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Cultural Comparison in a Country

For this activity, select a country that you are not familiar with outside of the U.S. Perform some research and learn what you can about the culture and its practices, such as the roles of men and women, the type of work people do there, foods, sports, entertainment, etc.

With this information, imagine you are in a business meeting in Boston, Massachusetts with a group of co-workers visiting from company offices located in a variety of Asian countries. You have been told by your manager prior to attending this meeting that the following two rules apply in conversations during this meeting:

Opposite sexes are not allowed to talk to each other unless they are from the same family
If the person speaking is smiling, you must answer "yes"; if the person speaking is frowning, you must answer "no."
Explain what could occur in such a business situation according to these rules. Describe how negotiating will be effected, as well as team building, brainstorming, and other activities heavily dependent on interpersonal communications. Make sure to cite your resources when referring to the specifics of the other country's culture.

Solution Preview

If you choose India as the country to look is quite different culturally than North America. In this country men and women are not quite looked at equally. The work environment is more hierarchical as well. This country also has a class and cast system. About 80% of the country is vegetarian, big time into cricket and Indian Film Industry (Bollywood). This is high level description on this country...more research can be done to get a better understanding of the societal norms in India (esp. in cities).

India is known to differentiate based on class and caste. Even though this form of discrimination has decreased, it is still apparent within organizations, during marriages, and personal dealings. Caste (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras) is divided based on occupation and then class is determined by many factors such as color, wealth, sex, and name. "Castes are ranked, named, endogamous (in-marrying) groups, membership in which is achieved by birth. There are thousands of castes and sub castes in India, and these large kinship-based groups are fundamental to South Asian social structure. Each caste is part of a locally based system of interdependence with other groups, involving occupational specialization, and is linked in complex ways with networks that stretch across regions and throughout the nation" (Varna, 2011).

Organizations in India are hierarchical based and therefore, each level is based on class and occupation. Unlike The United States where "we can all rise from humble roots, as in the Horatio Alger rags-to-riches tales" (Kottak, 2003, ch. 13), Indian society does not appear to provide that opportunity. If a person's father was a farmer, he or she would be one as well. "Many castes are traditionally associated with an occupation, such as high-ranking Brahmans; middle-ranking farmer and artisan groups, such as potters, barbers, ...

Solution Summary

The solution explains what could occur in a situations such as the give one, and describes how negotiating will be effected, as well as team building, brainstorming, and other activities heavily dependent on interpersonal communications.