Business Failure Due to Cultural Differences
“Red is a positive color in Denmark, but represents witchcraft and death in many African countries,” (Understand and heed, 1991, p.1). Simple understandings, such as this one, can make the difference in a business’ success or failure in a foreign country. Various countries have different customs and beliefs that need to be accustomed to when business are to be successful. American businesses especially have difficulties with this concept. “At times in the past, Americans have not had a good track record of being sensitive to cultural distinctions,” (Understand and heed, 1991, p.3). Perhaps this is because America is made up of so many different cultures that American people have become so used to easily adjusting to each other’s differences that they forget that other cultures are not as flexible. Today, more American’s are becoming more sensitive to the differences of other cultures. This sensitivity and understanding has come with a price, after a long string of business failures. It is not until a business fails miserably in another country that they see the adjustments that should have been made in order for their success to be a possibility. With an understanding and sensitivity to the customs and beliefs of other cultures, it is possible for successful businesses that have originated in western cultures to also be successful in foreign countries as well.
The differences in other cultures vary from beliefs to ways of life, or norms, of the different societies. The importance of understanding and sensitivity to other countries’ differences is crucial to a business’ success. “Lack of familiarity with the business practices, social customs, and etiquette of a country can weaken a company's position in the market, prevent it from accomplishing its objectives, and ultimately lead to failure,” (Understand and heed, 1991, p.1). Understanding cultural differences is important because of the messages that businesses need to convey. “The role that cultural difference plays is huge. Without the understanding of the culture, many things are misinterpreted. This does not stop just at the level of language. In the marketing field this is especially prominent,” (Chung, 2009, p.1). Different symbols have a variety of meanings, depending on the culture. “The "OK" sign commonly used in the United States is a good example of a gesture that has several different meanings according to the country. In France, it means zero- in Japan, it is a symbol for money; and in Brazil, it carries a vulgar connotation,” (Understand and heed, 1991, p.1).
“The result of not addressing the cultural issue means some fail badly and some find it hard to make an inroad into the market place,” (Chung, 2009, p.1). One example of a business that has failed due to cultural differences is a pizza restaurant that was to be opened in Shanghai. Not only did the business owners fail to understand the cultural differences in taste, but they...