Pharmaceutical Executive Europe - October 2007 - (Page 19)

RUNNING HEAD Seek First to Understand Before we attempt to penetrate markets such as India and China, we must first understand how these cultures operate, suggest Dr Brian D. Smith and Abigail W. Jones he business environment is undergoing a sea change. Prominent in this transformation is the emergence into the business arena of the world’s two largest countries, India and China; together they comprise over one third of the global population, but were until recently classified ‘third world.’ They now account for over 20% of global gross domestic product (GDP); some projections paint a picture of a world economy eventually dominated by these two countries. Given this, it is naïve for any European, not to mention any European executive, not to want to understand more about these huge and ancient cultures. All cultures exhibit ‘quirky’ behaviour (traffic halted in India for cows to cross the street, a Chinese person’s look of foreboding when presented with flowers they associate with death), but such curiosities are merely the surface artefacts of deep cultural systems that we must try to understand if we are to sell to, buy from, compete or co- T operate with companies within these cultures. To understand, we must consider the roots of the Chinese and Indian cultures, which, although very different, were formed, and are still driven, by similar forces. The roots of culture Culture, whether national or corporate, is based on shared assumptions and values. Often invisible to ‘outsiders,’ these values are manifested in visible practices and traditions, be they meeting etiquette or national characteristics. The traditions of Buddhism and Confucianism have moulded the core values of Chinese society, as shown by collective value and the concept of maintaining ‘face’ and demonstrating humility. To this, we can add Taoism and its beliefs that the journey is more important than the destination. China is not a cultural monolith, but the Confucian Han culture is by far the most dominant. These core values translate, in the business world, into the importance of group consensus, an indirectness to avoid loss of ‘face,’ a display of self-deprecation and respect for seniority. India, with a dominant culture shaped by Hinduism, is a hierarchical society integrating a caste system. Add to this the concept of Karma (“everything happens for a reason” ) and significant Buddhist, Jainist and Sikh influences, and the result is a culture more heterogeneous than China’s. It is too simplistic to assume these cultures were shaped only by ancient religions: the world-views of both countries are strongly influenced by more recent history. Although the Opium Wars and the Boxer Rebellion are little-known episodes in European history, suspicion of Western interference remains an important aspect of Chinese attitudes. Similarly, India’s colonial history and the partition of India and Pakistan remain part of India’s cultural identity in its language and legal system. In both 19

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pharmaceutical Executive Europe - October 2007

The Brand Exchange
Focused and Flexible
Making A Global Vision Work
Leading the Way
The OnlineConsumer
Wired to the Future
Co-ordinate Your Communications
In the Public Interest
Seek First to Understand

Pharmaceutical Executive Europe - October 2007