Comparison of cultural elements between Taiwan and the US
Major cultural dimensions
Unlike Taiwan, the US is characterized by diverse cultures, which arises from the high rate of immigration into the US. The country’s culture entails individuals from different parts of the world. An evaluation of the cultural differences between Taiwan and the US is conducted in an effort to develop a comprehensive understanding of the cultural variation between the two countries.
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Values and attitudes
The Taiwanese culture is collectivist in nature as evidenced by the fact that Taiwanese value extended families. Moreover, Taiwanese value working in groups. Consequently, organizations measure their success based on group performance. On the contrary, the US culture is individualistic as evidenced by the fact that American’s attach high value to personal independence rather than depending on family and friends.
Additionally, Americans are very competitive and they work very hard in pursuit for their personal goals and achievements. The American society is mainly comprised of nuclear families. Moreover, a substantial proportion of the American population is comprised of single parent families, and thus one can assert that the US is a loosely knit society.
Despite this cultural orientation, Americans uphold equality as one of the most important elements in society. Americans’ treat everybody equally irrespective of their gender unlike Taiwanese who consider women inferior compared to men.
However, this trend is changing and women are taking roles that were originally considered to belong to men. Other aspects that differentiate Americans from Taiwanese include value for time, Judeo-Christian morals, and altruism. Relationships amongst Taiwanese are guided by principles of Buddhism and Taoism (Morrison & Conaway 2006).
Taiwan is comprised of two main languages, which include Holo/Min-nan and Mandarin. However, the country’s official language is Mandarin. The US does not have a specific official language. However, 31 states have made the American English their official language.
It is estimated that 82% of the American population speak English. Other dominant languages in the US include Spanish, Chinese, German, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean (Kelly, MacNab & Worthley, 2006).
Ethics and transparency
One of the major cultural similarities between Taiwan and the United States is the countries’ ethical standards. The American ethical standards and transparency is evidenced by the fact that they treat everyone with equality irrespective of their cultural diversity.
In an effort to enhance ethics and transparency in their operation, the US businesses are required to portray a number of ethical values, which include honesty, responsibility, respect, fairness, and transparency in their marketing operations.
Similarly, Taiwanese have formed a culture whereby all individuals are treated with dignity and respect. Moreover, as Hsueh (2007) notes, businesses are also required to portray citizenship by taking into account legal, economic, ecological, and societal responsibilities.
Both Taiwan and the US society are characterized by diverse religions. However, a significant proportion of Taiwanese are Buddhists and Taoists. Christians form a small proportion of the country’s religious composition. In the US, Christianity is the major religion. Approximately 76.5% of the US citizens are Christians from different denominations (Kelly, MacNab & Worthley, 2006).
In Taiwan, group is considered as the fundamental component social organization. Moreover, the society’s social organization is made up of individuals from Japan, China and Aboriginals. On the contrary, the US social organization depends on the citizens’ socio-economic status. The US has six main social classes, which include the upper class, working poor, the middle class, new money, poverty level, and the working class.
Non-verbal communication constitutes a significant element in Taiwanese communication process. For example, “the significance of facial communication amongst Taiwanese is well explained by the concept of Mien-Tzu” (Chang, 2003, p.570). In their communication process, Taiwanese are concerned with the facial expression of the other party in order to determine their concentration.
Similarly, the US has a well-developed non-verbal communication system. Some of the most common non-verbal communication strategies include gestures. Eye contact in the US “is considered a sign of honesty and attentiveness” (Kelly, MacNab & Worthley, 2006, p.70).
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Cultural implications for US businesses that wish to do business in Taiwan
Currently, the Asian region is ranked amongst the most attractive international investment destinations. The region’s attractiveness has arisen from the high rate of economic growth within the region. Western businesses are increasingly considering expanding their business operations into Asian countries (Curry, 2009).
The analysis above shows that the US and Taiwan are characterized by significant cultural differences. Therefore, US entrepreneurs intending to enter Taiwan will be required to take into account the cultural variation.
According to Cheng, Guo, and Yeh (2001), Taiwan is a tightly knit society. As a result, the Taiwanese appreciate working as a group rather than working individually. Moreover, the Taiwanese are not competitive, but like working in collaboration with one another hence succeeding as a group. Cheng, Guo, and Yeh (2001) further opine that the Taiwanese value continuous learning.
Thus, in a bid to succeed in Taiwanese, US entrepreneurs should nature a collaborative working environment. Entrepreneurs can achieve this goal by ensuring that employees interact with one another. One of the ways through which these firms can achieve this goal is by incorporating effective leadership style.
One of the leadership styles that the entrepreneurs can consider is democratic leadership, which will enable employees to feel included in the firm’s leadership.
Huang and Mujtaba (2009) opine that by nurturing efficient and effective knowledge sharing, the entrepreneurs will be in a position to develop a strong organizational culture, which arises from the fact that Taiwanese employees employed in firms’ owned by Americans in the country will develop a perception that their cultural values are valued.
Customer relationship management and employee relations
The success of small, medium, and large enterprises depends on the nature of relationship between the firm and its customers (Guang & Trotter, 2012). This relationship is subject to various cultural issues such as ethics and transparency. The Taiwanese value high ethical standards such as respect and honesty. Therefore, they treat everyone with respect and dignity.
Foreign investors intending to enter the Taiwan market must ensure that their firms are guided by strong internal ethical principles. The US firms can achieve this goal by ensuring that their employees, especially the firms’ customer facing and customer support teams, are trained effectively on how to treat customers.
Moreover, the US firms have to ensure that all customers and suppliers are treated fairly. Therefore, the US firms entering Taiwan should nurture a high level of trust. The firm can achieve this goal by designing a company policy that advocates positive customer relationships.
This move will play a significant role in improving the company’s public image. Consequently, the firm will be in a position to undertake business-to-business and business-to-customer transactions, hence enhancing its long-term continuity.
The US firms should also focus on developing ethical employee relationships, and in a bid to be effective in developing a strong employee relationship, the US firms should integrate the basic values upheld by the Taiwanese.
Morrison and Conaway (2006) are of the opinion that relationships amongst Taiwanese “are based on Confucianism ethics, which stresses the values of loyalty, honor, respect for age, and seniority and sincerity” (p. 34).
According to Yang (2011), the Taiwanese attach special value to human feelings; therefore, human relationships are very essential amongst them. The significance of human relationship in Taiwan is well explained by the concept of ‘guanxi’ (Yang, 2011). Integrating these elements will improve the effectiveness with which the firms develop a strong human capital base.
In a bid to develop a strong employee relationship in Taiwan, the US firms should ensure that all employees are treated with a high degree of equity and fairness.
Consequently, the US firms should not discriminate employees based on various demographic variables such as gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. The firms can achieve this goal by developing a strong code of ethics and standards for employees to follow in executing their duties.
Before entering the Taiwanese market, the US firms should analyze the degree of cultural fit between Taiwan and the US. One of the elements that the firms should focus on relates to the country’s social structure. The social structure will inform the firms’ management teams on the most effective pricing strategy to adopt. According to Guang and Trotter (2012), the social structure provides a clue on the citizen’s level of income.
A significant proportion of the Taiwanese are within the working class. This information will assist American firms in their quest to formulate optimal pricing strategies in the Taiwan market (Kuo, Guo & Wu, 2011). In a bid to penetrate the Taiwan market successfully, it is imperative for the US investors and businesses to create sufficient market information regarding their products and services.
To achieve this goal, US firms should adopt Mandarin-Chinese as the main language in their marketing communication efforts. This assertion arises from the fact that most Taiwanese speak Mandarin-Chinese. Consequently, the likelihood of creating awareness to a large number of potential customers is increased.
In an effort to develop a strong customer base, the US firms should integrate effective promotional strategies. However, it is essential for the firms’ management teams to take into account the consumers’ attitude. For example, the firms should not integrate clocks as one of the gifts in their sales promotion strategies. According to Vasudeva (2006), clocks are perceived to be a sign of death by the Taiwanese.
Previous studies show that the national culture has significant effects on organizations’ management perspectives. Therefore, it is imperative for US firms intending to venture into the international market to understand the target market’s national culture.
Prior to entering the Taiwan market, US firms should assess how culture affects various HR strategies such as employee recruitment, selection, retention, and compensation. This aspect will play a critical role in determining how the aforementioned HR strategies will be formulated and implemented. The success of US firms in Taiwan will depend on the effectiveness and efficiency with which they develop their workforce.
Tao (2006) asserts that employee recruitment strategies in collectivist cultures such as Taiwan differ from that adopted in individualistic societies.
In collectivist cultures, organizations rely on internal labor markets in an effort to promote organizational loyalty. Taiwan’s national culture is collectivist in nature; consequently, the US firms entering this market will be required to adjust their employee recruitment strategies by focusing on internal labor markets.
The national culture of a particular country also influences the compensation system adopted by an organization. Employee compensation is one of the most important aspects that organizations should focus on in their effort to recruit and retain a strong human capital. Group-based reward systems are commonly adopted in collectivist countries.
On the other hand, the pay-for-performance model is the common reward system that is adopted in individualistic societies (Tao, 2006). Moreover, collectivist cultures incorporate indirect payment systems, which is attained by integrating various flexible benefits plans such as work-leaves, educational leave, maternity leave, and workplace child-care practice and career breaks.
In a bid to succeed in Taiwan, it is fundamental for the US firms to review their reward system. This move will play a significant role in enhancing the level of employee satisfaction and retention. Consequently, the firms’ performance and survival will increase.
In addition to the aforementioned HRM issues, the cultural difference between Taiwan and the US will require the US firms to adjust their conflict management strategies. According to Tsui, Nifadkar, and Ou (2007), conflict is one of the major challenges faced by multinational corporations. These conflicts emanate from the existence of cultural differences between the host and the parent country.
Therefore, it is imperative for US multinational companies venturing into Taiwan to incorporate effective conflict resolution strategies. The strategies adopted by firms differ depending on the national culture. To succeed in Taiwan, the firm’s should adopt arbitration as the main method of conflict resolution, which arises from the fact that Taiwanese value resolving their conflicts out of court.
The study shows that the US has a distinct national culture as illustrated by the various cultural elements and dimensions evaluates. Some of these elements and dimensions include the values, attitudes, language, religion, communication style, ethics, and level of transparency.
The study shows that culture plays an important role in the survival of a business. Firms that have incorporated the concept of internationalizations face numerous risks due to the cultural differences between the host and the parent country. Therefore, it is vital for firms intending to venture into the international market to develop a comprehensive understanding of the host country’s culture.
This aspect will aid the firms’ management teams in adjusting their operational and marketing strategies so that they can be aligned with the host country’s national culture. The cultural comparison between Taiwan and the US shows that the two countries are characterized by significant cultural differences. Therefore, to succeed in Taiwan, it is critical for the US firms to adjust their operational and marketing strategies.
Some of the strategies that US firms should adjust in order to fit into the Taiwan market include the firm’s staffing strategies, organizational culture, customer relationship management, and employee relations. Moreover, the firm should also adjust their marketing strategies to ensure that they are aligned with the ethical standards, values, customs and the religious beliefs of Taiwanese.
Factoring the cultural differences will increase the likelihood of US firms succeeding in Taiwan. In summary, the paper underscores the importance of taking into account the cultural variations in order to succeed in the international market.
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