The Canwall Case examines the Canadian and Chinese negotiations that were expected to end with a successful sale of equipment but failed. The case represents how cultural differences may influence business and co-working and shows what results an insufficient knowledge of these cultures might bring.
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Needs and Benefits
As the Canwall case proves, intercultural business and its success depend on some variables that need to be considered. Barrett (2006) examines such variables as context, time, language, collectivism or individualism, etc. (p. 261). As one can see, none of these variables were considered by the Canadian team which led to a failure. An analysis of this case will help avoid mistakes in the future. Some limitations of the communication can be turned into contributions if the rules of intercultural business relations are considered.
Goals and Boundaries
In the analysis of this case, I will focus not only on the differences between Chinese and Canadian cultures but also on the general distinctions that may cause ineffective business communication. The goal of this analysis is to show that all cultures involved in the business need to consider the possible problems that may appear during the meeting and learn to solve them, especially if those problems are connected to cultural differences. However, I will not be able to provide a detailed description of every cultural issue because such analysis requires a very profound understanding of all aspects of the cultures.
As it was mentioned above, Barrett provided an analysis of variables that can help conduct a successful business meeting. First of all, context needs to be considered. Barrett (2006) notices that the context can be high or low (p. 262). High-context cultures find interpersonal relationships and nonverbal messages important and rely on them during communication (Barrett, 2006, p. 262). In return, low-context cultures are impatient, used to direct communication and prefer explicit verbal messages (Barrett, 2006, p. 263).
Such cultures find individuality important. Time is also perceived differently: for high-context cultures, it is polychronic (many events occur at once), for low-context cultures, it is monochronic (linear time) (Barrett, 2006, p. 266). At last, collectivism (the community is important) or individualism (an individual is important) also shape the business communication and influence its outcome.
Findings of the Analysis
High-context vs. low-context cultures
As the Canwall case has shown, the deal failed because both teams, the Canadian and the Chinese, did not consider the cultural differences. The Canadians supposed that politeness and warm reception were indications of success, while the Chinese did not realize that the Canadian team relied on a direct form of communication.
Collectivism and individualism
It was unclear and perhaps confusing for the Canadians why ten Chinese showed up at their presentation. However, it was a sign of predominant collectivism in the Chinese culture. The Chinese discussed the director’s employee to understand what relationships there were between them; the Canadians missed that and considered it a topic unrelated to business.
Time is perceived differently by the cultures. High-context culture regards time as a state of being. That is why the Chinese did not rush to discuss the sales but preferred to get acquainted with the Canadians (O’Rourke and Tuleja, 2008, p. 136). The Canadians, in return, did not plan their trip according to the cultural preferences of Chinese and ran out of time.
As it was stated in the case, the Canadian team did not have an interpreter, so the Chinese offered help. However, an interpreter should be familiar with the team and, preferably, work in it to know the insights. This mistake also influenced the deal’s outcome.
The variables discussed above always need to be considered because any mistake or misunderstanding may be fatal for the business communication. The differences between high and low-context cultures are of utter importance because they influence other variables such as perception of information, time, community, etc. The representatives of both cultures should not dismiss the rules and traditions of others to extract advantages.
Barrett, D. (2006). Leadership communication. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
O’Rourke, J., & Tuleja, E. (2008). Module 4: Intercultural communication for business. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.