How Culture Impacts An International Business


Cross-cultural differences impact all interactions. Today we are going to look at how they impact the organization within a business.

Many readers may not quite be here yet. But I thought this would be interesting to look at.

Are There Differences?

  • What makes an international business different?
  • Does an international business function differently from one that is not international?
  • Are there international growing pains?

Apart from the legalities of operating an international company, it is hard to identify any tangible differences.

In my personal experience, the differences are nuanced.  They center around collective “soft” skills.  This obviously stems from the nature of “international skills” and “cross-cultural skills”.

Cultural Influences

There are some obvious ways culture influences an international business:

  • The way how we present ourselves
  • How we express opinions
  • Assumptions based on the environment and context
  • Perceptions of voice, and other personal physical details

When you work inside an international company, you learn to adapt to these cultural differences.  They stop interfering with communication.

Cultural Conflict Within A Company

Some people may think that conflict within an international company is a result of the confrontation between cultures.

Although cultural personality issues and misunderstandings do happen, it is difficult to identify how culture influences teamwork within a company.

Most people learn to adapt to the different cultures and this enhances personal growth, interpersonal relations and intercultural interactions.

And this is where there may be differences in an international company and a company that is not international.

Most of the employees in an international company will be at a comparable level of personal growth. They will have similar interpersonal and intercultural skills.

And in a company that is not international, there could be wider differences in these areas.

Better Practices

Beyond soft skills…

What I have noticed from working with international companies, is that they seem to strive harder to implement standard and industry best practices.

Best practices seem to lessen the clash of cultures within a company.  These best practices are more widely accepted.  They can also help to create a collective identity.

Best practices can also lessen the clash of cultures outside the company when dealing with international clients.  It does not matter where your clients are from, they also appreciate dealing with people that follow standard best practices.

In the end it all comes down to working with good communication and within good business practices.

Here’s more on Culture In International Business.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Photos from Shutterstock.

  Filed under: culture in international business

Cindy King

  • Clark Wright

    A very cool post. I signed up for your tips and hope that they are as interesting as this article. I went to ezine articles to read some of your other stuff – good quality and worth the read.

  • Jerry Dill

    This is a great article post and something that companies should be aware of before expanding internationally. The reason for this is that it if you don't understand cultural differences your wasting your time contacting these people.

    • Cindy

      Hi Jerry!

      Thank you fro dropping by. Glad you liked the article.

      I think most people who set out to get international business are eager enough to pick up the international skills they need as they go. Most people. But a significant portion of these people do not realize the personal effort they actually need to make… and need some time to adjust and find the time to deal with it.

      The good news is that everyone I have ever met was pleased they made the effort to open themselves up to acquire these skills.

  • Studenomics

    As I type this I am preparing for my project presentation which is doing business in Russia. One thing everyone must know that unwritten rules are just as important as written rules. Whether it be corrruption, norms, or social activities (drinking alcohol with business clients). One must be aware of all of these concepts prior to engaging in any international business.

    • Cindy

      Hello Studenomics,

      Thank you for your comment. Very true!

      I also pay as much attention to what is not said as what is said.

  • Hudson Reed

    Soft skills are over rated. I think that if the foreigners can't deal with English – well, they should not try to be in international business. The Americans did a lot after WWII to get peace in this part of the world and I think that English became the language that we all decided to share. Too bad the Yanks have a funny accent!

    • Cindy

      Hi there Hudson!

      I tend to think that “Soft skills” is one of those terms different people use with different meanings – in this case scope of meaning. I get very left brained with this sort of vagueness. And in fact the first time I understood what “soft skills” were, was when I took the time to think about the very few people I know that have top rate “soft skills”. These people do stand out in a crowd and are very, very few and far between.

      I also wonder what the world would be like if there was no lingua franca or if it was some other language.

  • ML

    This would be helpful in teaching my students…

    • Cindy King

      Yes, lots of students read my blog :)

  • Rajesh Rathi

    do  i know you from  somewhere Cindy??   smilzz…. you look familiar i dont know why. Take care

    • Cindy King

      Maybe from someplace online? Or in social networking circles?