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Posted on March 8th, 2013, by

Peculiarities of doing business and transnational communications are directly related to the culture of the country. Despite the huge variety of business cultures, there are methods to predict certain aspects of behavior of representative of a certain culture. One of the most applicable include the classification of countries according to four variative characteristics of J. Hofstede, reflecting underlying differences in cultural values and contextual ranking of cultures, as proposed by E. Hall. It is also necessary to consider some other areas of culture that have the most significant impact on business practices and communication: such as behavioral patterns, source and level of government, business ethics, motivation, mindset, perception of time and others.
It is generally accepted to speak about two polar opposite styles of management, and as a result, business relationships cultures: American and Japanese (or Western and Oriental) styles. They are fundamentally different in structure of the collection and exchange of information, cooperation and delegation of duties, degree of standardization, coordination and subordination. American, or Western, system is characterized by management based on science, individualism and personal responsibility, a clear division of labor, specialization, planning, based on the analysis of large amounts of quantitative information. Japanese or oriental system of management is based on collective responsibility, a system of rotation, the long-term career planning, identification of employees with the company and its practices. (Hall E., 1985)

At the same time, together with western style recently are named European style, which is characterized by simultaneous focus on economic and social indicators, such as: a guaranteed opportunity to staff development, involvement of employees in decision-making process, the emphasis on the favorable climate in the company. But also within the European model there are differences between Anglo-Saxon, Latin and German styles. A similar situation is observed among Asian cultures. Therefore, despite the current trend of unification of business practices and communication standards, there are differences in business culture which, according to Hall E., will remain in the future. (Hall 1990)

Cultural aspects of communication in the business sphere
Peculiarities of doing business and business communication are fundamentally dependent on the country’s culture and are reflected in all aspects of business relationships: from day to day contact to the negotiation process and the forms of contracts. The basis of cultural differences between countries are fundamental differences of value orientations.

Back in the 1970’s J. Hofstede carried out studies on intercultural differences in 66 countries, which allowed him to identify several fundamental aspects of defining the style and features of the business people of different cultures. The result of these studies has become a model of comparative analysis of a business culture based on four variative characteristics. These characteristics are:
Ӣ individualism (IDV) is a degree to which individual decision-making and action are accepted and encouraged by a society.

Ӣ uncertainty avoidance (UAI) is t degree to which members of a society feel uncomfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity, which leads them to support beliefs promising certainty and to maintain institutions that protect uniformity.

Ӣ power distance (PDI) is the degree to which members of a society accept that power in social institutions and organisations is distributed unequally.
Ӣ masculinity (MAS) is the degree to which traditional male values Рassertiveness, performance, ambition, achievement and material success Рare important to a society. It may be contrasted with femininity, which stands for a preference in relationships, modesty, caring for the weak, and the quality of life. (Hofstede 1980)

In Table 1 countries are grouped by cultural values (strong, high, medium-high, medium, low-medium, small, low and varied) and by three geographic clusters. Thus, the method of Hofstede can serve as another useful tool in international management and business communication. Based on these four elements it is possible to construct a universal typology of cultures and, accordingly, management and business practices in different countries.

In addition to identified parameters, the great importance has the typology of business cultures according to a predominant characteristic of the culture, the type of communication. On this parameter, all nations can be ranked by the degree of cultural context. It helps to show that effective communication is not only important to know the language of the country, but also the language of business, the silent language nuances and contexts, to know the customs and culture of the country. Also recent studies have revealed a high correlation between high / low-context option and the Hofstede’s criterias of individualism / collectivism, and hierarchical level of distancing. (Rouse 2011)

Thus, in conclusion it is possible to say that nowadays there is a problem of mutual understanding between countries and cultures due to the internationalization and globalization processes, which requres more in-depth approach to the process of communication, taking into account the specificity of value orientations, predetermines the motives and results of communication. The current situation requires the development of new strategies for intercultural business communication in accordance with modern ideas, knowledge and practices of international business communication.

 

References:
Hall, E.T. (1985). Hidden Differences: Studies in International Communication, Hamburg: Grunder and Jahr
Hall, E.T. (1990). Understanding Cultural Differences, Germans, French and Americans. Yarmouth: Intercultural Press
Hofstede G. (1980). Culture’s Consequences, International Differences in Work Related Values. Sage
FitzGerald, H. (2003). How Different are We? Spoken Discourse in Intercultural Communication. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd.
Rouse M. Business Communications: A Cultural and Strategic Approach: Strategy and Culture. Cengage Learning EMEA , 2011
Samovar L., Porter R. & McDaniel E. (2007) “Communication Between Cultures”¯. Belmont, CA:Thomas Wadsworth
Scollon, R., Wong Scollon, S. (2001). Intercultural Communication, A Discourse Approach. Blackwell Publishing.

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