Question

In each of the following situations, identify one or more ways that cultural differences may be leading to miscommunication.
1. Alan is a U.S. sales representative in South America. He makes appointments and is careful to be on time. But the person he’s calling on is frequently late. To save time, Alan tries to get right to business. But his hosts want to talk about sightseeing and his family. Even worse, his appointments are interrupted constantly, not only by business phone calls but also by long conversations with other people and even the customers’ children who come into the office. Alan’s first progress report is very negative. He hasn’t yet made a sale. Perhaps South America just isn’t the right place to sell his company’s products.
2. To help her company establish a presence in Asia, Susan wants to hire a local interpreter who can advise her on business customs. Kana Tomari has superb qualifications on paper. But when Susan tries to probe about her experience, Kana just says, “I will do my best. I will try very hard.” She never gives details about any of the previous positions she’s held. Susan begins to wonder if the résumé is inflated.
3. Stan wants to negotiate a joint venture with an Asian company. He asks Tung-Sen Lee if the people have enough discretionary income to afford his product. Mr. Lee is silent for a time, and then says, “Your product is good. People in the West must like it.” Stan smiles, pleased that Mr. Lee recognizes the quality of his product, and he gives Mr. Lee a contract to sign. Weeks later, Stan still hasn’t heard anything. If Asians are going to be so nonresponsive, he wonders if he really should try to do business with them.
4. Elspeth is very proud of her participatory management style. On assignment in India, she is careful not to give orders but to ask for suggestions. But people rarely suggest anything. Even a formal suggestion system doesn’t work. And to make matters worse, she doesn’t sense the respect and camaraderie of the plant she managed in the United States. Perhaps, she decides gloomily, people in India just aren’t ready for a woman boss.



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  • CreatedMarch 12, 2014
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