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Cultural Challenges in Corporate America

Updated on September 28, 2017

Culture, the Indispensable Part

In the broader sense, both from the view points of Empiricism and Rationalism, we, the Homo sapiens, are nothing other than cultural products, encompassing everything in the life we live. Locke, Berkeley or Hume would go with the empiricists pointing out that knowledge comes along experiences while all our experiences are shaped by the culture embedded in the society. On the contrary, Plato, G.W. Leibniz or Noam Chomsky would rather support rationalists with their respective views that forms, moral principles or language are innate which sprout in certain circumstances with a catalyst we may call culture. It is needless to say, our culture, such a deep rooted thing, and an indispensable part as well, can be hardly wiped out from our life, even after living so many years in a multicultural arena, even after showing thumb to the thousands-mile physical distances in the world, reducing it to a Global Village. So, it is no wonder, the cultural forces, too powerful to handle even by the mighty medieval imperialists, will impact the corporate world led by America.

Communication Tools as Cultural Challenges in Corporate America

The chapter, Communications across Cultures in Management across Cultures: Challenges & Strategies by Richard M. Steers, Carlos J. Sanchez-Runde and Luciara Nardon, begins with a stunning quote by Richard D. Lewis:

“Whatever the culture, there’s a tongue in our head. Some use it, some hold it, and some bite it. For the French it is a rapier, thrusting in attack; the English, using it defensively, mumble a vague and confusing reply; for Italians and Spaniards it is an instrument of eloquence; Finns and East Asians throw you with their constructive silence. Silence is a form of speech, so don’t interrupt it.”

The language, verbal or gesture, may stand as a barrier as one the most powerful challenges in the global business. English as the only language spoken in the USA helped it emerge as the world’s strongest economy but as a pioneering leader in the global business, it also faces huge problem in its way through bringing people from the farthest corner of the world with various cultures under one roof. We can use a common language, but still our ignorance with regards to some body languages or expressions can cause misinterpretation leading to a business failure.

Individual Attitude Learnt from Culture as a Silent Danger to the Corporate World

Our aesthetic beliefs, moral principles, attitude toward life, religion, cast, or race are the powerful driving forces we learn from our cultures. In India, one of the greatest impedimenta in promoting business is their cast discrimination; in UK there had been a history of blood shed in the name of Catholicism and Protestantism; the racial conflict, though we pretend to ignore, sometimes spark off even in popular sports. So these sorts of individual attitudes imprinted deep down our heart by the culture undoubtedly matter to handle carefully as a big challenge in the corporate world.

Apart from the above-discussed cultural challenges, our importance in maintaining time, socio-economic environment, living standards, professionalism in handling contracts- either in deeds or in words, etc. can also matter to a large extent in reaching the ultimate goal of a corporate group.



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