Cultural International Business

Cultural International Business

Cultural International Business

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Cultural of International Business


Globalization of the economy has brought both challenges and opportunities for the world trade. Across the boundaries, there has been a increase in the flow of labor capital and factors of production. The opportunities for production offshore and outsourcing in the service and the manufacturing sectors have too increased. Cultural barriers, environmental uncertainty and managerial complexity are among the challenges that economic globalization has meet.

A study of cultural materialism would help on to understand better the complex cultural environment that affects business in the global system. Internalization has been described as a very important strategy which businesses can use to exploit opportunities found in the global world of trade. Cultural materialism can be described as an anthropological research oriented and which was first studied by Marvin Harris. Cultural materialism is also described as an ecological and evolutionary system of theory which tries to give an account to the maintenance, origin, and change of the social cultural systems.

Ideas of Cultural materialism presented by Marvin Harris

According to Harris cultural materialism is premised on the fact that the human social life is largely a response that is made to the practical problems existing in the world. Marvin Harris’ aimed at laying the foundations of the scientific study of the society. Harris theory foundation is that a particular society production mode( for example the work patterns and technology) and especially regarding food and the mode of reproduction( meaning growth and population levels) in their interaction and contact with natural environment has great impact the social cultural change and stability (Elwell 2001). Harris asserts that societies are systems and the widespread social beliefs and practices are supposed to be compatible with the society’s infrastructures. The infrastructures here mean the modes of reproduction and production and the interaction with the natural environment. The infrastructures are a representation of the ways found in a society used for regulation of both the amount and type of the resource that the society needs to be sustained. Thus much of Harris work circles around giving explanations of cultural systems such as norms ideologies beliefs values and also the various social institutions and practices by using production population and ecological variables. The infrastructure is used to represent practices and technologies through which social cultural systems have adapted to their environments. This activity is so important to the survival of individuals as well as the social cultural systems and thus the adoption of the technologies as Harris maintains will have massive effects on the cultural beliefs and values and the human institutions (Harris 1991).

Further Harris fully explored the effects of reproductive and productive factors on the social institutions such as religion, family and work place and also the impact on ideologies the widespread human ideals and beliefs such as feminism, cow worship and eating taboos. Harris however doesn’t claim that super structural and structural factors are dependant merely upon the infrastructure of a society. Rather Harris view is that super structural and structural factor factors interact with production process and the population level.

The framework developed by Harris is capable of the integration of a wide range of empirical observations and theoretical insights within its scope. His conception of structure and superstructure has further been developed so as to incorporate more anthropological and sociological theory. At the core of his cultural materialism is his instance that the relationships existing between production and population form the basis of all social cultural systems and that this base has gigantic effects on the rest of the systems.

How the understanding of Marvin’s ideas of cultural materialism have helped in understanding of the complex

It’s precisely because of the fact that the different infrastructures that are found in different environment in the widespread societies that globalization of business has become so complex and difficult. The infrastructures are the representatives the practices and the technologies by which the social cultures adopt to their environment. Different societies have different technologies and practice (Seabrook 2004).

As Harris asserts the societies are systems and the widespread social beliefs and practices are supposed to be compatible with the society’s infrastructures. Compatibility of the infrastructures and social beliefs and practices becomes very crucial. The different societies have their own social beliefs and practices and when infrastructures of another society are imported compatibility becomes an issue. This can be understood clearly by looking at some of the implications of the different infrastructures on international business. First and forest different cultural background have adversely affected export and imports business. Due to the different cultures across the world some industries have been unable to export their products to some countries and when the exportation is available then the goods which they export may be limited because not many people would have been transformed to the culture of using their type of products. For example food industries cant export any product of pork to Muslim countries profitably because their religion is against eating of anything associated with pork because pig are viewed as dirty to them.

The way of communication is different with the different cultures. Terms used in some culture might sound very harsh in other cultures. Thus the way in which words are used has an adverse effect on the in the intercultural communication in corporate houses. This is in fact a major hindrance in business communication process. Another thing that pertains to culture and has adversely affected international businesses is use of different languages. For any business to prosper and yield maximum profit communication between employees clients and consumer and the business owners must be very effective. For example someone can’t sell goods or services to someone if they don’t understand each other. At the same time they can’t work effectively with the staff when they can’t communicate and come to an understanding (Rodgers 1998).

International businessmen are forced to use their time and money on learning these languages so as to be able to communicate effectively with the counterparts in the other countries. Learning these languages consumes a lot of time that the business man could have used in production of ideas of expanding the business and making it yield more profits. Apart from being time consuming these one may not fully understand the use of the language for example the accent which may lead to distortion of word therefore making communication ineffective. Further more money that could have been invested in advancing the business is used to learn the languages (Jones 2001). These business men may also opt to hire interpreters who complicate thing even more as they may distort information and may not clearly give the explanations. They are also expensive to hire and business men invest also of money in them. The body language varies in different cultures. In international business understanding the language of mannerisms and gestures becomes crucial. There are times when behavior in certain gestures may be misinterpreted by the people from the different culture and this makes intercultural communication in corporate houses very difficult (Sheila 2004).

People from Germany and Britain are keen when it comes to following time bound schedules. There might be clashes due to different time cultures between people of diverse cultures. In the corporate world the way boardroom meetings may be handled could be reasons behind clashes. Where some time cultures stick to time as scheduled other culture don’t stick to the schedules. The marketing executives who represent the international businessmen with international assignments face problems in dealing with different corporate culture from across the world. Thus a skilled coordinator might be required (Scarborough 1998).

Another issue that has been adversely affected by different cultures is team work by staff from different cultures when it comes to international companies which have been set up in foreign countries. The employees may clash on so many issues which for example include time as discussed above. They may also not be able to communicate effectively due to different body languages and gestures that they use. This may result in a misunderstanding and ends up disintegrating them and making it impossible for team work to come into play such organization. Team work is always important when it comes to success in any business. all the above implications all add up to one thing which is different social beliefs and their compatibility with the infrastructures in a society.

Understanding of the quotation

A serious international business man aiming towards success is supposed to handle the different cultures carefully. Some of the countries tend to undermine the cultures of other people since they think that their culture is superior. This is very bad practice that can make global business men loose the many opportunities that come with globalization of the economy. In the international business a good businesses man is one who appreciates the differences in culture in the different societies. A businessman should always be purposeful in the fuel of global business and thus should be aware of want he wants. It very unethical for them to focus on undermining other peoples cultures other than attempting to look for mitigating factor. When working in global commercial environment knowledge of the effects of cultural differences is of the key factors that business men should be armed with. It helps companies to build competencies and also helps individuals to be more sensitive globally. Conflicts arising within international companies may affect team work adversely (Ferraro 2010). For example when the workers are from different countries and thus have different cultural backgrounds misunderstandings happen for example because of language or the mode of dressing. Thus worker in such companies may not work together due to misunderstandings resulting from cultural differences. It may affect the international company adversely if the workers don’t attempt to adapt to the different cultures and so as to enhance interpersonal relations personal growth and intercultural interactions.

There also may be conflicts arising between the international company and other local companies on the basis of cultural differences. Such companies can work together in the market. Beyond soft skills international companies should strive to ensure implementation of the standards and industry best practices. Best practices lessen the clashes that come up as a result of different cultures. The best practices are to some extent more widely accepted. They also help in creation of collective identity. Best practices when dealing with international clients help to lessen the clashes of culture. This works no matter when the clients come from. This is reduced to working with good communication and best practices in the end.

The most important of the measures that the international business men can undertake is to appreciate the different cultures and move on with their business without trying to prove that their culture is the superior one (Daft 2009). For example in the western countries the mode of dressing could be considered as nakedness in the Muslim world. A business man then from the western countries with an intention to successfully undertake business ventures in the Muslim world must be dressed in an appropriate manner that is not irritating during the interactions with the counterparts in the Muslim world. This would be very applicable if it is a lady from the western world where the cultural values allow her to dress in mi skirts and sleeveless tops. It is advisable that such a business lady should take precaution in the manner of dressing if the venture is to be successful.

Contending views on cultural implications of the globalization process

It has been argued that globalization has had great implications on the cultural values. The anti-globalist, view, from the perspective that the best practices have had diverse effect on cultural values whiles the globalist, view from the perspective of economic benefits of globalization. Cultural values have been transformed by immensely by globalization. Social scientist devout their time and also effort to analyze their processes that characterize the international activates today. Some social scientists believe that globalization has produced immense chaos and have destroyed the traditional cultures of different societies (Tucker 2009). These scientists have viewed globalization as economic phenomena which involve enhanced international trade. Scholars who emphasize globalization destructive effects on the culture don’t believe that spring up cultural institutions for promoting organized patterns of social interactions and for maintain stability to have a recreational process that have positive effects for economic development but rather have resulted to enduring conditions of social disorganization and chaos. They also believe that social cultural disorganization and fragmentation has resulted to serious moral and social problems. They argue that the disorganization of culture, the social bonds and established institutions have undermined the self control and the result of that is increase in the incidence of deviant behaviors and crime and therefore requires the states to have increasingly repressive response to the same. Further they contend that the disorganization of culture caused by globalization has created desperation amongst the society losers and as a result there has been an increase in pursuit for hedonistic pleasures such as drug abuse has increased (Hurst 1998).

Globalization has also undermined some of the most cherished institutions such as family and according to anti globalist this is such a great damage. Adult family members are preoccupied with material achievement and work and they don’t have time to meet family obligations and therefore purchase caretakers in the market to meet the needs of their children as well as the elderly family members. This involves the interactions with institution which are market based such as day care centers, nursing homes, private schools whose staff are paid carers, nannies and aides. This is very sad because the cultural values which saw mothers and father watching their children grow into important adults are eroded and thus children lacking such parent contact lack their guidance and may not grow to evaluate their example.

The social scientists also explain that globalization transforming the local cultures gradually and patching them with new and universal practices and values of modernity. This global culture is mostly western in character extols rationalism, individualism secularism and also other values from western nations (Scarborough 1998). As the diffusion and absorption of these values take place in the local societies the world cultures are changing and becoming almost similar. But as the cultures are converging in forming the new world culture it is not at all a sudden process and many features of the traditional culture endure for many years.

The globalist on the other hand argue that the economic benefits of globalization out weight the effect of globalization on culture and further contend that erosion of culture is simply modernization which is good for any society.


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