Globalization and Cultural Differences

Globalization and Cultural Differences

People in Europe and Asia buy consumer goods, drink cafe lattes and dine on burgers. So why is it so hard for U.S. companies to expand overseas? Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), Starbucks (SBUX) and McDonald’s (MCD) and many American-based players ran into growing pains, missteps and outright failures when opening outlets abroad.

Mastering cultural differences and understanding European, Asian or Latin American customers affect bottom-line results. The companies that make the cultural adjustments thrive, and the inflexible retailers either adapt or fail.

“Americans think if they are well-intentioned and go overseas or anywhere, they’ll be successful. Being well-intentioned isn’t enough,” said Charlene Solomon, a management consultant who co-wrote “Managing Across Cultures” with Michael S. Schell. She says businesspeople need to understand cultural differences and pinpoint what global customers want from their product.

Katia Reed

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