Anthropology of Business
This course gave me a chance to acquire the knowledge needed to communicate with the members of other cultures. From year to year the tempo of globalization becomes faster. The Internet made the process of communication easier, and now people can talk to each other even when they are far away. New technologies are introduced into business widely, thus the amount of international relationship in business is also becoming bigger. To make those relationships effective it’s very important to know about cultural differences between the representatives of different nations, and about the ways of dealing with them.
Due to it course I understood lots of new things about business, power, society, and culture that will help me in my future work with the representatives of different nations. Also this course made me believe that regardless of the differences people who live on the Earth have, they can communicate effectively and productively in case they put all their efforts in order to learn to understand each other.
In different countries, different cultures people have different attitudes towards business; they have various traditions of making business. This is dictated by the differences in the patterns of development of cultures, society and lots of other
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Different traditions exist in different countries considering the business sphere. For example, in the East it is traditional that the elder son inherits his father’s business, while in the West it I usually the most gifted descendant, or even a subordinate. The business culture in the East is dictated by the attitude the Easterners have towards their elders. In those regions people are respected because of their age, and the head of the company or the corporation is usually senior. In the West the company is usually headed by the most ambitious and gifted candidate, regardless of his age.
In the East employee loyalty is valued and promoted among the workers, it is one of the main values for them. It is usual for the man to work in the same company during all his life, while in the east the specialist usually don’t hesitate to change their workplaces, when they are offered better conditions or salary.
West is traditionally now to be the culture of power, where power is valued the most, while the Easterners value it much less. This phenomenon is reflected even in the styles of communication the representatives of these cultures have. While the Western businessman is usually pushy, and tends to discuss business from the first minute of the negotiations, the Eastern businessman will rather begin from a portion of the small talk, discussing the weather, the importance of the current meeting, his emotions about it etc. While for Westerners power means being able to make the opponent to accept one’s viewpoint by force, for Easterners the art of negotiations is much more respected.
One more difference in attitude to power between different cultures is that in the East power means social status, and social status can be reached only by age and experience. Even the most talented young businessman is respected less than his older colleagues, who are less gifted in the business sphere. In the West power is measured in the terms of successfulness – the annual income, the brand of the automobile one uses, and the amount of money on the bank account, while in the East everything listed are just the attributes of social status. Having them doesn’t mean being respected in the East, while for the Westerners those are the valid criteria to measure the social status of the person.
The problems appearing in the process of cross-cultural communication are also often dictated by the differences in the societal structures that exist in different countries and cultures. One of the most prominent examples is the role of women in business. It is still sometimes complicated for women to make business with the representatives of Eastern cultures, as they cannot accept women in business seriously. It is traditional for their society that the roles of women are usually those connected to leading the house, child bearing etc.
In some Eastern countries most women don’t work at all, while in other they are allowed to be employed as teachers, nurses, waitresses, cooks etc. For them woman who has a degree in medicine, engineering, or business science is nonsense. Another societal difference potent of causing misunderstandings is the question of age, which was previously discussed. It is often that the Easterners cannot treat young person as an equal, as in their culture people of his age are considered to be too young to decide on important issues.
The Eastern and the Western culture have different patterns of development. If we look on the works of art – paintings, movies or literature works produced by the representatives of different cultures, we will be able to see how different those people are. Cultural differences are also one of the factors that impede cooperation of the representatives of different cultures in business.
Due to the differences in development, different nations have different moral norms and principles, and things that are considered to be appropriate in one country can offend the feelings of people of other cultural origins. One of the factors that should always be considered when communicating with the representatives of other cultures is religion. Religious feelings are very complicated sometimes, and easy to hurt, and the consequences of hurting them can be unpredictable. For example, the Western touches of advertising are often unacceptable for Muslims, as in U.S and Europe it is normal to use almost naked bodies to advertise, which Muslim religious leaders and faith strongly disapprove of.
This course taught me a lot of things that are very valuable not only for communication in business sphere, but also for understanding the behavior of the representatives of different cultures. It provided me with valuable tips about cross-cultural communication, and about the traditions in different countries, and about the origins of these traditions.
- Jordan. A. Business Anthropology. Waveland Press, 2002
- Ferraro, G. Cultural Dimension of International Business. Prentice Hall, 2005
- Thomas, D. Inkson, K. Cultural Intelligence: People Skills for Global Business. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2004