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Culture: an Obstacle?

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By rickenz
Words 2559
Pages 11
Culture: Obstacle or Key Customer?
Almaayta, Hassan
Borg, Richard
Michael Buckley
Date, 2015

Table of Contents
Abstract 3
Introduction 3
Methodology 4
Background 4
Dimensions of culture 5
Case one: Sweden 6 Sweden and its business culture 6 Swedes differ from the general view on culture 6 Case study: Slussen 6
Case two: Jordan 7 About Jordan 7 Business Culture in Jordan 8 Case study: Casino Project in Dead Sea 8 Consequences of stopping the project 9
Conclusion 9
References 10

Along with the huge trend toward globalization, the world economic get more united. Still there are several obstacles slow down this trend, or it seems to be that. One of these obstacles is the culture. Through the following discussion, the main idea is to show that culture is not an obstacle; rather that globalization should deal with it as a key customer. Moreover, nations, countries, states, and people should change their vision to start deal with globalization as a project not as a goal. This project should have several goals. These goals should be in line with customers’ requirements. Therefore, the customer who is the local culture will accept and support this project.
Culture is an umbrella term for patterns of thoughts, emotions, and ways to act which mankind lives by. Everywhere we go outside our own land border one would face a new culture that somehow differs in a way from the one used to, regardless if it concerns a neighboring country or one far away. When it comes to establishing businesses in new places the phenomenon of psychic distance says that firms are more likely to move their operations to countries with similar cultures, which they understand. The switch or introduction of a firm’s business to a new market is self-evident in choosing a region, which is built on the same pillars as one is already familiar with instead of having to explore new ways of infrastructure, tariffs, societal norms, and political and legal systems. With globalization as one of the current megatrends the world will probably get to see more and more partnerships that span different continents and different cultures even more than what today’s situation provides.
This project paper has been conducted by two students enrolled in the class Global Trends in Technology at National University. Consulting initial ideas of the students with the professor developed the topic of the paper. As the participating students come from two very different parts of the world the idea of comparing these cultures arose. The course textbook has been used along with search engines on the web in particular for finding information about the concerned countries and their specificities, studies by M. Minkov has been used to reflect the types of cultures covered in this paper. The approach and the structure of the paper was decided in class by the authors and the work on each authors’ culture has been documented individually.
Cultures vary widely in different parts of the world and this leads to many pleasant new encounters and newfound knowledge, however it may also lead to a lot of uncertainties and difficulties when it comes to doing business. There are several different dimensions of culture and how these are interwoven and intercepted in different areas of the world affect the view on interacting and making business with people that do not share the same viewpoint.
The initial information that started off this paper was basic knowledge of the dissimilarities of the concerned cultures, the next step in the process was to go into a more thorough comparison of these and how they affect business in the concerned areas. Instead of using the classical dimensions of culture introduced by G. Hofstede, this paper looks into cultures of the concerned countries in comparison to M. Minkov’s work on the topic. This paper will give a deeper understanding of the concerned cultures and how the people within these perceive the dividing of the dimensions affecting culture.
Dimensions of culture The most famous dimensions of culture are the works on this area done by Geert Hofstede which explains how the culture within a society influence the ideals of its inhabitants and how these reveal what behavior most likely to be used. His dimensions to explain cultural differences are; power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism and collectivism, masculinity/feminity, long-term orientation, and indulgence and these need no further explanation as this paper will take into consideration more of the 4 newer dimensions highlighted by Michael Minkov. The Bulgarian professor with help from Hofstede has led people interested in cultural dimensions to focus their attention towards; (Minkov, 2011) * Industry versus indulgence – which tells about the focus on hard work and frugality in the Eastern parts of Europe and most of Asia compared to the ease found in richer parts of the world and much of Latin America. * Monumentalism versus flexumility – which separates cultures where focus on the human ego itself is great from cultures where humbleness, adaptability, and flexibility are of higher regard. * Hypometropia versus prudence – differentiates parts of the world where the view on time horizon of reproduction and its aftermath. * Exclusionism versus universalism – clarifies the disparities from where people are being treated on the basis on what group they belong to, as family and friends may exclude strangers from their favors and services amongst themselves.
Case one: Sweden
Swedes differ from the general view on culture In a study made back in 2006 it was found that Sweden has the most deviating people in the world. The opinions of the Swedish citizens are furthest away from the general values among the world’s countries, Swedes reject the idea of strong leaders and believe more in freedom, transparency, and democracy than any other country (Carlgren, 2006).
Business Culture in Sweden Sweden stands out among other things by having almost the highest age expectance and the lowest birth rates in the world in addition to being one of the most equal countries when it comes to wealth distribution. Sweden is a coordinated market economy, which shows in the high share of nonmarket institutions in governing organizational relationships (Dicken, 2011). Specific about business culture in Sweden is that the country has implemented a sort of policy, which is supposed to improve the balance in the working life for its citizens. One thing that especially stands out is the pursuit for gender equality, where the government tries its best to promote the upbringing of children not to be done mostly by the mother as it has been traditionally. Society tries to equalize the disparities in housework and Sweden also has what is known to most outsiders as one of the world’s most generous social welfare system. In Sweden education, childcare, health care, pensions, eldercare, and other social services are tax-financed and therefore regarded as free (Herlitz, 1991).
Case study: Slussen Slussen is a project that has been in constant focus because of remodeling since the 16th century. Slussen is located in the heart of Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden and is a junction and hub for public transportation which was built in 1637. Since the city has expanded rapidly and transportation vehicles have developed considerably since then Slussen has had to face remodeling several times. The many interventions upset the citizens of Stockholm because the junction have often looked like a construction site, which have lead to queues but also negative effects on the environment. The citizens have throughout the time expresses that they are sick and tired of having to commute and travel through a construction site every morning to get to their jobs. The city of Stockholm has decided to demolish the entire Slussen and rebuild it from scratch and the project is awaiting its planned start the fall 2015. Many eyebrows have been raised against various architectural proposals with the claim that one does not have the road users best interests in concern but wants to stand out and achieve something as extraordinary as possible. With an environmental-friendly mindset they would rather see money being spent on other issues like fixing walking and cycling routes and improve public transportation in other areas of the city in greater need in order to encourage environmental awareness (Nohrstedt, 2015).
Case two: Jordan
About Jordan
Jordan or the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a part of Middle East. It has borders with Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt through the Gulf of Aqaba. 95 percent of Jordanian is Muslims. Majority of the 5 percent are Christians. Jordanian economy consists of Agriculture and trading. Most exports are agricultural products, phosphates, and potassium. Government is focusing on investing in the tourist sector. Moreover, they encourage and the manufacturing industry by creating tax free zones in several places within the country.
Business Culture in Jordan
Business in Jordan is strongly influenced by culture and religion. As a result, establishing a new business should be in line with local culture, otherwise it will fall down. It is important to any new investor in Jordan to recognize the local culture before starting his business. Many factors can affect any new business; some of them related to the investor himself such as dress, gifts, appointments, low or high voice, emotions, and reputation. Other factors are related to kind of business either it is in line with religion, culture, or both.
Case study: Casino Projects
According to (2011), the casinos issue started since 2003 by issuing secret licenses to foreign investors to build casinos within hotels in tourist areas in Jordan. The idea looked so good for economic benefits that time. On the other hand, knowing that the laws and regulations do not allow gambling, and gambling is a prohibited action in Islam, where 95 percent of population is Muslims. This fact makes the case getting more complicated, the problem became very complicated in 2011 when a large agreement was published. The document included evidence of personal involvement of the prime minister of the Jordanian government, who officially signed for approving and start establishing a big casino in the Dead Sea area in 2007.
The idea of establishing casinos itself is accepted for a minority of the people. Some politicians and economical experts consider this project as positive step to encourage tourism and improve income from tourism (Al Maayta, 2008). Moreover, such projects can be highly attractive investments in the region, especially with the high reputation of safety and security of Jordan. Finally, such a large investment can be a positive step toward globalization, because of related consequences of high investment, interaction, and integration. All these reasons look great from the financial or economical view. On the other hand, what will the obstacles be for such a project?
Such a strategic project has a lot of interactions such as political, cultural, economic, religious, and social. Without taking care of all these interactions, the percentage of success will be significantly reduced. According to Al Maayta (2008), many politicians strongly believe in the importance of this project, but they have doubts regarding public reactions for such a project. This fear was strong enough to keep all negotiations in secret. For all that, it can be noted that the project was not welcomed by local culture, society, people, and religion. Al Maayta added that this project was not the last solution for economic problems. There were many other alternatives that can be discussed and welcomes by society.
Consequences of Stopping Project
Finally the project was unofficially stopped and negotiations still going on between the foreign investor and local government. Unfortunately, such a decision of stopping the project will lead to huge penalty, which will cause a lot of damage to the budget of Jordan. This damage will badly affect the steps of economic improvement. For all that, this project was an example of how local culture face globalization, and the result was bad for everybody.

Cultural differences have a great impact on business and is a clear barrier when it comes to establishing operations overseas, though as we live in a world where people from all over the world nowadays are present almost everywhere this barrier is something that should become easier to handle for every day that goes by. There are lots of things to consider as many aspects of cultural differences may affect doing business in foreign sites. Different custom-systems can make the move very beneficial in a monetary point of view and in addition to cheaper resources this combination is a common factor contributing to make the move. However, as customs and cheaper resources are two attractive factors in business activity there are still various other aspects that can hamper the advent. Different languages and values make negotiating more complicated and disparate use of technology in addition to other time zones is also something to consider regarding communication. Another important factor is the prevailing political system used in the new area, which needs adequate examination prior to any major decisions. The question if taking advantage of cultural aspects that can be beneficial for the organization itself but disadvantageous for the area and its inhabitants are of interest as large transnational companies have great powers. This is something that becomes particularly controversial in areas exposed to double exposure as they bear the brunt for both possible rapid changes in their climate and economic situation.
Connecting back to Minkov’s cultural dimensions, as for Slussen in Stockholm and the citizens’ view of the project the link towards a strong connection to flexumility rather than monumentalism is found. The citizens would rather try to adapt and change their behavior in order to not interfere with the environment, which more procedures on Slussen would mean. Moreover, globalization can be positive when it implemented softly and smoothly in any new environment. One important consideration is to recognize that there is no clear identity for globalization, in which there are no clear standards or conditions to implement globalization. In other words, and new project or investment in new culture or environment should be accepted first. Therefore globalization should be a tool to encourage new cultures to participate in the global economy. The case of casino project in Jordan is a real example of how globalization can be stopped if it is not in line with local culture. Moreover, the way how to lunch the project was also made wrongly. The recommendation before moving overseas is to thoroughly investigate all possible factors that may affect business in the regarded area and though this is no simple task it is something that needs adequate attention in order to survive in the new foreign site.

Al Maayta, S. (2008, April 17). Dream of Casino. Alghad. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
Alnajjar, M. (2011, September 13). Casinos of Jordan, the Complete Story. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
Carlgren, A. (2006, March 21). "Sverige har världens mest avvikande folk" - DN.SE. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
Dicken, P. (2011). Global shift: Mapping the changing contours of the world economy (6th ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
Herlitz, Gillis, Svenskar – Hur vi är och varför vi är som vi är, Konsultförlaget, 1991, Uppsala
Jordan. (2007, December 16). Retrieved August 25, 2015.

Minkov, M. (2011). Cultural differences in a globalizing world. Bingley, UK: Emerald.
Nohrstedt, L. (2015, January 31). Slussen i Stockholm – ständigt i fokus för ombyggnader. Retrieved August 23, 2015.

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