Starbucks corporation first came into operation in 1971 and was opened in Seattle’s pike place market with a future aim of providing coffee to a number of restaurants and surrounding bars. It was in 1982 when the company took a change in direction. The company’s ability to provide quality coffee beans was utilized and a coffee was brewed from these particular beans. The company then opened a roasting plant and has since opened stores worldwide. The current situation of for Starbucks seems to be an emerging part of their business and their main goal. The company’s current aim is to become a leading global company through making a difference in the people’s lives all around the world. This goal is quite close to being achieved as proved by the Starbucks current locations in the international markets. The current countries in which Starbucks are located are Austria, Philippines, Bahrain, Kuwait Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, new Zealand, china, Singapore, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, south Korea, Thailand, united kingdom, united Arab emirates, Switzerland, Egypt and united states. The overall aim of becoming a worldwide global brand seems to be working in favour of the company and is helping it to attract the attention of the many major companies who would like to partner with Starbuck. This is of course positive news for the company because it provides strong basis for the future development of international markets, which further strengthens the mission to become one of the leading specialty coffee retailers in the world. This aim of expanding their business even to more countries has however been hindered by the different cultures (Seabrook 2004). The beckoning promises of good business and expansions of Starbuck market could be rendered a mere dream if the company doesn’t take effective measure to curb the problems that would arise from a crash of cultures in different countries. Throughout the world there exist numerous different cultures each with different traditions and ways of doing business. The barrier that culture creates within the realm of international business hasn’t escaped the Starbucks and has become a stumbling block to achievement of the Starbucks expansion goal. The different cultures have been a hindrance to international business generally but it has dawned to Starbuck in the recent attempts to penetrate into the Muslim countries. Though the problem was already into the way of the Starbucks goals before this attempt it wasn’t very serious. The culture diversity has now been proved to be a major setback on the globalization goals of Starbuck. It has led to emergency of problems such as killing team work, ineffective communication and other problems. This problem has however has been elevated by the fact that the employee in Starbuck can be posted in any country as stipulated on their contracts of employment. Most of the employees tend to take their cultural values with them and farther hold their cultural values superior to those of the others. The Starbuck management expects to solve this problem in a span of one and half years so as to be able to operate it business even in the most unwelcome regions such as Iran. Even though most cultures are familiar with the Americas abrupt ways of doing business, a simple misunderstanding can crush a negotiation. The Starbucks management has on several occasions identified that some of the cultures are deeply rooted in the way of doing business and one simple gesture can be cause the difference between a successful long term relationship and cause humiliation to the host.
The Starbuck management like international business anticipated the problem and has put in place measures like employing interpreters who have come in play to in help understanding of the different languages which problem has come about as a result of cultural diversity. However such measures have not been able to solve the problem of language barrier and more needs to be done to save Starbuck from this problem that would limit its venture in globalization of the business. The company has also put up various measures which would prevent the crashing of the different cultures but they have not been as useful.
The Starbuck management has listed language barrier as one of the biggest problems that has been presented by the different cultures. The way of communication is different with the different cultures. Terms used in some cultures 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 Starbuck stores where the management and employees from different cultures come together. This is in fact a major hindrance in business communication process. Another thing that pertains to language barrier and has adversely affected Starbuck businesses is use of different languages. English language though common in most countries is also absent in others. It’s logical that for any business to prosper and yield maximum profit communication between employees, management and consumer 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 (Scarborough 1998) The Starbucks were as a result forced to use their time and money on a program of learning these languages so as to be able to communicate effectively with the counterparts in the other countries. This however hasn’t solved the problem since 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. Starbucks also opted to hire interpreters who complicated thing even further by distorting information and giving unclear explanations. Understanding the language of mannerisms and gestures becomes crucial Not only in star bucks but in all in international business. The many times when behavior in certain gestures may be misinterpreted by the people from the different culture makes intercultural communication in all corporate houses very difficult.
The Starbuck management was also able to identify another problem relating to cultural differences. People from some countries were keen when it came to following time bound schedules. Clashes due to different time cultures between people of diverse cultures were depicted in boardroom meetings. The management from different countries classed on when such boardroom meeting were handled. For example those keen on time always wanted an issue to be discussed within the time limit awarded. The starting time of such meetings has also been clashing with some people arriving in time and others arriving on time as allowed by their different cultures. These board meeting are crucial and should be effectively carried on as it is in such meeting that the important corporate decisions are arrived. Thus where some cultures stick to time as scheduled other culture don’t stick to the schedules. The marketing executives who represent the Starbucks in international with international assignments have faced problems in dealing with different corporate culture from across the world.
Another issue that has been adversely affected by different cultures is team work by staff from different cultures when it comes to starbucks 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.
Starbuck like any serious international business 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 Starbuck to lose the many opportunities that come with globalization of the economy and should been seen to be done away with. It is good for Starbuck to appreciate the differences in culture in the different societies. Any international business venture should always be purposeful in the fueled of global business and thus should be aware of it 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 one of the key factors that business men should be armed with. It will help the company to build competencies and also helps individuals to be more sensitive globally. 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.
It is important for the company to ensure that the staff is aware that the cultural barriers do widely exist and they could adversely affect the performance of the Starbuck. Thus the very first thing that Starbuck is supposed to undertake before venturing into a new country is to foresee an awareness program that keeps its staff informed of such imminent problems. This helps the staff to prepare their minds and keep them sharp and focused. The staff usually carries their different cultures to different countries but the ugliest thing is that they tend to believe that their culture is superior to other cultures and thus look down upon other cultures. The management needs to undertake a training that helps the staff to appreciate the diversity of cultures. This would be necessary to help the staff to brain wash their stereotypes and appreciate others peoples way of life. First and foremost if Starbuck is to foresee a success in their globalization goal it is necessary to carry out an extensive research and understand the different cultures and to know what is perfectly normal behavior as perceived in one culture and is perceived differently in another. It is thus important to be aware of the cultural differences and the subtle nuances of etiquette in other cultures. For example when the staff are being sent to the United Arab Emirates, it is important to have them know that men in that country wear long trousers and a long sleeved shirt buttoned on the neck and shouldn’t have visible jewelry. It also helps to know that men need to wear a jacket and a tie during business meetings. Even in the most progressive Arab nations women are supposed to dress modestly with high necklines, long sleeves and very long skirts and they may also need to cover their hair. Thus the Starbuck management needs to educate itself on the culture and tradition of all the potential business partners. Education to the management and the staff is worthwhile and even and Starbuck should invest in this program. There is no secret path way and it takes only research and a large commitments to learning the cultures that Starbucks wishes to come into contact with.
The Starbuck has attempted to solve the problem of effective communication that is caused by language barrier though learning of the various global languages. To amicably soave this problem the company should hire specific staff with the qualifications of knowledge of specific languages for different countries. Thus only a staff who can effectively speak Spanish can be taken to a Spanish speaking country. This however couldn’t be the solution to senior staff like managers who have to be in charge of business in many nationals and for that matter such staff should be preferably multilingual (Seabrook 2004). The Starbuck option of interpreters had failed due to distortion of information. The company may attempt to hire better skilled interpreters.
Starbuck should also avoid transfers of junior employees to different countries. It is would be better if employees transfers were within a national. This would help the employees a situation whereby employees need to adapt to a new environment. Finally as the Starbuck should come up with a long lasting and future forecasting solution by slowly and slowly formulating an accepted international culture which they would then train all their staff and then adapt in a similar pace until its fully assimilated in the business.
First and foremost a lot of time and money would be employed so as to foresee the above solutions. An extensive research on different cultures would require that the money which could have otherwise been used in the expansion of business would be used in researching the different cultures. The research would consume a lot of time too before it is accomplished. There is no guarantee that the research would be able to expose all the traditions and ways of life of a people especially where the society is disintegrated either by tribes or races. Again it would not necessarily mean that those cultural practices that have been exposed through the research are to affect the business. It could even be that the simple cultural activity that hasn’t been exposed is the one that would be the stumbling block to the business venture. This way time which could have been used in productive manner would be wasted in unproductive research. Money that was employed in the project would too goo into waste.
The other issue is training the employees and imparting on them the different cultures. This wouldn’t work well with some employees who wouldn’t wish to rid off the values they hold dear and take in some other foreign mannerisms. For the sake of maintaining their jobs such employees will attend the training but wouldn’t be willing in their hearts to learn the foreign mannerism. Thus the training programs would end up being a waste of time and money. It is naturally hard to accept that a person culture is less superior or equals another culture so training the employees to accept the diversity of cultures would as well be rendered useless. The option to have employees who can speak a particular language sticking to those countries which speak that language would also limit the human resource department on the skills. This could result to a shortage of personnel in a particular field if they are limited to the languages they can speak well. In this case you could find that very qualified personnel wouldn’t be able to work because they are not familiar with the language in specific countries. Non transfer of employees outside the country could be limiting their knowledge by refusing them a chance to learn from other environments. Training the senior staff to communicate effectively the different languages may also encounter barriers like the accented language which still doesn’t go well with effective communication. This may also not be easy where a country has diversity of languages as a result of tribal disintegrations. There are thus some countries with no common language like French, English or Spanish but have diversified language which are virtually impossible for the staff to learn.
Lastly the option of adopting a new international culture that would be widely accepted would take a great deal of time as it is a process. It has also faced criticism that leads to erosion of cultural values of some societies. 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 (Ferraro 2010). 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. These practices however couldn’t go through due to the criticisms that have been leveled against them. Best practices simply have had diverse negative effect however on cultural values. 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. Thus if these practices are unable to solve the issue money and time could have been devoted to formulate them would only go to waste whereas it could have been used in a more productive process.
The risks that come out when various solutions are looked into require a deep analysis of the various solutions so as to arrive at the less risky path that Starbuck would need to undertake. However some solutions despite the risk that present itself can’t be avoided and thus require to be undertaken just like the obvious risk of venturing in a business. There are also those solutions which are risky and could be avoided. In such cases it is advisable to drop such solution after they have been classified as so. An extensive research on different cultures would require huge sums of money which could have otherwise been used in the expansion of business would be used in researching the different cultures. The research would consume a lot of time too before it is accomplished. In this case, research is unavoidable and the company is only required to have a highly skilled research department. Despite the fact that there is no guarantee that the research would be able to expose all the traditions and ways of life of a people especially where the society is disintegrated either by tribes or races, there is no other way that the company could be able to find out the ways of life of the country it is planning to venture into. Again it would not necessarily mean that those cultural practices that have been exposed through the research are to affect the business but all the same it is a risk worth taking. Highly skilled research that looks into the goals of the business and the pertinent problems hindering the goals is supposed to dig out the various cultural activities that require to be known so as avoid the problems of culture crash. There is no alternative to research because there is no other way to know otherwise the company would be blindly venturing into a strange society. One can also say that the option to research is improving the skills so as to produce more accurate information in regard to the specific topic. Improving the skills of the research department requires employing highly qualified research personnel and training them to ensure diligence. Improved technology would also come to play to help improve the research skills.
Once the company has been able to identify the different cultures training the employees would come into play. There is the risk that many employees would not wish to drop their mannerism for a culture that they view inferior (Appadurai 1996). This risk could be avoided by first taking a great deal of time in training programs that would help the employees to appreciate the different cultures and the cultural diversity. However this could still not work because it is very difficult for so people to equal their culture with other cultures. Furthermore the management would not be in a position to whether the employees are only attending the training programs just to ensure the security of their jobs since this is in their hearts. Once such employees are posted in those different countries they may fail to put in practice what they learnt in the training program. This puts the business at a very big risk and this could be avoided by another solution that ensures there is no international transfer of employees. If employees stick to one country then company doesn’t have to use money and resources to in the training that would be rendered useless. However the company cannot avoid training of the senior staff that may be in charge of regions and need to be acquainted with the different cultures. This still shows that research is unavoidable despite the risks that are involved. Another thing is language barrier that could be solve in either through learning of the languages by the staff and which carries the risk that the languages may not be fully understood to the point of proper non accented expression. This would still be a barrier to effective communication and could be avoided by ensuring that the staff hiring ensures that only the staff that are familiar with a certain language are sent to certain country. This has limited the qualified personnel on the other hand. In this case it would be preferable to have the highly qualified personnel being taught the different language and though communication may not be fully effective it is to some extent better than losing them. The issue of formulating an international culture that would be globally acceptable is good as it is a long time solution and despite the challenges it is worth a trial as it is a step process.
It is important to bear in mind that the solutions to these problems are simple but they require a lot of commitment by the management. The management needs to commit its time and money to foresee that the solution is arrived at. The risks that are imminent should be considered as the normal risks that any person wishing to venture into a business will be exposed to. It could even be that the simple cultural activity that hasn’t been exposed is the one that would be the stumbling block to the business venture. This way time which could have been used in productive manner would be wasted in unproductive research. This even though doesn’t mean that the risk is not worth taking. The achievement that the Starbuck would achieve by venturing into the global market would include making a big name like Coca-cola which ensures that it has a wide market. Such achievement then warrants the company to take the bull by its horn and make its way towards fighting the stumbling blocks. Team work and effective communication are some of the elements that are at the core of success of any business. Anything that would ensure team work in a business however expensive or time consuming would be worth a trial. Training the employees from various countries through expensive programs so that they can learn the different cultures would bear its fruits finally when the company is able to foresee high production coming about as a result of team work. If a business ignores such essential elements at the core of success just because of the risk that are involved, it would then be plunging into bigger risks by making the investment blindly. The different cultures which are bound to crash are bigger risks than undertaking investing money and time to train employees.
Appadurai, A. (1996). Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis. University of Minnesota Press.
Harris , M. (1991) Consultancy in solving corporate problems. New York. Vintage Books.
Ferraro, G. (2010) The Cultural Dimensions of International Business, 6th edition. United States. Pearson
Seabrook, J. ( 2004) Consuming Cultures: Globalization and Local Lives. United kingdom. New Internationalist
Scarborough, J. ( 1998) The Origins of Cultural differences and their Impact on Management. Westport. Quorum publishers.