Менеджмент, консалтинг и предпринимательство

The larger enterprises like IBM British Petroleum and Mobil Oil have subsidiaries in sixty to eighty countries. This is not so in some countries like Brazil where people prefer to beat around the bush more. In such countries the European or American manager must be patient or else he will come away from a deal empty-handed.



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If asked to define a multinational most people would say that it is a company doing business in more than one country. Many experts, however, would not be satisfied with this definition. They believe that it does not indicate the size and scale of the multinational's activities. To be a 'true' multinational, they say, an organisation should operate in at least six countries and have no less than 20% of its sales or assets in those countries. In addition, it should 'think internationally'. That is to say, the management should have a 'global perspective'. It should see the world as inter-related and inter-dependent.

The size and international organization of some multinationals is impressive. The larger enterprises, like IBM, British Petroleum and Mobil Oil, have subsidiaries in sixty to eighty countries. Some, like Heinz, Singer and Exxon, get more than half their profits from overseas business. Multinational managers will spend much of their time working overseas. They will, therefore, be living and working in a strange environment. They will have to deal with people who have a different language, customs, religion and business practices. They will find that they cannot do things the way they did at home.

Managers working abroad need various skills. Clearly, it is a great advantage if they know the language of the country they are working in. But this is not the most important requirement. A recent study has shown that they need, above all, these qualities: human relations skills, an understanding of the other culture and the ability to adapt.

Human relations skills are vital because, to be effective, the manager must persuade local staff to cooperate with him. Some Asian executives described how they felt about American managers, after working with them for some time. The executives were from Taiwan, the Philippines and India. They suggested that the American managers sometimes had an attitude of intellectual and cultural superiority. They seemed to be 'know-it-alls'. And they tried to impose their way of life on local workers. The Americans needed to lose those attitudes. They had to be more willing to learn from their fellow workers, and to treat them as 'partners'.

Differences in culture are important when a manager is negotiating in a foreign country. For instance, many Europeans and Americans like to get to the point quickly when negotiating. This is not so in some countries, like Brazil, where people prefer to beat around the bush more. They take their time, trying to create a relationship of trust. In such countries, the European or American manager must be patient, or else he will come away from a deal empty-handed. In Japan, there are often long silences during negotiations - especially if things are not going smoothly. European and American executives tend to react in the wrong way when this happens. They make a concession or talk in an over-eager way, so that they lose ground in the discussions.


Finally, those working abroad must remember that a deal is not always a deal. In some countries, a person may say 'yes' to a proposal simply to be polite, or agreeable. Even written contracts, in some areas, may not be worth much.


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