Book Title
International Business: The Challenge of Global Competition 13th Edition

978-0077606121 Chapter 4 Lecturers

April 7, 2019
Sociocultural Forces
Learning Objectives
LO4-1 Describe what culture is.
LO4-2 Explain the significance of national-level culture differences for international business.
LO4-3 Describe Hall’s concept of high and low context.
LO4-4 Describe Hofstede’s framework.
LO4-5 Outline Trompenaars’ dimensions.
LO4-6 Discuss the sociocultural aspects of culture as a phenomenon.
International business statistics, data, and facts about countries, regions, governments, and companies can
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As an adopter of this text, McGraw-Hill Irwin offers you a complementary online resource each month,
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Culture, the sum total of beliefs, rules, techniques, institutions and artifacts that characterize human
populations, is learned and shared. Its various aspects are interrelated and it defines the boundaries of
different groups. The study of culture is essential to international business executives who must operate in
cultures different from their own.
Opinions vary as to the components of culture. In the text, the following are included: (1) aesthetics, (2)
attitudes and beliefs. (3) religion, (4) material culture, (5) education, (6) language, (7) societal
organization, (8) legal characteristics, and (9) political structures.
Suggestions and Comments
1. It is not easy to cover such a vast subject as this in the short time available. Our aim is to make the
class realize that there are cultural differences and that international business executives must be on
the lookout for them. They must have their radar working at all times. We emphasize that business
plans must be examined from a cultural point of view.
2. Often second generation students can draw on their grandparents' behavior, expectations and values
as examples of various cultural dimensions. Students who have studied abroad or who have spent
time abroad may also contribute. Asking about the older generation is a way to ease foreign
students into the conversation, as well.
Student Involvement Exercises
1. Have the students prepare a cultural analysis for a product to be introduced in a specific country.
2. Have the students discuss how the different religions might affect the work of (1) the marketing
manager, (2) the production manager, and (3) the human resource manager of foreign subsidiaries
in a Latin American country, a Mideast country, and a European country. If a person were to be
transferred from one subsidiary to another, what changes would need to be made in the way that
person handled the work? This is a very real problem for people who are transferred every few
years to a different culture or country.
3. Discuss the constraints on marketing and human resource managers in foreign subsidiaries where
there is a low level of education.
4. Ask the students what kinds of preparation they would want to have with respect to a nation’s
culture if they were told that in six months they would be transferred overseas.
5. Ask students from other countries, after a discussion outside of class, if they experienced cultural
shock when they first arrived in your area. The discussion is a good way to open the eyes of local
Guest Lecturers
1. Someone from the anthropology department, especially if he or she has traveled or lived in other
countries, can present some interesting aspects of cultural differences.
2. A marketer or personnel manager with overseas experience may be willing to address the class.
Such a guest should be able to recount some interesting experiences in coping with the local
3. A retired State Department employee who worked overseas is a possibility.
4. A student who served in the Peace Corps might also have interesting observations.
5. Faculty from other countries may share their own perceptions.
Lecture Outline
I. Opening Section
The Opening Section presents six useful rules for Americans going to other countries to sell and
in doing so, points out some cultural differences. These rules are: Be prepared, slow down,
establish trust, understand the importance of language, respect the culture, and understand the
components of culture.
II. What Is Culture?
A. Culture is the sum total of beliefs, rules, techniques, institutions, and artifacts that
characterize human populations.
B. Culture is learned and shared, its various aspects are interrelated and it defines the boundaries
of different groups.
C. Anthropologists often combine the words social and cultural into one word, sociocultural.
This is the term we use because the variables in which businesspeople are interested are both
social and cultural.
D. Most cultures consider their culture superior to other cultures. This is a fundamental example
of ethnocentric thinking.
E. Hall, a noted anthropologist, says there are only two ways to learn about another culture: (1)
spend a lifetime in a country or (2) undergo an extensive training program that covers the
main characteristics of a culture, including the language.
III. Significance of Culture for International Business
A. Culture impacts all business functions, marketing, HR, production, accounting and finance,
and leadership.
B. Worldview: Disneyland is a good example of the impact of culture on operations.
IV. Frameworks to Understand Culture
A. Hall's High and Low Context
1. High Context Culture: communication tends to be implicit and indirect, polychronic
2. Low Context Culture: Communication tends to be direct; context plays little role,
B. Hofstede's Five Dimensions
1. Individualism-collectivism dimension: degree to which people in the culture are integrated
into groups
2. Uncertainty avoidance: society’s comfort with uncertainty
3. Masculinity-femininity: distribution of roles between the genders
4. Power distance: extent to which members of a society expect and accept power to be
distributed unequally
5. Long term orientation/Confucian Dynamism: dealing with Virtue regardless of Truth, that
is, the level to which people in the culture will persevere to overcome obstacles they
cannot overcome with will or strength
C. Trompenaars Seven Dimensions
1. Universalism vs. Particularism: whether rules or relationships regulate behaviors
2. Individualism-Communitarianism: whether people plan their actions with reference to
individual benefits or group benefits
3. Neutral vs. Affective: the culture’s rules for display of emotions
4. Specific vs. Diffuse: distinguishes among cultures based on the social patterns for public
and private life
5. Achievement vs. Ascription: the basis of social status and reward, with status being related
to either who a person is or what a person does
6. Attitudes toward time: Focus on past, present or future? And is time perceived as linear
or synchronous
7. Attitudes toward the environment: Is the culture in harmony or exerting control over
D. Use of the frameworks is to establish likelihood, not to describe directly, since they are
sophisticated stereotype
V. Sociocultural Aspects of Culture
A. The concept of culture is so broad that ethnologists break subject matter down into topics to
facilitate study.
B. The aspects of culture listed in this text are: (1) aesthetics, (2) music and folklore, (3) religion,
(4) material culture, (5) language, (6) societal organization
C. Aesthetics pertains to a culture’s sense of beauty and good taste and is expressed in the arts,
drama, music, folklore and dances. An interesting article on the sense of smell, with some
information on differences between cultures, is Cathy Newman, “Perfume: The Essence
of Illusion,” National Geographic, October, 1998, pp. 94-119..
D. Importance of religion to management–religious holidays and rituals can affect employee
performance and work scheduling. When members of different religious groups work
together, there may be strife, division and instability within the work force. Religious values
also are important in the workplace
E. Language is key to culture, both spoken and nonverbal languages
F. Gift Giving differs by culture
1. Creates obligations to give, receive and reciprocate
2. Important aspect of international business, so the ritual must be understood
G. Social relationships are structured into patterned relationships
1. kinship is family and may be extended and may carry significant obligations
2. Free association relationships may be formed on the basis of age, gender or common
interest. Facebook is an evolving example of this type of relationship.
Global Debate
When in Rome, Should You" Do as the Romans Do"?
This debate explores cultural relativism, especially when they involve conflicting ethical values. To what
extend should we follow the local practices?