American Business Culture
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The research has focused on determining the similarities in attitudes and beliefs that are culture specific. These attitudes are studied in relation to work related attitudes, consumption patterns and other essential aspects. One significant study in this direction was directed towards international students in the United States. The study focused on the challenges that international students in universities of the USA experience due to the differences in culture. Some of the challenges are also caused by language differences.
The researchers had 200 interviews with students from 35 countries in eleven universities. The results showed that the experiences for international students differ from those of local students in varied ways. International students were found to have less informed and lonely lives. The second aspect off their difficulties was in relation to the communication barriers in English one. Factors in relation to cultural identity also result in significant differences in interactions for international and local students.
In a study on American business culture, a sample group of 17 international students was taken from two Texas state universities. The sample group consisted of non-United States students enrolled in a managerial communication course at the graduate level. However, the data collection method used in this survey was focused on group discussions. The students were selected from three graduate level courses and were facilitated in the focus group discussions by staff members who were not their instructors. Each focus group or the study consisted of 4-6 students. The focus group was meant to ensure efficiency in expressing their views, which would be difficult to express in writing.
Despite the advantages of the research and methods being used, the study included an unusually small sample that would prevent generalization of the findings for all international students. The focus of the study was international students in United States universities, which differs from the focus of the current study. The questions asked were meant to enable the researchers to understand how the classroom experience could be improved for the international students (Hynes, Hill & Johnson, 2011). The perceptions of students about business culture may differ from those of working individuals; thus the findings are not applicable at the organizational level. The current study overcomes this weakness by using stratified samples for the study. The respondents were selected from university students taking a course in international business studies and a sample group of employees.
A similar study was conducted to identify the most prevalent business practices in India. It was also aimed at determining the top ten most significant characteristics of a productive and effective organization. The first portion of the study was made up of the current management practices in Indian organizations. This relied on the observations and experiences of the respondents. The subjects have to rate a list of fifteen management practices according to their observations of what is typical practice in India. The responses involved in the study were on a five-point scale to ease the decisions for the respondents in answering them. The second part of the study involved the ideal management practices for the respondents. This is the subjective ranking of ten most significant organizational aspects from a list of thirty. The study involved 64 members of the professional, business community from MBA programs. The sample consisted of 59 students while the rest were faculty members from two academic institutions in Bangalore. This study involved students and faculty members and was essential in analyzing potential differences between the perceptions of the students and faculty members. The absence of significant differences enabled the sample to be analyzed as a homogenous group (Mathew & Kumar, 2005). This study was effective in using both students and faculty in order to determine variations in their perceptions about business culture in India. The ratings on perceptions of the respondents were essential in determining what they think about the business culture of Indian organizations.
This study offered significant insight into the management practices of Indian organizations and the ideals that the respondents believe the organizations should portray. However, this study did not analyze the strategies and methods used by the respondents in handling changes in business culture. Aspects such as travelling, and learning a new language are essential in today’s business culture due to globalization. This study failed to consider that aspect because it was not focusing on that one.
Schwartz’s study was focused on determining the significance of the value concept in human relations. The survey was used to test the revised theory of dynamic structures of value relations. The survey was essential in measuring the value priorities of people. Based on the motivational goals defining each of the universal value types, the researchers selected values that would be used to represent each type from among all the values the goal. The survey considered values developed in other studies on other cultures such as Rokeach 1973. The study had eleven value types and 56 values, which were selected as suitable for the survey. For each value type included in the survey, both terminal and instrumental values were selected. In the selection of the values, those having clear motivational goals were given preference. However, other values related to multiple goals were included when they were presumed to be particularly influential in many cultures (Schwartz, 1992).
Testing universality of the hypothesized value types and the relations among them required a set of samples that was maximally diverse in terms of language, culture, and geographical region. The samples were from twenty different countries, which consisted of people from 13 languages, atheists, and adherents of 8 leading world religions. Most of the samples in the study were from two occupational groups of schoolteachers and university students. However, four samples consisted of adults with varied occupations. The meanings of values for most part of the survey were assumed similar for samples from the same culture irrespective of age.
In each country that was involved in the survey, the researchers had to collect responses from a sample of 200 teachers in grade 4-10. The teachers had to be from type of school system that handles the largest proportion of children in the country. Teachers were selected due to their significance in value socialization because of their role as carriers of culture (Schwartz, 1992).
Green and Langeard (1975) conducted a cross-national survey on innovator characteristics and consumer habits. The research instruments used for the different countries were varied in order to ensure collection of adequate and accurate data. The United States sample consisted of 193 women from Dallas and San Antonio that were randomly selected. Self-administered questionnaires were used for data collection in the United States portion of the survey. 226 women from Aix-en-Provence were included in the French sample. However, due to the reluctance of most French people to participate in mail surveys, the questionnaires had to be delivered and collected by research assistants. Stratified sampling was used in selecting the French sample in order to ensure comparability with the United States sample. The objective of the sampling method applied was to ensure that the French sample would bear a relationship to the French population in relation to demographics of education, income, age, and employment status. The relationship between the United States sample and the United States population had to be at par with the relation between the French sample and the French population.
The survey requested information on purchase of 8 retail services and 15 grocery related products. A cross sectional method was used to classify innovators from the two samples. The method was based on the number of items purchased by each respondent or the number of items and services used from the list of retail services and grocery products. It was essential in determining the characteristic from the two cultures based on the variations in their spending habits and information gathering methods.
The GLOBE study of 62 societies was a survey that utilized respondents from different cultures to study different aspects of culture, leadership, and organizations. The study was interested in understanding culture as it relates to leadership in the major regions of the world. The information was collected from middle level managers from three key industries in the economy: telecommunication services, financial services, and food processing industries. The study was conducted over a period of 10 years from 1993 to 2003 by 170 interviewers from a 735-item questionnaire. The entire sample for the survey was 17,300 mid-level managers from the three selected industries divided into 10 regions. The managers involved in the interview were selected from 951 organizations (House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004). The team of interviewers led by House included 170 management scholars called country co-investigators or CCIs. The study established how the leadership dimensions of cultural leadership theory vary in relation to the nine cultural leadership theory cultural dimensions across the 10 regions.
A survey on behavior and culture was conducted on De Nederlansche Bank in 2011. The study focused on increasing financial supervision by studying business culture and behavior. The paper reviewed literature on organizational psychology in order to understand the pitfalls in relation to decision-making and leadership that have to be avoided. The review focused on issues such as overconfidence, dominance, and superfluous optimism, which may affect an organization and its employees negatively (Haan & Jansen, 2011, p. 6). This is because they reduce the ability of the leader to recognize flaws in his or her leadership or in the team. Hofstede et al, 1990 cited in (Haan & Jansen, 2011, p. 13) indicates that in-depth interviews would be efficient in collecting information from ten organizations in Netherlands and Denmark. The team obtained 180 interviews for the study with survey questionnaires used in order to verify the information. The survey was focused on determining business culture in the organizations.
The employees surveyed during the study are diverse in relation to their fields of expertise, years of experience, and their having worked internationally. This is essential in providing variety in the responses in order to capture variations based on the job types and other aspects of individual employees. It also captures the strategies used by employees in gathering information about countries where they travel to, as well as what they think is the most essential aspect to learn about their destination countries. This provides information on the ideal information that they would require about a country before visiting and the available sources for the information.
This survey also provides essential information on the timing for learning about a country in order to determine the level of dedication and information search. The survey also provides information on the socialization aspect of international business culture such as involving small talk with foreign business partners. This is essential in capturing whether employees are involved in practice and their reasons for involvement or lack of involvement. This shows whether language barriers or perceptions about time management have a significant effect on international business culture for the employees. This survey uses responses from students in graduate degree programs. These students are suitable for the study because most of them have work experience.
The survey in this study utilizes primary data from students in international business course and employees from Phoenix Contact, which is an international company headquartered in Blomberg, Germany. The company operates in different fields of engineering and technology such as software development, electronics, and security. It has production sites in different countries such as Brazil, China, and Poland among others. The number of employees being surveyed is 100 people from different divisions of the company. The business students were from an international business studies course from the University of Paderborn in Germany. The students involved in the study were mainly studying economics and two foreign languages either Spanish and English or English and French. The surveys will be analyzed comprehensively in the following section to highlight the differences in the findings for two surveys.
The impact of business culture on business is significant and takes place on different levels such as international and domestic ones. This is because of the clash of cultures occurring in business situations and causing inefficiency in international business. A survey on the perceptions of the respondents about the issue of business culture is essential because it sheds light on the operation of the multicultural market place in international business. Studies on business culture focus on communication, and the way to handle cultural conflict in international business. By providing organizations with tolls to communicate effectively across different cultures, organizations increase their success at the international market.
By looking at German culture, it is essential to determine the areas of culture that professionals working in other countries may find different. Issues such as time management, interpersonal communication, and socialization have a significant influence on business performance. These issues also differ across organizations and countries due to the effect of national culture on business operations. The impact of business culture on interpersonal relationships in the office is significant with significant differences across countries. This is influenced by the differences in areas such as beliefs, values, norms, manners, and etiquette. These differences can result in misunderstanding within the organization and poor communication. The company survey is essential in enabling the understanding of the different aspects of business culture within the organization as well as other essential aspects of international business such as a foreign language and conducting business over the telephone. The survey on company employees provides significant insight on the variations in business based on the career of the individual and years of experience that they have in the company.
The perceptions about business culture differ and have a significant effect on individual willingness to travel, how long they are willing to work abroad and their most suitable destinations. Innovations in communication such as teleconferencing have reduced the need to travel for business in many instances, thus reducing the cost of international business. However, understanding of the colleagues’ business culture is essential in ensuring efficiency in the business operations. The effort required in conducting international business over the phone is essential in the performance of the organization.
This section focuses on the questionnaire used in the n company survey. The section is dedicated to providing an understanding of why it is necessary to ask interviewees about their travelling habits and communication skills among other things.
The first segment of the questionnaire requires general information such as gender and previous work experience abroad. This section provides the respondent with a chance to highlight the differences experienced in business culture while working abroad. This section of the questionnaire would be essential in determining the variations in perception of business culture. These variations may also differ in relation to the employment type, the area of expertise and the purpose of employment in the international company.
Travel is an essential aspect of international business and any individual working in an international company has to be willing to travel. Therefore, the willingness to travel has to be considered in understanding the feelings of employees towards international business opportunities. Communication with business colleagues, clients and corporate visitors indicate interaction and engagement in multicultural settings. Employees have to understand foreign languages effectively in order to communicate with international colleagues or clients. Asking the clients to explain their use of telephone in business conversations indicates understanding of the foreign language. Therefore, asking the individual to indicate his or her level of proficiency in English enables the study in highlighting difficulty in conducting international business.
The final section in the questionnaire focuses on business culture. The questions in the section provide an understanding of the issue of business culture in the organization. This is essential in determining whether dealing with international business acts as an incentive for employees to have an interest in other cultures. It also provides information on the perceptions of employees about improvements in international business operations based on the information about business culture. The responses from this section are also essential in showing the employees’ feelings towards foreign countries. This can be manifested in understanding the countries that respondents are interested in, and when they get the information required about the country. The strategy used in gathering information about the foreign country also offers insight into the interest that an individual has in the country. The effectiveness of the methods differs and it probably has a significant impact on the information gathered by the respondent about the country.
The responses for the in-company survey show that 79 % of the respondents were male while the other 21% were female. 73% of the respondents had not worked abroad before while the other 27% had experience in working abroad. The findings from the study show that there are significant differences in culture between Germany and the foreign countries where the respondents had worked before. In the study sample, 25% of the respondents noticed significant differences between German business culture and the business culture in the other countries compared to eight who felt that business culture abroad and in their home country was the same. The characteristics of the group that did not notice significant differences in culture were varied. One respondent was staying in the United States and Singapore for four months. Another respondent with similar views was being to Luxemburg and Switzerland for seven months. One more respondent had been to Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic for a week in each country.
The distribution of the respondents showed that 45% of them were fully employed in the company with 46% being apprentices and 9% part-time employees. The apprentices and part time employees included the cooperative students working in different departments in the company. Most of the employees being interviewed worked in workshops (62 %). 24% of the respondents were office workers with some of them indicating that they worked both in office and workshops. The cooperative students worked in both the workshop and offices, although some regular employees also worked in both the workshops and the offices. This group may include middle level managers that are involved in operation of the machinery or supervision of the workshop employees. The responses about the purpose of seeking employment in the company indicate the significance of different factors. The responses show that the possibility of working abroad is not a significant incentive for the employees. Only 3% of the respondents indicated it as their only reason for seeking employment with 12 % more using putting it in combination with other factors. Career opportunities are the main factor for the employees because 33% highlighting it as the only factor. 30% of the respondents highlighted employment opportunities in conjunction with other factors. A high salary rate was the second most significant incentive for the employees seeking work in the company with 19% occurrence rate. However, a significant portion of the employees indicated high salary and career opportunities to be their main incentives. This shows that most of the employees only view working abroad as a secondary benefit of working in the company. These findings comply with the employees’ willingness to travel. 30% of the employees were satisfied with working in Germany, and they were not looking to travel much during their career in the company. However, 30%, which is a significant number of the employees were willing to go on business trips because of the effect in their careers. 27% of the respondents were hoping to spend some time abroad while only 11% appreciated having any opportunities to travel abroad. This indicates that most people are not fond of jobs that require them to travel abroad, but they travel in order to advance their career by gaining international exposure.
At least 52% of the respondents were willing to work abroad for one month or a shorter period; however, 25% of them were only willing to stay abroad on business trips for one week or one day. At least 39% of the employees were ready to stay in a foreign country for a period exceeding one month. In relation to the destination country, 25% of them were willing to travel to any country. This section of the question had 7 missing responses while 26% of the respondents were only willing to travel to fully developed countries. Other aspects of the foreign country such as language and culture were only considered as combinations, as opposed to single factors. The most significant combination in relation to the willingness to travel is that consisting of those employees who would want to travel to fully developed countries and countries with entirely different cultures. A significant proportion of the respondents felt that one should be capable of experiencing different cultures in their business trips. 29% of the employees answered that they were willing to travel to countries with cultures that are quite different from their home country in combination with other factors.
While most of the respondents indicated that telephoning was not part of their job, 14% of the employees being sampled indicated that they sometimes had to call people from other countries. Only 18% of the respondents had indicated that they only make business related phone calls within the country. Communication with colleagues and customers indicates that 31% of the respondents communicate with telephone calls abroad on different levels such as colleagues, international customers, and foreign representatives of the company. The other aspect of telephone conversation is the use of English in business communication. 57% of the respondents indicated that English is used in international business communication. This number excludes the respondents that did not answer the question. This question was only answered by the regular employees because it was assumed that the apprentices and cooperative students did not have to telephone in their work. Few of the respondents, only five, have excellent skills in English language, which indicates why most of them indicated only being capable of talking fluently about their departments, as opposed to the entire company operations. A significant proportion of the respondents indicated that they had difficulty in communicating in English. 6% of the respondents that answered the question also indicated that they required significant effort to communicate in English. In relation to the use of English in business phone conversations, 29% of the respondents indicated that they conducted phone conversations in English. Only 6% of the respondents indicated that they failed to use English in their business communications because of their English being poor.
International business partners are a common site in this company with 80% of the respondents indicating that internal partners visit the company often. Small talk with the international partners was a prominent aspect in the study. This is because the employees may have to spend time with the international partners during their business trip. Socialization may be inevitable in such cases. However, in order to engage in small talk, the individual requires understanding of the partners’ language. It is also essential to determine common ground in relation to the topics discussed in the interaction. 46% of the study sample indicated that small talk was involved in the socializations. Twelve of the respondents felt that small talk would be wastage of time for themselves or for the business partners. 32% of the respondents indicated that their failure to involve small talk was because they were not sure which topics would be appropriate to discuss. This indicates a low level of knowledge in the culture of the business partners. Eleven respondents indicated that they failed to engage in small talk with the international partners because of their low skill level in using the English language. 9 of the sampled employees indicated that they lacked knowledge in the English language, and suitable topics to discuss with the partners.
Globalization has a significant effect in the movement of culture and enabling people to learn about varied cultures. However, the results of this study show that 68% of the respondents have not dealt with business culture. This indicates a low level of preparedness for employees in handling international business. However, their interest in foreign cultures was high with 83% of the respondents indicating that they are interested in the cultures of other countries. Their interest in cultures of other countries is directly related to the expected increase in efficiency. 87% of the respondents hold the view that being informed about business culture would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of business.
Perceptions about the different cultures influence on the willingness of employees to travel. This indicates that individual interest has a significant effect on their willingness to learn the culture or go to the country for a business trip. 28% of the respondents indicated that their main interest would be the cultures of the countries that they had to visit. However, 8% of the respondents indicated that they would not find any culture interesting. 37% of the employees were interested in the culture of the country where the company has subsidiaries and those countries that they have to travel for business. Taking combinations of different factors in the decision, the results show that 16% of the respondents included their business travel destination in the countries whose cultures they were interested in. This is in combination with the cultures that have the largest difference in relation to culture. The other factor considered in this combination is the country where the company has a subsidiary.
Information search in relation to the business culture of other countries is an essential aspect among professionals. 51% of the respondents indicated that they would learn about the culture a few weeks before the trip. 16% of the respondents indicated that they would learn about the culture right before the trip. Few respondents, eight, felt that the business culture of foreign countries should be learnt when the individual arrives in the country. A further 14% of the respondents indicated that learning business culture before a business trip is not necessary. This is because they felt that it is something the business professionals should know. Information search for foreign business culture can involve different sources that the employee considers being resourceful. Most of the respondents seemed to be comfortable getting information from their colleagues. Two respondents felt that reading a book about the country would be sufficient while six said they would not try to inform themselves about it. A closer look into the data shows that 80% of the respondents would ask their colleagues about business culture of their destination country, although some would include other sources such as Google, reading a book, or focusing on pictures to get an idea of the common cultures. Google was chosen as an adequate information source by 74% of the respondents. This shows the significance of Internet in relaying information about business culture. Despite the many information sources available, 77% of the respondents indicated that they would appreciate a course on the business culture of a country before they went on business trips. 21% of the respondents would not appreciate a course in business culture of a country. This may indicate that they felt that their information sources such as colleagues or Google were sufficient.
Association and Relationship among the Variables
Cross tabulation of some of the aspects shows that employees working in the office were willing to travel abroad. Most of the workshop employees prefer to work in Germany compared to the office employees. The employees who were willing to spend time abroad because of their career were mainly office workers (50%). Most of the employees that were willing to travel abroad because it is advantageous for their careers were those who had indicated the career opportunities as the reason for their joining the company.
Cross tabulation of gender and willingness to travel shows that there are significant variations between the observed and the expected values for the survey. Moreover, the chi-square tests show that the variations are insignificant. Since the significance values for the chi-square tests are all larger than 0.05, the two variables occur randomly without any significant correlations. Cross tabulation of the gender and the period for how long individuals are willing to work abroad shows that the significance values for the Chi-square tests are higher than 0.05. This means gender and period are uncorrelated variables indicating gender as being insignificant in the determination. The countries where the employees are willing to work are another essential aspect. This is because it may limit the ability of an individual to work abroad. The significance value for linear by linear association is 0.034, which indicates a level of correlation between them. Appreciation for a course in the company about business culture is not correlated with gender. The observed and expected values vary minimally indicating a low level of association. Inclusion of small talk with the corporate visitors is also not correlated with the gender of the employee. The significance values for this relationship are larger than 0.05 indicating that the relationship is insignificant.
Previous career of the employee in relation to having worked abroad was cross tabulated with willingness of the individual to travel abroad for business. The observed and expected values for the variables in relation to the distribution of previous career differ significantly. The significance values for the chi-square tests are lower than 0.05 indicating a significant level of association. This means that previous career and willingness to travel occur differently from the hypothesized observations. Therefore, previous career is a significant determinant of the willingness of the individual to travel. Cross tabulation of the period that individuals are willing to work abroad and the individuals’ previous career shows significant variations between the observed and the expected values. Chi-square tests for the association show significance levels below 0.05, which means that there is a relationship between these variables. Test for association between the preferred destination for business travel and previous career shows minimal variations between the observed and the expected. The significance values for the chi-square tests indicate that there is not any relationship between the variables. Proficiency in language use and previous career in cross tabulation show insignificant variations between the observed and expected values. The significance values for the chi-square tests show insufficient proof of an association. Previous career and appreciation for a course on business culture of a country before going is also not correlated. Thus, the chi-square tests show an insignificant relationship without correlation. Some of the reasons for not including small talk when dealing with corporate visitors are not knowing what to discuss, being poor in English, or not wanting to waste time. However, these factors are not correlated with previous career based on the chi-square tests.
Experience of differences in business culture and willingness to travel shows significant variations between the observed and the expected. There is high likelihood of association because of the low significance values for the chi-square tests. The experienced differences in business culture abroad and how long individuals were willing to stay abroad were also tabulated. The tests showed significance values below 0.05 for likelihood ratio and the linear by linear association indicating a correlation. Cross tabulation of differences in business culture and the choice of country indicated an insignificant relationship. The case was similar for proficiency in English and appreciation for a course on business culture in the company.
Position of the individual in the company was related to the willingness of the individual to travel and the period that the individual was willing to stay abroad. Proficiency of language use and inclusion of small talk show possible relationship to the position of the individual in the company. The differences in office and workshop employees were investigated to show association with different aspects of international business. There was significant association between the working place and the willingness to travel. However, association with the preferred period was insignificant. Choice of country was also not based on the department where the individual worked.
The responses from the in-company questionnaires show that business culture in Germany and other countries differs significantly. This is because most of the respondents who have worked in other countries noticed variations in business culture. Most of the fully employed workers were willing to travel abroad for business in order to improve their career. However, they also vary in relation to their main incentive for working in the company. The possibility of working abroad proved to be insignificant in the decisions to join the company. Most of them were interested in the career opportunities and the salary that they earned from working there. This indicates that working abroad is an incentive that the employees did not view as being significant. Their willingness to go on business trips was based on the positive effect that the trips would have on their career. Their trips increase their experience and giving them international exposure.
The duration of stay in the foreign country was another significant factor in the study sample. Only 39% of the employees were willing to stay in a foreign country for more than a month. This can be attributed to their minimal knowledge on the business culture of different countries and the communication limitations because of low knowledge of English. In relation to their choice of the country, most of the respondents indicated countries with cultures different from theirs as being their favored choice. 25% of the respondents were willing to travel to any country. The excitement of experiencing new cultures offers a significant incentive for employees to visit foreign countries. Therefore, the feeling that one should experience different cultures in a foreign country is significant among the employees.
The employees engage in phone conversations with foreigners on different levels. Being that Phoenix Contact is an international company, the employees have to deal with international customers, colleagues and foreign representatives. International business conversations in the company are conducted with English indicating the need for employees to have a clear understanding of the language. However, their skills in using the language are not excellent, which hinders communication with foreign corporate visitors. Most of the respondents were only capable of talking about their departments with their English language skills being inadequate for expressing ideas about company operations. This indicates the changes in German business culture to incorporate international partners or clients through using English in their communications.
Being that most of the respondents have not dealt with business culture before, it explains the low willingness to work abroad. The employees are not well prepared to handle international business. This is evident in the large number of employees who were unwilling to socialize informally with the foreign visitors. 32% of them failed to engage in small talk because they did not know what to discuss. Despite knowledge of English being a potential barrier, it was less significant in this situation than cultural information about the foreign country. This also highlights variations in both social culture and in business culture. Therefore, the company should formulate strategies for improving the employees’ knowledge about international business culture and the culture of the leading countries where it has partners or subsidiaries.
Most of the employees who indicate that they have not dealt with business culture before mean that they are not adequately prepared for international business relations. Most of the employees believe that improving their knowledge of the business culture of different countries would improve efficiency. However, the employees also express a willingness to experience new cultures that are different from their home country. Most of the aspects studied in this survey had significant variations that are not random. This indicates variations in individuals’ perceptions about business culture.
The employees who viewed the high salary scale as their main incentive preferred to work within Germany compared to other places. A chi-square test for some of the factors essential for the determination of business culture shows that most of the aspects do not conform to a hypothesized distribution. The hypothesized distribution in this case is that most of the aspects are equally distributed for the respondents. However, the responses for previous career conform to the hypothesized meaning because the significance level is above .05. This means other variables such as willingness to travel, core purpose of employment, how long one is willing to work abroad, proficiency in English, and appreciation for a course on business culture vary significantly across the study sample.
Issues such as willingness to travel, and how long one is willing to work abroad are directly related to perceptions about business culture. Proficiency in English and appreciation for a course on business culture were associated with individuals who had a higher level of willingness to travel abroad. Therefore, the company can improve the willingness of the employees to work abroad by equipping them with adequate information. This information should include improving their competence in the language used in international business and improving their knowledge on business and social culture of different countries.
Gender and the willingness to travel are not correlated although period of stay and the countries where the individuals are willing to travel are correlated to gender. Small talk and taking a course on business culture were also not based on gender. Previous career was significant aspect because it was correlated with willingness to travel and the period of work abroad. The other factors were not significantly correlated. Experience of differences in business culture in the foreign country was only correlated to the willingness to travel and the period of stay, other factors showing insignificant relationships. Position of the employee in the company was related with the willingness to travel. Proficiency of the individual in English and inclusion of small talk were also correlated with the position of the individual in the company.
The survey at the university was the second part of the study. The university population was selected because of the variations in perceptions and experiences with the employees. The university students were undertaking international business studies. This means that the likelihood of the students having dealt with international business culture in their studies was high. It involved 100 students from the University of Paderborn in Germany. The main subjects being studied by the students were economics and foreign languages such as French, English, and Spanish. However, the students were only two of the languages, which meant either English and French or English and Spanish. The students were involved in one seminar for each language per semester and a course in cultural studies. The composition of the sample was 25% male and 75% female. Of the students who answered that they had dealt with business culture in the past, some of them were participating in an international communications course while others were attending a class on the United Kingdom and United States affairs.
The university students are used in the study because of the variation in their perceptions and the level of preparedness in relation to business culture. Because of the increasing significance of business, culture in the globalized economy, studies on it are included in university education. Increased level of cultural awareness among the students may also present findings that are significantly different from those of the professionals. The significance of these aspects is bound to increase in the future; thus, understanding their impact on students is significant for future development in business programs in universities. The findings from the university sample may provide significant insight into the deficiencies in the employment arena, which might enable employers to formulate strategies that are more effective in informing employees about business culture. Despite the high level of cultural awareness, it is essential to recognize the differences in business culture resulting from lack of experience with foreign business partners, clients, or colleagues. This study will highlight such differences, if they exist.
The questionnaire used in the university survey had some differences from the used ones in the in-company survey. The variations were made because of the variations in issues such as business experience and business travel to foreign countries.
The gender of the respondent was essential because it would be used to determine whether understanding of business culture is related to gender. The future career of the respondent was another crucial factor in the survey. The question was meant to capture the intentions of the student after completion of studies. It indicates whether the student would want to work abroad, work in an international company, or a company that operates only in Germany. This highlights whether the student will interact with international business colleagues or customers, which indicates the importance of aspects such as an international language for the student.
The willingness of the student to travel is another significant question, which is directly related to the plans of the student. The period that the individual is willing to work abroad varies depending on the perceptions of the student and his career plans. Travel destination where the students would be willing to travel is another essential aspect in the survey. This indicates the countries that interest the respondent most. It may also be shown to how the most significant factors for the respondent in going to a foreign country.
The section of the questionnaire on business culture focuses on the current situation for the respondent as well as future issues. This is achieved by asking whether the student has dealt with business culture in university studies. This shows the level of preparedness that the university is offering the students for the international business world. Asking whether the student would be willing to learn more strengthens the previous questions and it will provide insight into the area that have a deficiency in university programs. The students also have a chance to indicate how they would like to learn the suggested topics about business culture.
Are you interested in other countries’ culture? This question requires the respondent to whether he or she feels that there are aspects of other countries’ cultures that he or she would like to learn. The interest could be because the individual has connection with the other country or just wants to learn new things. This question is essential in determining the impact of increased cultural awareness and globalization on people’s willingness to learn other cultures. Asking for the students’ opinion on the effect of learning other cultures on international business is essential in indicating the significance of culture on business operations. It is widely believed that adequate knowledge of business culture increases business efficiency. This question aims to help the study in determining whether business study students hold this perception.
The next question involves determining when the individual should collect information about business culture before going for a business trip. This shows the amount of time required for information search about business culture of the destination country. The information sources for business culture are also essential in this survey because they indicate the level of commitment by the individual who is searching for information. The final question focuses on the perceived need and appreciation for a course about the country before taking a business trip.
The answers for the university questionnaire show that none of the students indicated his or her intention to work for a company that only operates in Germany. 64% of the respondents were hoping to work for an international company. However, a significant proportion of the sample (86%) indicated that they would be willing to work in an international company, and spend their time working abroad, works with an international company and were planning to apply abroad, or three factors being combined. Although a few of the respondents were planning to apply abroad for jobs or to work abroad, an international exposure is significant in their career choices because of their willingness to work in international companies. The willingness of the students to travel abroad for business trips was high in the sample. This is because only three respondents were hoping to work within Germany. The rest of the students indicated that they were willing to go to foreign countries on business although the level of willingness was varied. Twenty-seven of them were willing to go on as many business trips as possible with twenty-six more looking forward to spend some time abroad. Forty-one percent of the students in the survey indicated that they were willing to stay abroad for three months. This is high compared to twenty-two who were only willing to stay for a day or a week. However, a significant number of the students indicated their willingness to stay in a foreign country on a business trip for an indefinite amount of time. Thirty-one students chose this response although some of them chose it in combination with other options. This indicates that they are willing to stay longer than the options available as long as it is beneficial for their career.
23% of the students indicated that they were only willing to visit fully developed countries. However, 75 % of the respondents were willing to visit fully developed countries among other factors such as differences in culture, language, and places about which the individuals know little. 26 respondents indicated that they would be willing to visit countries that are relatively poor although none indicated this as the only factor in their decision. The distribution of students that had dealt with business culture in their studies was fifty-fifty. This indicates that the university does not provide exposure to business culture for all students. Of those students that indicated having dealt with business culture, 16 of them had encountered it in their international communication classes. A significant number of them had encountered it while studying foreign languages such as French, English, or Spanish. This group consisted of 25 students with 24 of them taking English either alone or in combination with French or Spanish. International culture management and business management were also highlighted as providing exposure to business culture for some students.
Despite the exposure provided to business culture to the students, 91% of them wanted to learn more on business culture at the university. They indicated different aspects that they would like to learn such as business habits in different countries, culture, people’s way of doing things, negotiation, and how to deal with and differences in business culture between Germany and other countries such as India, China, and the United States. Interest in other countries among the students was high with 98% of them indicating their interest; furthermore, all students believed that being informed about business culture would increase efficiency in the conduct of business abroad. 60% of the students believed that learning about the business culture of a country should take a couple of weeks before the trip. 37%, which is a significant proportion of the students, believed that business culture is something that one should know. The number of students believing that it should be learnt when one is already there was small, which indicates a need to prepare oneself adequately before going on a business trip. This indicates variations in business culture that they expect; thus, the need to get information before taking the trip. Information on this essential aspect of business can be gathered from different sources. None of the respondents indicated that he or she would not find information on business culture. 12 respondents selected Google as their only source with another 77 indicating they would use Google in combination with another source. Nineteen respondents indicated that they would focus on pictures to get an impression of the country’s culture, although it was selected in combination with other factors such as reading a book, asking a colleague, and other methods. 67 of the respondents indicated their intention to use Google and advice from colleagues as their most suitable information sources. However, some respondents indicated that they would use travel guides and documentaries as their main information sources on business culture about countries where they wanted to travel. 86% of the respondents indicated that they would appreciate a course provided by their companies on business culture before a trip. Some of the responses on what they would like to learn included business habits, how the business operates in the foreign country.
Association between the Variables
Associations between the different variables in relation to business culture show that the students who have dealt with business culture are willing to travel on business trips. Chi-square tests for the association between these two shows a significance value of 0.016 for the linear by linear association indicating a significant association between them. This means having dealt with business culture is correlated with their willingness to travel. Cross tabulation of the countries that the students would be willing to travel to, and having dealt with business culture shows a high level of association. This is because the likelihood ratio and the Pearson chi-square are less than 0.05. The variations between the expected distribution and the observed distribution are significant indicating that two do not occur randomly.
Chi-square test for the association between how long one is willing to work abroad, and whether they have dealt with business culture shows insignificant association. Variations between the expected and observed values are minimal. The chi-square tests show significance values that are greater than 0.05, which indicates a lack of association. This means that two variables occur randomly. The time when one should find information about the business culture of a country where he or she has to go on a business trip is not associated with having dealt with business culture. This means that knowledge of business culture does not reduce the need to find information about a country before going on a business trip.
The other essential aspect of the survey was to determine the effect of gender on some aspects of business culture such as willingness to travel abroad. The analysis shows that the values have minimal variations between the observed and expected values given the ratio of male to female respondents. The significance values from the chi-square tests show that there is not any relationship between these variables. This means that gender does not have effect on willingness to travel among the university students sampled. The countries where the respondents would be willing to travel correlate with the gender of the respondent. This is because the chi-square tests show significance values that are less than 0.05 for the Pearson Chi-square test, linear by linear association, and likelihood ratio. Gender is not correlated with how long an individual is willing to work abroad because the significance values are higher than .05 for all tests. This means the observed values and the expected values differ minimally indicating that they occur randomly.
Although willingness to travel is associated with the large number of respondents that are interested in other cultures, there is no correlation between these two variables. This is because the significance values for all chi-square tests are significantly higher than 0.05 indicating insignificant relationship. General interest in other cultures does not have a significant correlation with the choice of countries that the students would be willing to go for business trips. The significance values for all the tests show that association in minimal. How long the students were willing to work abroad, is also unrelated to the students’ general interest in other cultures. The effect was the same in the test for the relationship between interest in other cultures and the point that one should seek information on other cultures. This means that the time taken searching for information regarding business culture of the country and an individual’s interest in culture occur randomly.
Future career and willingness to travel showed a high level of association. This is because of the low level of variability between the expected and the observed values of the different variables. The significance values derived from the chi-square tests is all below 0.05 indicating that there is a possible relationship between the future career of the respondents and their willingness to travel. This means that higher willingness to travel is associated with individuals’ willingness to work abroad after they complete their studies. On the issue of the countries where the individuals would want to travel, the relationship with future career is insignificant. This means that the preferences of individuals in relation to countries where they would want to travel is random. This means that the choice and preferences of countries that individuals would want to travel are dependent on other factors besides the expectation of the individual concerning future career.
The test of association between future career and the period an individual is willing to work abroad shows different results. The chi-square tests show that the significance values for Pearson Chi-square and the linear by linear association are lower than 0.05. Individuals, who indicate a high willingness to work abroad in their future career, are likely to prefer to work longer abroad than other individuals who wish to work only in Germany.
Most of the students being sampled indicated their interest in the cultures of other countries. They also indicated they would appreciate a course in the company about business culture of a country where they have to travel. However, chi-square tests show that the occurrence of the variables is random because the relationship between them is insignificant. All the significance values for this set of variables are larger than 0.05 indicating low significance. The association between appreciation for a course on business culture in the company and perceptions of individuals about business culture is inconclusive. This is because the question on whether the information on business culture aids in international business is a constant. This is because none of the respondents indicated that business culture does not aid in international business.
The university survey shows that all respondents were hoping to work abroad although the duration and frequency of work abroad varies. Their responses indicate that international exposure at the workplace is essential in their careers and it is valued. Their willingness to travel abroad was also high. However, the duration of their working in foreign countries was variable with 50% of them looking forward to spending some time abroad or going on as many business trips as possible. Exposure provided for students in relation to culture has a significant effect on their preferences in countries for business trips. Most of them wanted to go to fully developed countries; however, a significant number was interested in culture and language differences. The university does not provide adequate exposure to business culture for the students because fifty percent indicated not having encountered the issues in their studies. Most of the students indicated having encountered it in international communication classes or foreign languages. Therefore, the university should include topics on international business culture in subjects taught to business students. This is essential in order to ensure that the students are adequately exposed to business culture in order to increase their competence in business. From the responses, it can be seen that some students had the opinion that the university was neglecting other critical business cultures and focusing on the United States and the United Kingdom.
The students agreed that there was a need to prepare adequately before going to another country for a business trip. Few of them indicated that they would learn when they arrived where they were going. Internet is a significant source of information about different countries as shown by the survey. 77% of the students indicated Google as one of their source of information on business culture before going abroad. This shows that the students have embraced technology as a learning tool, but it may also indicate that they lack other adequate sources of information.
Association tests between the willingness to travel and having dealt with business culture was significant. This indicates that teaching business culture would influence on willingness of the students to travel abroad. Having dealt with business culture also influences on the countries where the students are willing to travel. However, the expected length of stay is not associated with studies in business culture. Having dealt with business culture in studies does not influence on information search on business culture. This indicates that the information provided in the studies may not be adequate. This may be associated with the information provided in studies being outdated or lacking in depth. However, a significant aspect of this finding is that the question did not specify the country or continent; therefore, since it is impossible to teach every culture, the students have to search information.
The sample was largely female with only 25% male respondents. The tests show that the expected variations in willingness to travel, future career and other aspects of business culture are not in line with the distribution of male to female respondents. Therefore, gender does not have a significant effect on essential aspects of business culture. General interest in other cultures did not appear to have an effect on the willingness or frequency to work abroad. The correlation between this interest and information seeking was also lacking.
Future career plans of an individual are significant in determining factors such as their willingness to travel, and duration of working abroad. However, preference in relation to the countries where they would be willing to travel was independent on career plans. The respondents indicated unanimously that they felt knowledge of business culture would improve business conduct at the international market. Most of them also indicate appreciation of a course on business culture for the different countries before going there. These responses show the need for the educational institutions and companies to provide courses on business culture because they are necessary and needed by the students.
Findings from the two surveys show significant differences in business culture and social culture between Germany and other countries. This is attributable to the differences noticed by most of the employees who have travelled abroad for business. The main incentive for travelling abroad was the effect that it would have on their careers. Although most of them do not join the company because of the possibility of travelling abroad, they are willing to travel in order to progress in their career. International exposure was also a significant aspect for the business students. 50% of the students were hoping to work abroad or go on many business trips.
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