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FOREWORD

This book is aimed at enabling students to create profitable business relationships by building cultural bridges that enhance understanding and establish trust.

We believe that establishing mutual understanding between eastern and western peoples and countries is the urgent issue of the day.

This book focuses attention on cultural knowledge not just as a necessary aspect of communicative competence, but as an educational objective in its own right.

Culture is often seen as ‘a way of shaping the mind’, ‘programming of the mind’ (Cohen)

‘Our minds are programmed by growing up in a certain social context. They are thus “loaded” like the computer that subsequently performs what programme enables it to do’

If so, then efforts should be directed at making individuals aware of their own programming, raising their awareness of programming characteristics of other national cultures, and developing the skill of behaving independently from the original programming, i.e. to be able to ‘load’ other cultural models, and bring about what authors call a change in mentality, a breaking away from current mental patterns’ which equip them to cope with the unexpected.

Unit 1 culture defined

Activity 1. Write your definition of culture.

Activity 2. Compare your ideas with the definitions given by different dictionaries and scholars.

Culture

  1. in a society - the beliefs, way of life, art, and customs that are shared and accepted by people in a particular society;

  2. in a group - the attitudes and beliefs about something that are shared by a particular group of people or in particular organization;

  3. art/music/literature - activities that are related to art, music, literature, etc. (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English)

Culture —

the way of life, especially general customs and beliefs of a particular group of people at a particular time.

(Cambridge International Dictionary of English)

Культура —

  1. совокупность достижений человечества в производственном, общественном и умственном отношении;

  2. то же, что культурность;

  3. высокий уровень чего-нибудь, высокое развитие, умение. (С. И. Ожегов « Словарь русского языка»)

Культура —

исторически определённый уровень развития общества, творческих сил и способностей человека, выраженный в типах и формах организации жизни и деятельности людей, а также в создаваемых ими материальных и духовных ценностях.

(Энциклопедический словарь)

Culture

‘a way of shaping the mind’, ‘programming of the mind’ (Cohen)

Although there are many definitions of culture we are going to follow Geert Hofstede and use the word culture in the sense of “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one category of people from another”. The “category of people” can be a nation, region, or ethnic group (national etc. culture), women versus men (gender culture), old versus young (age group and generation culture), a social class, a profession or occupation (occupational culture), a type of business, a work organization or part of it (organizational culture), or even a family.

Activity 3. Is having cultural knowledge important in business and why? Discuss the problem and then read the text. Does the author agree with you?

The development of communications technology, from the Internet to mobile phones, has brought different parts of the world closer together. Communication is now instantaneous. Decisions taken in one country can have an immediate impact in another. This increased interconnectedness is reflected in the economic and cultural spheres.

Globalization is the process by which businesses and organizations grow and start to operate in countries all over the world, which has been made easier by new technology and political developments' (Oxford Business English Dictionary). It makes previously isolated cultures and economies interdependent and interlinked. In the economic sphere, the impact of globalization can be seen in the power and influence of multinational corporations such as Shell. Microsoft Nestle, and General Motors. There are over 60,000 multinational corporations throughout the world with more than half a million foreign subsidiaries. It is estimated that these corporations account for 20% of world production and 70% of world trade. Opinion is divided on whether globalization is having a positive or negative effect on local economies and cultures. However, there is no doubt that in the world of work, there is more communication and Interdependence between people of different cultures and languages than ever before. This greater contact carries both benefits and potential problems. Cultural differences may be seen in very obvious ways such as office hours, dress codes, and food. Attitudes towards punctuality, for example, may vary from one country to another, and there may be different attitudes to the use of titles in conversation and the exchange of business cards. Body language and gestures are also a rich area for making cultural faux pas. It may be important in certain cultures how you offer and accept a gift, or whether or not you can show the soles of your shoes. There are also more subtle, and therefore potentially more 'dangerous', differences that can affect work and relationships in the workplace. Employees in different countries may have quite different attitudes towards the significance of planning, of how to manage meetings and negotiations, and the importance of teamwork. Misunderstandings may well be embarrassing, but they may also determine whether a meeting or project is a success or a failure.

So it comes as no surprise that there are many books and courses available which aim to help people work more effectively with colleagues and clients from other countries.

Activity 4. Find words in the text with the following meanings:

  1. a company that is owned or controlled by another company

  2. the relationship between production, trade and the supply of money in a particular country or region

  3. connected with trade, industry and development of a country, an area or a society

  4. the way that sb thinks and feels about sb/stn, and behaves towards sb/stn

  5. difficult to detect or analyze, not immediately obvious or comprehensible

Activity 5. Compare the meanings of the words economics and economy. A good dictionary may help you.

Activity 6. Fill in the gaps with the words economy, economics, economic and economist.

Keynesian -------- is a macroeconomic theory based on the ideas of 20th century British --------- John Maynard Keynes. Starting in 2008, there has been a resurgence of interest in Keynesian -------- among policy makers in the world's industrialized ----------. The then -------- climate was the reason.

Activity 7. Read the article about cultural awareness in business. Choose the best word to fill each gap.

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