Cultural diversity has been increasing in the business environment ever since the world started becoming an integrated global village. The development and advance of communicative technology has lead to an increased international and global market for business. This is the reason why business have been going multinational in order to take advantage of the increased target market and the lower costs of operation in other countries. However one very important aspect of operating in the international environment especially in terms of business is to be well aware of the host country’s culture and respect it.
The diverse cultures around the world are blending now, however when a business takes its operations international it is unaware of the cultural symbols, aspects and traditions of the host country this leads to conflicts and misunderstanding when the communication takes place between multicultural personnel. Some of the most common made by people regarding the culture and business in the international market pertain to ignorance. “It is still rare for senior executives to take cross-cultural differences seriously when making decisions on mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and licensing agreements in the international arena. It does not help that institutional shareholders and analysts rarely regard cross-cultural differences as significant, either. Yet there is plenty of evidence that cultural differences are a major reason why so many of cross-border joint ventures fail.” (Pooley, 2005)
The problem concerning the difference in cultures and their impact on the business usually take place when the people form different cultures carry out business activities while communicating with each other. They all conduct the activities in their own cultural way and think that their method id the normal one. Some of the cultural mistakes that have been determined pertain to the differences in the language, the traditions and the differences of the sign language and symbols. It is possible for a hand gesture or a symbol to have different meanings in different cultures. Similarly different colors depict different attitudes to people form different cultures. Aside form this even the way in which the people interact with each and other and carry out their business activities signifies certain connotations to the people form diverse cultures. As a result when a business is investing in operations across the international boundaries, they should keep in mind the diverse nature of the global market. This is also important when the company is trying to sell their products in the international market. On many occasions companies had to change their products appearance and packaging in order to make the product more appealing and suitable for their international target market.
Of example of a company which has been able to establish itself despite the cultural differences in the international market is Ace Hardware International. This is a chain of franchise stores which operates in multiple countries and markets. The company made use of franchising in order to divulge and expand in the global market. However its standard and methods for conducting business was not accepted and suitable for the cultures in its target markets. As a result the company adjusted its franchising method of conducting business by keeping the standard and the quality of products and services provide the same in its operations but changing the way they conduct this business. This was done by hiring country managers for the target regions and employing them to adjust the marketing strategies and business activities to suit the customs in the host country.
Another company which has been operating on a global scale and has been interacting with the diverse markets is HSBC bank. This company has taken the diversity of the international market as a strategic selling point for its business and has developed marketing campaigns focusing on educating customers about the differences in the cultures around the world. On the same note McDonalds is a fast food restaurant which has been operating as a franchise in multiple countries across the world. It has been offering standard products and service to its customers. However, it has made changes to its service strategy ad menu I order to provide for the different cultural differences in its market. The company has done this by providing Kosher food for the Jewish market in the middle East, and a vegetarian menu for the market in India. Additionally it has a completely Halal menu offering for the market in Muslin countries.
After going through the material available on international business and the cultural challenges present, it has been determined that in order to be able to operate in a successful manner while catering to a diverse market, the business needs to be informed about the differences that exist between the different cultures. The policy of being ignorant is outdated and does not yield positive results in the long run. As a result when conducting business in the international market it is required that one remembers that every action comment and reaction as well as every gesture is being watched and monitored by the hosts, clients and the target market. As a result one should seek to find similarities in the cultures and build the relationships around them. Additionally the using humility and thinking before acting is the best possible course of action when conducting business on a global scale.
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