Chapter 2 – The Cultural Environments Facing Business

 

 

Multiple Choice Questions

 

DEFINE CULTURE

 

1.      _______________ consists of specific learned norms based on attitudes, values, and beliefs, all of which exist in every nation.

a.    Culture (easy, page 48)

b.    Morals

c.     Self-efficacy

d.    Self-concepts

 

2.      _______________ consist(s) of people with shared attitudes, values, and beliefs.

a.     Morals

b.    Cultures (moderate, page 49)

c.     Self-efficacy

d.    Self-concepts

 

3.      Which of the following statements regarding culture is TRUE?

a.     Building cultural awareness is an easy task.

b.    Culture can easily be isolated from other external environmental factors.

c.     Cultures are dynamic because individual and group attitudes evolve. (moderate, page 49)

d.    There is a foolproof method for building cultural awareness.

 

4.      Which of the following statements about culture is FALSE?

a.      People simultaneously belong to different cultures.

b.     There is no universally satisfactory definition of the domain of a culture.

c.      Cultures are dynamic because individual and group attitudes evolve.

d.     Membership in a culture is an ascribed attribute. (difficult, page 49)

 

What factors affect companies’ cultural awareness needs and their managers’ abilities to gain the awareness?

 

5.      Which of the following statements is FALSE regarding cultural awareness?

a.    Businesspeople can be expected to memorize all cultural variations for every country. (difficult, page 49)

b.    Making a cultural mistake may be construed by foreign businesspeople as ignorance or rudeness.

c.     Guidebooks about culture exist for particular geographical areas, based on the experiences of many successful international managers.

d.    Wide variations exist among cultures even in how to address people.

 

6.      Which of the following statements about cultural awareness is TRUE?

a.     A company must have a consistent degree of awareness during the course of its operations.

b.    Not all companies have the same degree of cultural awareness. (difficult, page 49)

c.     A company that is new to international business may need only a minimal level of cultural awareness.

d.    A highly entrenched company needs a high level of awareness because of its multifunctional operations in multiple countries.


 

7.      Managers must carefully assess the information they gather about national cultures because of all the following reasons EXCEPT:

a.            information sometimes presents unwarranted stereotypes

b.           information, although accurate, may assess only a segment of the particular country

c.            it is always expensive and inaccurate (difficult, page 49)

d.           reports may give outdated information

 

What are the advantages and shortcomings of using the nation as a proxy for a culture?

 

8.      Which of the following is FALSE regarding the nation as a point of reference when examining cultures?

a.       The laws governing business operations apply largely along national lines.

b.      National identity is perpetuated through rites and symbols of the country.

c.       The shared attributes of rites and symbols of a country suggest that each country is unique in all respects. (difficult, page 50)

d.      Nations usually include various subcultures, ethnic groups, races, and classes.

 

9.      Within the bounds of a nation are people who share essential attributes that may include all of the following EXCEPT:

a.     values

b.    language

c.     occupation (moderate, page 50)

d.    race

 

10.    The nation is a useful definition of a society or culture because:

a.     similarity among people is both a cause an effect of national boundaries.  (difficult, page 50)

b.     everyone in a country is essentially alike.

c.      cultural variations within all countries are small.

d.     each country’s culture is unique in all respects.

 

What features influence cultural stability and cultural change?

 

11.    Countries’ introduction of their legal systems into their colonies by prohibiting established practices and defining them as criminal is known as:

a.    cultural imperialism. (moderate, page 51)

b.    indigenization.

c.    cultural diffusion.

d.    cultural infusion.

 

12.    The introduction of some, but not all, elements of an outside culture often is referred to as all of the following EXCEPT:

a.     creolization

b.    cultural infusion (moderate, page 51)

c.     indigenization

d.    cultural diffusion

 

13.    Culture spreads easier from one country to another in which of the following situations?

a.     when people from different countries speak different languages

b.    when people from different countries speak the same language (moderate, page 51)

c.     when people from the same country speak a common language

d.    when people within a country lack a common language


 

14.    Which of the following is NOT a cultural stabilizer?

a.       use of a language spoken by few outsiders

b.      religion

c.       isolation from other parts of the world

d.      international business (moderate, page 51)

 

15.    International business may cause cultural change (dynamics) because it may:

a.       influence rural people to take factory jobs. (difficult, page 51)

b.      cause national boundaries to change.

c.       shift jobs to low-wage countries.

d.      cause basic value systems to be formed later in life.

 

What are major ways that societies rank people (social stratification systems)?  Why should managers understand these systems in international business?

 

16.    Which of the following statements is TRUE regarding the importance of social stratification systems?

a.    Social stratification affects business functions such as marketing and employment practices.  (difficult, page 55)

b.    Affiliations determined by birth are known as acquired group memberships.

c.     A person’s social ranking is determined solely by the person’s affiliation or membership in a particular group.

d.    Affiliations not determined by birth are called ascribed group memberships.

 

17.    Which of the following statements is FALSE regarding the importance of social stratification systems?

a.     The more egalitarian, or open, a society, the less difference ascribed group membership makes for receiving rewards.

b.    Critics argue that quotas favor more competent over less competent people, and are therefore discriminatory.  (difficult, page 56)

c.     In less open societies, laws sometimes enforce distinction on the basis of ascribed group memberships.

d.    Laws requiring racial or ethnic quotas usually aim to counter discrimination.

 

18.    All of the following statements about social stratification systems are TRUE EXCEPT:

a.       There are strong country-specific differences in attitudes toward males and females.

b.      Many cultures assume that age and wisdom are correlated.

c.       There are very few societies where people perceive that certain occupations have greater economic and social prestige than others.  (difficult, page 56)

d.      Some cultures consider that non-performance attributes are more important than performance attributes when evaluating employees.

 

Explain the difference between ascribed and acquired group memberships, and give examples of each.

 

19.     In considering social stratification systems, which of the following affiliations is determined by birth?

a.      ascribed group membership (moderate, page 54)

b.      acquired group membership

c.       prescribed group membership

d.      distributed group membership

 

20.    In considering social stratification systems, which of the following is not determined by birth?

a.       ascribed group membership

b.      acquired group membership (moderate, page 54)

c.       prescribed group membership

d.      distributed group membership


 

21.    The more egalitarian, or open, a society, the less difference _______________ makes for receiving rewards.

a.     acquired group membership

b.    prescribed group membership

c.     ascribed group membership (moderate, page 54)

d.    distributed group membership

 

22.    _______________ societies place less importance on ascribed group memberships.

a.     Indigenized

b.    Diffused

c.     Utilitarian

d.    Egalitarian (moderate, page 54)

 

23.    An example of a group membership that is usually ascribed would be one based on:

a.       nationality. (easy, page 54)

b.      religion.

c.       political party.

d.      profession.

 

24.    An example of an acquired group membership would most likely be one based on:

a.       nationality.

b.      age.

c.       gender

d.      religion. (easy, page 54)

 

Describe the major theories that explain why motivation may differ from one country to another.

 

25.    According to sociologist Max Weber, which of the following best describes people’s view of work as a means of salvation?

a.    Protestant ethic (moderate, page 58)

b.    Catholic ethic

c.     Islamic ethic

d.    Confucian ethic

 

26.    Which of the following is FALSE regarding the expectation of success and reward?

a.      Generally, people have little enthusiasm for efforts that seem too easy or too difficult.

b.     A person’s highest enthusiasm occurs when the uncertainty is low. (difficult, page 58)

c.      People usually will work harder at any task when the reward for success is high compared with that of failure.

d.     The same tasks performed in different countries will have different probabilities of success.

 

27.    According to which of the following well-known motivation theories do people try to fulfill lower-order needs sufficiently before moving on to higher ones?

a.     hierarchy of values

b.    hierarchy of morals

c.     hierarchy of needs (moderate, page 59)

d.    hierarchy of power


 

28.    Which of the following is FALSE regarding the hierarchy of needs theory?

a.       In very poor countries, a company can often motivate workers simply by providing enough compensation for food and shelter.

b.      Researchers have noted that people from all countries attach the same degrees of importance to needs and even rank the higher-order needs similarly. (difficult, page 59)

c.       The hierarchy of needs theory is helpful for differentiating the reward preferences of employees in different countries.

d.      The highest-order need is that for self-actualization, which means self-fulfillment or becoming all that it is possible for one to become.

 

Explain the following concepts:  (1) Power distance, and (2) individualism versus collectivism.

 

29.    People prefer little consultation between superiors and subordinates—usually wanting and having an autocratic or paternalistic management style in their organizations in which of the following situations?

a.    Power distance is high. (moderate, page 61)

b.    Power distance is low.

c.     Masculinity or assertiveness is high.

d.    Masculinity or assertiveness is low.

 

30.    Safe work environments motivate _______________; challenges motivate _______________.

a.     individualists, collectivists

b.    collectivists, individualists (moderate, page 61)

c.     democrats, communists

d.    communists, democrats

 

31.    Attributes of _______________ are low dependence on the organization and a desire for personal time, freedom, and challenge.

a.     collectivism

b.    democracy

c.     individualism (moderate, page 61)

d.    totalitarianism

 

32.    In countries with _______________, the provision of a safe physical and emotional environment will be a prime motivator.

a.     high individualism

b.    high power distance

c.     low power distance

d.    high collectivism (moderate, page 61)

 

What cultural factors help to explain why some societies are more willing to take risk than other societies?  How do differences among countries in risk taking behavior affect business?

 

33.    All of the following are conditions that may affect differences in risk-taking behavior among countries EXCEPT:

a.    dualism (moderate, page 62)

b.    uncertainty avoidance

c.     trust

d.    fatalism


 

34.    Employees in countries with which of the following plan to work for the company a long time, preferring the certainty of their present positions over the uncertainty of better advancement opportunities elsewhere?

a.     low uncertainty avoidance

b.    high uncertainty avoidance (moderate, page 62)

c.     high power distance

d.    low power distance

 

35.    A belief in _______________ means that events are inevitable.

a.       democracy

b.      ascribed behavior

c.       fatalism (moderate, page 62)

d.      totalitarianism

 

Contrast the following concepts:  (1) low-context versus high-context cultures, and (2) monochronic versus polychronic cultures.

 

36.    Most people consider only firsthand information relevant that bears directly on the decision they need to make in which of the following types of cultures?

a.    low-context cultures (moderate, page 63)

b.    high-context cultures

c.     low-content cultures

d.    high-content cultures

 

37.    When dealing with each other, the _______________ individuals may believe the _______________ individuals are inefficient and time-wasters.

a.     high-context, low-context

b.    low-context, high-context (moderate, page 63)

c.     low-context, high-content

d.    low-content, low-context

 

38.    Cultures such as ones in Northern Europe are called _______________, preferring to work sequentially, such as finishing with one customer before dealing with another.

a.     polychronic

b.    neochronic

c.     monochronic (easy, page 63)

d.    hyperchronic

 

39.    _______________ cultures are more comfortable in working simultaneously with all the tasks at hand. For example, they feel uncomfortable when not dealing immediately with all customers who need service.

a.     Monochronic

b.    Neochronic

c.     Hyperchronic

d.    Polychronic (easy, page 63)


 

What influences how much adjustment companies and managers must make in foreign countries?

 

40.  Which of the following would NOT be conducive to making little or no adjustment to foreign cultural differences?

a.    The cultural differences in question are deeply imbedded in the foreign value system. (difficult, page 64)

b.    Often, the local society looks on foreigners differently than on its own citizens.

c.     Members of the host society may feel they are being stereotyped in an uncomplimentary way when foreigners adjust too much.

d.    The foreign cultural values in question may not be deep-seated.

 

41.    Which of the following is FALSE regarding the effects of adjustment companies and managers must make in foreign countries?

a.      Members of the host society may feel they are being stereotyped in an uncomplimentary way when foreigners adjust too much.

b.     Western female managers in Hong Kong say local people see them primarily as women, not as foreigners.  (difficult, page 64)

c.      Some countries are relatively similar to one another, usually because they share many attributes that help mold their cultures.

d.     A company should have to make fewer cultural adjustments when moving to a country with a similar culture to their own.

 

42.    The attributes that help mold the culture of relatively similar countries include all of the following EXCEPT:

a.      language

b.     level of economic development

c.      geographical location

d.     trade deficit  (moderate, page 64)

 

What are the main communications (language and silent language) problems in international business?

 

43.    Which of the following is NOT recognized as a reason for difficulty in translating one language directly into another?

a.     Some words do not have a direct translation.

b.    Languages and the common meaning of words are static. (difficult, page 65)

c.     Words mean different things in different contexts.

d.    Grammar is complex, and a slight misuse of vocabulary may change meanings substantially.

 

44.    All of the following are mentioned as good rules when handling translations EXCEPT:

a.     do a back-translation for written work

b.    use simple words whenever possible

c.     use slang (moderate, page 65)

d.    get references on the people who will translate for you

 

45.    Silent language includes all of the following EXCEPT:

a.    written words (moderate, page 66)

b.    color associations

c.     sense of appropriate distance

d.    time and status cues


 

46.    Which of the following colors has the same connotation in parts of Asia as the meaning of black in most Western countries?

a.     purple

b.    white (moderate, page 66)

c.     blue

d.    red

 

47.    In the United States, the customary distance of business discussion is which of the following?

a.     eighteen inches to three feet

b.    three to five feet

c.     five to eight feet (moderate, page 66)

d.    eight to twelve feet

 

48.    _______________ is the study of the way in which people walk, touch, and move their bodies.

a.     Proxemics

b.    Assimilation

c.     Bureaucracy

d.    Kinesics (moderate, page 66)

 

What are the disadvantages of excessive ethnocentrism and excessive polycentrism?

 

49.    In _____________ organizations, control is decentralized so that “our manager in Rio” is free to conduct business in what the manager  thinks is “the Brazilian way.”

a.    polycentric  (easy, page 70)

b.    ethnocentric

c.     geocentric

d.    regiocentric

 

50.    Which of the following is NOT a characteristic of a company that is too polycentric?

a.     The company may avoid transferring home-country practices or resources that may, in fact, work well abroad.

b.    The company may overlook important cultural factors abroad because it has become  accustomed to certain cause-effect relationships in the home country.  (difficult, page 70)

c.     The company may lose its innovative superiority due to extensive imitation of proven host-country practices.

d.    The company may lose overall control as managers within each country foster local, rather than worldwide, objectives.

 

51.    _______________ is the belief that one’s own culture is superior to others.

a.    Polycentrism

b.    Geocentrism

c.    Ethnocentrism (moderate, page 70)

d.    Regiocentrism

 

52.    _______________ management overlooks national differences and believes home-country objectives should prevail.

a.   Polycentric

b.   Geocentric

c.   Regiocentric

d.   Ethnocentric (moderate, page 70)


 

What factors should companies consider when trying to minimize resistance to changes they might introduce INto foreign societies?

 

53.    Which of the following is FALSE regarding strategies for instituting cultural change?

a.    When changes interfere with deep-seated customs, accommodation is much more likely. (difficult, page 71)

b.    The more a change disrupts basic values, the more people affected will resist it.

c.     A company must consider the expected cost-benefit relationship of any adjustments it makes abroad.

d.    One way to avoid problems that could result from change is to discuss a proposed change with stakeholders in advance.

 

54.    Which of the following statements is FALSE regarding strategies for easing the institution of cultural change?

a.     People are likely to resist a proposed change when they see themselves receiving no foreseeable benefit from the change.

b.    Because natural intelligence exists mostly in developed countries, participation in decision making does not work in developing countries. (difficult, page 71)

c.     By discovering the local channels of influence, an international company may locate opinion leaders who can help speed up the acceptance of change.

d.    Many good business changes fall flat because they are ill-timed.

 

55.  Which of the following is FALSE regarding the effects of timing regarding strategies for instituting cultural change?

a.       A crisis may stimulate acceptance of change.

b.      Many good business changes fall flat because they are ill-timed.

c.       More employee fear and resistance will occur if management introduces a labor-saving method when there is a labor shortage. (difficult, page 71)

d.      A labor-saving production method might make employees fear losing their jobs, regardless of management’s reassurances.

 

Essay Questions

 

56.    In a short essay, define culture and discuss cultural differences and its effects on international business.

 

         Answer

         Culture consists of specific learned norms based on attitudes, values, and beliefs, all of which exist in every nation. Culture cannot easily be isolated from such factors as economic and political conditions. A company that is new to international business may need only a minimal level of cultural awareness, but a highly entrenched company needs a high level of awareness because of its multifunctional operations in multiple countries. When a company engages in few foreign functions—for example, only exporting its home country production—it must be aware of only those cultural factors that may influence its marketing program.

         (moderate, page 48)

 

57.    What are the advantages and shortcomings of using the nation as a proxy for culture?

 

Answer

The nation provides a workable definition of a culture for international business because basic similarity among people is both a cause and an effect of national boundaries.  The laws governing business operations also apply primarily along national lines. Within the bounds of a nation are people who share essential attributes, such as values, language, and race. However, these shared attributes do not mean that everyone in a country is alike, nor do they suggest that each country is unique in all respects. 

(easy, page58. What features influence cultural stability and cultural change?

 

Answer

Individuals and societal values and customs may evolve over time.  Examining this evolution and its reasons is a useful indicator of the changing acceptance of practices that international companies might like to introduce.  Change may come about through choice or imposition.  Change by choice may take place as a reaction to social and economic changes that present new alternatives.  Change by imposition, sometimes called cultural imperialism, has occurred, for example, when countries introduce their legal systems into their colonies by prohibiting established practices and defining them as criminal.  In addition to national boundaries and geographical obstacles, language is a factor that greatly affects cultural stability.  Religion is also a strong shaper of values.

(moderate, page 51)

 

59.    In a short essay, describe the various affiliations a person’s ranking can be based on and discuss how social stratification affects such business functions as marketing and employment practices.

        

         Answer

a.     A person’s ranking is partly determined by individual factors and partly by the person’s affiliation or membership in a given group. Affiliations determined by birth—known as ascribed group memberships—include those based on gender, family, age, caste, and ethnic, racial, or national origin. Affiliations not determined by birth are called acquired group memberships and include those based on religion, political affiliation, and professional and other associations.

b.    Social stratification affects such business functions as marketing as companies choose to use people in their advertisements that its target market admires or associates. Further, stratification affects employment practices as illustrated in the following example:

When banks needed to make staff reductions, British banks were most prone to discharge on the basis of performance-to-salary, while German banks discharge young managers who could find jobs more easily.

(moderate, page 56)

 

60.    In a short essay, explain the difference between ascribed and acquired group memberships, and give examples of each.

 

         Answer

        Every culture values some people higher than others, and this dictates a person’s class or status within that culture.  A person’s ranking is partly determined by individual factors and partly by the person’s affiliation or membership in given groups. Affiliations determined by birth—known as ascribed group memberships—include those based on gender, family, age, caste, and ethnic, racial, or national origin.  Affiliations not determined by birth are called acquired group memberships and include those based on religion, political affiliations, and professional and other associations.

         (easy, page 56)

 

61.    Describe the major theories that explain why motivation may differ from one country to another.

        

         Answer

a.     Materialism and Leisure – Historically, there is strong evidence that the desire for material wealth is a prime incentive for the work that leads to economic development.

b.    Expectation of Success and Reward – Generally, people have little enthusiasm for efforts that seem too easy or too difficult, where the probability of either success or failure seems almost certain.  The greatest enthusiasm for work exists when high uncertainty of success is combined with the likelihood of a very positive reward for success and little or none failure.

c.     Masculinity Index – The average interest in career success varies substantially among countries.  In one study, employees with a high masculinity score were those who admired the successful achiever, had little sympathy for the unfortunate, and preferred to be the best rather than be on par with others.

d.    Need Hierarchy – According to this theory, people try to fulfill lower-order needs sufficiently before moving on to higher ones.  People will work to satisfy a need, but once it is fulfilled, it is no longer a motivator.

         (difficult, page 58)

 

62.    In a short essay, list and discuss the various needs in order of lowest to highest needs.

 

         Answer

         The most basic needs are physiological, including the needs for food, water, and sex. One needs to satisfy or nearly satisfy a physiological need before a security need becomes a powerful motivator. Then one must satisfy the security need, centering on a safe physical and emotional environment, before triggering the need for affiliation, or social belonging (peer acceptance). After filling the affiliation need, a person may seek an esteem need—the need to bolster one’s self image through receipt of recognition, attention, and appreciation. The highest-order need is that for self-actualization, which means self-fulfillment, or becoming all that is possible for one to become. In very poor countries, a company can motivate workers simply by providing enough compensation for food and shelter. Elsewhere, other needs will motivate workers. Researchers have noted that people from different countries attach different degrees of importance to needs and even rank some of the higher-order needs differently.

         (moderate, page 59)

 

63.    Discuss the values of power distance, individualism and collectivism in international cultures.

 

         Answer

a.     Power distance is a term describing the relationship between superiors and subordinates. Where power distance is high, people prefer little consultation between superiors and subordinates—usually wanting and having an autocratic or paternalistic management style in their organizations. Malaysia, Guatemala, Panama, and the Philippines are countries with high power distance. Austria, Israel, Denmark, and New Zealand are countries with low power distance, where people prefer to have consultative styles.

b.    Countries that rank individualism scores the highest are the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Netherlands. Attributes of individualism are low dependence on the organization and a desire for personal time, freedom, and challenge. Countries that rank high in collectivism are Guatemala, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, and Colombia. Attributes of collectivism are dependence on the organization and a desire for training, good physical conditions, and benefits. In those countries with high individualism, self-actualization will be a prime motivator because employees want challenges. However, in countries with high collectivism, the provision of a safe physical and emotional environment will be a prime motivator.

         (moderate, page 61)

 

64.    In a short essay, list and discuss the three aspects of risk-taking behavior as described in the text.

        

Answer

a.     Uncertainty avoidance – Studies on uncertainty avoidance show that, in countries with the highest score on uncertainty avoidance, employees prefer set rules that are not to be broken even if breaking them is in the company’s best interest. Further, these employees plan to work for the company a long time, preferring the certainty of their present positions over the uncertainty of better advancement opportunities elsewhere. In countries characterized by high-risk avoidance, few consumers are prepared to take the social risk of trying a new product first.

b.    Trust – Where trust is high, there tends to be a lower cost of doing business because managers do not have to spend time foreseeing every possible contingency and then monitoring every action for compliance in business relationships. Instead, they can spend time investing and innovating.

c.     Fatalism – If people believe strongly in self-determination, they may be willing to work hard to achieve goals and take responsibility for performance. But a belief in fatalism, that every event is inevitable, may prevent people from accepting this basic cause-effect relationship. Countries with a high degree of fatalism then affect business because people plan less for contingencies.

         (moderate, page 62)

 

65.    In a short essay, describe the two cultures and discuss the difference between the two.

 

         Answer

a.     Low-context cultures – Refers to when most people consider relevant only firsthand information that bears directly on the decision they need to make. In business, they spend little time on “small talk.”

b.    High-context cultures – Refers to when people consider peripheral information valuable to decision making.

c.     When managers from the two types of cultures deal with each other, the low-context individuals may believe the high-context ones are inefficient and time-wasters. The high-context individuals may believe the low-context ones are too aggressive to be trusted.

         (easy, page 63)

 

66.    In a short essay, contrast monochromic versus polychromic cultures.

 

Answer

Information processing is universal in that all cultures categorize, plan, and quantify.  All cultures also have ordering and classifying systems.  Information processing also includes ordering tasks.  Cultures such as in Northern Europe are called monochromic, preferring to work sequentially, such as finishing with one customer before dealing with another.  Conversely, polychromic Southern Europeans are more comfortable working simultaneously with all the tasks they face.

(easy, page 63)

 

67.    What influences how much adjustment companies and managers must make in foreign countries?

 

         Answer

         International companies sometimes have succeeded in introducing new products, technologies, and operating procedures to foreign countries with little adjustment.  That’s because some of these introductions have not run counter to deep-seated attitudes or because the host society is willing to accept foreign customs as a trade-off for other advantages.  Some countries are relatively similar to one another, usually because they share many attributes that help mold their cultures, such as language, religion, geographical location, ethnicity, and level of economic development.

         (moderate, page 64)

 

68.    In a short essay, discuss the difficulties and the rules used to offset the obstacles in handling translations.

 

         Answer

         First, some words do not have a direct translation. Second, languages and the common meaning of words are constantly evolving. Third, words mean different things in different contexts. And, finally, grammar is complex, and a slight misuse of vocabulary or word placement may change meanings substantially.

 

         Although there is no foolproof way of handling translations, good international business managers use the following rules to handle translations.

a.     Get references on the people who will do translations for you.

b.    Make sure your translator knows the technical vocabulary of your business.

c.     Do a back-translation for written work by having one person go, say, from English to French and a second person translate the French version back into English.

d.    Use simple words whenever possible and avoid slang.

e.     When you or your counterpart is dealing in a second language, clarify communications in several ways to assure all parties have the same interpretation

f.        Realize and budget from the start for the extra time needed for translation and clarification.

(moderate, page 65)


 

69.    In a short essay, discuss the elements of a “silent language.”

 

         Answer

         Colors conjure up meanings that come from cultural experience.  For products to succeed, their colors must match the consumers’ frame of reference.  Another aspect of silent language is the distance between people during conversations. People’s sense of appropriate distance is learned and differs among societies.  Perception of time and punctuality is another unspoken cue that differs by context and may differ across cultures and create confusion.  Another silent language barrier concerns a person’s position in a company.  Body language, or kinesics (the way in which people walk, touch, and move their bodies), also differs among countries.  Few gestures are universal in meaning.

         (moderate, page 66)

 

70.    In a short essay, discuss culture shock and the sequence of events that takes place during this event.

 

         Answer

         Culture shock is the frustration from experiencing a new culture and having to learn and cope with a vast array of new cultural cues and expectations. People working in a very different culture may pass through stages. First, like tourists, they are elated with “quaint” differences. Later, they may feel depressed and confused—the culture shock phase—and their usefulness in a foreign assignment may be greatly impaired. Fortunately for most people, culture shock begins to ebb after a month or two as optimism grows and satisfaction improves.

         (easy, page 68)

 

71.    In a short essay, discuss the three attitudes or orientations that affect how a company and its managers adapt to foreign cultures.

 

         Answer

a.     Polycentrism – In polycentric organizations, control is decentralized so that “our manager in Rio” is free to conduct business in what he thinks in “the Brazilian way.” In other words, business units in different countries have a significant degree of autonomy from the home office and act like local companies. Polycentrism may be, however, an overly cautious response to cultural variety.

b.    Ethnocentrism – That is, the belief that one’s own culture is superior to others. In international business, it describes a company or individual so imbued with the belief that what worked at home should work abroad that it ignores environmental differences.

c.     Geocentrism – Refers to when a company bases its operations on an informed knowledge of home and host country needs, capabilities, and constraints. This is the preferred approach to business dealing with another culture because it increases introduction of innovations and decreases the likelihood of their failures.

(moderate, page 70)

 

72.    In a short essay, discuss the three general forms of ethnocentrism.

 

Answer

a.     Managers overlook important cultural factors abroad because they have become so accustomed to certain cause-effect relationships in the home country.

b.    Management recognizes the environmental differences but still focuses on achieving home-country rather than foreign or worldwide objectives.

c.     Management recognizes differences but assumes that the introduction of its new products or ways to produce and sell them is both necessary and easy to achieve when it is really a complex process.

(moderate, page 70)


 

73.    What are the disadvantages of excessive ethnocentrism and excessive polycentrism?

 

         Answer

         A country that is too polycentric may shy away from certain countries or may avoid transferring home-country practices or resources that may, in fact, work well abroad. Polycentricism may lead to such extensive delegation of decision making or such extensive imitation of proven host-country practices that the company loses it innovative superiority. Furthermore, the company may lose overall control as managers within each country foster local rather than worldwide objectives.

         Excessive ethnocentrism may cause costly business failures if a manager believes his or her own culture is superior to others and is not willing to adapt regardless of the situation.

         (easy, page 70)

 

74.    In a short essay, list and discuss the various approaches international managers seek to understand when instituting change in the international arena.

 

         Answer

a.     Value system – It is much easier to adapt to things that do not challenge our value systems than to things that do. When changes do not interfere with deep-seated customs, accommodation is much more likely.

b.    Cost-benefit of change – Some adjustments to foreign cultures are costly to undertake, while others are inexpensive. Some adjustments result in greatly improved performance, such as higher productivity or sales. Other changes may improve performance only marginally. A company must consider the expected cost-benefit relationship of any adjustments it makes abroad.

c.     Resistance to too much change – If resistance is too high, make fewer demands at one time and phase out former policies more slowly.

d.    Participation – One way to avoid problems that could result from change is to discuss a proposed change with stakeholders in advance. By doing so, the company may learn how strong resistance to the change will be, stimulate recognition of the need for improvement among stakeholders, and ease their fears of adverse consequences resulting form the change.

e.     Reward sharing – Sometimes a proposed change may have no foreseeable benefit for the people who must support it. A company’s solution may be to develop a bonus system for productivity and quality based on using the new approach.

f.       Opinion leaders – By discovering the local channels of influence, an international company may locate opinion leaders who can help speed up the acceptance of change.

g.     Timing – Many good business changes fall flat because they are ill-timed. A culture’s attitudes and needs may change slowly or rapidly, so keeping abreast of these changes helps in determining timing.

(difficult, page 71)