Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Conversations on Culture

I am fascinated by the studies I am doing on cultural variations among the countries and peoples, and how this affects business, people management and marketing. I am current reading Marieke de Mooij's Consumer Behaviour and Culture: Consequences for Global Advertising and Marketing, a very insightful book which, in my opinion, should be an essential read for everyone trying to sell to international consumers. Which is to say pretty much everyone, including my neighbourhood pub, as the pubowner told me, in a friendly non-racist way, that he has more Indian patrons these days than the Brits and planning to add some Indian dishes on the menu.

The key debate in this field is whether the world, integrated by internet, facebook, google, instant and mobile messaging and above all, twitter, with the common footballer heros and Daniel Craig, is becoming a more uniform place. That's the conventional wisdom - enthusiastically proclaimed various anglo-saxon writers who variably want to proclaim the permanence of the colonial experience or the superiority of American values. So, the world goes American, as demonstrated by landmark historical events like the frying of first McBurgers in Moscow or the opening of Disneyland in Asia.

However, in reality, the opposite indeed appears to be true. The world is actually becoming more diverse, with global long tail of culture getting more emphasized and exposed. In fact, it seems that the cultural genocide pushed forth by the broadcast media has been rolled back by the interactive media. If that needed proof, my facebook page is full of requests for attending Indian cultural events in London, unsolicited offers from a bengali matchmaking service in Canada and from a bengali publisher somewhere in Leeds. It seems that the advent of big media has irreversibly stopped and individual as media has brought us into a more diverse age.

I have commented before about the fallacy of arguing that businesses across the world wants to be, or should be, like anglo-saxon businesses. This is a prevailing, and wrong, orthodoxy that dominates the Western business thinking. The success of Japanese businesses have already shown that there is an alternate way; and so will be proved by Chinese and Indian and Latin American businesses soon. The point is that the entrepreneurs everywhere know how to make money, and one does not necessarily need a person from a different culture to tell them how to get things done. And, global business, as economics push forward the economic frontiers, has this cultural catching-up to do, and the sooner we get on with it, the better.

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