Global Business Etiquette & Intercultural
by Hasan Bilokcuoglu
The following is a summary review of the recent studies conducted on the business etiquette/ behaviour in four countries (England, Germany, Japan and China).
1. English Business Etiquette
A strong sense of identity and nationalism are what form the business etiquette in England. According to Chaney and Martin (2007) the English business person cares to be deadline oriented in his business negotiations. They also tend to be reserved and they expect others to act accordingly. Customs (etiquette) and traditions are quite important to the English. Morrison (1994) states that in contrast to American business persons, in England, business friendships are not necessary. Harper (1997) says that one should be careful about asking too many personal questions too quickly when doing business in England, since this makes them nervous. Carte and Fox (2008) state that since they are individualists, like Americans, they concentrate on the tasks demonstrated in their job description, and they think it is normal to get reward from their boss for their individual efforts.
Martin and Chaney (2006) say that the English Notion of 'reserve' is well-known and they are strictly bound to protocol-similarly, Harper (1997) notes that it is the English business person's reserved character and strong sense of identity that control and determine the rules of business etiquette when performing business in England. In England, dress code and appearance in business setting is another very important consideration. For instance, Martin and Chaney (2006) say that it is significant to have conservative attire of excellent quality. They also add that, in England, like other European countries, it is essential to wear clothes made of quality fabrics since dress in an indication of social and business status. English businessmen consider sweat suits and tennis shoes inappropriate because they view them appropriate only for sports activities. Martin and Chaney (2006) also underline that they are very formal and polite and they pay attention to proper protocol and etiquette during the negotiation process. The authors add that the English can become ruthless negotiators; however, they can sometimes be seen eccentric, which can sometimes lead to other cultures under value their skills. Mole (1999) claims that when their basic assumptions about themselves are challenged, then the English business person can quickly lose his reserve.
2. German Business Etiquette
Carte and Fox (2008) say that, in Germany, authority and hierarchical differences are respected. A hierarchical organisational structure is preferred since it avoids uncertainty. Troyanovich (1972) informs that the form of business etiquette in Germany is provided by the formal culture of Germany that sets behavioural expectations in great detail, engaging its participants with the knowledge of what to do and when to do it. They prefer formal communication when doing business and they tend to be autocrats. Personal achievements, truth, and directness are some of the important aspects in their business life. In addition, Martin and Chaney (2006) underline that class status is significant in Germany, that is, despite the fact that all people own equal rights in law, inequalities exist in reality. The authors also point out that when addressing someone, you should always use a title until you are told that it is okay to use first names.
Axtell (1998) points out that the German business persons' rigorous obey to behavioural expectations can clearly be observed in their standards of business etiquette. The author also points out that punctuality is very important. It can be insulting to German managers to be even only a few minutes for a meeting. An explanation is expected when/if you are delayed. Similarly, Tinsley and Woloshin (1974) claim that one of the German culture is the sense of punctuality in all situations.
3. Japanese Business Etiquette
Bovee and Thill (2010) point out that Japanese business etiquette is controlled and determined by their cultural context, that is environmental stimuli, the pattern of physical cues, and implicit understanding that transmits meaning between two members of the same culture. For example, Brett (2001) states that businesspersons from other countries should ask some questions to be sure of they understand the intent of what is being negotiated as the Japanese do not say the word "no". Similarly, Martin and Chaney (2007) propose that the use of high-context communication is a part of Japanese culture, which can be quite confusing for the nonsensitive intercultural businessperson, because the Japanese may say 'yes' is 'no', but one should get whether 'yes' is yes or really no by the context. Bovee and Thill (2010) underline that Japanese culture reflects 'high-context' communication, in which, people rely less on verbal communication, but on the context of nonverbal actions and environmental context that form the intended meaning. It is suggested that instead of working out contractual agreements negotiators should work on or spend more time building relationships in Japan.
Carte and Fox (2008) point out that developing a personal trust is initial in business meetings. Martin and Chaney (2006) argue a similar argument to Carte and Fox, which they emphasise that it is an essential prerequisite to conducting business in Japan. They add that signing a contract in Japan does not necessary mean a sale or negotiation. It rather indicates a continuation of relationship for the future.
4. Chinese Business Etiquette
Early (1997), Martin and Chaney (2006) evaluate business etiquette in the People's Republic of China and they argue that unlike in the United States, most people in China are reserved. In U.S, friendships are formed and dissolved quickly. Thus, business relationships are viewed as shallow and short-lived. On the other hand, business relationships in China are seen as life time commitments. It is also claimed that Chinese business etiquette is directly related to the Chinese sensivity to face. Face is referred as an evaluation of a person's credibility, integrity, and self image by the authors, Ting-Toomey and Kurogi (1998) and Earley (1997). Moreover, Cardon and Scott (2003) argue that many phrases in Chinese state that face showing sophistication of face and how it is connected to communication behaviours, such as global business etiquette. The authors also state that Chinese businessmen utilise a number of communication strategies to get face or give face to others, for instance, indirectness, praising, requests, intermediaries, and shaming. They often use indirectness by preventing public confrontations in order to maintain face. The authors also claim that in China, employing intermediaries prevents direct confrontation, specifically in conflict situations. A Chinese businessperson is noted to believe in a win-win negotiation strategy that lets both sides be winners in order for increasing the strength and scope of relationships.
Cardon and Scott (2003) highlight that Chinese businesspersons utilise praise to identify status and position. For example, Chinese people often employ direct requests for favours since this exhibit that the business relationship is firm. Yet, when individuals break the trust of a relationship, then it becomes normal for Chinese businesspersons to resort to shame.
According to Chaney and Martin (2011), in China, like in the USA, face giving and taking is what controls and determines the rules of business etiquette. They also note that a handshake is always combined with a bow to display proper respect. The authors further suggest that business card exchange at meetings or social gatherings is another specific display of how face impacts Chinese business etiquette. Because Chinese business cards represent the person you are being introduced, it is kind to examine the card carefully and respectfully prior to putting it into the pocket as a demonstration of respect. The authors also point out that it is a common practice for the Chinese to leave business cards on the conference table so that they properly refer to names, ranks, and titles. They position cards in a way that they can be easily seen or read.
To page 4 of 4
To the articles index