Cross-cultural Communications in Business

As a result of globalization, business enterprises are conducting commerce in diverse cultural backgrounds. Accordingly, an understanding of the basic business cultures is crucial for successful dealings. It helps in establishing formidable relations among individuals from different cultures. The United States is the pinnacle of world commerce and is, therefore, unique from the rest of the world. Therefore, this memo compares the business culture concepts of timing, formality, business cards, and women role in Mexico and Singapore with the US. According to Commisceo Global, in Singapore, timing is paramount as Singaporeans value the essence of punctuality in business meetings [1].

Therefore, the meetings often occur at exactly set times which is preferable by the locals. In case the foreigner runs late, he or she has to call the partner with the information. Otherwise, Singaporeans expect punctuality. Comparatively, America adopts a similar practice. As they say, time is money which means that they value their time. High punctuality is often interpreted as seriousness in business deals.

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Regarding Mexico, Acrecent Financial Corporation’s article suggests that people tend to be late for business appointments [2].

As such, while a foreigner may be punctual, it is commonplace for Mexicans to delay. More absurdly, they have tendencies to cancel meetings at the last minute. Also, they often refer to the term “tomorrow” which translates into several days and hence ambiguity for those that do not understand. That is different from the US where it is common practice to observe time and be specific in scheduling. Concerning formality, Singapore is highly formal during business negotiations.

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Partners refer to each other by title first before mentioning the family name, and personal names are rarely used. Also, Singaporean culture values hierarchy and respects for others so much that it is inherent in business negotiations. In comparison, InterNations submits that the US is generally a mix of formal and informal; the initial introductions feature title and surnames before proceeding to use first names [3].

Direct eye contact is used to reinforce formality. For Mexico, titles and surnames are paramount. Also, there is an emphasis on personal meetings rather than phones and emails. Hierarchy is important too. However, formality is regulated in that individuals have small talk and build personal relations first before deal-making. That is in contrast with the US which is predominantly focused on business and not on personal relations. Denmark in Singapore concludes that Singapore has one of the unique business card rituals globally where the cards carry great significance and are exchanged after introductions [4].

The parties face each other as they exchange them. Then, a close card examination follows before one can place it respectfully in a card case. Writing on cards and crumpling them is interpreted as disrespect. On the other hand, the US has an infrequent exchange of the cards. When they do, there is a lack of decorum; it is casual and is similar to the American case. However, Mexican culture stresses the Spanish language on the cards as well as phone number. Singapore advocates for gender equality. Hence, women can attend meetings just like men. However, spouses do not attend business functions together unless it is specifically indicated. Notably, the case is similar to the US given the gender equality factors. The only difference is that American couples go for business events without restrictions. In Mexico, the culture is predominantly machismo. That does not mean women are excluded from the mainstream business.

Notably, the Mexican case differs from the US because, in the latter, gender equality at the workplace is entrenched in the culture whereas the former is trying to adopt it. To this end, there are significant differences between the US culture and that of Singapore and Mexico. While the US is purely formal, Mexico and Singapore cultures are adamant on interpersonal relations first. At a point when the US does not value business card exchange, Singapore views it as telling of respect between the parties. Mexico predominantly favors men in business although women are tolerated. That differs from the gender-balanced American reality.


  1. Commisceo Global, “Singapore – Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23- Jan- 2019].
  2. Acrecent Financial Corporation, “Doing Business in Mexico: Understanding Mexican Business Culture & Etiquette,” Acrecent. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23- Jan- 2019].
  3. InterNations, “US Business Culture,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23- Jan- 2019].
  4. Denmark in Singapore, “Business culture in Singapore,” Denmark in Singapore. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23- Jan- 2019].

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Cross-cultural Communications in Business. (2021, Sep 09). Retrieved from

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