According to Trompenaars and Woolliams (2003), there have been numerous changes in the business management practices most of which have ignored the preexisting cultures while adopting new cultures that are more favorable to the corporate world. This results into a contradictions since cultures will always acts in a way that protect their existence. Consequently it is important to study the cultures of people in different countries. This is because people have different way of analyzing day to day problems that face them and solving the dilemmas (CIL, 2009).
There are seven dimensions of culture that are considered significant in formulation marketing strategies especially when the customers and the producer or seller originate from a different country or cultural setting. This is more so important when dealing with emerging markets where corporate world is not accustomed to their culture.
Dimensions of Culture
The first culture dimension according to Trompenaars is achievement vs. ascription. In term achievement culture, he noted that individuals in any society gain status according to their effectiveness in carrying out their functions. High status is given to individual who are able to achieve and can prove their worth. However, this is observed mainly in countries whose cultures are achievement oriented such as the United States, Britain and Switzerland. On the other hand, in ascription n culture, individuals gain status depending on whom or what they are in the society which is determined by age, gender and position in the society (Workman, 2008).
The second dimension of culture us individualism vs. communitarianism. In individualism cultures such as the United States, Canada, Britain and France, decision making and success are individual affair and therefore focuses on individual responsibility. In communitarianism cultures such as the Japanese culture, the society comes before the individual and decision making, achievements and success in a community affair which emphasizes on community responsibility.
The third dimension is internal vs. external where in internal cultures such as in America; people take responsibility of their actions which dictates their destiny while in external cultures mainly in the Asian countries, the people blames their destiny on the environment and therefore should always strive to cope with the external circumstances (Workman, 2008).
The forth dimension of culture is the neutral vs. emotional. In neutral cultures such as Britain and Japan, people do not show their emotions or felling while in highly emotional cultures such as Mexico, Holland and Switzerland, the people express their feelings and emotions freely and naturally. That is people can smile, have round conversations or interact with enthusiasm.
The fifth culture dimension is specific vs. diffuse. Specific cultures include the American, Austria, Britain and Switzerland cultures where the private life is separate from work. While the public space is large and open, the private space is relatively small and shared with specific people. On the other hand, the nature and size of the public and private spaces in diffuse cultures is relatively the same. Countries with diffuse cultures include China and Spain among others.
The sixth culture dimension is time orientation where in sequential cultures such as the American culture, individuals are assigned to one activity at a time through strict appointment plans while in synchronous cultures individuals can do several activities at the same time and appointment are subject to changes at any time. The seventh culture dimension is the universalistic vs. particularistic. In universalistic countries such as Germany, United States and United Kingdom, formal rules rather than relationships are emphasized. Particularistic countries such as China and Venezuela focus on the relationship between individuals and culture rather than formal rules (Workman, 2008).
Malaysia has a very diverse national culture to the large number of ethnic groups living in the country. The main ethnic societies in Malaysia include that native Malays who form the majority, Chinese and Indians among others who have preserved their cultural and religious customs and traditions. Despite the increased adoption of western civilization, cultural traditions and social etiquette such as group orientation, the concept of face as well as greetings and meetings customs are still very significant in the Malaysian society.
Pakistan being an Islamic country, cultural practices are very important. The Islamic ideologies and values guide every aspects of the society in Pakistan including personal life, economic and social activities as well as political leadership (Kwintessential, 2010).
In the France, the culture has great passion on food such that French put a lot of attention in the choosing the ingredients and preparation of food. They also hold dear the basic family values such as the importance of marriage, extended family and friendship. They also have very strict meeting, giving, eating and business etiquette and values. The case is not very different in Holland who upholds very strict social and cultural values such as the importance of a family as the foundation of the society, demeanor, egalitarianism, privacy and basic social etiquettes and customs (Kwintessential, 2010).
Understanding the cultural and tradition values, customs and etiquettes is very important especially for businessmen who with to market their products or travel to different countries in the world. This will increase the likelihood of success in a business trip or a business activity across the cultural divide.
Center for Intercultural Learning, (2009), Country Insights. Retrieved on August 20th 2010 from; http://www.intercultures.ca/cil-cai/countryinsights-apercuspays-eng.asp
Kwintessential, (2010), International Etiquette Guide, retrieved on August 20th 2010 from; http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/country-profiles.html
Senge, P. (ed.) (2001) The Dance of Change: The Challengers to Sustaining momentum in Learning Organizations, Doubleday, New York.
Trompenaars, F. & Wooliams, P. (2003). "A new framework for managing change across cultures," Journal of Change Management, 3(4) pp 361 - 375
Workman, D. (2008). Trade Culture Dimensions, retrieved on August 20th 2010 from; http://internationaltrade.suite101.com/article.cfm/trade_culture_dimensions