How does culture affect international business?

According to a new report, the United States of America is the most individual country, Slovakia is the most masculine and South Korea is the most pragmatic, but what does this mean and how will it affect how you do business in those countries? 

The Cultural Guide to International Business offers the opportunity to see how important the role of culture is within the business world, and more importantly realise how cultural differences could impact global business success. 

The interactive uses six metrics (power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, pragmatism and indulgence) to ascertain the cultural attitude of a country, and enables the user to compare one country’s results with another. Each metric includes a definition, an explanation of the characteristics involved and finally a breakdown of the implication of achieving a low, medium or high score respectively. 

The guide was created based on metrics devised by The Hofstede Centre and interculturalist Chris Smit's expert input about cultural differences across countries. The scores collected from The Hoftstede Centre were used to develop visualisations for the user which resulted in a heat map of the world as a way to represent Hofstede’s findings. 

This enables the user to quickly find out which are the more pragmatic countries, for example, in just a click of a button, but if one has a bit more time on their hands then this guide enables the user to discover much more.  

Although it quickly becomes evident that no two countries’ results are going to be the same, certain trends are present. 

For example, the top 3 scores in pragmatism are from Asian countries (South Korea, Taiwan and Japan) and each of these countries’ scores in individualism are at the lower end of the scale. Similarly Sweden, Norway and Latvia i.e. countries in northern Europe all achieve low scores in masculinity but high scores in individualism. 

Certain scores also satisfy perceived stereotypes, for example Germany scores well when it comes to having a pragmatic outlook. In addition to a breakdown of each country’s results, the comparing feature enables the user to establish how similar national cultures are via a radar graph. Thus, if you want to see how culturally similar France and Australia are look no further. 

In light of the fact no two countries have the same set of results; this interactive validates the point that national culture should be a factor to consider in the business world despite this perhaps not being immediately obvious.

The guide offers a real insight to a country’s culture and will perhaps be seen as a useful business resource to improve business between countries that may have completely different cultural attitudes. First and foremost this interactive seeks to educate businesses and entrepreneurs about what they need to know about national culture, however that is not to say it won’t be of interest to anyone interested in becoming more culturally aware.   

What are your experiences of doing business with countries that have a different culture to yours? Let us know in the comments.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Please see for more details. 


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