Global Business Today
Quiz 4 :
Differences in Culture
The Saudi culture is shaped mainly by its Bedouin roots. The al Saud family using an Islamic Cleric Wahhab formed the Saudi Kingdom in 1922 by uniting all the various Bedouin clans over a period of 140 years. Their culture is basically a tribal culture with loyalty and trust for those close to oneself is the most important factor. The tribal culture hardened by centuries of life in the harsh desert environment along with strong Islamic values has resulted in the Saudi culture of today. Saudi will not do any menial work. As a result 90% of the jobs in most organizations are staffed by foreigners. Saudi did not allow women to drive or appear outdoor without a male family member as escort. Until 1964 Saudi girls were not allowed to go to school. Thankfully this has changed and today in Saudi one sees more girls than boys graduating from the colleges. Recently laws were changed to allow women to start businesses in Saudi. Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal and his wife Princess Ameerah Al-Taweel are in the forefront of the push for more rights for women. Today they have a right to vote and even stand for some seats in parliament. Western cultures have also been shaped over years of history and many cultures also have a very strong religious base. However most western cultures are democracies today even those who have a monarch as their titular head like Great Britain, Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark. Saudi still remains a monarchy with the king holding most of the power, although they do have a parliament which is elected.
There are a number of reasons why a country's culture may affect the cost of business in said country. Countries with strong class consciousness like Britain or tradition of individualism like the US often have sharply adversarial union-management relationships. While theoretically both the workers and the management should put aside difference and compromise for the good of the company, in the US and Britain this is not always the case. In Japan and some Asian nations the opposite is true. Some say this is because of a Confucian mindset in Asia that gives a competitive advantage due to cooperation between companies, suppliers, unions, and the government. On the other hand there are a number of Western nations that inherited a Protestant culture that emphasizes risk and individualism. In the United States, this culture theoretically gives America a competitive advantage in some areas which are or were heavily entrepreneurial such as the computer/software industry, the oil industry, and biotech.
A Society is a group of people who share common values and follow a common set of norms. A Culture is a ingrained thought process in the human mind based on a certain set of values. Values are what any society believes to be good, right and desirable for its existence. The Norms are a set of rules that are formulated by the society to ensure these values are maintained and adhered to by all members of the society. They are a set of guidelines for behavior for all members. Therefore a Societal Culture is a groups of people who over a period of time have embraced the same set of values and follow a similar set of norms.