In today's robust business world, the boundaries between the countries are showing contractions at an exponential pace. Having a multinational business model is considered as a usual addition to the existing business practice. However, where the world has turned into a global village, cultural forces have not lost their influential power. As a matter of fact, it is important for business enterprises that the impact of the cultural norms and values of the countries where they are currently operating and are planning to operate, should be considered before actually initiating the business expansion. For the purpose of business restructuring, ABC & Co. which is a leading ERP solutions provider in New Zealand, has decided to expand its business to Brazil. However, before actually commencing the expansion process, a preliminary observation of Brazilian culture (in terms of business dealings) is performed and a cursory comparison with norms of the business culture in NZ is made. This comparative cultural analysis comprises of observations related to the mannerism of greeting, body language of the citizens during business meetings, food and timings related to formal meetings and the preferred formal dress code.
In business world, the art of greeting plays an important role in establishing the first impression. Knowing the cultural norms and values of the person you are encountering would be convenient and help in avoiding any unexpected embarrassing situation. Considering the cultural differences of Brazil and New Zealand, it is important to recognize the usual mode of greeting. As per our cursory research, it was found that Brazil's cultural show intimacy in all kind of relationships and corporate relationships are no different (Globaledge, 2012). The usual mode of greeting between strangers is a warm handshake followed by kisses on alternate cheeks or sometimes just cheeks. This mannerism of greeting is common between women and also when men and women greet each other. However, as far as men are concerned, a warm hand shake is a meeting initiator. Sometimes this handshake will be followed by touching on arms or patting on backs. Furthermore, touching arms, shoulders during the conversation is a norm and should not to be considered as a taboo (Kwintessential, 2012).
It is astonishing how many cultures can have similar traits. Even in New Zealand, a reasonable instimate display of greetings exists. It is important to note that in business environment, the most suitable greeting manner is a handshake which can be followed by a hug if the purpose is already known. Like Brazil, a handshake between men and women is initiated by women. However, these handshakes are followed by a smile which is a positive reinforcement during the greeting phase. Although residents of New Zealand are friendly and prefer using first name, it is important to address them with their surnames unless suggested otherwise (ALMC, 2012). However, Maori natives who are reflection of NZ's tribal aspect greet their visitors by exchanging handshakes followed by simultaneous touching of foreheads and noses. However, a handshake must always be preferred (Kwintessental, 2012).
Along with the greetings method, the body language also plays a vital role in a healthy business relationship. Where few gestures might be normal for a certain culture but they may be a taboo in the other one. Therefore, prior knowledge of body expression is important in order to ensure that no misunderstandings take place as a result of cultural difference. Where Brazilians have an intimate way of greeting their visitors, the same conduct continues during the conversations and meetings as well. Brazilians are famous for their excessive and overrated body language. Be it a formal conversation or a friendly gathering, no verbal communication is complete without movements of hands and highly expressive facial features. Brazilians are very tactile in their expression. Since they are known for operating in close proximity, therefore a high level of eye contact would be no surprise which can have a rather daunting impact on other cultures. This combination of tactility, proximity and a steady gaze can be intimidating for some culture (many Asian cultures for example), but it is important that you adapt to these issues as quickly as possible otherwise your own reserve could be misinterpreted as unfriendliness (WBC, 2012).
Where Brazilians are reasonably friendly in their formal conversations and supplement them by aggressive body language, New Zealanders are more subtle in their body language. Their verbal conversation is coupled with hand gestures. As a response to the speaker's gestures, nodding, raising eyebrows and waving is a usual response in order to show recognition. Traditional social courtesy is valued but not necessarily practiced by all segments of the population. Personal space usually is important during conversation; standing too close is uncomfortable for many people. Respect for personal space is of fundamental value in formal business communication (ALMC, 2012).
Attire is an important component of formal code of conduct. Where degree of intimacy plays a vital role on the selection of attire while preparing for formal meetings, even this area is not exempted from cultural influences. As far as dress code in Brazil is concerned, cultural forces play a vital role. Despite the level of intimacy in the relationships, formal dress code is always advisable. This dress code includes coat / jacket coupled with matching trousers and light colored shirts. Presence of tie indicates an executive position. However, dress code is always dependent on the person or party one is dealing with. Degree of intimacy in the relationships plays a vital role (Novais, 2011). Where the meeting is with a known person whom one has met earlier as well, a reasonably casual dress code is also suggestible. However, history of the relationship plays a decisive role. In office environment, a three piece dress is suggestible for men; whereas knee-long dresses with overall balanced persona is advisable for ladies. Use of heavy jewelry, watches or makeup is not recommended. Reasonable simplicity and elegance combined with formal sense of dressing will do the needful (Poelzl, 2002).
Where formal dressing is a prerequisite in the first few meetings at Brazil and this norm has a room of leniency in it as the time passes, NZ citizens show religious adherence to formal dress code. During office hours and formal meetings, a three piece dress for men and a formal dress for women combined with reasonable accessories and makeup is a must; and this rule is not subjected to any flexibility. Therefore, it can be said that during initial business meetings with Brazilians and NZ citizens, dress code will not act as a hindrance. However, after first few meetings, the dress code may become reasonably casual including ironed jeans and shirts (William, 2010).
Like other differences between business etiquettes prevailing in NZ and Brazil, food etiquettes also have few differences. In Brazil, lunch as well as dinners can be used for business related discussions. However, the meals are usually lengthy and are full of random and informal conversation. Discussing business during the meal is considered a bad manner. Secondly, selection of restaurant also acts as a reflection of the guests' importance. Hygiene is of fundamental importance. Washing hands before meal, avoiding touch food with bare hands are some of the basic rules. Meals are usually heavy and consist of traditional cuisine. Display of sophistication is easily observed during the meals in terms of overall mannerism. Even calling out for waiter and not raising index finger is considered as an ill manner (ediplomat, 2012).
In general perspective, these attributes of business meetings during meals are no different than the ones prevailing at NZ. However, minor digressions are present. During business meetings at NZ, the preferred time is only lunch or supper which usually takes place till 4 pm. Dinners are highly restricted for informal gatherings. Even during the dinners where business acquaintances are invited, display of formal etiquettes in not appreciated. However, quite similar to Brazilian business culture, brining up business during the meals is not recommended until unless the host doesn't bring up the topic. Other than that, the meals are preferred to be short and light where local cuisine and salads are the choices. Where the business acquaintances are meeting for informal dinner, exchange of gifts is a norm. Flowers and wines are preferred whereas expensive gifts are avoided. Other than these basic differences in terms of timing and quantity of the food, the fundamental rules for formal meals remain the same.
Where dress code, food, body language and greetings mannerism play an important role in all the cultures, it is important to know an appropriate medium of conducting formal meetings. This appropriateness is dependent on space and time of the meetings. It is important that an understanding of the prospective culture is acquired in this respect so that necessary measures can be taken before time in order to have successful meetings. In Brazilian culture, having meetings at the spur of moment is not unusual. Since the culture is driven by close proximity therefore…