The Culture Environment of global Markets

This story is a good illustration of how history and geography can affect public and political attitudes in the present and far into the future. To the Panamanians and much of Latin America, the Panama Canal is but one example of many US intrusions during the early 20th century that have tainted US Latin American relations. For the United States, the geographical importance of the Panama Canal for trade (shipping between the two coasts via the canal is cut by 8,000 miles) makes control of the canal a sensitive issue, especially if that control could be potentially hostile. That a Chinese-owned company has operational control of both the Pacific and Atlantic ports and could pose an indirect threat to the Panama Canal Zone concerns the US government. The recent history of US conflict with China and the history of Western domination of parts of China create in the minds of many an adversarial relationship between the two countries. Further, some wonder if Panama would be reluctant to ask the United States to intervene at some future date, perhaps fearing that the Americans might stay another 98 years. Although the probability of China sabotaging the canal is slim at best, historical baggage makes one wonder what would happen should US relations with China deteriorate to the point that the canal considered to be in jeopardy.

Culture is defined as a society’s accepted basis for responding to external and internal events. To understand fully a society’s actions and its points of view you must have an appreciation for the influence of historical events and the geographical uniqueness to which a culture has had to adapt. To interpret a culture’s behavior and attitudes, a marketer must have some idea of a country’s history and geography.

The influence of history on behavior and attitudes and the influence of geography on markets, trade, and environmental issues are examined.

Historical Perspective in Global Business:

History helps define a nation’s mission how it perceives its neighbors, how it sees its place in the world, and how it sees itself. Insights into the history of a country are important for understanding attitudes about the role of government and business, the relations between managers and the managed, the sources of management authority and attitudes toward foreign corporations.

To understand explain and appreciate a people’s image of itself and the attitudes and unconscious fears that are reflected in its view of foreign cultures, it is necessary to study the culture as it is now as well as to understand the culture as it was that is, a country’s history.

History and Contemporary Behavior:

Unless you have a historical sense of the many changes that have buffered Japan – seven centuries under the shogun feudal system, the isolation before the coming of Commodore Perry in 1853, the threat of domination by colonial powers, the rise of new social classes, Western influences the humiliation of World War II and involvement in the international community – you will have difficulty fully understanding its contemporary behavior. Why do the Japanese have such strong loyalty toward their companies? Why is the loyalty found among participants in the Japanese distribution systems so difficult for an outsider to develop? Why are decisions made by consensus? Answers to such questions can be explained in part by Japanese history.

Loyalty to family, to country, to company and to social groups and the strong drive to cooperate to work together for a common cause, permeate many facets of Japanese behavior and have historical roots that date back thousands of years. Historically, loyalty and service a sense of responsibility and respect for discipline training and artistry were stressed to maintain stability and order. Confucian philosophy taught throughout Japan’s history, emphasizes the basic virtue of loyalty of friend to friend of wife to husband of child too parent, o-f brother to brother but above all of subject to lord, that is to country. A fundamental premise of Japanese ideology reflects the importance of cooperation for the collective good. Japanese achieve consensus y agreeing that all will unite against outside pressures that threaten the collective good. A historical perspective gives the foreigner in Japan a basis on which to begin developing cultural sensitivity and a better understanding of contemporary Japanese behavior.–

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