Modern realities create new opportunities for businesses all over the world and allow them to enter foreign markets without the significant efforts, which used to be compulsory for such an entry a few decades ago. Tools for international trade are readily available and distances and borders, it would seem, mean very little. However, there is an obstacle, which is not as easily overcome by means of technical solutions. And this obstacle is cultural differences, which are sometimes wrongfully and lightheadedly overlooked by the people who attempt to enter international business arena. This aspect is being paid more and more attention to by business educators (Adeoye, et al, 2014).
Meanwhile, the knowledge and understanding of the basics of intercultural communication, knowledge of the culture of the partners, with whom business contact is being established, may save many of such businesses from disappointing failures by means of building reasonable and lasting relations despite cultural differences and, rather to say, with proper respect of such (Van de Vijver et al, 2008). Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory is capable of helping businesses evaluate potential risks and challenges which such businesses face and avoid some if not all risks they are likely to face. The author of the theory explained the influence of cultural realities upon formation of values and the influence of values upon the effectiveness of communication. In this paper an attempt to illustrate effective application of Hofstede’s model in real life business situation is undertaken.
For the illustration a scenario in which two companies, one of which is located in Russia and the other one is located in Germany is suggested. In Russia it is expected, that the power/distance index is higher, and thus the hierarchy is much more strict and clearly articulated. It is worthwhile recommending to the German partner that they should not contact subordinates of their partners with any significant information, as this may be seen as an insulting practice by the Russians. They prefer to be contacted direfctly, without letting their subordinates know too much of the details. The individualism/collectivism index should hint Russian partners, that it is worthwhile addressing each individual of the German team individually, they are more effective as individual players, than as a team.
Uncertainty avoidance index should hint Russians at the fact, that any unexpected turns in the relations with their German partners will be seen as a thread, and thus it is better to invest certain effort to prevent any unexpected events from happening or any preliminary arrangements from being made. This will help Germans to obtain deeper certainty regarding their relations with their Russian partners. Consideration of masculinity/femininity index should prompt German partners at the thought, that financial outcome is not the only motivation for Russian partners and sometimes it is possible to “dare” them, and this would be a strong motivation. Long-term/short term orientation should help Germans understand, that Russia is, unlike Germany, rather a short-term oriented culture, and thus it is more effective to speak of short-term goals when building relations with Russian partners. When speaking of indulgence/restraint index. It may be stated, that both partners are more or less on the same page in regard to this index, thus there should not be any difficulties in communication, related to it. Representetives of both cultures prefer being, so to speak, in control, feel safe when their traditions and customs are observed and discussions and arguments related to their value are not met in a friendly way.
This is just a very short overview of possible practical application of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory to a real life situation of business relations between a Russian and a German company. One needs to understand, however, that it is only a schematic draft of possible recommendation, and the differences may appear to be much more significant and the importance of understanding one another’s cultures is much more important than it can be possibly shown in such a short paper.