Culture characteristics are very important in formulation of business strategies. The cost of ignoring customs, traditions, taboos, tastes and preferences etc. can be very high.
The interface between business and culture can be understood from the following points:
1. Culture Creates People:
It is the culture which generally determines the ethos of people. It tends to train people along particular lines which put a personality stamp on them like Indians, Americans, Britishers, and Japanese etc. There are sub cultures within a culture. When people with different cultural backgrounds promote, own and manage organisations then the organisations themselves tend to acquire distinct cultures like culture of ‘Tata’ group of companies is different from that of ‘Birlas’.
Culture performs at least four functions:
(i) Culture distinguishes between one organisation and another.
(ii) It conveys a sense of identity for organisation members.
(iii) It helps in creating a sense of commitment to do something nobler than one’s own interest.
(iv) It enhances social system stability.
So culture acts like social glue that helps hold the organisation together by providing appropriate standards for behaviour of members of organisation.
2. Culture and Globalisatiion:
As one moves from one country to another there comes an element of ‘Cultural shock’ i.e. confusion, disorientation and emotional upheaval e.g. an executive transferred from India to Japan will require lot of adjustment to make. So to overcome ‘Cultural shock’ there is need for understanding and appreciating cultural differences across the countries.
3. Attitude to Business:
Businessmen must have some basic set of philosophies to guide their actions. Beliefs value systems, concerning what is right and what is wrong, are basic to business activity. Attitude of people towards business is largely determined by their culture.
4. Attitude to Work:
Now a worker looks at his work depends on his culture. Motivation, morale and other related aspects of human resource management are based on worker’s attitude to work. Japanese have achieved progress because of their commitment to work.
5. Culture Determines Goods & Services:
The type of clothes people wear, the food they eat, the building material they use to construct houses vary from culture to culture and time to time within same culture. Business should realise these cultural differences and bring out products accordingly.
An ambitious person is highly motivated, has a strong urge to excel and is prepared to change the organisation. Economy also becomes vibrant if a major portion of population is of ambitious persons.
In traditional society, education was a preserve of Brahmins. Things have changed over the passage of time. Education institutions have come up now in all corners of the country and now we have more number of primary schools than U. S. S. R and U. S. A. put together. Education benefits business. Business in turn has responded and started supporting education. This support is manifested in starting and maintaining educational institutions, sponsoring employees for continuing education and bearing the cost of the education of employee’s children.
The family is one of the chief agencies of social life. The family is important for various reasons such as inheritance, property rights, protection, morality, care of sick and aged and the transmission of cultural values, nuclear families have become common now in our society in place of joint family system. With big families being broken up, family business is slowly turning into limited companies. All these developments are important to business.
9. Ethics in Business:
Ethics refers to the code of conduct that guides an individual in dealing with others.
Ethics is important because:
(i) It corresponds to basic human needs.
(ii) Values create credibility with the public.
(iii) Values give management credibility with employees.
(iv) Values help better decision making.
(v) Ethics and profit go together.
10. Time Dimension:
It refers to people’s orientation—past, present and future. Time dimension is another aspect of culture that influences business. Societies which are oriented towards past tend to preserve past heritage. Our society is a good example of past and future orientation.
11. Religion and Business:
Religion plays an important role in one’s life. It disciplines an individual to lead an orderly life. The major religion across the world is Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. Every person has religious feelings and beliefs. Every religion is subject to further stratification, like in our society it has been stratified into four major castes and those are Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras. Religion influences business to a great extent. In business boss-subordinate relationship, attitudes of people towards business and many other issues depend upon religious beliefs.
There are some religions which prohibit consumption of alcohol and non-vegetarian food. That is one of reasons Birlas being Jains have not entered into hoteliering, catering and leather industries.
Marwaris own majority of companies as their entrepreneurial traits are influenced by religions and castes.
Decisions of astrologers also influence the business decisions of many businessmen in our society. Even big business tycoons Birla and Ambanis consult their personal astrologers before taking important business decisions. Also ‘Chandi Puja’ is performed for prosperity of business. ‘Vastu Shashtra’ has also become a very important part in construction business. To nullify the effect of ‘bad stars’ or promote the ‘good’ ones, advice is taken from astrologers for gemstones.
The religion of a country may affect the country negatively also as it has happened in Burma because every citizen is bound to become monk for one year at least which has affected the economy of the country badly as their services could have been used for productive purposes.
Conflicts between religions can go against interest of business at times as it is evident from ‘Ayodhya incident’ when communal clashes broke out.
Religion also plays a role in deciding the weekly holidays, other holidays and working hours. Festival times are peak business times as people go shopping for new clothes, gifts household items etc. and discounts and incentives are offered by the companies. Auspicious days are considered for starting new business. ‘Shubha Muhurat’ is considered right time for starting new venture.
Marriage ceremony, naming of child etc. also affect jewellery, textiles & catering business.
In a number of countries religion and government are inseparable.
Marriage is a social institution which results in settled life, systematised and organised activities and multiplication of people. Though traditional objectives of marriage are prevalent even today but institution of marriage can affect the economy. A career oriented well settled career woman may have to leave her job after marriage for change of place or otherwise which is a great loss to the society and ultimately to the economy.
13. Cultural Resources:
Cultural resources means heritage and our country is rich in cultural heritage. South East Asia and Central Asia received culture from India along with other things like rice, cotton, sugarcane, spices and even game of chess (Shatranj). Even decimal system is the invention of Indian mathematician. Sanskrit literature is one of the greatest contributions India has made to the culture of mankind. Useless ancient Indian culture has vanished and whole of India is changing like – animal sacrifices and Sati Pratha are no more in existence now but cultural tradition of India continues.