One of the famous definition of culture is "The way we do things round here" ("here" may be a country, a region, a social class, a company, a unversity etc)
As the world gets smaller, we need to learn more about each other's values, benefits, habits and expectations.
We each live in a set of cultures and subcultures that interlock in complex ways and one of the most dangerous thingsis to generalize about them. Stereotypes are to be handled with caution. The stereotype may represent the middle of a range of differing behaviours, it may be at one extreme, or it may just not be true. And there may be more variety in behaviour within a culture than between one culture and another. Neighbouring countries, or regions, or two companies in the same industry, tend to see themselvesas very different to each other, but that difference is hard for the outsider to grasp at first glance. A few years working in one of the two places will make it seem more apparent as one gets 'involved' in one of the cultures.
There are some intercultural (cross-cultural) issues,areas where there are variations in behaviour across different cultures, and some examples of the ways they relate tothe business world:
Religion: is it expected of people or a matter of individual choice? Does it play a role in business life?
Roles of men and women: are women often found at the highest levels of business and society?
Hierarchy: what is the distance between managers and the people who work for them?
Levels of formality in language and behaviour: is there an elaborate system oflevels of deference in addressing different people,
Conversation:settings(formal and informal meetings, social situations,etc),turn-taking, proximity, language, contact etc.
Dress for different settings and occasions: is the business suit essential"
The relation of work to private fife: are spouses expected to attend certain types ofcompany event?
Do business, people invite colleagues and contacts to their houses, or is everything done in the
office and restaurant?
Time: timescale of the activity/organisation, planning, punctuality, the working day /week/year,
meals, recreation, holidays, etc. Do meetings start on time? Is the summer break sacrosanct?
How prepare people to do businessinternationally?
You need a different set of learning tools and that is, first of all, a general cultural awareness and understanding of how you should realy operate when dealing with people with other cultures, how to negotiate contracts: communication, just generally whether that's by telephone, by e-mail or even by the written word- The words that you choose have a very different effect on therecipient depending on which culture you're conversing with.
Another important area these days is presentation skills. You should learn how to deal with questions and answers and manage your audience because of course in different cultures there's a different response.
It is increasingly expected that people will make at least some effort and attempt to learn the language of the people that theyare dealing with, particularly in a social environment. It really demonstrates an
interest and an affinity with the people that really you are trying to build relationships with and, of course, business is all about building relationships.
Cultural awareness is very important for businesspeople to do business successfully. For example attitudes to hierarchy. If you send junior businessperson,to meet and do business with a senior Asian businessperson, they will be met with a very distinctively negative response, and what indeed will happen is that the senior Asian businessperson will see it very much as an insult, probably either leave the meeting or refuse to attend the meeting and will actually send somebody who they think is of equal status and age to negotiate with that individual...