A web site for the developing language teacher

Global Business Etiquette & Intercultural
by Hasan Bilokcuoglu
- 4

Some Significant Examples
The following are the examples how cultural ignorance can lead to negative consequences. Therefore, the examples below demonstrate how vital awareness is, especially in international business world today.

Example 1:
A cologne for men displayed a pastoral scene with a man and his dog. It was a total failure in Islamic countries since in those countries dogs are considered unclean.

Example 2:
American motors attempted to launch its new car named 'the Matador' in Puerto Rico. However, the name means 'killer' there and the car was not popular on the dangerous roads in the country.

Example 3:
Managers of an American company were discomposed when they found out that the brand name of the cooking oil they were selling to a Latin American country translated into Spanish as 'Jackass' !

Example 4:
An American businessman refuses an offer of a cup of coffee from a Saudi businessman. Such a rejection is very rude, so the business comes to a stop.

Example 5:
A company printed 'Ok' finger gesture on each page of the catalogue. However, in Latin America, that is considered as a rude gesture. Consequently, six months of work were lost as they had to reprint all the catalogues.

Example 6:
A Golf ball producing factory packed golf balls in packs of four for convenient purchase in Japan. Unluckily, pronunciation of the word 'four' in Japanese sounds like the word 'death'; thus, items packaged in fours are unpopular in Japan.

Example 7:
Mountain Bell company attempted to promote its telephone and services in Saudi Arabia. Yet, they failed when its ad pictured an executive talking on the phone with his feet propped up on the desk, exhibiting the soles of his shoes-something an Arab would never do!

Example 8:
Proctor & Gamble uses a TV commercial in Japan which was popular in Europe. The ad exhibits a woman having a bath, and her husband goes into the bathroom and touches her. The Japanese considered this ad as an invasion of privacy, inappropriate behaviour, and very poor taste.

(Examples taken from http//

The recent advances in technology and the notion of globalisation have been greatly contributing the growth of international trade today. However, it is clear that the success in global business affairs is determined by the ability of countries towards understanding and/or knowing the suitable customs, values and appropriate business etiquette of the target country. Since communication is culture specific and culture-bound, it becomes essential that countries which take part in international business must dedicate a considerable amount of time to make out, learn, and value each other's ethical habits and culture. In this way, they can conduct long, strategic alliances. As it is seen in this paper, there are many authors who have argued that intercultural communication competence and an appreciation towards cultural diversity will not only help business to build a bridge between countries which are participating in international negotiations, but also will aid the multicultural managers in carrying off their inter or multi-international business.
Putting into a nutshell, a global mindset; building up multicultural sensivity, the advantages of globalisation in today's business affairs are tools to utilise for a proper achievement in international business operations and negotiations among the involving countries.

Axtell (1998). The best selling guide to international behaviour, 3rd edition. The Parker Pen Company.
Bovee and Thill (2010). Business in action. Prentice Hall PTR.
Brett, J.E. (2001). Negotiating Globally. How to negotiate deals, resolve disputes, and make decisions across cultural boundries. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Cardon, P.W & Scott, J.C (2003). Chinese business face: Communication behaviours and teaching approaches. Business communication quarterly, (66) 4, 9-22. Retrieved on on April,1 2013
Carte, P., & Fox, C. (2008). Bridging the culture gap: A practical guide to international business Communication (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: Kogan Page.

Chaney, L., & Martin, J. (2006). Global business etiquette: A guide to international communication and customs. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing.

Chhokar, Brodbeck, and House (2007). Culture and Leadership Across the World: The GLOBE Book of In-Depth Studies of 25 Societies (Series in Organization and Management). Retrieved on
on 2, March 2013
Connerley, M., & Pedersen, P. (2005). Leadership in a diverse and multicultural environment: Developing awareness, knowledge, and skills. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Cook, R. A., & Cook, G. O. (2004). Guide to business etiquette (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Publishing.

David Ingram (2009). Business etiquette. Retrieved from
on March 8, 2013

Early, P. C. (1997). Face, harmony, and social structure: An analysis of organizational Behavior across cultures. New York: Oxford University Press.
Ephraim Okoro (2012). International Organizations and Operations: An Analysis of Cross-Cultural Communication Effectiveness and Management Orientation. Retrieved from
_Effectiveness_and_ Management_Orientation
on 3 March, 2013.

Global Business Etiquette and Intercultural Communication. Retrieved from
on 3 March, 2013.
Harper, T. (1997). Passport United Kingdom: Your pocket guide to British business, customs, and etiquette. Dan Rafael, California: World Trade Press.
Harris, P. R., & Moran R. T. (2000). Managing cultural differences. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Company.

Martin, J. S and Chaney, L.H.. (2007). Intercultural business communication (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Martin and Chaney (2006). Global business etiquette: A guide to international communication and customs. Westport, Conn: Praeger Publishers.

Mole, J. (1999). Mind your manners: Managing business cultures in Europe. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Morrison. T (1994). Kiss, bow, or shake hands. Holbrook, MA.: AdamsMedia Cooperation
O'Rooke,J.S (2010). ManagementCommunication (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River., NJ:Pearson Prentice Hall.
Ting-Toomey, S and Kurogi, A. (1998). Facework competence in intercultural conflict: An updated face negotiation theory. International Journal of Intercultural Relations; 22(2), 187-225.
Tisley, R.L and Woloshin, D.L (1974). Approaching German culture: A tentative analysis. Teaching German, 7 (1), 125-136
Trayanovich, J (1972). American meets Geramn-cultural shock in the classroom. Teaching German, 5 (2), 67-79
What is business ettiquette? Retrieved from on 1 March, 2013
What is etiquette? Retrieved from on 1 March,2013


Hasan Bilokcuoglu, B.A. the European University of Lefke & M.A the European University of Lefke, and PhD in ELT in progress, is currently working at the European University of Lefke, Cyprus. He is deeply interested in the applications of the schemata theory on reading comprehension. Additionally, he is interested in the effects of cultural schemata and reading comprehension, and English for Specific Purposes. He can be contacted at:

To the beginning of the article

Print-friendly version

To the articles index

Back to the top

Tips & Newsletter Sign up —  Current Tip —  Past Tips 
Train with us Online Development Courses    Lesson Plan Index
 Phonology — Articles Books  LinksContact
Advertising — Web Hosting — Front page

Copyright 2000-2016© Developing