For any country wishing to undertake business activities across, borders, understanding culture is crucial. For international companies to be successful, in a global society they must adapt to, relate to, and understand the culture of the countries where they conduct business.
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Culture can be said to be the people’s way of life (Mathew, 1869, p.12). In trying to define culture there are two key elements that have to be considered. Culture is well defined by the languages and beliefs. These two elements play a very central role in the transmission and creation of culture.
Ethnocentricity can be said to be a belief in the superiority of ones ethnic group (Evans, 1980, p.15). Companies can overcome this by coming up with exciting customer relation building programs. In addition, the company can capitalize on customer experience management. Attitudes, values, customs and beliefs shape culture in various ways.
The customs and beliefs that are present at a particular time are passed on to the next generation. These norms and expectations later on shape the overall behavior of individuals in the society. It is from this behavior that the society will learn to carry itself in various ways. Global companies need to find effective strategies that they can use to adapt to the local culture.
The company can carry out a good marketing research to find out the peoples preference in relation to their culture. After these, they should develop products that will easily embrace the given cultures instead of conflicting with them. The company can also involve itself in cultural programs through an effective cooperate social responsibility approach.
There are elements of other cultures (in general) that a company must be aware of to operate profitably and successfully. Fashion is an important element that comes with culture and companies must be aware of these to operate efficiently. In addition, the company must be aware of the cultural integration in a given society as it will dictate the degree of harmony in the culture. Religion is also important as it shapes up the culture in the society. Statuses and roles of individuals are also important elements of culture as they give an overall idea of the social structure.
Attitudes toward work, leisure, time, change, family, social mobility and religion shape a culture in different ways. The people’s attitude tells if they are lazy or hardworking and this influences their culture towards a given responsibility. Leisure plays an integral role in shaping culture as it will dictate what people will prefer in relation to what they have formed as their culture. Social mobility and religion will confine to the people what they are supposed to do.
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Corporate/ personal verbal and non-verbal communication has an impact on cultural understanding. This is because they will define the relationship that will exist with the people in the society (McGowan, 1995, p.9). Through this, there is a better understanding of the given culture (it is achievable if there is good communication). In the long run, this communication will enable the company to know how to relate with the market.
The physical environment has an impact on the culture of a given society in various ways. It will influence the kind of foods available in the society (for the people to eat). This will in a long way dictate the shelter that people in the society prefer to use. Physical environment also influences the religion (how people worship). Where people live can also influence the way they relate to each other.
Education and technology are in one way or another linked to culture (Jenkins, 2008, p. 32). With high levels of education and technology culture can be forgotten or eroded. In another way, education has helped to spread culture across the world as people travel to different areas. Technology has also incorporated different cultural aspects that have spread to other parts of the globe.
The mass media shapes culture, public opinion, marketing and advertising. This is done by creating a different understanding of culture thereby allowing people to make their own conclusions. Through information from the media we are able to make informed opinions. In marketing, the society can only make a decision about a product after they have got information from the media.
Politics has both negative and positive effects on international companies (Macionis, 2010, p.5). Good politics will create an effective environment for the companies to execute their operations. In occasions where the country has divisive politics it creates a bad business environment for international companies. The legal system will influence the internal environment that companies are supposed to operate in. If the legal system is slow and corrupt international companies will tend to shy away from these areas.
Culture is important for international companies (to consider) as it directly influences the market (society). It will have a bearing on the reception that a company will be accorded in a given country. For international companies to be successful, in a global society they must adapt to, relate to, and understand the culture of the countries where they conduct business.
Evans, D. (1980). Attitudes values and culture: qualitative approaches to values as an empirical category. UK: University of Surrey.
Jenkins, H. (2008). Convergence Culture: where old and new media collide. Brazil: Rio de Janeiro.
Macionis, J. (2010). Two Key Elements of Culture: Language and Belief. Web.
Matthew, A. (1869). Culture and Anarchy. New York: Macmillan.
McGowan, R. (1995). Business, politics and cigarettes. USA: Westport.