This article, originally appearing on Business News Daily’s website, addresses one of the more difficult aspects of international business; intercultural communication. While it may be easy enough now to send an email around the world or find business prospects across the globe, barriers to expansion still exist in the form of cultural differences, many of which are often quite stark. The article, however, is not a laundry list of faux-pas for American business professionals to avoid, but rather a more subtle explanation of the importance of embracing and respecting business culture.
Despite the widespread reaches of technology and globalization, according to the article, businesses still face challenges in expansion internationally. While companies globally may now all be using the same type of email server or software, the culture of business still fundamentally differs around the world. While Americans may be very attached to the idea of punctuality or deadlines, that is not necessarily culturally compatible elsewhere.
Acknowledging difference between office procedures, cultures and domestic markets is only the first step in true international cooperation. As the author alludes to in the article, active listening and modification of procedures are the real keys to global expansion. While listening and modifying are very important to breaking down cultural barriers, it’s also important for the company to retain elements of their own culture without complete assimilation or laundry-listing traits, which often appears disingenuous. Respectful, open dialogue and listening earnestly to client concerns, as well as making a studied effort to truly engage in the needs and specifics of a foreign market are the best ways for a company to maximize their global impact.
International relations, as it applies to business, moves from the studied academic theory to real-world practice through cultural competence. While those in the international affairs and international business sectors certainly will have studied foreign markets and governments, it’s the adoption of cultural sensitivity and cultural appropriateness that implements these skills in the real world. Without cultural competence or cultural understanding, even someone with an advanced level of theoretical academic study can find themselves stunted in their attempts at expansion or growth.
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