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Business Practices in Singapore

Cross cultural challenges in Singapore

The first cultural challenge for a US-based company expanding into Singapore market is religious variance. In Singapore, Buddhists and Muslims consist of 46% and14% of the population, respectively. The rest of the population form part the minority religions. Most Muslims and Buddhists are of the view that doing business with persons of different religious orientation is not good to their faith. Specifically, the Muslim population would want companies that are compliant with sharia laws, which are very difficult to follow for most of the international businesses (Chang & Thorson, 2010).

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Another barrier is the Singapore communication culture which is very unique. Handshake and gestures in communication are dependent on religious orientation cannot be used in general business interactions. Besides, the dress code is conservative with women expected to cover most parts of their body. This means that business executives from the US may have to follow the dress code and verbal communication expectations to be welcomed (Chang & Thorson, 2010). Failure to adhere to these unwritten rules may lead to rejection of products that are deemed uncultured.

The last cultural challenge in the Singapore market is the unique cultured education system. The system is still closed to the western influence. There are religion based schools offering Buddhism and Islamic studies. Therefore, an international business may find this a challenge is attracting the right talent from this pool (Chang & Thorson, 2010). In the extreme, an international business may be forced to import labor in order to fill the gap of limited skills that cannot meet the global expectations.

Contrast between US and Singapore business practices


In the US, businesses are allowed to sell any product, as long as it is legal and sold to the right audience as stipulate in the law (Roberts & Taylor, 2012). This is not the case in Singapore for some items such as alcohol, fashion, and music/film products. There is a very strict vetting board that may make it very difficult for some international products to get into Singapore when the products are viewed by the board as secular (Chang & Thorson, 2010).


Unlike in the US where businesses operate in a free market regime, the hybrid market system in Singapore is characterized by government regulation on prices of many commodities being sold in the market. An international business in Singapore has to operate within the regulated prices, irrespective of the cost production or quality of products in the market (Chang & Thorson, 2010).


Promotional strategies for businesses in the US are more flexible and dynamic as compared to Singapore. For instance, businesses in the US can run their advertisements freely in the media about different products without worrying about censorship laws since the media is independent and government regulations are only limited to the content of a promotional message (Roberts & Taylor, 2012). On the other hand, promotional messages to be run in the local media in Singapore must get approval from the government and be in line with the conservative culture (Chang & Thorson, 2010).


The business infrastructure in the US is more developed than in Singapore. In the US, there are better communication networks, transport infrastructure, and opened markets. Businesses can easily reach the target market without many hurdles (Roberts & Taylor, 2012). On the other hand, the business infrastructure in Singapore is less developed. An international business targeting this market will have to invest in infrastructure such as communication, transportation, and security to access the market (Chang & Thorson, 2010).

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Chang, Y., & Thorson, A. (2010). A legal guide to doing business in Asia-Pacific. New York, NY: American Bar Association. Web.

Roberts, K., & Taylor, S. (2012). United States of America business etiquette, culture and manners. Web.

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