“Culture (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning “to cultivate,”) generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significance. Different definitions of “culture” reflect different theoretical bases for understanding, or criteria for evaluating, human activity. In general, the term culture denotes the whole product of an individual, group or society of intelligent beings. It includes technology, art, science, as well as moral systems and the characteristic behaviors and habits of the selected intelligent entities.
”(Wikipedia) Any culture can be viewed as a blend of values, norms, institutions and artifacts of a civilization that has been passed on from generations through learning alone. The ideological perspective of life and the significance of things in it form the values of a society. Norms, are the expected collective behavior of the people where as the institutions are the structures within the society that transmit theses values and norms. Also, artifacts are the relics or the materialistic representation of a culture, derived from within it.
Thus, cultures basically evolve and thrive on the basis of religion, historical background, environment and the social structure. Religious beliefs are typically the central themes of different cultures and more often than not the basic values are a derivative of them. For example, the 10 Commandments of Christianity or the five precepts of Buddhism are guidelines that transform the behavior of their followers. Similarly, religion occasionally is also implicated with government, as in a theocracy.
The European and the New World cultures have been profoundly influenced by Christianity for at least the last 500 to 1700 years. Likewise Islam’s influence has fashioned a great deal of the North African, Middle and Far East regions for more than a 1000 years. Historical incidents also add new dimensions to any culture. For instance, most of the Commonwealth countries and the Europe celebrate a public holiday on the Boxing Day. On this day, the people organize feasts, festivals and certain sports in order to celebrate and also to share these rejoicing moments with the poor and the needy.
There is no precise basis of this cultural carnival but only some theories that stem out from some historical happenings. Some believe that it was a day when people presented gifts to those who had worked throughout the year for them. Others argue that it was an annual gathering of extended families in the feudal times in which the lord of the estate handed out stipends to the serfs. Another group disputes that it was basically the day of the year when the church would distribute its donation money to the poor. Whatever may be the explanation, the Boxing Day is now an integral part of the western culture.
(Wikipedia) The influence of different cultures on trade and commerce is profoundly instrumental and therefore it is not surprising that business tactics have diversely evolved in different regions of the world. In fact, the technological developments of the late 1990’s, in the arena of electronic media have added new dimensions to the concept. Consequently, the global giants of the corporate sector have been lavishly investing in examination of the cultural influences on the regional economies in order to maximize profits.
“In China, for example, the foundation of Chinese respect for hierarchy and the family social collective is based upon the relational norms expounded by the Confucius and legal codes such as those developed during the Tang Dynasty. This institutionalized relational logic has shaped a society whose transactional order rests on social obligation to higher authority and to the family rather than on rules oriented to protecting the individual. Chinese capitalism is seen to be intrinsically different from the Western capitalism because of this contrast in institutional framing over a long period of time.
” (Warner 2003) These and other brands of cultural values of a society are carefully considered when industries are being setup or when corporations are being established. This facilitates in determining the managerial skills required in the executive professionals who are responsible for communicating and representing their companies within the local industries. A working paper series issued from the George Washington University, discusses the U. S. /Mexican business alliances negotiations and the impact of their respective cultures on them.
Mexico’s mestizo culture with its strong collectivist touch has embedded the people with the capacity to share power or authority equitably and the gift to accept and tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity in situations. However, they have also inherited the aptitude for individualism and tend to get involved in a loosely held social structure with little or no care for others. This is contrary to the culture in the United States, where people long for absolute power, are highly skeptical of ambiguous scenarios and more often than not downplay relationships.
All, this along with the socio-political history of the two nations-which has been marred by discords and suspicion- is significantly determining in their mutual business alliances. (Teegen and Doh 2002) Moreover, the cultural heritage of a region characterize the production and sale of several products that otherwise do not correspond to the world wide demand. For instance, the annual Basant euphoria in the Punjabi region of the Indo-Pakistan, in which people fly kites and festivals are organized, much business is spawned.
It becomes the very attraction for the tourists who converge here from all parts of the world, and the economic activity generated only in the city of Lahore has been estimated to be around PK Rupees 1. 5 to 2 billion annually. The proceeds of the events are shared by almost every one including the people belonging to the seasonal cottage industries and even the local vendors. Thus, the big corporations plunge into the scene and grab at every opportunity to escalate sales.
The competitive environment forces them to inspect the cultural characteristics of the event and then to employ this knowledge in launching innovative products in the market as well as in transforming their already existing marketing techniques. (The News 2007) For a progressive business structuring in a region or country, political culture-which itself is a subsidiary of the social culture-can be of immense significance. An illustration can be vividly observed in the political history of Pakistan and the revolutionary rule of its Premier Mr.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (1973-77), which was influenced by the socialism philosophy of the Soviet Union. He aggressively followed these policies and nationalized most of the Pakistan’s industries. (Wikipedia) Consequently, the foreign investors and the big multinationals lost faith in the country and capital were taken out of the country. Locally, twenty two families in Pakistan had owned most of these nationalized banks, companies and industrial units. Sadly, this resulted into a deindustrialization in Pakistan, as none of the families have ventured in to even a single industrial project since the last 28 years.
(Pakistan link) “In the fall of 1991, in the midst of the NAFTA negotiations, Vitro Sociedad Anonima (Vitro), the $3 billion Mexican glass maker, had signed a tentative $800 million joint venture with Corning Inc. ……Just two years later, the joint venture was dissolved. According to company officials and external analysts, cultural differences were a principal cause of the alliance’s failure. ” (Teegen and Doh 2002) Investigations showed that the Mexicans believed that Corning was a bit impulsive in their decision making; the Americans felt Vitro had a very time-consuming approach.
Vitro management despised the frankness of the Americans, while polite Vitro executives, sometimes gave Americans the impression that they were reluctant to admit concerns and errors. (Teegen and Doh 2002) Thus, when businesses are being setup in different regions of the world, there is a need to develop a correlation between the corporate and the social cultures. References Babar Sattar. Immorality of Basant http://www. thenews. com. pk/daily_detail. asp? id=45221 Accessed: June 9, 2007 Boxing Day – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Boxing_Day Accessed: June 9, 2007 Culture – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Culture Accessed: June 9, 2007 Hildy J. Teegen (The George Washington University) and Jonathan P. Doh (Villanova University)-April 2002. “U. S. /Mexican Business Alliance Negotiations: Impact of Culture on Authority, Trust and Performance”. White Paper (The George Washington University). Malcom Warner . Culture and Management in Asia. Routledge, 2003 Who Owns Pakistan http://www. pakistanlink. com/hussaini/09-10-99. html#top Accessed: June 9, 2007 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Zulfiqar_Ali_Bhutto Accessed: June 9, 2007