Cultural norms are significant in business, and work as they guide interpersonal relationships and other mechanics in these fields. In this case, setting up sales organization in Russia requires exploring the Russian culture through the five dimensions of culture by Geert Hofstede (Martin 2006, p.45). This is a model that is recognized to have international standards in analyzing cultural dimensions. Noteworthy, the model reduces the unknown thus boosting confidence to connect with other cultures. In this case, the model will provide a good overview of the deep aspects of the Russian culture relative to other cultures in the world.
Dimensions of Geert Hofstede
Power distance explains the fact that all people in the societies are not equal and, therefore, brings out the attitude of the culture towards the inequalities among the individuals. Power distance defines the extent at which the members with less power in organizations and institutions within a country accept that there is unequal power distribution. Russia has a score of 93 ranking it among the 10% of the societies that are most power distant in the world. Moscow is advantaged to have 2/3 of all foreign investments and also a concentration of 80% of all financial potential. This is associated with significant discrepancy between the more and less powerful individuals which results to a great significance in status symbol (Carte 2008, p. 102). Therefore, behavior should correspond to the status roles in all aspects of interactions in business. This includes areas of visits, cooperation or negotiation where approach should be top-down with provision of clear mandates for all tasks.
Individualism addresses the issue of the level of interdependence that a society maintains among the members. This aspect identifies whether the self image of people is defined as ‘We’ or ‘I’. Notably, members in individualist societies are expected to take care of themselves and their direct family only. Those in collectivist societies belong to some created groups to take care of them. Russia scores 39 with manifestations found in their language. They value family, friends and their neighbors as significant in getting along with and tackling life challenges. Thus, business should embrace inclusive approach in obtaining information, successful introductions and also negotiations (Chaney 2007, p.86).
Masculinity/femininity dimension explains that a society scoring highly in masculine indicates drive by competition, success and achievement. A low femininity score indicates that dominant values in society involves care towards others and also quality of life. The sign of success in feminine society is the quality of life which implies that standing out from the crowd is not admired. Surprisingly, Russia scores 36 even with high power distant score. Notably, a Russian at the workplace and also meeting a stranger to an extent understate their personal contributions, capacities or achievements. They tend to talk modestly about themselves and are expected to live have a standard of living that is very modest. Additionally, dominant behavior is acceptable from the boss but not among peers. Business in Russia should reflect the high quality of life through care for other people.
Uncertainty avoidance defines the extent to which individuals experience or feel threatened by situations that are unknown or ambiguous. They create institutions or beliefs that will avoid these. This deal with the way a society handles the fact that the future is unknown and how to control the future. This ambiguity results to anxiety which implies that different cultures deal with this anxiety in various ways. Russia scores 95 because they experience high threat by ambiguous situations and especially because of their established complex bureaucracy. Russians value detailed planning and briefing (Martin 2006, p. 69). They also value background and context information. They always prefer to be very distant and formal when dealing with strangers. Businesses are, therefore, expected to embrace formality through context information and detailed planning.
Long term orientation defines the society’s value for long standing or short term values and traditions. Societies with high LTO concentrates on delivering social obligations and embracing traditions and values. Societies with low LTO allows changes and diversity and also innovation plans from other people as long as they will have full participation. They are not impeded by long term traditions and hence allow rapid changes.
Tasks and Anticipated Issues
Intercultural business requires individuals to equip themselves with intercultural skills. These include tolerance of ambiguity which allows acceptance on lack of clarity and ability to deal with situations that are ambiguous. Behavior flexibility enables individuals to adapt their own behavior to different situations and requirements. Communication awareness involves identifying and using conventions of communication of people from the Russian background and modifies their own ways of expression. Knowledge discovery defines the ability to obtain new knowledge of a culture and their practices and apply in reality. Empathy allows individuals to have an intuitive understanding of how and what other people think in certain situations (Carte 2008, p.34).
These cultural skills can be improved through learning the Russian language to enhance communication. They should meet people from the Russian culture and be prepared to learn about their behavior, norms and values. They should also attend Russian intercultural training courses in order to have deeper insight into this culture.
Some of the issues they will deal with in this intercultural business include appearance at work where Russians value being well groomed at work. They also value titles when addressing people in business (Carte 2008, p. 50). Though not a protocol, it is necessary to have the business card have Russian translation on one side to make them identify with the business.
The communication style of Russian in business is usually formal especially in initial stages for respect purposes. They also embrace direct eye contact and ample personal space. Noteworthy, they value punctuality to foreigners in business appointments. They discourage any confrontation or conflicts and their business contracts should be translated to Russian for clarity.
Challenges of managing intercultural business in Russia
Noteworthy, cultural diversity in intercultural business can have a positive impact in productivity and creativity. However, the different backgrounds and perspectives can also produce teamwork challenges and conflicts that the manager has to handle. In this case, a manager of an intercultural business in Russia will have to deal with challenges such as implicit discrimination. This may range from visible minorities and women in the business or inequality of chances in the business. Inequality may be seen in areas of promotion, wages and personal development opportunities such as training. Cultural diversity is another challenge due to the different cultural groups the manager has to handle. They face the challenge of attending to ideas from different races, age and cultural groups (Martin 2006, p. 84).
Additionally, a manager has to deal with a communication challenge in intercultural business. This may occur due to individuals of different cultures using different languages not conversant with everyone in the business (Chaney 2007, p. 95). This can result to misunderstanding and confusion because of use of slang or jargon especially during official communication.
Therefore, there should be a cultural evaluation using the Geert Hofstede model to evaluate the suitability of setting an intercultural business. Intercultural skills are also essential in running such businesses. Managers of intercultural businesses should deal with challenges such as implicit discrimination, cultural diversity and communication.
Carté, P., & Fox, C. 2008. Bridging the culture gap a practical guide to international business communication (2nd ed.). London: Kogan Page.
Chaney, L. H., & Martin, J. S. 2007. Intercultural business communication (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Martin, J. S., & Chaney, L. H. 2006. Global business etiquette: a guide to international communication and customs. Westport, Conn.: Praeger.