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Italy

In: Business and Management

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OBSERVATION SHEETS:
Directions: Please record your observations on the following dimensions for Italy versus the United States from what you have seen and experienced during this program. This is an individual assignment—I am interested in reading your own views on these dimensions. You may, however, discuss these dimensions with other participants in the program including VT students, and you may ask Italians or others about their views on these matters. Please be reminded that the Virginia Tech Honor Code applies to this and all other work in the study abroad program. Please type your final responses.
1. Nature of relationship between employer and employees/supervisors and supervisees

Italy: I noticed good relationships between employer and employee in all of the businesses we visited. Employees listened to their employer and were very respectful. I noticed in one store the supervisor and her supervisees laughing and joking while at work which showed the nature of their relationship as well.

U.S.: Employers in the US treat their employees with respect and vice versa. Anywhere I have worked, I have experienced good relationships between my coworkers and my employer. 2. Gender Issues (e.g., role of women in the workforce & in society)

Italy: Women are allowed almost a year off of work when they are going to have a baby. They cannot be fired and are still paid too. This is a serious issue for Italy as a woman can have 2 kids in a row and not work for years without losing her position at work.
U.S.: There are strict rules put into place so that gender discrimination is not tolerated and a business could be in huge trouble if they do discriminate against one gender. I have never experienced gender discrimination anywhere I have worked. If you are good at your job, it doesn’t matter what your gender is. 3. Orientation towards time and importance placed on being “on time”.

Italy: There are certain bylaws that allow a worker to be late to work without being fired, according to our Vatican radio guide. I noticed some stores were still not open an hour after the said opening time on their door. Lots of the small, family owned businesses had very flexible hours.
U.S.: A worker in the United States is expected to always be to work on time or even a little early. Being late often results in being fired and is extremely looked down upon in the workplace. Stores always open on time and will not close until the closing time they display on their door. 4. Racial Relations (e.g., discrimination, equality/inequality of opportunity)

Italy: I didn’t notice an inequality for opportunities because of race but there were many street vendors (a worse job than others) that were of one race where usually shop owners were Italian. But the street vendors were everywhere and it was funny to watch them have to pick up their goods and run if they saw a cop coming.

U.S.: There are racial issues in the US, including illegal immigrants and the jobs they are given. Although there are many different cultures in the United States and every year racial issues are getting better, they are still very real in some areas. I know many people who are extremely racist. 5. Work ethic (i.e., how long and hard people work)

Italy: I noticed businesses hours were pretty flexible. Sometimes I’d see a store that opened at 8 am and the shop owner still hadn’t opened it at 8:30. When we visited Maserati the workers had a long day and only 26 minutes to do their job along the assembly line. For most of Italy though, I felt like days weren’t too long and the workers weren’t overly stressed about their job.

U.S.: People in the US work hard and long days mostly and they have to have a good work ethic or will not get a raise or promotion. It’s a work hard, get everything done, and you will be rewarded type of environment. However, a lot of people in the US are very stressed out because of their jobs not being lackadaisical. 6. Relationship between corporation and government

Italy: The relationship does not seem close because Italy doesn’t have very many rules and regulations that businesses need to follow, and some of the rules they do need to follow are not helpful ones. Many of the shops in Italy are mom and pop shops too making the relationship less intimate.

U.S.: The free market that the US has set up makes the relationship between corporate and government not as close. The government has also many rules and regulations that must be followed. It is a closer relationship with government if the business is big.

7. Corporate social responsibility/business ethics

Italy: I think that social responsibility is good here and their business ethics also good. When writing my paper for Ferragamo I read their business ethics which included worker safety, health protection, etc. As I read other company profiles, they also usually had a good code of ethics. I remember Bvlgari made a special ring that helped an organization called Save the Children, which clearly shows they have good social responsibility. U.S.: The businesses in the US almost always have a good code of ethics to protect the worker, make sure everything is safe in the workplace, and have non-discrimination. Businesses usually have a good sense of social responsibility too. There are always commercials about drinking responsibly or helping others in your community. 8. Concern about the environment

Italy: I didn’t hear too much about the environment when talking to the tour guides but the cities for the most part were pretty clean. There was graffiti everywhere however and they never covered it up. In a lot of places, it seemed like trash cans were scarce, yet there wasn’t trash lying on the ground a lot either. They also all drove little cars or smart cars that were environmentally friendly.

U.S.: The US is super involved with keeping the environment clean but also drives huge trucks and gas guzzling cars that aren’t very good for the environment. Typically the streets are cleaned up well though and the graffiti is painted over to keep the city looking nice also.

9. Consumer Issues
a) product safety and quality

Italy: Product quality is very important to Italians. They hand make a lot of their goods, like in the leather school, which I also noticed they did with their food too.

U.S.: I think the US goes more for quantity than quality a lot of the time. There are standards for food, for example, that have to be met, but once they are its quantity from then on. b) marketing of tobacco & alcohol

Italy: I didn’t really notice the marketing of tobacco or alcohol but I did notice everyone smoking. I feel like there is no need to market tobacco or alcohol because everyone already smokes and kids are brought up with alcohol, and being able to drink so it isn’t a big deal.

U.S.: Tobacco and alcohol are marketed everywhere in the US; on billboards, in the store windows, magazines, and commercials. Marketing alcohol and tobacco is good for business because it draws in the underage kids. c) customer service

Italy: I’m not gonna lie, customer service in Italy was not good. Especially in Rome, people were rude and did not really care about the customer’s needs as much as they should have. Rome is all tourists so I felt like the locals didn’t care if they were rude or not since they would probably never see the tourists again

U.S. After going to Italy, I can appreciate the US customer service so much more. They will split a check for you without blinking an eye. And workers are always nice to customers because they will get fired or scolded at least if they are not. 10. Treatment of Handicapped Individuals

Italy: I didn’t really see anyone who was handicapped, except for some beggars on the street with limbs missing or something. As far as handicapped spots or ramps for a handicapped person, I saw none. Everyone seemed very fit and healthy (aside from smoking cigarettes all the time).

U.S.: The US caters to a handicap individual’s every need. There are many handicapped parking spots and always another way to get a wheelchair up stairs. It just seems like a better place to live if one does have a handicap.

11. High-end/luxury goods

Italy: Let’s just say Italians know how to shop. They have entire streets dedicated to luxury goods. They take pride in the fact that they have many of the best luxury goods in the world and have high end shops like Prada, Gucci, Cartier, everywhere to show that.

US: The US has luxury stores but there are also many shops like Forever21 and thrift stores mixed in. There is more of an even mixture of cheaper clothes and high end clothes when you go shopping in a mall or on the streets of NYC, which is better for me since I’m a poor college student haha.

12. Culinary/food
Italy: The weirdest thing in Italy for me about food was McDonalds. I expected a 6$ cheeseburger meal like in the US and got a 15$ meal with an elaborate cheeseburger that had many different things on it. There were many stores you could walk in that had food premade that you watched them reheat for you, which was a little gross since you knew it had been sitting there all day. Overall the food in Italy was delicious, probably because I love Italian food. Water was their only real downfall since it cost 3 euro for one bottle of water, no free water at all.
US: Getting back to the US where I could order as many glasses of water I wanted for free was the BEST. And there is so much variety for food. In Italy there would be a bunch of pizzerias and spaghetterias on one street and then one Chinese restaurant. America has an indian place, Chinese place, pizza place, and so on all over.

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