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Analyzing Case Studies on Ethical and Cultural Issues in Business Communication


Directions: The final paper will be a 5-8 page double-spaced take-home assignment in which students will critically analyze a case study (chosen from those provided in their text), examining the ethical, cultural, and technical issues presented and the communicative strategies used to manage the situation, and exploring possible alternatives based on their knowledge of effective 
business communication.   Students will be expected to incorporate a minimum of 3-5 academic sources as well as other materials in the textbook and Chapter PowerPoints. 
As business organizations become increasingly global in their structure and marketing, they face communication problems resulting from cultural misunderstandings.  
YOUR TASK – Based on what you have learned in this course, critically analyze one of these case studies examining the ethical, cultural, and technical issues presented. Explore the communicative strategies that could be used to manage the situation.  ( For example: How could you help the individuals involved understand what went wrong in the event?) Also explore the possible alternatives to remedy the situation based on your knowledge of effective business communication. What styles of communication and technical writing could be used in this process? (This section is adapted from what is provided in the textbook.) 

a. British transportation minister Susan Kramer faced embarrassment after presenting the mayor of Taipei, Taiwan, Ko Wen-je, with a watch – a taboo in Chinese Culture.  Ko remarked to reporters that he would “sell it to a scrap dealer” because a watch would be useless to him. Giving a clock and attending an old person’s funeral sound very similar in Chinese. 
b. The owners of the British food company Sharwood spent millions of dollars launching a new curry sauce called Bundh.  The firm was immediately deluged with calls from Punjabi speakers who said the new product sounded like their word for “backside.” How important is it for companies to test product names? 
c. During a festive dinner for a delegation from Singapore visiting the government of the Czech Republic, the conversation turned to the tasty main course they were eating.  One of the Czech hosts explained to the inquiring foreign guests that they were enjoying a Czech specialty, rabbit, known for its light white meat.  The Singaporeans’ faces mirrored shock, embarrassment, and irritation. As inconspicuously as possible, they put down their silverware.  Only later did the Czech delegation learn that rabbit is a pet in Singapore much like the house cat in European or North American households.

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