Business Cultural Dimensions Analysis Assignment: Germany
Table of Content
An analysis of the business cultural dimensions of Germany was conducted. It was based on the Hofstede national culture model and Trompenaars cultural dimension model. The analysis revealed that German businesspeople are conservative, formal, and reserved in their business conduct and interactions. Their business etiquette and conduct was based of well-established rules and customs that had persisted over time. However, because of their pragmatism, German businesspeople were adaptive to changing business conditions to ensure high performance of their ventures. Altogether, the analysis revealed the business culture reasons that have made Germany a powerhouse in the global business arena.
Business Cultural Dimensions Analysis Assignment: Germany
Germany is a large European country renowned for its industrial advancement, massive exports, and thriving economy. It is strategically located in northern central Europe, among other highly developed and productive economies in the world’s most vibrant commercial zones. The over 80 million population makes Germany the largest consumer in the European Union, making it attractive to business investments (Parella & Hernández, 2018). This cultural dimensions analysis aims at elucidating Germany’s business environment from a cultural perspective. Such knowledge is critical for businesspersons operating in the country and those that wish to venture into it. The analysis addresses communication, religion, ethics, values and attitudes, manners, customs, and social structures and organization as the cultural dimensions critical to businesspeople operating in Germany.
Countries and the regions in which they are located are characterized by distinct cultural characteristics. These unique characteristics can be categorized as elements and dimensions to distinguish them from those of other nations and regions. In this analysis, Germany is considered a multicultural or polycentric country due to the acceptance and tolerance the Germans have for diverse cultures.
Communication is the process of sharing information in a manner that two or more parties comprehend. Communication is actualized through language, which is a unique identifier of a culture or a region. Effective communication is critical for successfully transmitting and sharing culture, knowledge, thoughts, and feelings. Although meaning communicated among people sharing a common language are likely to be accurate, those between parities of different culture and languages are likely to suffer from distortion during translation (Satterlee, 2009). Therefore, cultural differences must be considered in cross-cultural communication. Nonetheless, regardless of such differences, the cultural influences on communication are categorized as verbal and nonverbal, thus exhibited by language, style of conversation, and gestures.
Germany uses German primarily as the official language. German is a widely used language in Europe and among emigrants beyond Europe. Despite having numerous dialects, German is spoken by over 100 million people, making it the language with the most native speakers in the European Union, the second most used online, and the third most taught language globally. These dialects distinguish northern and southern German dialects, and Franconian and central German dialects. In Germany, several minority languages are also spoken, including Danish, Polish, Frisian, Sorbian, Turkish Romany, and other languages found in the Balkans (Armbrüster, 2017). However, most Germans can speak English, considering that English is the most widely taught second language after German in the country. In addition, Germans are characterized by their direct and concise communication while being polite and interpretive of gestures, despite having minimally expressive non-verbal cues.
Religion is associated with a divine power in which individuals invest their beliefs. Religious people observe certain rites indicating their faith system. They may worship animate or inanimate objects or beings as an observance of their faith. However, other people may lack a religious persuasion, thus being termed as irreligious because they could be agnostic, atheist, pantheist, among other expressions beyond religious beliefs (Satterlee, 2009). Religious beliefs can influence business conduct based on the level of religiosity of the businesspeople.
Despite being multi-religious, Germany is predominantly a Christian country, considering that about two-thirds of its populace profess to Christianity. This means that many Germans believe in Jesus Christ of Nazareth as the son of God and Savior of humankind. Their religious practice is illustrated by the proclamation of the Apostle’s Creed as the expression of the Christian doctrine. In addition, although Islam is a noteworthy minority religion in Germany, a significant proportion of the German population can be termed as irreligious or atheist (Armbrüster, 2017). Nonetheless, the country has a balance between Catholicism and Protestantism, while the eastern end of the country has a high proportion of irreligion.
Ethics is a discipline outlining moral conduct during human interactions. They prescribe moral obligations and duties based on the definition of good and bad. Despite these aspects being unique and diverse in different cultures, they can be consolidated into universally-accepted ethical standards. In business circles, corruption and corporate social responsibility are pertinent indicators of the level of adherence to ethical obligations and duties, which is culturally-influenced. In this case, Germans are strict on ethical conduct as part of their corporate culture (Rendtorff, 2017). Subsequently, they have high regard for ethical behavior and social responsibility in their corporate practices.
Values define what society defines as right or wrong, while attitudes are conceptualize feelings and thoughts about things and people. Values are the rating items or people based on their esteem, while attitudes develop upon the mental positions supporting thoughts and emotions relating to things and people. As such, values and attitudes are intertwined because they influence each other. Besides, they are culturally-based because they differ globally across different and diverse cultures. Consequently, Germans have specific and unique values and attitudes towards things and people. These values and attitudes are clearly observable in the business conduct of the Germans, particularly in the tome concept, change approaches, gender roles and relations, and social stratification.
Manners and customs depict people’s actions and the reasons behind such actions. Manners and customs are espoused by the etiquette exhibited by different cultures, influencing cross-cultural interactions (Satterlee, 2009). Great difference in manners and customers can cause disharmony and resentment in cultural interactions. Nonetheless, cultural intelligence can help individuals assimilate etiquette that is acceptable in different cultural settings to promote interrelationships. Nations often have unique or shared characteristics of appropriate behavior and actions. Germany has a unique and dominant set of manners and customs that distinguish its national culture prominently from that of other countries in the European Union and across the world. The knowledge about the German manners and customs is critical for guiding how an individual should behave when with Germans and the do’s and don’ts while in Germany, which is critical in business conduct.
Social structures and organizations define the manner in which people interact with each other as individuals or groups. Societies are structured in institutions, which could be traditional, such as family, education, economics, and religion, or nontraditional ones, like mass media, technology, medicine, and science, among others. Social institutions precipitate social problems within a given culture when they engender inadequacies (Armbrüster, 2017). Individuals enjoy diverse statuses due to their membership to different social institutions simultaneously. Nonetheless, the occupational status confers the most significant social identity to an individual, and is thus regarded as the master status. This ascription is pertinent among the Germans due to their high regard for meritocracy.
The business culture in Germany is well established and often replicated in other parts of the world. The German culture has contributed significantly to the western ideology, which is evidenced in business circles. Germans are very industrious, as demonstrated in their leadership position in science and technology, innovation, and industry. Indigenous small and medium enterprises have grown into highly-specialized companies producing unique goods and services of high international repute, owing their success to the Mittelstand model (Parella, & Hernández, 2018). This success is attributed to the straightforwardness of Germans in business relations and forthrightness in their business dealings, devoid of emotional involvement. In addition, the stable political environment, successful social welfare system, and predictable regulatory environment creates a stable and lucrative business environment, which makes Germany one of the favorite immigration destinations in the world after the United States. This part of the analysis delves into the manner in which the cultural elements and dimensions discussed earlier are integrated by the Germans operating businesses in Germany.
Germany has a low-context culture in which communication is expected to be explicit. This means that Germans pay attention to the literal meaning of spoken words and make no assumptions about their meaning. In turn, Germans are direct speakers that get to the point promptly in business communication (König et al., 2020). As such, Germans are described as having a low-context culture because they prefer explicit transmission of messages rather than implying meanings. In this regard, Germans pay close attention to the literal meaning of spoken and written works rather than assume their contextually-derived implications. In addition, Germans are participative in their communication style, disliking control and challenging authority to demonstrate expertise (Javid, 2016). In this regard, meritocracy is highly regarded as expected of its low power distance index (35) characterizing its national culture. This is because Germans are an egalitarian society in which power inequalities are not valued as highly as prowess in specialized disciplines in business circles.
However, the German communicative style lacks much gesticulation, indicative of the reserved culture with minimal nonverbal cues. In other words, Germans prefer communicating using words rather than nonverbal cues to ensure that they transmit information accurately to minimize misinterpretations (Demmler, Ayala & Solís, 2018). Consequently, the use of hand gestures during conversations is minimal and personal spaces are appropriate conduct which communicates respect. Besides, during business interactions, niceties are conducted briefly, with the main focus being of the business-related conversations. Nonetheless, some gestures convey deep and widely acceptable meanings among the Germans, and are often used to communicate respect or disrespect, which high highly valued in the country. In addition, exaggeration and indirectness during business interactions communicates dishonesty and insincerity. Similarly Germans hardly use humor in their business conversations (Hartmann, 2019). In turn, formality in business conversations communicates professionalism. Consequently, Germans refer to the full title of an individual conversing with or writing to their business associates. Altogether, Germans use written communications frequently to back up business decisions and document business conversations.
Although Germany is considered a predominantly Christian company, the influence of religion in business is minimal. Germans tend to segregate religion from their business interactions, indicating that the country has embrace multiculturalism and polycentricism (Alewell & Moll, 2021). This is advanced further by many German businesspeople being irreligious. Consequently, the business operators in the country are diverse, considering that the country is accommodative of immigrants regardless of their national origin and religious affiliations. The religious beliefs of individuals are highly respected in Germany, and religious observances are often accommodated in business premises. In turn, German businesspeople treat each other similarly and equally regardless of their religious beliefs and their business decisions and relations are not influenced by religiosity or religious affiliations. This can be explained by the high universalism rating of the Germans according to Trompenaar’s cultural dimensions model (Javid, 2016). The German businesspeople believe that all people should be treated similarly based on the set rules, regardless of familial affiliations. This explains why nepotism and corruption are low in the German business settings.
In business, Germans set high ethical standards. Germans generally has a robust work ethic, which is often visible on the dedication they confer to their professions and careers. They believe that their efforts should be rewarded deservedly and proportionately. In addition, their business conduct is tightly guided by policies, laws, rules and regulations (Rendtorff, 2017). The guidance is often detailed to avoid ambiguity and ethical dilemma while facilitating speedy decision-making and resolution of business-related issues. This can be explained by the universalism demonstrated by the Germans in which rules rather that relationships guide business interactions and decisions. Consequently, consistency and trustworthiness are highly valued ethical attributed in the German business settings.
Germans have unique values and attitudes, which are exhibited in business interactions. In business, Germans value academic and professional achievements, expertise, and high performance. Similarly, they have a strong sense of duty and responsibility because they feel the strong need to be dependable at home and workplace (Rendtorff, 2017). High levels of these attributes are used to classify the respect and worth conferred to an individual by peers. Likewise, they value decisiveness in business settings, because it is a reflection of expertise. On the same breath, Germans value conservative gifts associated to work rather than leisure. German businesspeople confer to each other symbolic gifts that are a more significant than flashy. In the same vein, although Germans like flowers, their color and type is selected to conform to the appropriateness of the meeting and the message being communicated. Consequently, Germans do not give each other red flowers because they communicate romantic intentions, which are not tolerated in business settings. Similarly, Germans avoid gifting each other chrysanthemums, carnations and lilies during their business interactions as they symbolism grief and death, unless such an event has confrontment a business colleague or associate.
These business cultural attributes can be explained by their high scores in individualism and masculinity, which is 66 and 67 in their national culture ratings. The high individualism among Germans dictates that they value self-actualization highly as a lifelong goal. Therefore, they may spend their entire lives building their family businesses or improving their organizations for no other reason than to self-actualize. Similarly, their high masculinity index is demonstrated by their intense dedication to work as life’s’ mission (Mobasseri, 2017). Consequently, they draw much of their self-esteem from work and high performance. In turn, they demonstrate their self-identity not with extravagance but using carefully selected status symbols, such are their locally-manufactured high-end vehicles, watches and other technical gadgets.
Germans are highly conservative and formal, manners and customs that are evident in the business environment. Therefore, the German business manners and customs are espoused in their national culture, which is characterized conservativeness, reservation, and formality (König et al., 2020). For instance, during business interactions, Germans regard firm handshakes, usually at the beginning and the end of a business meeting, highly as a sign of politeness. Similarly, a casual smile is considered polite as much as eye-contact during a hand shake. Similarly, Germans are punctual in their business meetings because they regard time as being valuable, reason why they are considered to have a sequential time culture rather than a synchronous one (Demmler, Ayala & Solís, 2018). Consequently, Germans abhor lateness to business meetings, especially is it is not accompanied by a prior communication. Germans are rated to have a neutral rather than an affective culture, in which rationality rather than emotions guide business decision-making and interactions (Hartmann, 2019). In this regard, Germans businesspeople are renowned for controlling their emotions even in business settings.
Germans are a highly-structured and organized society, which is a prominent characteristic of their national culture. Their use structure and organization to enhance predictability. In this regard, Germans have a strong attachment to their work and workplaces Mobasseri, 2017). In additions, Germans manage their time meticulously. Therefore, their agendas, itineraries, and calendars, are organized carefully and detailed to avoid ambiguities. This can be explained by the high uncertainty avoidance index (65) in their national culture. Consequently, Germans are meticulous business planners who prefer a predictable business environment (Hartmann, 2019). In this regard, Germans have elaborate rules guiding their business conduct and are expected to adhere to them strictly. Unfortunately, this makes them inflexible and adverse to unplanned change, even when such change can deliver better performance. This stifles their creativity.
Nonetheless, because of having a robust social structure in which familial sense of duty reigns paramount, Germans are loyal workers seeking to better the welfare of the nation rather than the individual. Consequently, they make sacrifices to the benefit of the organization and society rather than self. This can be explained by their low score in the indulgence index (40) of their national culture, which makes the Germans a restrained society even in business settings. In the same vein, Germany scores highly (80) in the long-term orientation index of their national culture, indicating that the Germans are a pragmatic society (Javid, 2016). Similarly, they are considered to have a specific rather than diffuse culture because of their ability to separate business from personal life. Consequently, although they believe and maintain longstanding business traditions, they can change these traditions to suit changing business circumstances. Therefore, they invest heavily in education and professional development, and persevere harsh conditions to attain high performance levels.
This analysis focused on the cultural dimensions that influence business practices in Germany. Six cultural dimensions guiding the German’s business conduct, namely communication, religion, ethics, values and attitudes, manners, customs, and social structures and organization were analyzed the cultural perspectives of conducting international business and the Hofstede model of national cultures. The analysis revealed the uniqueness of business conduct among the Germans based on their power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation, and indulgence indices of their national culture. Altogether, Germans are astute business people that have maintained a conservative and pragmatic business culture. They are forthright, straightforward, reserved, yet outspoken and innovative. These qualities are deeply embedded in the German national culture, which is one of the dominant ones in the western world. The success of the German businesspeople is attributed to their longstanding and highly-developed business culture, which has persisted to date, making Germany a leader in the global business world.
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