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Acculturation and Enculturation: Business Issues


This essay will examine the concepts of enculturation and acculturation in the context of their impact on business ethics. The current state of business ethics and issues related to the moral issues of doing business will be discussed. Researchers began to single out the two analyzed terms relatively recently; however, theoretical developments about these two phenomena have already been established in the scientific community.

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In the essay, the essence of both features, a brief history of their occurrence is considered. The distinction between the two phenomena will be specified in detail. The essay concludes the dangers of these two phenomena; cases related to the essay topic will be analyzed. The work’s central thesis is that since culture has a significant impact on ethics, it is necessary to consider how enculturation and acculturation processes occur carefully. Keywords: cultural issues, ethics, business, enculturation acculturation


Many inexperienced leaders of organizations think it is possible to do business without considering the moral component at the initial stage. Such people set low wages for their employees to introduce outdated moral values ​​into the employees’ corporate ethics that are not related to the current reality. They use technologies that pollute the environment, assuming that this will not affect the consumer attitude to the manufactured product.

It may seem to some that environmental issues are not moral. However, according to the currently developed philosophical movement “earth jurisprudence,” people should be given rights and the Earth, making it possible to participate as a plaintiff in lawsuits on pollution of nature. Pollution threatens the current generation and the unborn future generations, who probably would not want to live in an environmental crisis.

Successful business conduct involves considering all cultural and moral aspects. It is impossible to be guided solely by the interests of making a profit. Such a policy threatens the loss of reputation among clients and decreases the number of investments in the project. Many recent studies have demonstrated how sustainable decisions can result in unprecedented profit margins in the long run. The same applies to situations in which, instead of locating production in developing countries with a low income, companies choose more morally sound decisions. In the course of business interaction within the global trade framework, it is crucial to consider the difference in cultures. The imposition of Western norms is now unacceptable, which determines the importance of studying the terms enculturation and acculturation.


Globalization is a process of mutual influence of countries in the political, economic, social, and cultural spheres. In the economic sphere, this process manifests itself in the global trade in goods and services, their export from one country to another, and vice versa. Such a trade calls for the establishment of norms for intercultural interaction based on mutual respect. In the context of these reflections, it will be reasonable to analyze the meaning of the term acculturation.

Acculturation involves the perception by some people another people’s culture, which was often the result of military or political conquests (Byars & Stanberry, 2018). The conquered countries often had to forcibly accept the rules prevailing on the territory of a particular country. Regularly, such norms conflicted with the religious standards of the inhabitants of the conquered state. It was assumed that there are certain common values ​​that “savages,” as conquerors then called them offensively, must be learned. History knows the colonial conquests of African countries and Asian countries, during which inhabitants had to adapt to new cultural models. Unfortunately, humanity began to judge the ethics of such conquests only after a while.

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However, acculturation can no longer be perceived in the sense in which it was familiar during the period of conquerors. Ethical norms tend to change over time, which also concerns acculturation; this phenomenon in the modern world occurs completely differently (Byars & Stanberry, 2018). For the first time, the German ethnologist W. Krikenberg used the concept of acculturation in his 1910 book Illustrierte Völkerkunde. Subsequently, anthropologists R. Beals, R. Lintonruen, R. Redfield, and M. Herskovitz developed the definition of acculturation used to this day. In business, acculturation can reveal itself when unnecessary goods or services are imposed outside of prior analysis of consumer interests.

The failure to launch Starbucks in Australia is related to the culture of coffee consumption in this country, which was not considered by the organization’s leadership. In addition, when hiring foreign citizens, their cultural habits must be taken into account to avoid negative consequences in the form of well-founded complaints of harassment and discrimination.


Every human being is born without prior cultural knowledge; he will have to study them throughout his life. This familiarization process with cultural norms and habits in the scientific environment is called enculturation (Byars & Stanberry, 2018). Business in its modern form demonstrates the Western type of thinking. This is because a large proportion of transactions occur in English and with the participation of English-speaking investors.

The Western world is dominated by a philosophy of life oriented towards personal success and victory. However, many Eastern countries are more inherent in collective values, including the well-being of the entire people and common property. Businesses often do their best to fundamentally familiarize themselves with the country’s cultural characteristics with which they will have to interact. The problem, however, is that because such familiarization takes place in a short time or there are translation problems, the final result of the activity looks odd to consumers. One can find sambal chili sauce in an Indonesian McDonald’s: however, the restaurant itself is McDonald’s, a transnational mega-corporation.

Balancing Beliefs

The solution to emerging ethical problems can be the humanistic business model. According to this theory, close interaction with company employees is assumed, taking into account their unique behavioral and social patterns of behavior due to the cultural environment in which they were brought up. In interaction with representatives of other cultures, when they are consumers of goods and services, it is vital to ensure the possibility of mutual dialogue, during which there is an exchange of knowledge and not the imposition of customs and traditions of one country on another.


In businesses, there are unresolved ethical issues related to the cultural dimension. Phenomena such as enculturation and acculturation, although at first glance seem similar in meaning, still differ. The subjects of direct influence of these phenomena are employees of organizations and foreign buyers. For organizations to successfully interact in a multicultural space, the same ethical principles of mutual respect and humanity are essential. The humaneness of economic processes at all stages will result in increased revenue for companies.


Byars, S.M., & Stanberry, K. (2018). Business Ethics. OpenStax.

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