Global Business Etiquette & Intercultural
by Hasan Bilokcuoglu
In today's world we are living in, particularly in the business context, there has been an increasingly interest towards the target culture and their business etiquette in both the advanced and the developing countries. Due to the growth in recent technologies, the Notion of global market, which are interconnecting the countries together, and various consumer needs, it becomes essential to appreciate, understand and get familiar with the target's cultural diverges so as to maintain sustainability in the international business environment. The most recent studies demonstrate that there are three important factors that are leading to failure of international business affairs: deficiency in intercultural skills and competence, poor communication skills at a global level, and failure in practicing acceptable etiquette in business negotiations. Thus, business from various countries should acknowledge and become aware of the significance of understanding the cultures and values of their targets. In addition, they should build up sensivity and decorum in their intercultural communication.
This paper aims at reviewing the importance and the role of etiquette in international business affairs explicating the recent opportunities, challenges, and benefits in understanding proper international etiquette. Moreover, the paper examines the recent literature on the following countries' business etiquette, Chinese, English, German, and Japanese business etiquette, as well as some significant business failures because of ignorance in cultural awareness.
Keywords: Etiquette, cultural diversity, intercultural communication, business negotiation
Due to the increasing number of countries involving in worldwide business transactions in today's world, intercultural communication and etiquette have become a fundamental topics that need to be analysed critically in order to achieve and establish a strong business relationship in international ventures. Most of the time, the international business settings become rather complex and challenging since nations have their own standards, expectations, and language patterns. Chaney and Martin (2007) define 'international business etiquette' as manners and behaviour considered acceptable behaviour in internationally social and business situations.
Etiquette is defined as the forms, manners, and ceremonies established by convention as acceptable or required in social relationships, in a professions, or in official life. (http://career.uk.utk.edu)
An online business dictionary (http://www.buisnessdictionary.com) defines the term 'business etiquette' as expected behaviours and expectations for individual actions within society, group, or class. Within a place of business, it involves treating co-workers and employer with respect and courtesy in a way that creates a pleasant work environment for everyone.
According to David Ingram (2009), business etiquette is an integral part of different 'countries and regions' business culture. Etiquette encompasses the prescriptive elements of culture –the things people are expected to do and say, or to avoid doing saying.
Chaney and Martin (2007) believe that proper social behaviour involves cultural differences in marketing introductions, giving presents, tipping etiquette, travelling, exchanging business cards, communicating interculturally, dining practices, acknowledging position and status in social context. They also suggest that what determine a firm's success internationally are the firm's level of competence and competitiveness both domestically and internationally, and also how effectively they cannot establish communication with their stakeholders. The authors also underline that the innate ability to learn other cultures and proper training to aid a person with adjusting in another culture will help establishing global business relationships. Furthermore, Chaney and Martin (2007) expound that it is essential to be aware of their customs to be sure of an intended meaning is not conveyed in order to prevent unintentionally offending them when interacting with colleagues or counterparts of other cultures in a business (or marketing) setting.
Other scholars like O'Roourke (2010); Cardon and Scott (2003); Brett (2001) view global business etiquette as a natural outgrowth of business globalisation. They propose that the globally working employees are required to be trained in technical knowledge, like import and export laws of other countries, management styles, business protocol, etiquette, and ethics.
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