United States Customs on Business Communications

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					American Business Customs
A Quick Guide to Conducting
Business in the USA
Cultural Context
• Geert Hofstede™ Cultural Dimensions
1) Power Distance (PDI) - the extent to which the
    less powerful members of organizations and
    institutions accept and expect that power is
    distributed unequally.
2) Individualism (IDV) - the degree to which
    individuals are integrated into groups
    (opposite of collectivism)
3) Masculinity (MAS) - versus its opposite,
    femininity, refers to the distribution of roles
    between the genders
Cultural Context
4) Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) - deals with a
 society's tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity

5) Long-Term Orientation (LTO) - versus short-
  term orientation; values associated with long-
  term orientation are thrift and perseverance;
  values associated with short-term orientation
  are respect for tradition, fulfilling social
  obligations, and protecting one's 'face'
Cultural Context

• How does the USA score?
• The low score for Power Distance is indicative of a
  greater equality between societal levels, including
  government, organizations, and even within families.

• The high Individualism ranking for the United States
  indicates a society with a more individualistic attitude
  and relatively loose bonds with others. The populace is
  more self-reliant and looks out for themselves and their
  close family members.

• The high Masculinity score indicates the country
  experiences a higher degree of gender differentiation of
  roles. The male dominates a significant portion of the
  society and power structure. This situation generates a
  female population that becomes more assertive and
  competitive, with women shifting toward the male role
  model and away from their female role.
• A low ranking in the Uncertainty Avoidance
  Dimension is indicative of a society that has
  fewer rules and does not attempt to control all
  outcomes and results. It also has a greater level
  of tolerance for a variety of ideas, thoughts, and

• The low LTO ranking is indicative of the
  societies' belief in meeting its obligations and
  tends to reflect an appreciation for cultural
Cultural Context
• Very generally…

 ▫ America has a large and diverse culture with a
   strong emphasis on freedom of expression
 ▫ Americans are generally polite but they will stand
   up for what they believe
 ▫ They are not shy in voicing an opinion
 ▫ There is not much an American will not talk about
   except possibly strong personal convictions such
   as religion
 ▫ They love humor and sarcasm and can even joke
   about themselves
The Business Setting
The Wheres, Whens, and
Corporate Culture
• Built into the United States work concept is the
  idea of the 'American Dream' that every
  individual can succeed and prosper financially
  by working hard.
• This idea contributes to a strong work ethic and
  a system that is merit based [believing that hard
  work deserves compensation].
• Americans work long hours, take, on average,
  two weeks of vacation, and spend a lot of time
  doing work-related travel.
Corporate Culture

• In the United States, business relationships are
  formed between companies rather than between
• Americans do business where they get the best
  deal and the best service.
• It is not important to develop a personal
  relationship in order to establish a long and
  successful business relationship.
Corporate Culture

• Do not enter into any contract without hiring a
• Americans are often uncomfortable with silence.
  Silence is avoided in social or business meetings.
• Americans ask questions -- lots of them;
  Americans will assume you understand
  something if you do not tell them otherwise.

• Americans prefer directness in communication -
  when Americans say "yes" or "no," they mean
  precisely that.
• It is rude to interrupt someone who is talking.
  Say, "Excuse me" during a pause and wait to be
• Americans put a great deal of value on the
  written word; verbal contracts are rarely legally
• Good eye contact during business and social
  conversations shows interest, sincerity and
• A smile is a sign of friendliness, and in rural
  areas you may be greeted with a "hello" rather
  than a handshake.
• Good friends may briefly embrace, although the
  larger the city, usually the more formal the
• It is very important in written communication to
  spell names correctly and have correct titles.

• Business conversation may take place during
  meals. However, many times you will find more
  social conversation taking place during the
  actual meal.
• Gift giving is discouraged or limited by many US
  companies. A gracious written note is always
  appropriate and acceptable.
• Business meetings may be arranged as breakfast
  meetings, luncheon meetings, or dinner
  meetings depending on time schedules and
• Little business is conducted on Sundays. This is
  the standard day of worship for many religions.
  If your stay in the U.S. is short, however, your
  American business counterparts may arrange to
  do business on this day.
• When you are doing business in the United
  States, you must be on time; being "on time" in
  business situations generally means being about
  five minutes early.
• It is very important to meet deadlines - people
  who miss deadlines are viewed as irresponsible
  and undependable.
• Meetings are generally informal and relaxed in
  manner, but serious in content.
• Be prepared to begin business immediately, with
  little or no prior small talk.
• A meeting is only considered successful if
  something concrete is decided or accomplished.
• Participation is expected in meetings. A quiet
  person may be viewed as not prepared or as
  having nothing important to contribute.

• Men: Business suit and tie are appropriate in all
  major cities.
• Women: Women should wear a suit or dress
  with jacket in major cities.
• Rural areas and areas with extremely warm
  summers have more informal wardrobe
• The best approach is to be conservative until you
  have had a chance to observe what others wear
  in an office.

• Generally, there is one negotiation leader who
  has the authority to make decisions. Team
  negotiations are rare.
• Americans may begin negotiations with
  unacceptable conditions or demands. They are
  usually taking a starting position that gives them
  room to bargain.
• The goal of most negotiations in the United
  States is to arrive at a signed contract.

• Long-term relationships and benefits may not be
  the main objective; the immediate deal may be
  the only important issue.
• Negotiations may seem rushed to you.
  Remember that "time is money" to Americans.
• In general, people from the U.S. will not hesitate
  to answer "no." Businesspeople are direct and
  will not hesitate to disagree with you.
Individual Business Cultures
 • Regional background should be taken into
   account when learning about American
 • Individual factors including industry, business
   structure, management, and business mission
   also play a strong role in shaping an individual
   business culture.
 • Those wishing to do business with specific
   companies should invest additional time
   researching individual business culture through
   corporate literature, marketing, and websites.
Website Links

• http://www.businesstravelogue.com/United$20States$20of$
• http://cyborlink.com/besite/us.htm
• http://executiveplanet.com/index.php?title=United_States
• http://www.geert-
• http://www.siliconiran.com/research/market/market_analys

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