Major elements and cultural dimensions in Taiwan
Elements of culture
According to Huang and Mutjaba (2009), culture influences one’s behavior, and thus it is an essential aspect in the global workplace. Cultural awareness influences the success of firms in the international market; hence, it is imperative for the firms’ management teams to be conscious of cross-cultural variations in the international market.
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According to Cheng and Seeger (2012), culture is comprised of a number of elements, which include values and attitudes, religion, language, communication, transparency, ethics, and social organization. This report evaluates the cultural variation between Taiwan and the US.
Values and attitude
Based on the Hofstede’s dimension, Taiwanese culture can be characterized as collectivist (Kelly, MacNab, & Worthley, 2006). The Taiwanese have a strong attitude towards the family unit as one of the most important elements in the society.
The Taiwanese value the extended family more than the nuclear family. B y living in unity, the Taiwanese society has been in a position to nurture a sense of belonging, collaboration, and working in groups. The collective nature of the society is also evident in the workplace as evidenced by the fact that employees value working in groups compared to working individually.
Additionally, the significance of the family unit in Taiwan is also evidenced by the fact that most businesses are family owned. Consequently, business leadership is achieved through family succession.
Relationships amongst the Taiwanese are based on Confucianism ethics, which stresses the values of loyalty, honor, respect for age and seniority, and sincerity. Their relationship with one another is also guided by principles of Buddhism and Taoism (Morrison & Conaway 2006).
Tao (2006) asserts, “The official language in Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese” (p.5). Min-nan or Holo also constitutes a major language in Taiwan. The prominence of the language emanates from the large number of the Taiwanese of Southern Fujianese descent.
Additionally, most elderly people in the country can speak Japanese due to being subjected to the Japanese education before being ruled by China. Despite this aspect, English constitutes the main foreign language in the country.
Ethics and transparency
The Taiwanese society is characterized by high ethical standards. For example, the Taiwanese treat all people with a high degree of respect and dignity irrespective of one’s cultural background. Additionally, they are conscious of the importance of harmony in interacting with other people, and thus they treat other individuals with decorum.
The Taiwanese society is comprised of individuals from diverse religious beliefs. However, most Taiwanese are Taoists and Buddhists (93%), Christians (4.5%), and other religions account for 2.5% of all religious groups in the country.
Huang and Mutjaba (2009) are of the opinion that the “group is the primary unit of social organization in Taiwan” (p. 3). This assertion highlights why the Taiwanese are very effective working as a group. Huang and Mutjaba (2009) further assert that the Taiwanese culture is made up of the Taiwanese aboriginal culture, the Japanese culture, and the Chinese culture.
Moreover, processes of colonization and imperialism have also influenced the country’s social organization. During the 1970’s, the country experienced a high rate of economic growth due to increased industrialization.
This aspect led to the emergence of the concept of capitalism, which led to surge of capitalized social structures. The country’s economic growth has led to the development of the working and middle classes as the main social structures in Taiwan. In summary, the Taiwanese society can be defined as a relationship-based and a group oriented society.
Facial expression is one of the most important elements amongst the Taiwanese communication processes. The significance of facial expressions in the communication processes is illustrated by the concept of Mien-tzu. When talking with the Taiwanese, they are very concerned about the facial expression, which arises from the fact that the facial expressions reflect the individual’s prestige, dignity, and reputation.
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Incorporation of cultural elements and dimensions in business operations in Taiwan
Curry (2009) asserts that the national culture influences the business culture nurtured by a particular entity. Business culture refers to the norms, beliefs, business etiquette, and values. Curry (2009) further opines that each “national culture produces its own business culture” (p.47). Therefore, the business culture and national culture are inseparable.
Considering the relationship between national culture and business culture, businesses in Taiwan are committed towards nurturing a strong business culture. In order to achieve this goal, firms in Taiwan take into account various cultural elements and dimensions in their operational strategies as discussed herein.
In the course of executing their duties, the Taiwanese take into account a number of cultural elements as illustrated by the business strategies and operational strategies that are adopted by the firms in their daily operation.
According to Huang and Mujtaba (2009), understanding the national culture of a country is paramount in the process of formulating a firm’s operational strategies. This aspect arises from the fact that the national culture influences employees’ behaviors. The national culture influences the effectiveness with which an organization integrates the concept of teamwork.
In an effort to achieve the predetermined objective, firms in Taiwan have adopted the concept of teamwork (Cheng, Guo & Yeh, 2001). Currently, teamwork is ranked as one of the critical success factors for firms in different economic sectors. The concept of teamwork is not new in Taiwan and this assertion arises from the fact that the country has been guided by the tenets of teamwork over years.
Despite the fact that most firms in Taiwan are family-owned, various types of teams are integrated in an effort to achieve predetermined business objectives. Some of these teams include sales teams, quality control teams, project management teams, and sales management teams.
Considering the cohesive nature of the Taiwanese society, the concept of teamwork has been very successful. Through teamwork, firms in Taiwan have been in a position to improve their productivity. Moreover, the concept of teamwork has enabled most firms in the country to be innovative.
Human resource strategies
The Taiwanese society is characterized by variation of roles between the male and female gender. According to Cheng, Guo, and Yeh (2001), men assume the responsibility of providing for their families. As a result, they tend to be very aggressive in the course of executing their duties. On the other hand, women are charged with the responsibility of taking care of their families and doing other household chores.
Most small and medium sized enterprises in Taiwan understand the variation of roles amongst the two genders. Based on these cultural variations, entrepreneurs in Taiwan have formulated effective human resource management strategies.
For example, they have integrated effective work-life balance strategies and thus both male and female employees in Taiwan are in a position to balance their personal and workplace duties. This aspect has played a significant role in improving the employees’ level of productivity.
Cross-cultural aspects of business communication
In their quest to attain profit maximization, firms in different economic sectors are venturing into the international market. Taiwan is one of the Asian markets that entrepreneurs are targeting. However, to succeed in this market, entrepreneurs must be informed on various communication aspects.
First, the entrepreneurs in Taiwan ensure that the negotiation processes between the firm and the Taiwanese partners is successful (Sabath, 2002). During business negotiation meetings, the Taiwanese ensure that the parties selected to negotiate the business processes are competent with regard to various business aspects.
Kuo, Guo, and Wu (2011) underscore the significance of possessing optimal skills by asserting that most Taiwanese entrepreneurs are experts with regard to negotiations. They tend to gain advantage over their potential business partners by engaging in hard bargaining.
Therefore, the Taiwanese entrepreneurs are conscious of the need to be an expert with regard to negotiations, which improves the effectiveness with which they arrive at optimal business deals.
During negotiations, Taiwanese firms ensure that senior and older parties are involved in the business negotiation processes. Chang (2003) asserts that the Taiwanese value age and seniority in business negotiations. Therefore, including young business experts in the business negotiation processes might not be effective.
Moreover, the firms ensure that the parties selected to negotiate business deals are conversant with the country’s religion, which arises from the fact that the negotiation strategy adopted is influenced by the negotiators’ religious beliefs.
Findings of a study conducted by Guang and Trotter (2012) reveal that the negotiating style adopted in Taiwan is significantly influenced by the dominant religion of the country. On the other hand, religion has minimal influence on business negotiations in the US.
Marketing communication mix
According to Guang and Trotter (2012), culture has an impact on the marketing mix strategies adopted by a firm. Therefore, entrepreneurs in Taiwan ensure that they develop a comprehensive understanding of the country’s culture. The firms achieve this goal by conducting a comprehensive cultural analysis on Taiwan. The analysis allows firms to determine how culture will affect their operation.
As a result, entrepreneurs can align their business and marketing mix strategies with the country’s culture. Their effectiveness in analyzing the country’s culture is evidenced by the fact that most entrepreneurs have succeed in the local market.
Guang and Trotter (2012) further assert that cross-cultural differences impacts the promotional strategies adopted by a firm such as advertising, sales, and public relations. Cheng, Guo, and Yeh (2001) further opine that the operational strategies adopted by firms are subject to the national culture.
For example, prior to implementing the marketing strategies, it is essential for Taiwanese firms to evaluate the country’s social structure and organization. Taiwan’s social structure is comprised of a large number of individuals’ within the working class. Firms in Taiwan can use the country’s social structure to determine the most effective pricing strategies.
Moreover, the firms ensure that they adopt Mandarin-Chinese language in their promotional activities. Most Taiwanese speak Mandrin-Chinese, and thus the firms can create awareness to a large number of potential customers.
This aspect arises from the fact that a large number of the country’s population speaks Mandrin- Chinese as aforementioned. By ensuring that the advertising message is designed effectively, most local firms in Taiwan have been in a position to break-even together with maximizing their level of profitability.
Additionally, firms in Taiwan also take into account the society’s attitude in the process of formulating marketing promotional strategies.
For example, Taiwanese firms do not issue clocks as gifts in their effort to attract a large customer base, which arises from the fact that clocks are associated with death in Taiwan (Vasudeva, 2006). Therefore, the Taiwanese culture influences the customer focus strategies adopted by Chinese firms.
Firms in Taiwan are committed towards attaining business continuity. Developing a strong customer relationship is one of the ways through which firms in Taiwan integrated in an effort to develop a strong customer base. According to Chang (2009), the effectiveness with which a firm interacts with customers determines the nature of relationship developed.
According to Guang and Trotter (2012), culture influences the operation of businesses in a number of ways. Entrepreneurs intending to venture into the international market must understand the foreign culture in order to successes.
Thus, the US firms intending to expand their operations into Taiwan must be conversant with the host country’s culture. The following are some implications of Taiwanese cultural elements and dimensions to the US firms.
When promoting products in Taiwan, local firms do not issue clocks as gifts to potential customers, as clocks signify death within the Taiwanese society.
Moreover, firms ensure that their business communication strategies are guided by the prevailing national culture. Ignoring culture in international business communication efforts may lead to misinterpretation of the intended message, which may minimize the firms’ ability to achieve its goals. Guang and Trotter (2012) opine that culture influences the consumers’ behavior. Therefore, failure to understand the country’s culture may limit the firm’s ability to attract a substantial customer base.
Taiwan is one of the emerging markets in the Asian region. As a result, local entrepreneurs are scanning the environment in an effort to identify business opportunities. However, prior to venturing into the Taiwanese market, it is imperative for local entrepreneurs to understand the country’s culture before venturing into business.
Additionally, it is fundamental for existing firms to review the country’s culture continuously in order to identify possible cultural changes. Gaining understanding on countries enables a firm to adjust its operational strategies effectively. This strategy increases the likelihood of the firm achieving business continuity.
The report shows that Taiwan is characterized by unique cultural differences with regard to religion, communication, social organization, values and attitude, language, ethics, and level of transparency. The cultural differences have significant implication on the strategies adopted by local firms. Some of these strategies relate to the concept of teamwork, business communication, and the promotional strategies.
In a bid to succeed in the local market in Taiwan, it is imperative for entrepreneurs to take into account the following aspects..
- The firms should conduct a comprehensive cultural analysis on Taiwan in order to understand how culture is likely to affect business operations. Some of the cultural elements that the firm should integrate include the country’s language, communication, ethics, social structures, values and attitudes, and religion.
- The firms should ensure that their business strategies align with the prevailing culture to increase the likelihood of success.
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