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The Interface of Business and Culture

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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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A Contemporary Conceptualization of Ethnocentrism - James W. Neuliep 47

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47 Introduction to A Contemporary Conceptualization of Ethnocentrism By James W. Neuliep James W. Neuliep takes a closer look at Ethnocentrism. He points out that the concept of ethnocentrism has actually been studied for more than one hundred years and recently received new impetus from, for example, the Generalized Ethnocentric Scale (GENE) which was developed by Neuliep and McCroskey. Today Neuliep notes, intercultural communication scholars recognize that an actual theoretical concept in understanding of intergroup relationships is ethno- centrism. Neuliep points out that Sumner and Boaz both believed that humans are ethnocentric by nature because humans tend to see their own culture as the center of everything and relate other cultures to their own culture. This com- parison often results in a feeling of superiority for one’s own culture. In the af- termath of the Second World War, a number of influential scholars, including Adorno, argued that ethnocentrism is essentially negative and hostile in nature. Current research has found consistent, significant, and positive correlations be- tween ethnocentrism, religious fundamentalism, and homo-negativity. In contrast, Neuliep argues that ethnocentrism is to be viewed along a contin- uum and that all humans are to some extent ethnocentric. When humans are born, they are naturally egocentric but soon become ethnocentric as a result of their interaction with other humans in a process of familiarizing themselves with the world and the people around them. Culture essentially teaches people to think, conditions people how to feel, and instructs people how to act, especially how to inter-act...

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