Managing of Global Business. Beiersdorf’s Intercultural Management

Hausarbeit, 2019

22 Seiten, Note: 2,0


Table of Contents

1. Theories
1.1. High Context and Low Context by Edward Hall
1.2. Public Relations
1.2.1. Intercultural Public Relations

2. Research Results
2.1. About the Company Beiersdorf
2.2. History of the Company
2.2.1. International Development
2.3. Beiersdorf Intercultural Management
2.3.1. Employees
2.3.2. Intercultural Activities
2.4. Refinement of the Thesis

3. Discussion

4. Critical reflection

5. Conclusion

6. References

7. Image references

List of images

Image 1. This picture, adapted from ABC news, shows a campaign from Nivea in 2011

Image 2. This picture, adapted from the Washington Post, shows a campaign of Nivea in 2017

Image 3. This picture, adapted from Global Cosmetic News, shows a campaign of Nivea in 2017

Managing of Global Business: An example of Beiersdorf’s Intercultural Management

In times of globalization and internationalization, communication between different countries and thus between different cultures is also growing. This brings challenges. Intercultural communication is of essential importance, especially for companies that need to find suitable trading partners and employees. For international managers it is important that they understand that culture has a real effect on the global economy. Especially when it comes to public relations, which has different effects on different cultures and is an important part of the companies international success. But the procedure of crossing borders and interacting with different cultures is complicated and companies are facing the challenge to deal with these differences. They are committed to integrate the strengths of each culture to create a long-term business relation and to be successful.

This paper examines whether the large German company Beiersdorf succeeds in intercultural communication or not. The company has been successfully active internationally for many years. On this basis one can make the following statement: Beiersdorf is a role model for intercultural management due to its public relations activities and various cultural and international programs. This work deals in particular with the questions: What does intercultural management at Beiersdorf look like? Special attention is also paid to the international public relations work of the company.

To answer these questions the Beiersdorf Group, its history and the current activities, will be briefly presented in the first step to get an overview of the company. In the second step, relevant literature is consulted. In this case theory from High and Low Context Cultures by Edward Hall is used. In addition, the importance of public relation is briefly explained. So that ultimately these two parts can be related to each other and the essay question can be discussed.

1. Theories

Over the years, many theories have been developed to describe intercultural communication. In the following the theory of Edward Hall: “High Context and Low Context Cultures” is presented. In view of the fact that Beiersdorf is a globally active company, it is in permanent contact with international employees and trading partners. To investigate Beiersdorf's intercultural management in this paper, the theory of Edward Hall is used. The following part defines public relation and explains the importance of this management for a company in a cultural context.

1.1. High Context and Low Context by Edward Hall

Edward Hall was an American anthropologist whose field of research was the intercultural communication. In this realm he has published many publications on central aspects of culture and communication. He is especially known for his theory of high and low context cultural factors (IKUD Seminare, 2019). This theory is based on the communication of people with different cultural backgrounds (Hall, 1976). So some peoples are communicate “explicitly and directly; verbal and written words are the primary way to deliver a message. While in other countries messages are delivered through more indirect and nonverbal means. Key information is conveyed via context.” (Nam, 2015, p.377). Edward Hall defines people from Asia, Latin America, Southern Europe and Africa as high context cultures. In these cultures “the meaning can be best conveyed through implicit contexts, including gestures, social customs, silence, nuance, or tone of voice.” (Nam, 2015, p.377- 378). Other people from North America or West Europe, like USA or Germany, therefore belong to the low context cultures. They communicate in a more direct form. The intention of such a communication is contained directly in the spoken or written word (Nam, 2015).

1.2. Public Relations

In short, public relation means “maintaining relations with the public”. There are many different approaches to defining public relations in the literature (Grupe, 2011, S. 1). Most understandable, however, is the definition from the Journalism Professor Michael Kunczik from 2002: “Public relations are the management of organizations with their relationship groups. (. . . ) Communication is excellent when competent communicators support the strategic leadership of an organization (. . . ) in establishing mutual relationships (. . . ) on which the existence and growth of the organization depend.” (Kunczik, 2002, S. 279). Kunczik further writes that Public Relation encompasses the efforts to “influence the public sphere through the self-representation of interests” and thus to enforce them (Kunczik, 2002, S. 14).

Due to the current globalization processes, the importance of public relations has drastically increased in recent years (Andres 2004). Increasing globalization also results in an increase in international communication. So Professor Stephen B. Banks (1995) comes to the conclusion that due to communication across cultural borders, public relation is cultural.

1.2.1. Intercultural Public Relations

In literature, Public Relations is divided into several parts. One of these parts includes that culture-oriented understanding of public relation. The focus here is on PR activities “which are directed at sub publics of different cultural provenance or which are analyzed as cultural factors influencing the practice and effectiveness of international public relations” (Schwarz, 2010, p.4).

Schwarz (2010) has the opinion that companies with international operations, employ staff from different cultural backgrounds, both in other countries and in the home country.

Since internal corporate communication is also influenced by public relations, public relations at an international level cannot only include communication between several countries. This means that intercultural public relations are not necessarily accompanied by cross-border communication.

It can easily be seen, that Public relations and culture have relationships. The most important task of public relation activities is to transmit values and morals of the company through activities, programs and guidelines. “And this cannot be done in isolation.” (Nwabueze, Nweke & Ejezie, 2012, p. 15). The people to whom the public relations is directed, live in their selected social environment with their own lifestyles. In order to establish a promising relationship here, the company's values, norms, programs and beliefs must correspond to those of the society in which they communicate. The crucial point is that the company, in order to not commit a mistake, must prepare itself and therefore research is imperative. (Nwabueze et al., 2012).

2. Research Results

This section follow up with the research of the German company “Beiersdorf” and referring to the title of this paper, it will explain the history and the management in relation of its intercultural skills to answer in the discussion the thesis statement in the following steps.

2.1. About the Company Beiersdorf

The “Beiersdorf AG” is a listed company with global operations. It mainly distributes its skin care products of the brands Nivea, Eucerin, Labello, 8x4, La Prairie. This business segment is called “Consumer”. But beside of these brands Beiersdorf is also owner of self- adhesive products and brands like tesa, Hansaplast and Elastoplast. The global player has its headquarter in Hamburg but is with about 22,000 employees in 150 affiliates worldwide represented. And the company is growing continuously: within the last five years, the number of employees in the international sector has tripled. This growth is due to Beiersdorf's international growth strategy. (Beile, Feuchte, & Homann, 2010, p.67). Before this paper takes a closer look on how Beiersdorf manage his international growth strategy, the history of the company will be briefly explained.

2.2. History of the Company

Beiersdorf where founded in 1882 by pharmacist Paul C. Beiersdorf in Hamburg. He “invented the coated pflaster, thus laying the groundwork for company success” (Beiersdorf, n.d-a). About ten years later the pharmacist, but also buisnessman Dr. Oscar Troplowitz, took over the Beiersdorfs company. This acquisition was an important milestone. Troplowitz already put Beiersdorf on an international avenue back then. He “modernized the production processes, established the initial international contacts and significantly expanded the business. During his time as company owner he developed the brands Nivea and Labello as well as Eucerin. “This work laid the foundation for the strategic orientation of the company today.“ (Beiersdorf, n.d-a). The following years are mainly characterized by the further development of their products. Another important part is it’s International Development.

2.2.1. International Development

Even before Troplowitz purchased the Beiersdorf laboratory in 1890, many doctors and pharmacists from all around the world became aware of the products made by Beiersdorf. Troplowitz recognized this potential, after taking over the company. His first agreement was with the New York company Lehn & Fink for the U.S. according to supply the Beiersdorf products exclusivley to the American trading house. In 1930 the company Beiersdorf is producing his products in 23 countries around the world. Even then they advertised to be represented in every “civilised country of the world". (Beiersdorf, n.d-b). Nearly 70 years later the company “had 74 international affiliates and generated 70% of it sales outside Germany.” (Beiersdorf, n.d-c).

Today, Beiersdorf with it’s 160 international affiliates became a real global player. This internationality of the company holds cultural challenges and puts the intercultural mangament of Beiersdorf to the test. In addition to the company's main development laboratory in Hamburg, Beiersdorf also develops its products in China, India, and Mexico with the aim of tailoring care products to the individual cultural needs.They advertise this with the slogan: Our global business with a local focus (Beiersdorf, n.d-c).

2.3. Beiersdorf Intercultural Management

Already in 2006 Beiersdorf told in a Management Report : “We invest continuously in our research and development activities to enhance our international competitiveness.“ (p.52). In addition, they wrote about their Consumer Business Strategy. This strategy is based on four cornerstones, one of these is the “Clear Geographical Focus” (p.37). In particular they focused in 2006 on regions like Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Especially on the countries China, Russia, Brazil and India. Their aspiration is to sell products “that are tailored as closely as possible to their needs – culturally, aesthetically or climatically”. Therefore they build regional research and development laboratories in Brazil, China, India, Japan, Mexico and the USA. With these laboratories Beiersdorf is able to develop skin care products that “meet local needs” (Beiersdorf, n.d-c). For example that Asian people use skin care that gently lighten the skin, whereas Brazilian consumers use tan activating sun lotion. In general Beiersdorf produce “Black & White” deodorant for hotter climates like Mexico (Beiersdorf, n.d-c).

But this international development has already began a few years ago. The company has been active, for example in Kenya for almost 40 years. Originally, it began with a little investment, but now the Group is basing its strong position on its local presence. Meanwhile 90 employees produce 60 products exclusively for East Africa (Willershausen, 2014).

Accordingly to this international development, the global player is also managed internationally. The 8-member board consists of five international members and three germans. These come from China, Venezuela, Pakistan, Bulgaria and France. But the three German members also have an international career (Beiersdorf, n.d-d).

2.3.1. Employees

“Our culture: open-minded, honest, internatioal” – This is how Beiersdorf describes itself on the Internet to recruit new employees (Beiersdorf, n.d-e). One of their core values is „cross borders”. In its 2013 Annual Report, Beiersdorf writes: “For Beiersdorf as a globally active company, diversity is not an end in itself, but an important competitive factor. Diversity promotes creativity: Beiersdorf consistently relies on the diversity of its workforce.” (Beiersdorf 2013, p.34). Therefore, one goal for example is to increase the number of international employees at the Hamburg location in the next years (Beiersdorf, 2013). In addition, Beiersdorf offers a wide range of international training opportunities, especially for its young professionals. For example the “BEYOND BORDERS” graduate programm, which has been running for over 30 years. The young professionals are starting in Hamburg and then post overseas, to get an international perspective at one of their subsidiaries. Every year Beiersdorf chooses 10-15 traniees from all over the world (Beiersdorf, 2019f). Another program since six years is the “Beiersdorf International Internship Challenge”, where 32 top international students are invited with the possibility to win one of the four international internships (Beiersdorf, 2019g).


Ende der Leseprobe aus 22 Seiten


Managing of Global Business. Beiersdorf’s Intercultural Management
Hochschule Fresenius; Hamburg
Intercultural Competence
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
Intercultural Management, Beiersdorf, Global Business
Arbeit zitieren
Sarah Runde (Autor:in), 2019, Managing of Global Business. Beiersdorf’s Intercultural Management, München, GRIN Verlag,


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