International Management Is Affected by Cultural and Traditional Differences in Communication
This paper presents an examination of communication on an international level when it comes to business management. The writer takes the reader on an exploratory journey through the reasons it is important to be able to manage such communication. There were 12 sources used to complete this paper.
As the world continues to globalize, the art of communication on an international level is becoming an increasingly important skill to attain. Communication in any type of venture, whether it is a business deal, a non-profit situation, or personal use, is the key to success or failure. The ability to communicate well holds the key to providing the participants with satisfactory solutions or leaving them with confusion and frustration. International management duties include the developed ability to handle and oversee communication on an international level. This means much more than the use of bilingual staff or the understanding of foreign correspondence. It includes the understanding that international cultures may differ and those differences can interfere with the ability to communicate effectively. Effective international communication can ease the path of business and allow for a much more smooth operation. The international management of that communication provides the confidence to expand business horizons and provide a strong foundation for the success of those ventures.
During 1996 the international communication needs of some 1,500 companies across four European countries were studied as part of the Elucidate project supported by the EU's Leonardo da Vinci programme. The study focuses on companies with fewer than 500 employees in particular regions of France, Germany Spain and the UK. It measures the extent to which companies have experienced language and cultural barriers in their international trade and analyses the successful strategies they have pursued to overcome them (Communication, 1997)."
The most intrusive barrier to the attempt to internationally manage communications is the language barrier. Anytime a company is working with an international base of any kind there is going to be a question of communication in the department of different languages. Languages are used to communicate various needs and desires and the inability to communicate with language will halt the process of conducting business on international levels. Communication with different languages means more than simply being able to speak and understand the language. There are cultural aspects to every language that are important to understand in the international management of communication. Some cultures believe that it is a sign of respect to get very close physically when speaking to another party. These cultures will get right in someone's face and practically shout the words out. This is an accepted and preferred way of communicating for these cultures. Other cultures consider this to be a rude and confrontational practice. Because of the different understandings of this one aspect of verbal communication it is important that all parties involved in international management understand the various cultural differences and work to relay this to the people involved in the day-to-day communications of the business (Communication, 1997).
A high proportion of companies stated they experienced language barriers in their business dealings: 53 per cent of the UK sample and 50 per cent of the German sample -- indicating the scale of the problem posed by languages in export trade (Communication, 1997)."
Cultural aspects of communication are often embedded within, and inseparable from, the linguistic, involving misunderstandings over behaviour, as well as simple communication (Communication, 1997). "
Poor understanding of cultural and language differences can lead to the following problems:
Lost business to local suppliers who speak the language."
Misunderstandings lead to wrong actions, which lead to poor reputation, thus no business.
Unable to follow up mailshots etc. By telephone.
Cannot follow the other side's confidential talk and we guessed wrong (Communication, 1997)."
Within the context of this understanding there have been several interesting things discovered upon further research of the topic of international management with regard to communications.
Samples with the highest percentage of companies having experienced language barriers, also indicate the lowest percentage of companies employing language strategies (Communication, 1997).
The majority of companies indicate that they have a high proportion of employees with language skills -- with the exception of the English sample -- which is 12 percentage points lower than the other Euro- regions (Communication, 1997).
There are many aspects of communication that are vital to the success of international business practices across the world. It is important to study and understand the differences in cultural traditions so the accidental offending of the other party is less apt to occur. An example of this would be the giving of rectangular shapes in Hong Kong, Korea or Taiwan because these cultures consider it a negative shape (Heeding, 1996). When communicating through the use of gifts it is important to know things such as this negative view of a shape so that the communication is not seen as negative and provoking.
Another example of communication culture on an international level is the understanding of how color affects thinking. African nations consider red to be the color of death. However, Denmark residents consider it a positive color and a sign of future luck. When communicating with various nations through the use of international management it is important not to use offensive colors in banners, memos, seminar posters and other tools of business communication (Heeding, 1996).
Business executives who are not alert to cultural differences simply cannot function efficiently overseas. They may not even understand something as basic as what signifies closing a deal in a particular country -- a handshake, a written contract, or a memorandum of understanding. Taking the time to learn something about the culture of a country before doing business there is also a sign of respect and is usually deeply appreciated, not to mention rewarding for the company (Heeding, 1996). "
One of the first theorists on the importance of international communication importance in international management was Raymond Chen. He was an international relations specialist who conducted research studies on the topic of cultural differences in communicating internationally (Negotiating, 1998).
Cohen spends a great deal of time setting out the cultural context in which values are established and from which a prioritized set of goals are established with accompanying increments of risk acceptance. Case examples provided are heavily weighted to Asian states, Japan, India, and China, less so with Mexico and some mention of the Carter interaction with Sadat of Egypt. Cohen characterizes the approaches taken by American negotiators as "low context," an individualistic and national distinctive mode of operation by states that tend to be highly independent. Those states that require greater interdependence with other nations are termed "high context," characterized by a nuanced approach to communication to make up for the lack of explicit power (Negotiating, 1998)."
Communication internationally is not just about speaking. Many companies have internal company magazines that they publish and distribute to all plants and affiliates. If the culture of one plant is mainly Moslem, the use of pictures or barely clad women in the magazine would be found highly offensive, even if the rest of the company located in non-Muslim areas of the world would not find it offensive at all (Leaper, 1996).
The use of communication skills on an international level can wreak havoc on the business world. Several factors can contribute to the problems that are often found in communication attempts (Spencer, 1996).
Failing to confirm the message.
Fearing to disagree.
Choosing the wrong medium (Spencer, 1996)."
One of the recent attempts to improve international business communication has come in the form of having people go to various sites and perform their jobs in the international atmosphere. The experience of trying to communicate there, and the daily cultural immersion allows them to understand how things might be…