mail. The Americans use electronic messages such as e-mails to send across inquiries and feel that a reply with the questions answered, and preferably, a formal one as well, ought to be deserved. On the contrary, the Mexicans prefer face-to-face communication or telephone and feel that if the matter was urgent, they should be contacted directly, otherwise, their secretaries would handle the inquiries while they are busy.

Vicente was also offended by Chucks misuse of words and the fact that the American complained his supervisor who directed the complaint to the Mexicans boss, landing him in trouble.

Importance of understanding these differences Understanding the differences how people communicate will improve the effectiveness of workplace communication. Fostering communication and motivation can help an organization to go through tough times like a recession. Interactive communication can restore credibility and reinvigorate demoralized employees. Grasping the different communication styles of people may help managers to maximize every employees talents and encourage them to contribute more fully to the organization. Cultural attitudes may play key role in fostering innovation Improvements in communication technology have allowed companies to develop greater cross cultural exchanges and develop closer contact through communication. The interaction of cultural values and attitudes affects the local environment in which International Companies operate in foreign markets. Understanding the broader cultural differences and business behaviour that exists in International Markets will help you make a better impression on those that you engage when doing business in a foreign culture. Companies undertaking Importing/Exporting in foreign markets need to understand the differences in foreign business customs, values and ethical behaviour to effectively operate in overseas markets. Too often Companies ignore cultural differences creating problems and lost opportunities. All aspects of a companys International Business-contract negotiations, production operations, sourcing new products, marketing decisions and human resource management practices and procedures may be affected by Cultural variations. Surviving and achieving business success in foreign markets means accepting and adapting to the local culture within the foreign market.