Social and Cultural Issues
This section touches on some of the social and cultural issues that business travelers should understand or at least recognize. It is not intended to be a comprehensive social history or critique of either culture; rather, we hope it will provide some insights to the values and personalities that are part of both cultures. In so doing, our goal is to help individuals understand each other and thereby, understand each other’s cultures. Will every individual exhibit the traits attributed to his or her culture? No. Will each person have some of these characteristics? Yes, and then some.
This is a point worth keeping in mind. For while people do represent their cultures, each individual will have his or her own perceptions based on personal history and the roles he or she plays. While anyone who travels should try to understand and respect the culture of the host country, it is important to remember that you will never meet the culture. Culture is cumulative and abstract. You will meet individuals who may or may not fit whatever profile has been defined for the culture. When it comes down to it, good manners come from a fundamental respect for oneself and for other people, not from knowing which fork to use for the patee.
It is our belief that by cultivating relationships with individuals, understanding of the culture will emerge. And, by trying to understand the culture, respect for the individuals who represent that culture will grow, thus making it possible to develop long-lasting and profitable relationships.