After reviewing section 2.4 of the text titled International and Intercultural Interpersonal Communication, visit The Hofstede Centre (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.( and continue to explore national cultural dimensions. Here you will choose two countries to compare and contrast in terms of cultural dimensions. Develop a two-page, APA-formatted paper that addresses the following: Describe how the two countries are similar in terms of Hofstede’s six cultural dimensions.Describe how the two countries are different in terms of Hofstede’s six cultural dimensions.Given a scenario where two organizations, one located in each country, are to do business with each other, provide recommendations that would be beneficial in helping management address communications in terms of the different cultural perspectives. Your paper must be two pages (not including title and reference pages) and must be formatted according to APA style as outlined in the approved APA style guide. You must cite at least two scholarly sources in addition to the textbook.


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2.4 International and Intercultural Interperso
nal Communication
Learning Objective # 4: What additional challenges are present in inte
rnational and interculturalinterpersonal communication?
Conducting business in today’s modern business environment presents exciting opportunit
ies for businesses and individuals. Markets andsales expand as new social contacts are mad
e and undiscovered cultures are explored, both within a nation’s boundaries and withpoten
tial customers in other countries.
Many U.S. companies recognize the existence of two distinct potential advantages present d
ue to cultural differences within the nation’sborders. First, a rich pool of new employees wi
th diverse perspectives and interests infuses energy into a company’s operations. Second,m
any cultural groups, including Hispanics and Asian Americans, offer valuable target market
segments that may be reached.
International business programs often begin with expansion into countries with many of th
e same cultural conditions, such as a Canadianfirm selling products in the United States. So
on, however, an international program can move into countries with different languages an
dcultures. In both circumstances, effective business communication involves understandin
g of—and adaptation to—cultural nuances anddifferences.
Cultural Dimensions
To understand individual communication while accounting for cultural differences, take no
te of the primary types of cultural differences.For years, the most widelycited dimensions of culture have been those proposed by Geert Hofstede, as displayed in Ta
ble 2.11. (Moredetail can be found at:
Table 2.11: Hofstede’s value dimensions of culture
Power Distance
Distance between leaders and followers; authoritarian versus coll
Individualism or Collectivism
Value of personal status versus loyalty to the group
Male-dominated society versus more equal status between gende
Uncertainty Avoidance
Risk-taking versus risk-avoidance societies
Short- or Long-Term Orientation
Immediate versus long-term, strategic outcomes
Power distance affects communication patterns between individuals and in group settings.
A culture exhibiting high power distance is onein which managers are far less approachable
by lowranking employees. In such a culture, rank affects patterns of collaboration. Use offormal la
nguage becomes more likely in higher power distance cultural settings. Conversely, in low
power distance cultures, leaders areseen more as peers and patterns of collaboration are m
ore affable and informal.
Individualism/collectivism affects communication in terms of how language is used as well
as how it is transmitted. In individualisticcultures, personal pronouns (I, my) are more likel
y; collective cultures exhibit greater reference to “we,” “us,” and “ourgroup/organization.” I
ndividualistic cultures favor one-onone interactions; collective cultures more likely feature groups, teams, andmeetings.
Masculine cultures hold much in common with higher power distance circumstances. Males
dominate family matters, businessdiscussions, and other aspects of society. Women in thos
e settings play submissive roles. Femininity associates with more caring,interpersonal conn
ections among all members of society, which in turn is reflected in the ways people and em
ployees communicate withone another.
Uncertainty avoidance affects word choice. Cultures with high levels of uncertainty avoidan
ce exhibit words that indicate confidence injudgments regarding various outcomes. More di
sparaging language focuses on risky situations.
Short-/longterm orientation affects the types of communication messages sent as well as the content of
those messages. A company in alongerterm orientation culture is most inclined to develop strategic plans with a fartherreaching time horizon. Inspirational languagereflects the desire to build the longterm future of the organization. Shortterm orientation results in more immediate planning processes,greater levels of contingenc
y thinking and planning, and language focused on the here and now.
Hofstede’s dimensions remain widely used in a number of contexts, including business com
munication, although increasing criticismshave emerged. Hofstede collected the data in the
late 1960s and, while culture is normally slow to change, the numbers predate theintroduct
ion of the personal computer, the Internet, the fall of communism, and many other significa
nt global events (Rapp, Bernardi, &Bosco, 2011). At the same time, the dimensions do provi
de important considerations when examining the challenges associated withcommunicatin
g with people from other cultures.
For Review
Name and define Hofstede’s five main dimensions of culture.
Cultural Differences and Nuances That Affect Communicat
Several key areas require consideration and adaptation when communicating in internatio
nal settings as well as for interactions betweenpeople from different cultures in the same c
ountry (de Mooji, 2010). Hofstede’s dimensions do not clearly spell out all of these. Forexa
mple, older persons may be highly respected in one culture and disrespected in another. Ev
en asking questions about a person’s agecan make the receiver uncomfortable in Western c
Further, cultural gender equality and inequality strongly affects patterns of communication
between males and females internationally.Percentages of a population that are welleducated vary widely across countries, thereby affecting status levels. Personalities areinfl
uenced by cultural surroundings as well. The most common areas in which communication
in international and intercultural settingsrequires examination include:

language and slang
directness of address
speaking versus silence
eye contact
differences in the meanings of nonverbal cues
personal space issues
use of symbols and cultural icons

cultural context
For Review
What communication issues are present in international and intercultural settings?
Language and Slang
Language and slang differ among cultures. In the United States, the most prominent langua
ge is, of course, English; however, residentsspeak a variety of additional languages. In term
s of business communication, many employers now list job openings in both English andSp
anish, and training programs have been adapted to accommodate those whose primary lan
guage is Spanish. Company advertisementsand other communication messages have been s
imilarly modified.
The same holds true for international communication. An individual who only speaks Spani
sh is likely to experience difficulties when abusiness partner speaks only Russian, even whe
n a translator is present. Some languages, such as Mandarin, are written using charactersra
ther than letters, which add additional complications. Also, some printed languages are rea
d from right to left; whereas English andothers are read from left to right.
Slang within both languages can further complicate communication. The phrase “our busin
ess is red hot” serves as an example. Althoughit may seem strange, international buyers cou
ld misunderstand the meaning of this phrase and think that it literally means that thebusin
ess is on fire. Always choose words carefully. In the Philippines, referring to a woman as a ”
hostess” translates into calling her aprostitute. A Filipino immigrant would likely feel insult
ed in a similar manner when engaged in a conversation in his or her new country.
In many business conversations, the person speaking has only partial knowledge of a langu
age. This can lead to misspoken ideas orwords or poor grammar, especially in areas such as
singular/plural or nounverb agreement. The person may appreciate a friendlycorrection, although normally at leas
t some familiarity with the person is advisable before doing so.
The attempt to speak in a foreign language, even if only for the purposes of greeting a poten
tial business partner, often builds rapportwith that person.
Greetings, gestures, and other methods of communication varyby culture.
Knowing how to greet someone can be a valuable business asset. Culturessuch as the Unite
d States often exhibit informal methods of greeting,including phrases such as “Hey,” “Hi,” or
“Howdy.” Many immigrants withinU.S. borders quickly adapt to such differences; however,
others may not. Inbusiness communication, a wise course of action is to be aware of potent
ialdifferences in greetings when dealing with someone from a different culturebut the same
country. For example, many Muslim groups forbid handshakesbetween a man and a woma
More dramatic differences appear in international business communication.For example, w
hile it is common knowledge that, in Asia people bow and inWestern cultures individuals s
hake hands as a form of greeting, other keydifferences remain. In Korea, a person touches h
is elbow while shakinghands as a sign of respect. In Japan, a 90degree bow often accompanies ahandshake for the same reason. Women do not shake hand
s with each other in Pakistan. Greeting a business contact with a kiss on thecheek is a com
mon gesture in certain European countries.
Care must be given to an initial contact. For example, in Germany if someone greets you as,
“Good morning, Mr. Jones,” it will probably bea bad idea to say, “Oh please, call me Jack.” Ge
rmans prefer more formal relationships with business partners.
Further, following an initial introduction, in some countries, the partners immediately mov
e on to the purpose of the meeting. In Finland,for example, a popular saying is suoraan liiket
oimintaa, which means “straight to business.” In other countries, doing so is consideredrude
. First, take time to establish a relationship with the new business partner. Businesspeople i
n China greatly value the concept of trust,and any Western businessperson seeking to cond
uct business in China must first work to establish relationships, not only betweencompanie
s, but also between people. Company representatives must understand that the relationshi
ps begin before business deals aremade and continue well after any specific transaction tak
es place (Baack, Harris, & Baack, 2012).
Even so, asking a personal question may be considered impolite. Asking about someone’s fa
mily or children may be inappropriate incertain, more reserved cultures with higher levels
of power distance.
Directness of Address
Directness of address is culturally based. Language and conversation can vary drastically fr
om culture to culture. Such differences appearin the United States. Language and conversati
ons are often more direct in the East and more conversational in the Deep South.
In Asia, someone’s persona likely includes the concept of “face,” which essentially refers to
one’s sense of honor, selfrespect, respect fromothers, and standing in a social setting. In that context, language that a
voids directly challenging a person or making that individual lookbad, or seem disrespecte
d (e.g., lose face) is common. Disagreement is expressed in the most modest terms possible.
Instead of saying,”We can’t meet your price,” the vendor uses terminology such as “I am afr
aid that trying to meet your price will be very difficult for ourcompany.”
In nations such as Holland, the opposite is true. Unless the person uses strong, direct langu
age, he or she may be viewed as weak or notreliable.
Speaking Versus Silence
In the United States, most view silence as uncomfortable. At the same time, some U.S. subcu
ltures embrace greater degrees of silence.When asked a question, an employee might encou
rage a degree of silence when told, “Take your time,” before answering.
Similar differences take place internationally. In Japan, executives take time to consider a p
roposal, believing it signals sincerity. Buyers inSweden tend to be comfortable with pauses
and silence during negotiations. Impatience at this time potentially displays a lack of respec
tor impoliteness. Many cultures have varying perspectives on the meaning of silence during
a conversation or negotiation. At the oppositeextreme, a noisy house in Taiwan indicates a
happy, healthy environment.
Eye Contact
Eye contact may be closely related to directness of address. In some cultures, such as in the
United States and Canada, the failure to makeeye contact makes a person seem suspicious a
nd untrustworthy. These patterns tend to run nationwide. In other countries, such as Japan,
looking away displays deference and respect.
Gender plays a significant role in eye contact as well. In many Middle Eastern cultures, a ma
le does not make eye contact with orcomment on the color of a woman’s eyes, unless she is
a family member. This holds true whether the individual lives in Saudi Arabia orimmigrates
to San Francisco. While men make direct eye-toeye contact, a man does not do so when conversing with a woman.
Ethnocentrism, the belief that one’s culture is inherently superior, may cause either the sen
der or receiver to convey a sense of feelingsuperior. It would not be surprising that misund
erstandings, conflicts, and confrontations may emerge when someone expresses such avie
Ethnocentrism often affects management communication. When a multinational company
has a homebase country, it is not unusual formanagers to believe their country’s style of leadership is ”
best.” Transmitting such an attitude to persons in other nations frequentlymeets with some
resistance or resentment.
A variation of ethnocentrism takes place when a person from a culture within a country im
plies that his or her culture is superior toother cultural backgrounds from the same country
. Some of the racial tension between African Americans and Caucasians in the UnitedStates i
ndicates this type of belief in a culture’s superiority (e.g., “acting white” as an insult or racia
lly charged references by Caucasians),even though these ideas are not tied to international
For Review
Define ethnocentrism and explain how it creates a barrier to interpersonal communication.
Stereotyping exists when a person assumes things about another based on that person’s ra
ce, gender, or national heritage. Stereotypingoccurs within national boundaries based on m
any cultural values and elements. In the United States, stereotyping of religions, politicalaffi
liations, and regional heritage affects communication as well. For example, assuming some
one who looks Hispanic actually speaksSpanish is stereotyping, as is assuming all members
of a religion, such as Islam, have common (and negative) characteristics.
In international settings, cultural stereotyping takes place between countries. Believing all
Germans are rigid, structured, rational thinkerslumps them into a group that undoubtedly
does not truly exist. Corresponding methods of speaking are affected by such an assumptio
n.Many times women are the victims of stereotyping, even though the nature of the stereot
yping differs in various cultures. Typicallyfemininity has been associated with nurturing an
d support, where masculinity reflects aggression and dominance by males, even thoughthes
e characteristics are not true of many men and women.
For Review
Define stereotyping and explain how it creates a barrier to interpersonal communication.
Nonverbal Cues
©Celia Peterson/arabianEye/Corbis
Cultural views of personal space and physical contact varywidely.
Nonverbal cues vary widely by culture. Nodding “yes” in one country means”no” in others. I
n many Middle Eastern nations, the act of crossing one’s legsis a sign of disrespect and male
s holding hands as part of a businessrelationship indicates trust. Gestures also vary widely.
What may have abenign meaning in one country may be an obscene gesture in another.Exa
mples include the “V for victory” with two fingers sign and use of themiddle finger to point.
In Indonesia, pounding your fist into the palm ofyour hand may be considered an obscene g
Personal Space
Personal space is the distance between two persons in a conversation.Standing two to thre
e feet away from another person may be the norm inone culture such as France, Spain, or t
he United States where greaterpersonal space exists. That same distance may indicate shifti
ness or distrustin Central Africa and the Middle East. As an extension of personal distance,i
n the culture of Japan a business partner might find a pat on the back to bedisconcerting, as
the Japanese tend to not make physical contact in business relationships, other than a hand
shake with a Westernpartner.
Symbols and Cultural Icons
Not long ago, Pepsi began to lose market share to Coke in Southeast Asia. The management
team discovered that changing the outsidecolor of vending machines from a dark regal blue
to light blue was the problem. In that region, light blue is associated with death andmourni
ng (Henderson, 2011).
Cultural symbols include religious items, superstitions, colors, objects, animals, and an endl
ess variety of items. A white horse symbolizesdeath in some cultures; a black horse in other
s. Various flowers have different meanings, depending on the culture involved. Knowledge
ofthe beliefs and associations of a culture help you avoid doing something that would make
a person uncomfortable or that has a differentmeaning to the other person than it does to y
The left hand has meaning in many cultures. Malaysians consider the left hand unclean. In I
ndia, the left hand is considered lessimportant, and dignitaries perform actions with the rig
ht hand for ceremonies such as a ribbon-cutting, even if the person is left-handed.
Higher- and Lower-Context Cultures
Different cultures place varying levels of emphasis on the actual words involved in commu
nication. The terms higher- and lowercontextare applied to these cultural differences in language usage.
Lowercontext cultures are characterized by explicit verbal messages where members value and h
ave positive attitudes about words. Themeaning of a message is mainly contained in the wo
rds themselves. Much of the Western world is historically rich with rhetoric. This, inturn, co
ntinues to emphasize the importance of verbal messages. Germany, Switzerland, and the U
nited States are examples of lower-context cultures.
Higher-context cultures rely more on symbols and language with less explicit or spelledout codes. The meanings of these messages aremainly contained in the nonverbal compone
nts of the message. This includes facial expressions, body language, the person presenting t
hemessage, and the context in which the message is transmitted. Highercontext communication moves quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately,often the verbal messa
ges are less complete, and for those not familiar with the symbols in a given area, the infor
mation becomes difficultto accurately decipher. Highercontext societies are less accessible to outsiders. Many Asian cultures are higher-context.
Cultural context may be viewed as a continuum. The highestcontext cultures exhibit the greatest reliance on symbols and visualelements. Others lean to
ward a high context, yet words are more frequently used and valued. The same holds true f
or lowercontextcultures; degrees of word valuation may be found. Misunderstanding these differing
elements may lead to problematic conversations(Hall, 1994).
Time and Cultural Context
Time, timeliness, and tardiness have different meanings invarious cultures.
Beyond the role nonverbal communication plays in highercontext regions,business partners in these countries tend to be more lenient with issuessuc
h as the timeliness of meetings. In India or China, for example, it may notappear to be rude t
o be a few minutes late to a sales meeting.
In the United States or England, tardiness is frowned upon. A salespersonmight lose a sale
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