At present, the world is illustrated as a place where people belonging to different cultural backgrounds interact with each other to have effective communication do that they can exchange their ideas, thoughts and feelings (Bhardawaj, 2010). The communication between individuals can occur in various areas such as science, education, entertainment, tourism, immigration, mass media and business. In order to have constructive communication, it is mandatory that all forms of misunderstandings and breakdowns are completely removed from the system.
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It has been stated by Martin and Nakayama (2007) that the latest trend in the business world is of globalisation and many companies are expanding their operations outside their regional boundaries to enhance their presence in different international markets. According to Lewis (2008), the swift increase in the globalisation of businesses has mandated the corporations to develop an understanding about the intercultural business communication methods, techniques and theories so that the organisations can overcome the prospective hurdles in their international businesses.
All the experts who are working in the field of multicultural environment require guidance on developing a work environment that is conducive for their entire workforce; the researchers belonging to the fields of cultural anthropology, sociology, psychology and applied linguistics have studied various factors to demonstrate the importance of various cultures’ knowledge and their implications on conducting effective intercultural business communication (Bowie, 2008; Chaney & Martin, 2011; Zang & Zhou, 2008).
When the businesses have adequate understanding about the cultures and differing aspects of various countries, there is a high probability that there are positive interactions among people and cordial and effective business relationships are developed (Jameson, 2007; Lewis, 2005). The main concern for every organisation operating in international regions is to develop an understanding about the culture, values, norms and attitudes of each area of operation so that there are less chances of the misinterpretation of communication.
In order to provide guidance to the organisations that are engaged in the globalisation processes, the researchers have studied the cultural contexts of distinct nations and have provided in-depth insights about the intercultural business communication (Espinar, 2010), working cultures (Forey & Lockwood, 2010), work behaviours (Bowey & Thill, 2010), work etiquettes (Okoro, 2012), language barriers and subcultures present in the organisation (Zang & Zhou, 2008).
Intercultural Business Communication in the light of various researches
According to Reynolds and Valentine (2011), intercultural communication takes place when people belonging to diverse ethnical backgrounds share and discuss their ideas and tasks in a language that is different from their native language. As the globalisation of businesses has been increasing, the productive intercultural business communication is vital for appropriate performance of the organisation. A successful and effective intercultural communication is one that is simple, frequent and effective along with demonstrating respect to the cultural viewpoints of everyone working within the business premises (Crate & Fox, 2008).
Since intercultural business communication is an important area of study, many researchers have studied the concept from varying angles have classified them into three main approaches i.e. positivist approach, humanistic approach and systemic approach. The first person who coined the term ‘intercultural business communication’ was Edward Hall who emphasized the importance of this concept in his work ‘The Silent Language’ in 1959. Hall’s high-low context of culture and Hofstede’s national culture were the major contributors in the field of intercultural communication.
Hall’s theory (1959) helped many researchers to study context of the culture in determining the contrasting communication patterns among the individuals from low and high context cultures. On the other hand, Hoftstede (1980) limited his studies on the national culture that created difficulty in comparison among various cultural methods and styles of communication. Samovar, Porter and McDaniel (2011) stated that the cultural studies further investigated the communication and cultural systems in distinctive nations, countries and cultures; while, in the negotiation studies, intercultural thinking was incorporated by Ting-Tommey (1988) who stressed the importance of understanding negotiation skills in the international business contexts.
In the intercultural business communication, other factors such as non-verbal behaviour, emotional factors and gestures (facial expressions) were added to understand their role in the communication exchange proficiency within the organisation. Some researchers are of the opinion that although Hofstede primarily studied the cultural differences associated with the nationality element but for various practical reasons, culture has strong association with a country of origin and it should be incorporated in understanding the business problems, issues and strategies (Beebe, Beebe & Redmond, 2011).
According to Asante and Gudykunst (1989), cited by Reynolds and Valentine (2011), the individual variable should not be overlooked because a lot of times people react or communicate in a particular way on the basis of their own perceptions and beliefs which can be totally different from the culture to which a person is related. As the cultures are heterogeneous, other components besides the national factor need to be considered to understand the individual’s perception about business communication. Hence, it is vital for the businesses to understand the individual nature of each act of communication to avoid any kind of misinterpretation or confusion that can impact the business operations.
Validity and reliability of the article
After careful analysis and evaluation of the article, it can be concluded that it has highlighted all important elements that are vital for the development and implementation of an effective intercultural business communication. In order to avoid problems in the communication processes, there is a drastic shift in doing extensive research about the culture and other attributes of each nation to gather sufficient information about that respective country. With an in-depth understanding about the business culture and communication processes along with individual behaviours towards different modes of communication, an organisation can take proactive steps of countering them within its potential international destination.
Recently, all the organisations have mandated the need of training their staff to work in the business environment so that they can incorporate the cultural values and intercultural communication process that will help them in achieving their desired targets in the global businesses. It has been rightly stated by the author of the article that both verbal (language) and non-verbal (gestures, facial expressions, acts of socializing) communication are important for understanding the intercultural business communication in an organisation. Hence, globalisation has made it vital for every Multi-national Corporation to modify its operations in international destinations in accordance with the culture and business etiquettes of the respective nation.
Task # 2 – Business Etiquette and its importance in international business communication
International Business Communication and Business Etiquettes
In today’s world, every organisation is expanding its business operations globally and this expanding scope of the corporations in the current decade is drawing attention of the researchers to study the importance of business etiquettes in international businesses (Bowee & Thill, 2010). With the advent of global economy i.e. globalisation, consumers are more aware of the environment, an organisation’s business operations have to deal with new rules and standards for effective production processes and even expansion in the interdependency of achieving economies of scale on international level (Chaney & Martin, 2011).
Almost all of the Multi-national corporations are exploiting the opportunities available for them globally and are demonstrating their sensitivity to the cultural differences so that they can successfully prosper as an international enterprise. The studies of some researchers have shown that some organisations have been successful in their international operations (Forey & Lockwood, 2010; Okoro, 2012), while, others had to face survival problems either because of cultural imperialism or improper acculturation of their expert managers on the international level.
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According to Espinar (2010), the success of global business is heavily dependent on their ability of developing adequate understanding about the cross-cultural etiquettes and diversity management among global workforce. On the other hand, Samovar, Porter and McDaniel (2010) emphasized that training is mandatory for the global managers so that they are equipped with the interpersonal communication skills, relationship building skills along with group communication competencies.
The managers must have excellent negotiation skills of cross-culture level so that they can maintain their global competitiveness. In order to achieve the business goals successfully in global businesses, the cross-cultural business etiquettes are important for effective international business communication (Hooker, 2008).
Implications of Business Etiquettes in International Business Communication
In order to manage the global businesses effectively, it has become mandatory for the international corporations to understand the business etiquettes of each nation as there is a huge variation in the working behaviour. The business etiquettes are developed on the basis of culture that is prevalent among the individuals and society as a whole; the researchers are studying culture of other countries to develop an understanding about their role in international business communication. For instance, during a business conversation, in U.S. making an eye contact is considered to be a business etiquette; while, in Japan, eye contact is considered as a misbehaviour (Okoro, 2012).
According to Deresky (2010), the managers working in global corporations have to acquire effective skills for strategic negotiations and intercultural exchange so that the targeted goals can be achieved and a positive impression is created on the people. The studies have shown that both decision-making and negotiation processes have to be culture-specific and they should ensure that an extensive detailed analysis of understanding, reciprocity and sensitivity is conducted so that all complications in the business operations are addressed beforehand (Bharadwaj, 2010; Forey & Lockwood, 2010; Jameson, 2007).
As the workforce in global organisations is diverse, the managers have to learn the complexities that are associated with the cultural values and norms (Lewis, 2008). The researchers of intercultural business communication field have emphasized the importance of understanding the importance of business etiquettes in global workplaces to sustain the competitive edge in the market. It is vital for every organisation to understand that they will have to tolerate some behaviour that is unaccepted by them because these behaviours are an integral part of the business environment of that country.
According to Martin and Nakayama (2007), in high-context cultures like Japan meaning is interpreted by way of non-verbal communication such as body language, rephrasing of the words, pauses and meetings; while, in U.S. which is also a high-context culture, meaning is conveyed by means of verbal communication such as spoken words.
When mixed messages are communicated to the people, it can create feeling of discomfort and international managers will have to struggle in reconciling the inconsistencies; such situations can be avoided by following the right business etiquettes applicable within that country. For example, in China and some parts of Africa, having a direct eye contact while talking is considered rude and inappropriate; on the other hand, in US, making direct eye contact is mandatory and it is interpreted as demonstration of reliability, honesty and trustworthiness. In India, this act is viewed as disrespect and hostility especially when people communicate with elders (Chaney & Martin, 2011).
The business etiquette in Great Britain has its basis on the strong sense of nationalism and identity. The businessmen tend to be very detail oriented and have high importance for their traditions and customs; they are reserved and expect everyone to act in this way. However, U.S. businessmen tend to be frank and believe in developing friendly and cordial relations with everyone working in their organisation (Espinar, 2010). For British business people, professionalism and adherence to the ethical code of business practice are important factors of their business etiquettes; while, US business people prefer to have casual relationship within the business premises.
The business etiquettes in Germany have their foundation on the formal culture of the country and ensure that the behavioural expectations are provided with great details so that the participants have understanding about the way of doing things. The German businessmen respect hierarchical differences and believe in authoritative style of business; they have high preference for hierarchical organisational structure and want to avoid any kind of uncertainty. The communication within the organisation is formal and increased focus is on achievements on personal level, directness and truth (Okoro, 2012).
As the business organizations are expanding globally, it has become vital for them to maintain their global competitiveness by managing the differences in the culture, developing effective intercultural business communication mediums and training the managers to equip themselves with cross-cultural decision-making and negotiation skills. The success or failure of an organization in managing such a diverse workforce that has people from various cultural backgrounds is largely depended on the manager’s ability of communicating effectively with everyone within the organization.
Although the international businesses have been growing because of rise in globalization and they are largely driven by the advancements in the field of technology and opportunities in economic interdependencies but the success of these businesses is largely impacted by the intellectual skills of the managers to understand the business etiquettes, values and customs that are required for conducting the business among nations. With good understanding about the cultures and business etiquettes, global companies will be able to implement proper international business communication processes which will help them in sustaining their position in the global market.
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