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If you were born in 1900, you were expected to live a mere 50 years. Today, the average global life expectancy is 72.8 years. The good news is that people are living longer. The bad news is that many of the resources necessary to care for the aging population are dwindling. Of all the demographic trends in the world today, preparing for and managing the implications of the aging population might be the most important. 

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We’ve been hearing the words “Cultural Intelligence” everywhere we go lately. So what is cultural intelligence and why is it so important to global businesses?

Cultural intelligence is the ability for people, organizations, and businesses to relate to culturally diverse situations and work effectively in them. It is a vital aspect to international businesses because every country they are based in requires a different cultural approach and the ability to get well with the consumers you are working with. Global collaboration has become a significant aspect for the success of businesses and this cannot occur if businesses do not have the resources, knowledge, and talents of cultural IQ.

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A business reaching international audiences depends on idea sharing and connectivity for its continued success. Today, social media is increasing audience engagement even further. In fact, the key to a successful social media strategy is effective engagement. With social media's importance continuing to rise, understanding the key concepts will help give your business an edge in this increasingly connected climate. Following is a complete and global guide to navigating social media strategy.

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For anyone conducting their business internationally, being aware of and understanding cultural differences is often essential for success. Issues such as directness, cultural values, and punctuality vary across countries, and expressions can have very different meanings in foreign cultures. By researching a country’s culture and customs first, you can impress and gain the respect of your international colleagues, helping to build relationships which will be crucial to the growth of your business in the new market.

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For pro basketball fans everywhere, it comes as no news that last night was Kobe Bryant’s final game as a basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant has become a household name, not just in America, but globally. Kobe Bryant has ridden the larger wave of global basketball, with a particularly massive (and growing) fan following in China. Sports, and American culture of many varieties have become commoditized and are now consumed in massive quantities throughout the world.

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Doing business in a foreign country or region can be challenging, especially when the culture is substantially different from what one is used to. Thus, informing oneself of the cultural norms and the way business is conducted in a given country can be extremely beneficial and help to prevent mistakes that could damage business relationships. When conducting business in the Middle East, there are several things a businessperson should keep in mind. This blog post highlights some of the key cultural differences to be aware of.

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Throughout the past ten years, the music industry has increasingly embraced digital media formats for music distribution. The adaptability of business models to the digital format, however, has been volatile at best. When methods of distribution for music were primarily physical—vinyls, tapes, and CDs—record labels had more control over their product and how it would be consumed by the masses. As the music industry becomes more decentralized and more streaming services are popping up, a power struggle is occurring between record and indie labels, recording artists, and consumers over the value of music in this day and age.

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In today’s globalized world where businesses are operating in countries scattered around the world, understanding different languages can be extremely advantageous. Many professionals assume that speaking a common language with other cultures is enough for success. While in fact, spoken language is only 30% of communication. Cultural differences are inevitable in global business environments. Therefore, in today’s business world it is simply not enough to share a common language. To be successful, one must develop a diverse cultural perspective.

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India has a caste system which is a social structure that separates people according to different socio-economic conditions.  In recent years the system has been relaxed and it is easier to move from caste-to-caste, but it is still significant to the Indian culture. Having a caste system can increase the amount of poverty and economic activity, leading to a decrease of international trade. In May, India’s general election will take place and the front-runner to be the next prime minister is Narendra Modi. Modi was a former tea seller, which is not considered an elite occupation and is quite different from the former occupations of leaders from the ruling Congress party.

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As companies become more global, it is important for management teams and boards to realize the effect that a company’s national culture can have on its performance. In their book, Fish Can’t See Water, Kai Hammerich and Richard D. Lewis argue that often management and boards are blind to their own culture, and may not realize the negative effects that culture can have on their company’s success. The book describes two different models of identifying how culture affects corporations, describes national cultures in seven different countries and how they affect corporations, and then walks through a series of case studies.

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When looking at the composition of the world over the past years, it is not hard to see that the world is becoming increasingly interconnected. If you look at a basic product, it is more than likely that the product you are looking at is made from components in various parts of the world. This increasing economic integration called globalization is having profound effects on many countries. Advances in transportation and telecommunications, including the rise of the Internet, are major factors contributing to globalization that have generated further economic interdependence and universal cultural activities. However, these are certainly not the only factors contributing to globalization. Today, I will show you how the entertainment industry has been a major driver of globalization.

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According to research, multilingualism can improve communication, intercultural sensitivity, cognitive abilities, and more.  For these reasons, linguistics Professor Antonella Sorace of the University of Edinburgh suggests that businesses should hire more multilingual employees.  For large multinational companies, multilingual employees are valuable assets and are increasingly being sought after. 

Sorace is adamant about the many advantages that are derived from knowing more than one language and as a result is concerned about the widespread failure of education systems to promote foreign language learning.  She believes that countries that are neglecting foreign language education are missing out on a more cognitively efficient and better communicating workforce.

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Doing business in India can be difficult for the new executive sent on assignment to India. As the world’s second largest country based on population, India is expected to become one of the biggest economies by 2050, projected by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. What is strange is that India does not have a truly national language, unlike the other large economies such as China and the United States.

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Globalization can be seen in every crack and crevasse of the earth now that we can communicate globally at unprecedented speed. To be a thriving, growing business, most would argue that once you are well established in your domestic nation, the next logical plan is to take your business internationally.

There are many studies that point to the idea of globalization and how many cultures are mashing together into one as the world becomes more technologically advanced. While technology plays a large part in this, do younger generations have an impact on narrowing the cultural differences between two nations?

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We were always taught not to judge a book by its cover, but packaging experts know that building a positive connotation and allure around a good is crucial to its marketability.  Companies take many factors into consideration when packaging their product: environmentally responsible, flawless presentation, exceptional quality/quantity, and cultural sensitivities.  Balancing the variables of material, size, imagery, color, and design is the challenge facing most firms.  And they only amplify as companies expand to the global marketplace.

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In recent years, especially after the financial crisis, there has been a fierce debate over the level of executive pay, especially in Europe and the United States. According to a Towers Watson study of 225 Fortune 1000 companies, the median total direct compensation increased only 5.6% for CEOs in 2011, compared to a 14.5% increase in 2010. It seems as though the recent outcry is having an effect. Though compare these numbers to Forbes 2011 study on the 500 biggest U.S. company’s CEOs and their pay, and you will see a different story. U.S. CEOs received a collective pay raise of 16% in 2011, compared to 3% for the average American worker. It is interesting to see the vast differences not only on the level of pay, but especially on how the culture of a certain country affects the debate.

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The reality of cultural diversity exists not just on the international business scene but also within an organization. As such, if they are to truly make use of the increasing opportunities and benefits that the global economy is providing, they have to make sure that their employees have sufficient intercultural competence. Communication is imperative for success in the business world, and most people would think of the language barrier as the largest hindrance. However, I’m here to argue that just knowing the local language will not help you be successful in an international setting.

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On almost any business team, confrontation is something that is part of every meeting. It is a way to get ideas out on the table, and usher in new innovative solutions. Even at the university level, students are taught how to confront peers in correct ways, to empower team members and not scare them off. However, in the context of a team made up of multiple cultures, this typical American stance on confrontation could be viewed as downright rude and inconsiderate.

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In the modern era of global markets and international working opportunities, record numbers of employees of both small businesses and large corporations have embraced the expatriate lifestyle to work abroad. Despite the noticeable increase of expatriates in the past decade, there was surprisingly very little information regarding the differences between working domestically and abroad, which lead ORC Worldwide to conduct a 2007 survey which explored the differences that an expatriate experiences while trying to balance their career and other life obligations. The results of the survey provide an excellent insight into what changes someone looking to work and live abroad should expect, as well as the potential challenges that they should be ready to overcome.

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With 196 countries across the globe and over 7 billion people in the world, differences in culture can be seen almost anywhere. In an increasingly interconnected world, people with different cultures can be found in a country nearby or even in your hometown. As a business person, student, or global citizen what does this mean for you? It simply means that understanding different cultures is becoming incredibly important in our daily lives and for business success on a global and even local level. Understanding cultural differences provides a unique competitive advantage and allows teamwork to thrive in almost any situation regardless of where you might be in the world or who you are working with. This is critical for proper communication and is especially crucial for international business.

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No. Well, at least not for a while, according to Xu Xiaoping. Xu ranks among China’s most prominent angel investors. He is also CEO of a NYSE-listed education company called New Oriental Group that helps prepare people from China to study overseas. There are many reasons why innovation has been lacking in China. Many of these reasons deal with cultural differences in comparison to other countries, where innovation is encouraged and embraced.

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The perfect leader is outspoken, bold, voices opinions, and is a people person right? Not necessarily.  Whether we realize it or not, we often associate many extroverted traits with strong business leaders and assume that those who are introverted will not be as successful. This is not always true. There are several characteristics that introverts possess that businesses could benefit from that are probably being overlooked.

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Attention international business professionals – Kwintessential has recently released a free iPhone app designed to easily compare cultures. This app will assist you in your international travels by giving you tips and pointers about various cultures. Check out all the details here, and more on the Kwintessential website. Thanks!

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I was first introduced to cultural intelligence (CQ) in my international management class this past year, and was highly intrigued by the topic. CQ is a person's capability to function effectively in situations characterized by cultural diversity. When the opportunity rose to read The Cultural Intelligence Difference, I jumped at the chance. Dr. David Livermore wrote the book to essentially give the everyday person, whether you are a teacher, doctor, entrepreneur or CEO, strategies to increase your CQ.  Here is a little excerpt of an example from the book that may apply to you:

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Globalization is becoming increasingly important for businesses all over the world. Not only is it important to expand into new markets, but it is important to localize enough to be accepted while still keeping your brand consistent worldwide. Corporations are beginning to see how difficult this balancing act can be. Expanding into new countries can lead to enormous profits, but it comes at a much higher risk.

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The Wall Street Journal had a very interesting piece for their “The Saturday Essay” this past week. It reflected on the cultural differences in parenting styles; written from the perspective of Amy Chua – a Chinese mother who is also a professor at Yale Law School. While it is written to contrast mostly American parents, I believe (and so does the author) that the article can be viewed from a completely global perspective.

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As a result of the economic crisis, countries around the world are attacking their own debt problems with austerity measures. A mixture of culture, value systems and tradition play a role in how these measures actually are received by the citizens. Based on the fact that both the U.K. and France have adopted changes in their pension systems, how are these changes being received in the context of each country’s cultural values?

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The world is continuously changing with new markets, international trade and political movements as well as educational and cultural fluctuations. The only question is where exactly is all this change occurring? A new study by A.T. Kearney has just come out with the Top Global Cities of 2010.

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When you think of economic globalization, you think of the integration of national economies into the international economy through trade, foreign direct investment, capital flows, and the spread of technology. But one very important one that isn't thought of too much is migration. In the past it was almost unthinkable to leave your homeland just for a job overseas, especially just to look for one. Now it is becoming commonplace, especially with the high unemployment rates seen in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Spain (the latter of which is a whopping 19.9 percent!). Meanwhile in other developing economies, especially in Asia, the rates area much more respectable. The unemployment rate in Hong Kong is 4.6 percent, in Australia 5.1, and in Singapore only 2.2 percent of the people are out of work.

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Brought to you by the U.S. Commercial Service, there are still eleven more webinars from the excellent Basic Guide to Exporting Webinar Series. There is still time to register, but don't delay. In particular there is a webinar on June 15, titled "Improving Your Cultural Intelligence." Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is described as the capability to function effectively in a variety of national, ethnic and organization cultures. You can learn how to do the following:

  •       Identify the cultural implications of your marketing and negotiating decisions. 
  •       More effectively function in culturally diverse settings. 
  •       Enhance and build your Cultural Intelligence.

       You will have your questions answered by David Livermore. Listen and learn from questions asked by companies participating in the Webinar. Dr. Livermore has written many award-winning books on this subject. He will also be speaking at the CIBER Short-Term Study Abroad(STSA) Conference in Kansas City from June 4-5, 2010. Short-term study abroad is one of the fastest-growing formats of study abroad, and it appeals to students and presents unique challenges in curriculum, financing, and program management. Interested? Learn more about the conference and come listen to some great speakers!
 

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Business is an ever changing field due to how Global it is. International business deals are made every day and traveling abroad for business reasons is a typical activity. However, there is one thing to keep in mind every country has a different manner of conducting business meetings. Fortunately, business people around the world are becoming more open to different cultures and thus more understanding to cultural mistakes.

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Each culture has its own set of business customs and rules to live by. By growing up in one culture, it can be difficult to properly acknowledge and understand another. Most cultural errors made by businessmen and women start with simple things like business dress, appropriate conversation, or how to address someone. Since business etiquette varies between cultures all over the world, it is very important to be humble and open to learning. Here are some of the most common errors made by businessmen and women today.

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It isn’t really a secret that knowing the culture and language of a country will help one to have a smoother stay there, whether it’s for business or pleasure. However, while learning a new culture and language can be a short, fun experience for tourists, the necessity of mastering a foreign language and becoming culture-savvy for business purposes is much more important. In honor of International Education Week, it is valuable to highlight the importance of linguistic and cultural education in this ever-globalizing world.

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The names we use to refer to places in the world can be a touchy subject. The island off the coast of mainland China that many know as Formosa became the Republic of China after World War II. Many today refer to it as Taiwan, but international recognition of the island as an independent nation-state is not universal.

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Anyone who has engaged in cross-cultural business knows that spending a little bit of time to understand the other culture will go a long way towards producing business success.

This is especially true in China, where business relationships usually require some form of personal relationship. In this country, business partners typically go through a long process of “courtship,” which will likely entail banquets and other events aimed at getting to know each other on a personal level, as well as a string of meetings where business progresses at a snails pace. This process is vital from the Chinese perspective, as the nation’s cultural values emphasize long-term relationships and prosperity over quick, impersonal deals.

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Did you know that the phrase “part two” carries a sexual connotation in France? Neither did Roger Gussiaas, which is why some people left in the middle of a conversation he was having while he was in France. His cultural gaffe encouraged him to attend an international business workshop in Fargo, N.D. The event, coordinated by the Northern Crops Institute, sought to educate business owners such as Gussiaas on the ins-and-outs of etiquette when conducting business overseas.

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Japan, the world’s second-largest economy, has a shrinking population of working adults and is expected to lose 70% of its workforce by 2050. This forecast is based on Japan having the world’s highest proportion of people over 65 and lowest proportion of children under 15. A recent article in the Washington Post explains that Japan’s social and corporate cultures are the catalysts of this trend.