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Culture and International Management

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Chapter 2: Culture and International Management

Making sense of foreign cultures challenging in a business setting is very difficult. The number of cultural differences that exist are to numerous to count and include. Differences communication and behaviors including inherit cultural traits and customs. Managers need to be educated in these differences in order to make sense of all of the differences that they may face working on a global scale.

It starts from birth, people learn how to relate to each other and how to act in various environments from their parents, friend's, relatives and teachers as well as through observation. People that have grown up in a particular culture learn the traits that belong to that culture have different beliefs, values, behaviors, expectations and norms.

For instance, working in an international organization, I have worked with people from different backgrounds and had faced cultural differences. Many of the suppliers that I work with are from different cultures and do respond differently to their environment and relate differently to people and their actions.

Successful cross-cultural communication such as negotiating, human-resource management, leadership, decision-making, and evaluation and control is highly impacted by culture and how much a person knows about that culture. The communicator needs to be aware about how each culture accepts the words that are said and how they are said. Some cultures are very literal and some cultures are just the opposite. For example, it is polite for people from China to say "hie" for almost anything and American people take it as "yes" while a person from China means to say "I understand", not "I agree and yes I will execute". This is just one of the communication differences that is a hurdle in communications between different cultures.

There are differences not only in backgrounds but also in corporate cultures and acceptable behaviors. What may be acceptable to one culture may not be accepted in another culture. Taken it to a lower level, there are corporate cultural differences such as office behavior. What is acceptable in one office environment may not be acceptable in another office environment. In some cultures it is acceptable to ask about employees personal lives and guide them through their problems and in other cultures it is inappropriate to even ask about the employees personal life. In some cultures hand-holding is a sign of resect and acceptance while in others it is a sign of a close personal relationship and this action may be taken offensively by, say a person from a country where the handholding is seen as s close and personal relationship and may be damaging and insulting if the action is rejected to the other party.

Cultural difference ignorance makes it difficult for people that



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