The objective of this study is to answer the questions how the major elements and dimension of culture including religion, ethics, values, attitudes, manners, customs, social structures, and organizations integrated in Singapore by local conducting business. As well, this work will answer how these elements and dimensions compare with United States culture and business. Finally, this work will examine the implications for United States businesses that wish to conduct business in Singapore.
The work of Abeysinghe and Choy (2009) reports that the economy in Singapore has been undergone a transformation that has turned it into "…an Asian powerhouse…" due to the "far-sighted economic policies. The economy of Singapore is proof of the outcome of a market-driven economy taking place during fast development of high per capita income, and an environment free of corruption in which the workforce is both motivated and educated. The financial infrastructure of Singapore is legally well established.
Koolas and Mau (1995, p.1013) stated that Singapore is "incredibly western for an Asian City." Urbanization and globalization are stated to have "set in motion an expanding global culture of McWorld that fast is eclipsing local culture in many Asian cities." (Yuen, 2006, p.831) Hall (2000, p.640) is reported to have stated that culture "is now seen as the magic substitute for all the factories and warehouses, and as a device that will create a new urban image, making the city more attractive to mobile capital and mobile professional workers." Yet others have interpreted benefits to the economy noting that culture is "a means to encourage urban tourism development." (Yeun, 2006, p.640)
The work of Osman-Gani and Tan (2002) reports Singapore to be one of the most dynamic economies in Asia and one that "has consistently been ranked one of the most competitive nations in the world, with a world class infrastructure and high standard of living that is comparable to developed countries such as the United States." (p. 819) Singapore is located at the southernmost tip of the Malaysian peninsula, "a strength that enables it to be the focal point of interaction between the East and the West. Singapore is home to hundreds of multinational companies from America, Japan, Germany, England, France, Scandinavia, and other parts of the world. The main religions in Singapore are Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and Taoism." (Oman-Gani and Tan, 2002) Osman-Gani and Tan additionally report that interactions "among the three main ethnic groups occur daily in social and business life and have become an essential part of doing business in Singapore." (p.819)
Cultural and Historical Conservation
Lefebvre (1996) states the city "historically constructed is not longer lived and understood practically. It is only an object of cultural consumption for Tourists." (p.148) Heritage tourism has driven the issue of conservation in European cities as well as in American and in Asia. However, the Asian urban heritage has been given consideration by only a very few. It was concluded in the work of Mason and de la Toree (2000) that "the philosophy, planning, policy, and practices of urban heritage conservation are rooted and in many ways still dominated by canons and assumptions formulated a century ago in Western Europe and North America." (Yuen, 2006, p.640) Yuen (2012) writes in the work entitled "Reclaiming Cultural Heritage in Singapore" that Hall (2000) stated that culture is now viewed as the fixall for the manufacturing sector and that it will result in the creation of a new image for the urban areas that will result in the city becoming more viable to mobile capital and mobile workers who are in the professional worker class. The economic benefits are cited as a reason to support the development in urban tourism. Yuen (2006) notes that cities in Asia and throughout the world undergoing rapid modernization are unknowingly destroying the heritage resources of the cities due to the demands of urban development. Ley (1987) states of this process referring to Vancouver as follows:
"a corporate urban landscape, the product of an increasingly corporate society…the planning and design of the modern city was a blueprint for placelessness, of anonymous, impersonal spaces, massive structures, and automobile throughways."
Likewise, there have been historic buildings in Singapore destroyed due to the pressure for creation of newness in Singapore and the result is that Singapore has started to look homogenized like any other city in the world and has lost its cultural interest. Heritage conservation is an idea supported by tourism dollars and this is true throughout the world as well as in Singapore.
Recommendations of the Singapore Tourism Task Force
The Singapore Tourism Task Force Report has stated recommendations that in order to draw tourists to Singapore the historical districts would have to be preserved. Stated as the largest economic driver of conservation of culture and heritage is that of tourism dollars with the average spending by visitors of historical and cultural spots exceeding more than $631 with an average sty of 4.7 nights as compared to $457 and 3.4 nights by other travelers in the United States. (Yuen, 2006, paraphrased) The work of Aitchison, MacLeod and Shaw (2000) report
"the presence of the past within the landscape itself however has also long evoked fascination and is a strong motivator for leisure and tourism. Whether a landscape has historic or cultural associations or demonstrates the mark of previous civilizations, the heritage it symbolizes seems to have deep roots and suggest a wide appeal." (p.94)
Cultural and heritage-based tourism is the focus of many cities throughout the world. One example of this is Philadelphia reporting an investment of $12 million in private and public spending on heritage tourism. European cities are also reporting spending on cultural and heritage tourism. Cultural tourism is reported in the work of Richards (1996) to be among the most rapid expand segments in the global tourism market with cultural tourism evolving into an entirely new tourism industry with various interpretations of its heritage as well as the interpretations applied to the Singaporean products produced and experiences in the city. (Yuen, 2006, paraphrased)
A Sense of Placeness
Urry (1990) is noted as having stated that "the vernacular landscapes form part of our collective memories of place, and as the commercial sector recently discovers there are profits to be made from selling this past." (cited in: Yuen, 2006, p.833-34) The long-term goal in Singapore is to bring in more tourists annually with the goal set at 8% per annum. The economic benefits of tourism support the goal for changing urban policy in Singapore. However, not only tourism has a focus on urban conservation as urban conservation is stated to be such that can create new attachments to place by local people. Therefore, economic benefits are not the only benefits of urban conservation.
Cultural preservation and urban conservation has the potential to create a sense of placeness and unique identity in the face of globalization that has resulted in a great deal of homogenization. A sense of place is reported as the link felt between the individual and a location due to the place's intrinsic character. This is stated to result from cultural memories or qualities. "The distinction of a landscape, which has lost its placeness resulting in what has been termed placelessness, is described in the work of Chapman (1999) who described placelessness as a "landscape that could exist anywhere in the world…. [with] no vital connection to a certain locale…." (cited in: Yuen, 2006, p.835)
A better understanding of the sense of placelessness is gained through the worlds of Calvino (1974) who stated as follows:
"If on arriving at Trude I had not read the city's name written in big letters, would have thought I was landing at the same airport from which I had taken off. The downtown streets displayed the same goods, packages, signs that had not changed at all. I already knew the hotel where I happened to be lodged. . . .The world is covered by a sole Trude, which does not begin and does not end. Only the name of the airport changes." (cited in: Yuen, 2006, p.836)
Competition between cities has been rapidly growing and the conservation of historical attractions has gained in importance in "city (re) making, promotion, and competitive positioning." (Yuen, 2006, p.835) Strange (1997) stated that cities "that demonstrate through promotion and marketing their historical richness are more appealing to those with capital seeking attractive locations." (cited in Yuen, 2006, p.835) City branding, according to Evans (2003) is not only economic differentiation but is also city
"identification recognition, continuity and collectivity . . . branding city quarters in the past provided a link between the diverging individual and collective culture and identity, reconnecting the locale with a sense of sociocultural "belonging," whether to a city, neighborhood or nation." (cited in Yuen, 2006, p.836)
The policy of Singapore has been to move toward conservation of the culture and Asianness and as stated in the work of Yeoh (2005) this policy change was