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The Interface of Business and Culture


Michael B. Hinner

Humans need to communicate in order to interact with one another, and culture helps regulate such interaction and communication. The same is true in the world of business since there, too, people interact and communicate with one another. And in today’s globalized world, it is inevitable that many such encounters and interactions involve people of diverse cultural background. That is why it is so imperative that business people understand how culture influences human behavior and communication, including their own. This knowledge will provide a better understanding of not just one’s own behavior, but also that of one’s international business partners, employees, and customers. So who better to explain the influence of culture than some of the leading experts in the field? These contributing authors cover a wide spectrum of topics that range from general principles of intercultural communication to very specific aspects of culture’s influence in particular business contexts. These insights should prove to be interesting, perceptive, and useful to many international business transactions and interactions.


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General Introduction: The Influence of Stereotyping on Consumer Behavior - Michael B. Hinner 17


17 General Introduction: The Influence of Stereotyping on Consumer Behavior Michael B. Hinner Human beings as a species need to interact and cooperate as a group in order to survive because unlike some other species, humans are not endowed with supe- rior senses or strength. And in order to interact and cooperate, humans need to communicate (Ehrlich, 2000). Thus, human interaction and cooperation go in- evitably hand in hand with human communication. Likewise, human interaction and cooperation needs to be regulated, conforming to accepted standards and norms of behavior so as to make such interaction, cooperation, and communica- tion possible (Chen & Starosta, 1998; Ehrlich 2000; Gamble & Gamble, 2005; Gudykunst and Kim, 1997; Klopf, 1998; Lustig & Koester, 2006; Martin & Na- kayama, 1997; Oetzel, 2009; Samovar et al, 1998). For without regulated and standardized behavior and norms, interaction, cooperation, and communication are difficult at best because for interaction, cooperation, and communication to be successful, they need a degree of predictability. Predictability is essential be- cause it permits the formulation of messages that are designed to achieve the de- sired effect.1 This system and pattern of standardized behavior and norms is one element of culture; the other aspect refers to the outcome of that interaction and cooperation. Consequently, one can define culture as “the nongenetic informa- tion (socially transmitted behaviors, beliefs, institutions, arts, and so on) shared and exchanged among [fellow human beings]” (Ehrlich, 2000, p. 5). Ehrlich (2000) elaborates this definition by pointing out that human thinking cannot be explained solely through...

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