1 Going global: How to succeed in International Business! (29 pages)

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Going Global: How to succeed in international business! 19

Nepotism is a good example of the way in which our perception

and behavior is intrinsically based on our own cultural framework.

Culture

is here understood in the terms laid out by the anthropol-

ogists Florence Kluckhohn and Fred Strodtbeck, who state that
culture is the “entirety of the fundamental assumptions, values,
norms, attitudes and convictions of a social unit

”.

16

We view the

world through a culturally determined framework that is so inter-
nalized, and we are seldom aware that our own culture creates
within us a bias. This is made clear in the anecdotes told by an
early Christian missionary in Africa, who, shocked by what he saw,
attempted to instruct the indigenous population to not run around
naked and that in Europe, people only show their faces. The na-
tives’ answer was simple: “For us, everything is the face”.

Even if it sounds outlandish, similar examples abound. There

is the engineer who spends most of his project days trying to con-
vert his South American team into punctual Germans, or the man-
ager in China who is trying to replace the complex web of personal
business and supplier relationships with fair competition and calls
for tender.

In the 21

st

century, success in business will depend on

the ability to understand the cultural dimension and the ability to
understand differing perspectives

. “If you want to do business

abroad, you must be able to accept that things are different. Not
better, not worse, just different. Not everybody is born with this
ability. However, most people are more than capable of learning

16

Florence R. Kluckhohn/Fred L. Strodtbeck, Variations in Value Orientations,

Evanston 1961; cited by Sylvia Meierewert: “Interkulturelles Management: Eine
Herausforderung in der Krise” (Präsentation 1. Kitzbüheler Wissenschaftstage
2009).

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