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To What Extent Do You Believe It Is Important That International Marketing Managers Fully Appreciate Cultural Differences Both Between and Within Counties?

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To what extent do you believe it is important that International Marketing Managers fully appreciate cultural differences both between and within counties?

Under contemporary’s business environment, when a company endeavors to expand their markets into foreign countries, there are a variety of challenges it might encounter such as culture differences. As Cavusgil, Knight & Riesenberger (2012) note that culture has a fairly complicated definition that encompasses a wide range of elements such as language, symbols, beliefs, traditions, religions and social institutions. The differences among these factors would lead to cultural difference, which has become a key issue that greatly influences international business activities (Baack, Harris & Baack, 2013). However, culture differences may not have as much impacts on international marketing such as adopting global strategies to build a unified corporate brand. This paper will strongly believe that it is important for international marketing managers to fully appreciate culture differences both between and within counties. Firstly, it proceeds by reviewing the literatures on the prior research of Hofstede’s dimensions and Hall’s High and low-context approach regarding to the impact on businesses, followed by explaining how to combine the culture difference with entry mode, then discuss the implications of marketing managers’ reactions to culture difference from two aspects of marketing strategy and corporate brand. Finally give the conclusions.

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To start with, quoting Cavusgil, Knight & Riesenberger (2012), a Dutch anthropologist called Hofstede provided a useful guidance for managers by differentiating among four dimensions of national culture. Hofstede (1980) argued that four dimensions significantly influence people’s values, attitudes and behaviors in the workplace and management styles based on the data he collected from 116,000 employees. Two dimensions will be emphasized in this essay and the first dimension is individualism, which describes if a person would take actions primarily as an individual or as a part of the whole group. In individualistic communities, the relationships among people are not such close, and they lean to concentrate on their own self-interests. Australia, Canada, United States and United Kingdom are more likely to be individualistic countries, where ambitions and achievement are self-oriented; incentive policies such as pay, welfare and promotion depend on individual employee’s performance. However, in the collectivist communities, people would consider more about others’ views during conducting business. Usually, they tend to work together to cope with the emergency. An example of this conflict is Haier Company, one of the most famous brands in China, which sells a variety of household appliances and accessed to the Japanese market since 2002. Internally, an intense collectivistic culture in Japan stops firms from adopting a more individual-based compensation system, which is a vital role of individual-goal pattern mechanism in Haier (Deresky, 2016).

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The second dimension would greatly affect organization behaviors is uncertainty avoidance, which refers to the extent to which people are able to tolerate risks and uncertainty in their work and life. Managers with high uncertainty avoidance would make decisions slowly as they attempt to minimize the risk and eliminate the ambiguity. Likewise, companies would stress a consistent routine and make many rules to regulate employees’ actions. The Japanese companies’ ringi style of decision-making is a typical example (Tayeb, 2000). On the other hand those people with low uncertainty avoidance probably accept the new opportunities and positive response to change. Managers are more comfortable to run a risk and take quick decision. For instance, the organizations in Germany tend to be well-structured and clear-cut processes while in UK it is highly likely to be less structured and use less formal rules and regulations (Onkvisit & Shaw, 2009).

Another helpful method to characterize national culture differences called low-context and high-context proposed by Edward and Mildred Hall (Griffin & Pustay, 2013). A low-context culture means a culture that relies heavily on an explicit expression, focusing on delivering oral messages. In such cultures, people tend to express main ideas and thoughts in a clear, organized and less emotional manner. Conversely, people in a high-context culture such as China and Japan are more likely to deliver nonverbal messages and regard communication as an efficient way to promote amicable and close

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relationships. For example, Japanese people would like to give a more ambiguous response instead of saying “no” to others when expressing disapproval. Besides, the advertising is also dissimilar which in Germany is normally fact oriented while it is more emotion oriented in Japan (Cavusgil, Knight & Riesenberger, 2012). Accordingly, to achieve success in Asian business, it is critical to pay more attention to nonverbal signal and body language like a wink, a hint or a nudge.

To sum up, these two models can have a significant effect on managers’ behaviors and decisions in the workplace. International marketers should take all these factors in to account and gain a full understanding of cultural differences when motivating and managing employees under the various cultural environments.

Moreover, cultural difference also plays a crucial role when a firm chooses the best entry mode to expand a new foreign market. Apparently, when an international manager is accountable to implement strategies among partners from different countries, she/he will face the great challenge of conflicts with diverse values, attitudes and systems (Deresky, 2016). For instance, if firms decide to choose joint venture which is a strategic alliances, they are better to select compatible partners who they can trust and with whom they can work effectively. Thus, there will be cultural conflicts and battles for control as a

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result of different objectives and views. For example, risk-taking companies would choose a more aggressive strategy whereas risk-averse companies are more likely to tread a cautious path and pursue prudent strategy. In practice, Schoenberg (2005) conducted a study of 129 U.K. transnational mergers and acquisitions particularly in continental Europe and discovered that nearly half of firms reported there was a poor performance due to the implementation of their acquisitions rather than domestic mergers. Also he found out risk orientation is the key point that resulted in performance of those combined firms.

The results indicate, overall, that international marketers must weigh the risks and rewards more wisely and take the culture difference into consideration when selecting mode of engagement under a foreign environment, whether selecting export, joint investment or direct investment.

In addition, culture difference is substantial for an international marketing manager when it comes to fully appreciating all customers’ behaviors and their purchase decision process since culture varies from country to country. Specifically, it can influence the management of marketing mix and value-chain process which including product, service design, marketing as well as sales (Sarstedt, Schwaiger &Taylor, 2011). The paper will focus on two sections which contain talent localization and product strategy.

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