Although all corners of the world conduct business in some way, different countries do so in different ways depending on their goals, cultures, and beliefs. Before you embark on your international business management degree, it would be beneficial to have a firm understanding of how managers and owners in different countries approach business.
We understand that making the jump from college/sixth form to university can be a daunting one, but there are things you can do to get ahead of the curve and ensure you have the best possible start. Here, we’ll be taking a look at how the approach to business management differs across some cultures.
Let’s start with the area of the globe that you’ll probably be most familiar with: the United Kingdom. The UK is the sixth-largest national economy in the world, and behind this thriving economy are business leaders with a particular way of doing things.
Here, leaders will encourage and promote discipline and punctuality among their employees, as these two factors are seen as the key to a successful business. In addition to this, they expect excellent time management skills from anyone they do business with, whether that's staff, partners, or clients.
Not only do they expect deadlines to be hit without compromising on the quality of work, but they also expect people to arrive on time or, in many cases, earlier than expected. This demonstrates manners, organisation, and commitment.
Employees are encouraged to work as a team and a good manager will enforce this; individual ambition should not be prioritised over the success of a team effort.
British business leaders are polite but often indirect, which can be confusing for foreign guests. Although decisions and requests can sometimes sound like an invitation to discuss, this is not the case. There is authority behind the courtesy.
Patience is huge within French business culture. As a leader, you don’t expect decisions to be made on the spot or even shortly after the meeting has closed.
French businesspeople prefer to discuss things at length before deciding on something, especially if the business owner was not present at the meeting and therefore executives need to give an exact account of what took place.
Leaders in France are direct, straightforward, and have no trouble asking questions, whether that be to staff or executives from other organisations who are hoping to come to a business arrangement.
Sometimes a leader may even interrupt somebody before they’ve finished their point; this is supposed to be a positive sign as it means they’re actively listening/interested in what the person has to say.
Staff are encouraged to take sufficient lunch breaks that usually span 1.5 hours. In some areas of the world, such as the United Kingdom, employees are guilty of eating lunch at their desks because they’re so busy with the task at hand. Well, this action is against the law in France, with managers and staff using the allocated time to eat a good meal and allow it time to digest, or visit the gym and run errands.
Spain is a diverse country and a ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t work across all business owners. However, there are certain traits and habits that can be identified among leaders in all areas of the country.
Leaders are generally more relaxed when it comes to deadlines and timescales because that’s the Spanish culture in general; people tend to take their time in doing things and deal with each day as it comes. Business owners will likely see more people engrossed in their work at 20:00 than at 09:00.
This part of the world is one of the leading countries for expats to live and work, with foreign workers making up around 15 per cent of Spain’s total labour force.
Working hard as an individual is much more highly regarded than teamwork, so it’s not uncommon for leaders to acknowledge success that comes as a result of a single person’s work as opposed to a whole department or team.
Respect for age and status is very important in Japan’s business culture as well as their general culture. Managers and owners of a business are aware of their position at the top of the hierarchy, and they expect those below them to actively respect their prestigious rank.
Status among employees is determined by their job role, where they went to university, and marital status, so it’s common for business leaders to make important decisions based on the background of their staff.
Owners and managers in Japan prioritise relationships above all else, and they make certain that they know and trust somebody fully before engaging in business with them.
If an introduction is being made between two businesses, the person leading the introduction will usually choose an informal gathering involving food and drink to bring the two leaders together, first ensuring that the two parties are positioned within the same place on the hierarchy.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
In a similar way to Japan, the business culture in Dubai focuses strongly on hierarchy. Business leaders in the UAE are the key decision makers and tend to be older and more experienced from the top down.
Age, money, and family can also determine where in the hierarchy someone is positioned; leaders are more likely to base hiring decisions on these three factors, as opposed to who would be the best at the job role.
It’s very rare a leader will accept ideas, suggestions, or any kind of input from lower-level employees. They are expected to always listen and follow, and overstepping could be seen as rude and disrespectful rather than innovative and ambitious.
Leaders dress moderately and expect their staff to do the same – most men wear a kandura (an ankle-length white shirt) and most women wear an abaya (a black flowing garment that covers most of the body).
Personal relationships are at the centre of all business in Dubai, and face-to-face meetings are prioritised over phone calls and emails as these forms of communication can sometimes be seen as impersonal.
Of course, business is handled differently across the world and leaders adopt different approaches based on culture, but there are consistent factors no matter which part of the globe they’re being conducted in.
In every country, the leaders have more than likely gained a good education, as well as have a particular set of skills and thorough knowledge relevant to their business sector.
An international business management course will help you develop important skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication, that can be transferred and applied to different parts of the world. Good luck with your studies!
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