www.downloadslide.com The Meaning of Numbers, Colors, and Other Symbols • White • Purple • Blue • Red • Yellow flowers • White lilies • 7 • Triangle • Owl • Deer Chapter Two Cross-Cultural Variations In ConsumerBehavior 57 TABLE Symbol for mourning or death in the Far East; purity in the United States Associated with death in many Latin American countries Connotation of femininity in Holland; masculinity in Sweden, the United States Unlucky or negative in Chad, Nigeria, Germany; positive in Denmark, Rumania, Argentina Sign of death in Mexico; infidelity in France Suggestion of death in England Unlucky number in Ghana, Kenya, Singapore; lucky in Morocco, India, Czechoslovakia, Nicaragua, the United States Negative in Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan; positive in Colombia Wisdom in United States; bad luck in India Speed, grace in United States; homosexuality in Brazil 2-3 Relationships The rights and obligations imposed by relationships and friendship are another nonverbal cultural variable. Americans, more so than those in most other cultures, form relationships and make friends quickly and easily and drop them easily also. In large part, this may be because America has always had a great deal of both social and geographic mobility. People who move every few years must be able to form friendships in a short time period and depart from them with a minimum of pain. In many other parts of the world, relationships and friendships are formed slowly and carefully because they imply deep and lasting ILLUSTRATION 2-6 Kellogg’s tiger is an effective symbol in many cultures.
www.downloadslide.com 58 Part Two External Influences obligations. As the following quote indicates, friendship and business are deeply intertwined in many cultures around the globe including Latin America and Asia. In many cultures, the written word is used simply to satisfy legalities. In their eyes, emotion and personal relations are more important than cold facts. 99 In addition, long-run success in many cultures involves more than just “getting to know” someone in the Western sense of the expression. For example, Chinese relationships are complex and described under the concept of guanxi: Guanxi is literally translated as personal connections/relationships on which an individual can draw to secure resources or advantages when doing business as well as in the course of social life. Its main characteristics are (1) the notion of a continuing reciprocal relationship over an indefinite period of time, (2) favors are banked, (3) it extends beyond the relationship between two parties to include other parties within the social network (it can be transferred), (4) the relationship network is built among individuals not organizations, (5) status matters—relationships with a senior will extend to his subordinates but not vice versa, and (6) the social relationship is prior to and a prerequisite to the business relationship. 100 It should be quickly noted, however, that in an increasingly intertwined, modern, and global setting, even traditional notions like guanxi are being challenged. The following excerpt suggests the tensions felt by modern professionals in China: It is a bit strange but even as we almost act the part of the dynamic, modern, assertive business person, we still—underneath—still look for something deeper—far deeper—a more traditional and emotionally driven sense of trust, respect and guanxi—but we realize that in today’s fast paced living (environment), it is often not possible to achieve this deeper level of relationship formation in a business climate—but to us, underneath it all, this is still the ultimate. 101 One expert suggests that different approaches may therefore be necessary depending on the depth and length of relationship desired. Agreements Americans rely on an extensive and, generally, highly efficient legal system for ensuring that business obligations are honored and for resolving disagreements. Many other cultures have not developed such a system and rely instead on relationships, friendship, and kinship; local moral principles; or informal customs to guide business conduct. For example, the Chinese “tend to pay more attention to relationships than contracts.” 102 Under the American system, we would examine a proposed contract closely. Under the Chinese system, we would examine the character of a potential trading partner closely. In the words of an American CEO based in China: Relationships are everything in China, more so than in the United States, which is more focused on business. The Chinese want to know and understand you before they buy from you. 103 Americans generally assume that, in almost all instances, prices are uniform for all buyers, related to the service rendered, and reasonably close to the going rate. We order many products such as taxi rides without inquiring in advance about the cost. In many Latin American, Asian, and Middle East countries, the procedure is different. Virtually all prices are negotiated prior to the sale, including those for industrial products. 104