MGCR 382 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Goal Orientation, Absenteeism, Greenfield Project

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MGCR382 Chapter 4 Notes: The Role of Culture
Culture collection of values, beliefs, behaviours, customs, and attitudes that distinguish one society from
another. A society’s culture determines the rules that govern how firms operate in the society
Characteristics of Culture
Culture reflects learned behaviour that is transmitted from one member of a society to another. Some
elements of culture are transmitted intergenerationally, as when parents teach their children table
manners. Other elements are transmitted intragenerationally, as when seniors educate incoming
freshmen about a school’s traditions
The elements of culture are interrelated
Because culture is learned behaviour, it is adaptive; that is, the culture changes in response to external
forces that affect the society
Culture is shared by members of the society and indeed defines the membership of the society.
Individuals who share a culture are members of a society; those who do not are outside the boundaries of
the society
Elements of Culture a society’s culture determines how its members communicate and interact with each
other. The basic elements of culture are social structure, language, communication, religion, and values and
attitudes
Social Structure the overall framework that determines the roles of individuals within the society, the
stratification of the society, and individuals’ mobility within the society
Individuals, families, and groups all human societies involve individuals living in family units and
working with each other in groups. Societies differ in the way they define family and in the relative
importance they place on the individual’s role within groups. The U.S. view of family ties and
responsibilities focuses on the nuclear family (father, mother, offspring). In other cultures, the extended
family is far more important. Other societies utilize an even broader definition of family
Differing social attitudes are reflected in the importance of the family to business. In the U.S., firms
discourage nepotism. In Arab-owned firms, family ties are crucial, and hiring relatives is a common
practice. Similarly, in Chinese firms, family members fill critical management positions and supply
capital from personal savings to ensure the firms’ growth
Cultures also differ in the importance of the individual relative to the group. U.S. culture promoted
individualism. Children are trained to believe that their destinies lie in their own hands. Conversely, in
group-focused societies such as Japan, children are taught that their role is to serve the group. Virtues
such as unity, loyalty, and harmony are highly valued. These characteristics are often more important in
hiring decisions than are personal accomplishments or abilities
Social stratification all societies categorize people to some extent on the basis of their birth, occupation,
educational achievement, or other attributes. However, the importance of these categories in defining how
individuals interact with each other within and between these groups varies by society.
MNCs operating in highly stratified societies often must adjust their hiring and promotion procedures to
take into account class or clan differences among supervisors and workers. Hiring members of one
group to do jobs traditionally performed by members of another group may lower workplace morale and
productivity. In less stratified societies, firms are freer to seek out the most qualified employee. In
highly stratified societies, advertisers must tailor their messages more carefully to ensure that they reach
only the targeted audience and do not spill over to another audience that may be offended by receiving a
message intended for the first group
Social mobility (ability of individuals to move from one stratum of society to another). Tends to be
higher is less stratified societies. Social mobility often affects individuals’ attitudes and behaviours
towards such factors such as labour relations, human capital formation, risk taking, and
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entrepreneurship. In more socially mobile societies, individuals are more willing to seek higher
education or to engage in entrepreneurial activities
Language
Primary delineator of cultural groups because it is an important means by which a society’s members
communicate with each other
Language organizes the way members of a society think about the world. It filters observations and
perceptions and thus affects unpredictability the messages that are sent when two individuals try to
communicate language itself alters the nature of the information being conveyed
In additions to shaping one’s perceptions of the world, language provides important clues about the
cultural values of the society and aids acculturation existence of different language forms provides a
strong hint that one should take care in maintaining an appropriate level of formality when dealing with
business people from countries in which those languages predominate
The presence of more than one language group is an important signal about the diversity of a country’s
population and suggests that there may also be differences in income, cultural values, and educational
achievement generally, countries dominated by one language group tend to have a homogeneous
society, in which nationhood defines the society. Countries with multiple language groups tend to be
heterogeneous, with language providing an important means of identifying cultural differences within
the country
Savvy businesspeople operating in heterogeneous societies adapt their marketing and business practices
along linguistic lines to account for cultural differences among their prospective customers. Generally,
advertisers should seek out the media that allow them to customize their marketing messages to
individual linguistic groups
Language as a Competitive Weapon
Linguistic ties often create important competitive advantages because the ability to communicate is so
important in conducting business transactions
Commerce among Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S. is facilitated by their common
use of English
Lingua franca predominant common language
English has emerged as the lingua franca of international business.
Some countries that have multiple linguistic groups have adopted English as an official language to
facilitate communication among the diverse groups
The use of English as a lingua franca does not eliminate all cross-cultural misunderstandings. In some
cultures, self-deprecating humour is often used to show the speaker is neither pompous nor arrogant,
while in others, it may convey a lack of seriousness. Cultural differences can affect the interpretation of
the meaning of common words
The dominance of English seemingly gives an advantage in international commerce to people whose
native language is English, particularly when transactions are done in English-speaking countries.
However, failure by native English speakers to learn a second language puts them and their firms at a
decided disadvantage when negotiating or operating on foreign turf
Because language serves as a window on the culture of a society, many international business experts
argue that students should be exposed to foreign languages, even if they are unable to master them
Translation
Some linguistic differences may be overcome through translation. The process requires more than
merely substituting words of one language for those of another. Translators must be sensitive to
subtleties in the connotations of words and focus on translating ideas, not the words themselves
Firms can reduce the chances that they are sending the wrong message to their customers by using a
technique known as backtranslation (one person translates a document, then a second person translates
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