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How Ethnic Variances Effect Worldwide Business

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Table of contents

  1. Communication
  2. Workplace Protocol
  3. Organizational Hierarchy
  4. Language
  5. Media
  6. Scopes of Culture
  7. Conflict

Multinational and cosmopolitan groups are similarly becoming always more usual, significance creations can yield from a progressively varied knowledge wicked and original, innate methods to business troubles. However, along with the welfares of perceptiveness and knowledge, global organizations also facade potential falling blocks when it comes to culture and international business.

While there are a number of ways to define culture, put simply it is a set of common and accepted norms shared by a society. But in an international business context, what is common and accepted for a professional from one country, could be very different for a colleague from overseas. Recognizing and understanding how culture affects international business in three core areas: communication, etiquette, and organizational hierarchy can help you to avoid misunderstandings with colleagues and clients from abroad and excel in a globalized business environment.


For the success of any business efficient communication is very important, but when there is an actual risk of our message getting “lost in transition” it somewhere becomes particularly serious. English is the real language of business and many people are not fluent in the particular language in many countries. Method of conveying the message is more important than a particular language. Moreover, fluency in English may give a practiced enhancement universally. It can be equally crucial in international business in understanding the importance of refined non-verbal communication between cultures.

Some of the actions may be unusual or even offensive to the foreign colleague or client like – be it a firm handshake, making direct eye contact, or kiss on the cheek. So doing research on different cultures is the best way to interact with the individuals. We should take care of the body language and whenever in any doubt we should ask. Navigating. Sensitivity, openness, and curiosity can help to put everyone at ease while navigating cross-cultural communication.

Workplace Protocol

From all around the world diverse tactics to the specialized communication are just one of the immeasurable difference in workplace customs. To deal with the colleagues from the different countries the formality of address is a big consideration. We have to take care of do they prefer titles and surnames or is being on the first name basis acceptable? While different countries tend to use official “Mr./Ms. Surname,” in most of the Asian countries like South Korea, China, and Singapore. Americans and Canadians tend to use the first name somewhere different from the Asian countries. Blundering on the side of formality is usually the safest whenever anyone is in doubt.

In an international business environment, the idea of punctuality can also differ between the cultures. There are many different ideas like if someone is not on time then often it can lead to the negative cultural perceptions and also can lead to misunderstanding. For example, if a Canadian may arrive at meeting a few minutes early but on the other hand an American or Mexican colleague may arrive several minutes or more after the scheduled start time and will still be considered on time.

Things like workplace confrontation, rules and regulations and assumed working hours comes with differences in attitudes along with the differences in etiquette. There are different thinking of different things like working for long hours is considered to a sign of commitment and achievement while other thinking is that working for extra hours is a sign of lack of efficiency or the reprioritization of essential family or personal time.

Organizational Hierarchy

Organizational order and attitudes regarding the administration functions can also fluctuate extensively between the different cultures. In the meetings, questioning senior decisions, or expressing a differing opinion that can be dictated by cultural norms most probably the junior and middle management positions feel comfortable speaking up.

Moreover, these values and attitudes are considered to be the reflection of the countries societal values or level of social equity. For instance, Japan is the country which traditionally values societal hierarchy, relative status, and respect for seniority brings this approach into the workplace. Across the organization, they help to define the rules and responsibilities is better defined by the hierarchy. This also means that those who are in the senior management positions command for the respect and expect a certain level of formality and deference from junior team members.

However, in some countries like Norway, that underscore communal uniformity, incline to have a moderately smooth organizational grading. In turn, this can mean relatively informal communication and an emphasis on cooperation across the organization. It can be easily seen that why these cultural differences can present a challenge when defining parts in the multinational teams with distinctive arrogances and belief of the structural pyramid.

As part of our mission to become the world’s most relevant business school. A big part of this preparation recognizes the role culture plays in worldwide business. In many ways, today’s business environment, with students of 130 nationalities collaborating and studying together. And not only are our students multicultural, our faculty is too. Many have lived, worked, and taught across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and beyond.

Outside of the classroom, students have the opportunity to experience life, culture, and commerce in today’s most dynamic business centers through our global campus rotation program. This international learning environment offers a truly global perspective and unique insight into culture and business practices from all over the world.


Language, our main communication tool, is perhaps one of the most important barriers and a fundamental cause of problems in cross-cultural communication. It is important since culture including norms and code of social interactions within the community is acquired through language, along with the structure of social meanings and relationships that are fundamental for future social interactions.

In addition to language, space, time, body gestures and writing styles have different meanings in each culture. Some cultures like to keep a distance or a wider personal space during face-to-face communication, whereas for others bodily contact is a very important part of the interaction. Different cultures define time differently and they give different values to the past, present, and future. Also, the vocabulary, grammar, and meaning of time vary widely around the world.

Cultural differences in terms of language affect the interaction of personal abilities and the supporting technologies, which results in a differentiation of behavioral skills and leads to differences in the ease with which participation in communication can occur” (p. 297). Similarly language as an important factor affecting high-performance teamwork within such multicultural VTs especially in corporate environments. For example, irrelevant messages (phrases, idioms, sayings) may easily be interpreted as offensive statements by non-native speakers.


For collaboratively working for multicultural teams, the communication medium itself is a problem. The way that media are used by different cultures may differ. There is a reason to believe that connections do exist between cultures and the use of certain ICTs. low individualism (collectivistic culture) possibly predisposes a culture against CMCs, because these media mute the group effect. Information systems “have built-in value biases reflecting the value priorities of the culture in which they are developed”.

Therefore, there may be slow acceptance rates or different user preferences for certain kinds of technology among different cultures and the consequence could be as fatal as the failure of the project. For example, some cultures may process information differently (e.g. verbal/analytic or visual/holistic, linear or concurrent), give higher or lower priority to different kinds of information, and have different degrees of satisfaction with various information systems.Communicators could invent ways to work out such problems such as using a distinctive writing style.

Scopes of Culture

In several studies, researchers explored the relationship between CMC and the influence of three dimensions from Hofstadter’s model including uncertainty avoidance, individualism-collectivism, and power distance. The uncertainty dimension and found that countries that are located on the strong uncertainty end (i.e. fear of ambiguous situations or avoidance of risks) use electronic media less often since these media are not as well suited to uncertainty reduction as face-to-face and other media-rich channels.

The effect of majority influence in CMC among individualistic and collectivistic cultures; where they found that there is a relationship between the impact of CMC on majority influence and national culture. Since CMC replaces face-to-face and verbal communication, it diminishes majority influence in an individualistic culture, but the researchers did not observe the same change in a collectivistic culture.

They advised one way to overcome this problem in a collectivistic culture, which is to allow people to use CMC with content anonymity. They further noted that content anonymity allows people to contribute ideas more freely, though it is not clear how this may affect majority influence in a collectivistic culture.

Regarding power distance in cultures in which managers and workers are separated by large power distance, the leveling effect of CMC-based group support systems is significant. However, no leveling effect of CMC on power distance; further, such a leveling effect of CMC was not viewed as desirable in high-power distance cultures.


People working together, either in the same location or in distributed environments, can expect to experience differences in perceptions, opinions, communication, interpersonal style, and values. The reason for these differences is that the values, norms and the code for social interactions in our own culture are programmed into our minds to process the behavior of others according to our own culture’s belief and knowledge structures. When two people with different perception and value systems meet, it is almost inevitable that each party misunderstands the behavior and motives of the other.

The likelihood of experiencing cultural clashes is very high, especially when a team is formed of members from a variety of cultures, since cultural meanings may influence individuals’ tolerance for a situation, which might be perceived as a conflict or interpreted as a threat. One of the major hurdles in the resolution of intercultural conflicts is the fact that the parties involved tend very often to misinterpret each other’s intentions.

Problems may occur with each contradiction or confrontation between differing values, beliefs, and assumptions. They are hard to solve because people are often not aware of their own values any more than they are aware of the values of others, so they do not understand each other’s cultures well enough to resolve conflicts.

There are two types of conflict during group decision making in a multicultural team: cognitive and affective conflicts. “Cognitive conflict is about the content of the decision, whereas affective conflict is about interpersonal feelings. Cognitive conflict improves the quality of a decision. Affective conflict, in contrast, has a detrimental effect on decision acceptance. Cognitive conflict becomes destructive only when it gets personalized resulting in negative feelings and private agendas that detract from the common purpose and goals of the team, which further ends in frustration and loss of trust and commitment within the team.

As for effective conflict, the importance of the role those stereotypes play in it because they oversimplify, are difficult to adapt to new situations and become exaggerated when social tensions arise between groups. In multicultural teamwork, cultural differences may lead to a greater conflict. Especially diverse individualism/collectivism values cause conflict in teamwork; “some people will be willing to cooperate and sacrifice for the overall team, and some will not. Because of their cultural background, team members may have different values and expectations of the other members in terms of communication and interaction patterns.

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