Case 1
Find out what was wrong and
what factors contributed to the
failure of the presentation?
In an attempt to locate an outlet for its products in
Europe, a large U.S. manufacturer sent one of its
promising young executives to Frankfurt to make a
presentation to a reputable German distributor. The U.S.
company had considerable confidence in the choice of
this particular junior executive because the man not only
spoke fluent German but also knew a good deal of
German culture. When the American entered the
conference room where he would be making his
presentation, he did all the right things. He shook hands
firmly, greeted everyone with a friendly guten tag, and
bowed his head slightly as is customary in Germany.
Drawing on his experience as a past
president of the Toastmasters Club in his
hometown, the U.S. executive started his
presentation with a few humorous
anecdotes to set a relaxed mood. At the
end of his presentation, however, he
sensed that his talk had not gone well. In
fact, the presentation was not well received,
for the German company chose not to
distribute the U.S. company’s products.
Analysis on Case 1
As a matter of fact, there is a difference
between Americans and Germans in
intercultural communication. Before the
presentation, the young American
executive had had a full preparation for
what he was supposed to talk about in
his presentation, to be exact, he had
known everything about his presentation.
However, he failed to notice that the Germans
thought that he was not very serious about the
business when he started his presentation with
several jokes, though it is quite ok in the States.
On the other hand, the Germans considered the
American executive too young for such an
important job, as Germans value the
experienced in their country, while the
Americans think highly of those who are
Case 2
Why businesspeople are
supposed to be punctual for
their appointments?
A Chinese businessman wrote the following
account of his trip to America: For purposes
of my visit to the United States, my American
friends planned my schedule as they would an
American’s. Sometimes, in one day there
would be two meetings in the morning and
two meetings in the afternoon. These
meetings were not at the same place. There
were considerable distances between
After one meeting, I had to get to the next one
within half an hour. Once I got there, we
would exchange “hello” and then plunge
right into the topic at hand without much
additional socializing. During the talk, we all
looked at our watches now and then in order
to determine what other subjects we would
discuss in the remaining time. When we
finished, the chairperson allowed us to leave
without attempting to persuade us to stay
longer. We all had other things to do.
We depend on a map to reach the next
appointment location within half an hour.
Fortunately, in the US, the street signs are
very clear. The signs not only indicate the
name of the street but also the range of
numbers on that particular block, a real
convenience for foreigners who are
looking for a building. Generally, the
destination can be reached within half an
But one time in New York, an
accident occurred on the subway;
the train didn’t come at all. My
colleague and were forced to take a
taxi. “I hope we’re not going to be
late,” she said anxiously. As soon
as we got out of the taxi, she pulled
me up the stairs in a run. In the end,
we weren’t late.
Analysis on Case 2
It is said that American is a society
on a schedule. In the United States,
while doing business, people have
to plan everything in advance.
Before you go to meet people for
business, you have to make an
appointment. No appointments, no
Plans must be carried out when they
have been made. Americans hate being
interrupted abruptly without any
appointments. So, it is acceptable and
understandable that the Chinese
businessman had four meetings in a
day, as everything had been carefully
planned or scheduled, and nothing
would occur unexpectedly.
Case 3
Explain the following
embarrassing situation in
the passage to Frank.
Frank McDougal had been chosen to set up a
branch office of his engineering consulting firm
in Seoul, Korea. Although the six engineering
consultants who would eventually be
transferred to Seoul were Americans, Frank was
interested in hiring local support staff. He was
particularly interested in hiring a local person
with excellent accounting skills to handle the
company’s books. He was confident that he
would be able to find the right person for the job
because his company was prepared to offer an
excellent salary and benefits package.
After receiving what he considered to be several
excellent leads from a friend at the Rotary Club,
he was surprised to be turned down by all four
prospective candidates. They were very
appreciative of being considered for the
position, but all preferred to stay with their
current employer. Frank just couldn’t
understand why all four of these Koreans chose
to pass up an increase in salary and fringe
Analysis on Case 3
The unwillingness of these Korean
accountants to leave their current employer
stems from a sense of loyalty felt by many
Korean workers that is not shared by their U.S.
counterparts. The vast literature on Japanese
business practices suggests that Japanese
workers have a strong loyalty to their
employers because their lives revolve around
the company, and they in fact gain a sense of
their own importance primarily though the
prestige of the company.
However, Koreans, unlike the Japanese,
have relatively little loyalty to their
companies. There is a good deal of job
mobility in Korea, for employees are
always on the lookout for better job
opportunities. Koreans, however, have
a strong sense of loyalty to their
bosses within the company.
When Korean employees do change
companies, they frequently are
following bosses who take them along
when they move. Even though it may
be every bit as difficult for foreign
firms to recruit Koreans away from
their current jobs as it would be to
recruit Japanese, the nature of the
workers’ loyalty is different in these
two countries.
Case 4
Explain why Margaret was
treated as she was?
Margaret Errington, a corporate attorney
for a San Francisco department store
chain, was responsible for negotiating
leases for their outlets abroad. Because
she had been particularly successful in
similar negotiations in Europe, she was
looking forward to securing attractive
leasing agreements from a shopping small
developer in Osaka, Japan.
She was especially optimistic because of her
successful telephone communications with
her counterparts in Japan. But when she
arrived with her two assistants, John Gresham
and Mel Watt, she was told by her Japanese
hosts how surprised they were that she
should come to negotiate in person. Margaret
was usually not included in the after-hours
socializing, and frequently the Japanese
negotiators would direct their questions to
John or Mel rather than to Margaret.
Analysis on Case 4
Even though Japanese women receive
considerable education, they have not
been accepted into the higher echelons of
the corporate world. The Japanese
negotiators simply were not very subtle in
their efforts to disguise their displeasure
with having to negotiate with a woman.
Case 5
Explain the following basic cultural conflict,
the superstition, in your own words.
Hopefully you will apply what have learned
about superstitions in your explanation or
For the past three years, Ned Ferguson has
served quite successfully as the manager of a
U.S.-owned manufacturing company in Taipei.
Shortly after Ned’s arrival in Taipei, he instituted
a number of changes in the plant operation that
increased both production and worker
satisfaction. However, within the last several
months, a series of what seemed to Ned to be
unrelated incidents had occurred. First, there
had been a fire in the warehouse, which
fortunately was contained before too much
damage had been done.
On the following day, the wife and two
children of the local plant supervisor were
killed in a spectacular automobile accident.
Finally, within the past several weeks, there
had been a rash of minor accidents on the
assembly line; quite uncharacteristic given
the plant’s excellent past safety record. Ned
heard those rumors were running rampant
about the plant being cursed by evil spirits,
and absenteeism had increased dramatically.
To try to deal with these problems, Ned
called together his chief supervisors.
The American staff recommended that some experts
from the insurance company come in to review the
safety procedures, which, they argued, would show
the workers that the company was taking their safety
needs seriously. But the Taiwanese supervisors
considered this step to be inadequate and instead
suggested that a local religious priest be brought in,
during company time, to pray for the workers and
ward off any evil forces. Ned and his U.S. staff
thought that such an action would do nothing but give
official company support to superstition. The meeting
ended without any substantial agreement between U.S.
and Taiwanese supervisors.
Analysis on Case 5
This case illustrates the high value
Americans place on science, logic, and
rational thought. Since there were no logical
links between any of these unfortunate
happenings at the plant, Ned and his fellow
Americans concluded that they were just an
unfortunate yet unrelated series of accidents.
The local workforce, on the other hand,
believed that sinister forces were at work
which required the services of a religious
specialist. This belief was the direct cause
of Ned’s two managerial problems, morale
and absenteeism. Unfortunately, Ned and
his colleagues got caught up in their own
value system and missed the major point:
It makes little difference whether the belief in
evil spirits is true or false. Ned was no more
capable of providing that evil spirits did not in
fact cause this series of events than the local
workers could prove that they did. What Ned
and his American staff failed to understand was
that a) the workers did believe that evil spirits
were at work and b) this belief, whether true or
false, was causing a major problem for the
The only reasonable way to solve that
problem is to take an action that would
enable the workers to perceive that the
power of evil spirits had been
neutralized and that their safe work
environment had been restored.
The End
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