1. Executive Summary
This paper analyses the case ‘East meets West in Shoe Manufacturing Negotiations’ in order to identify the main intercultural issues and communication problems between the U.S.A. and China in order to avoid and resolve these issues in the future. The main problems identified in the case study resulted from extreme cultural differences and little knowledge of the other culture. To relate these issues with theory, two models of national culture have been chosen. With the help of Hofstede’s model and Nardon/Steers’ model the issues have been analyzed and linked to intercultural differences. It was found that the problems in the case study can be explained by these models and are therefore resolvable. The U.S. team is recommended to take action, e.g. learning Chinese and studying Chinese culture, in order to develop a good relationship with their Chinese counterparts to reach their business goals.
This research report aims to identify the issues of intercultural communication, in reference to a case between the United States and China. It will link the examples from the case study to Hofstede’s Model of National Culture and Nardon and Steers’ model. The main purpose of this report is to understand why these issues and problems occurred and how to resolve or avoid them in the future.
3. Identification of problems and issues
Various issues arose in the case study. In the following, cultural issues and both verbal and nonverbal intercultural communication issues will be identified.
3.1 Cultural issues:
Different styles of interpersonal talk were apparent. The U.S. team sought to talk about business while their Chinese counterparts had a high interest in personal questions. Also, at the banquet, Mr Brown lacked an understanding of Chinese etiquette: He offers the first toast, which is an entitlement of the host (Mack, n.d.) and does not know who is to leave first. Another cultural issue is the realisation that more than one trip to China is required because they are not able to progress in the meeting due to a main focus on pleasantries and constant questions during the presentation.
3.2 Verbal intercultural communication issues:
First of all, there is the language barrier between the two companies. Mr Brown and his team do not speak Chinese (‘the U.S. team felt very uncomfortable because they knew very little Chinese’) and only one member of the Chung Sun Company speaks fluent English. Secondly, the U.S. team did not hire their own translator. It is questionable if they can trust the translator provided by the Chung Sun Company.
3.3 Nonverbal intercultural communication issues:
There are various issues in the case study due to very different nonverbal communication in the two cultures. Firstly, the gift that was given to Mr Deng is wrapped in white paper which symbolises death in China (Mack, n.d.). Secondly, the grasping of Mr Deng’s forearm could be seen as an inappropriate and disrespectful gesture, as China is a low contact culture (Cooper, 2007).