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The Importance of Culture in Business

Discuss about the Intercultural Relations for Social Developments.

For anyone seeking to understand the Indian diversity a prayer from old texts of India can make it simpler as it states,” May from all direction come good thoughts to us”. People in India embrace diversity, variety, unconventionality and heterodoxy. Diversity in India is an asset and is being cherished. The countries historical, political, economic and  have been guided by many distinct parts of such a culture. It is important to remember to take into consideration the various ethnic and linguistic groups, religious groups, philosophical and social and economic levels before. In any culture let it be Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat or Punjab there are always peripheral cultural universal traits like morals, telling truth, etc, and internal cultural traits which are core of the culture.

There is an increase in economic activities inter and intra nation. To establish a successful business it is thus important to consider and concentrate on various factors including language, culture, and backgrounds. The most significant factor is culture. The working of cultural differences within nations and across nations is important to be understood for it can affect the business activities (Taylor, 2012). Language, political philosophy, economical philosophy, education and social structure are the main determinants of any culture. For any company’s business success cultural sensitivity plays a crucial role; therefore it is crucial for businesses to understand the various cultural determinants (Barrett, 2013)

Exchange of messages verbal or non-verbal is communication, participated by all individuals. Between groups or individuals communication are constantly exchanged and the communication can either be in written words or spoken words or even silence (Penas & Saenz, 2006). Communication can be stated as a process which cannot be avoided by any individual because all behaviour has a message.

Change in human behaviour results due to culture. In a non-verbal communication the most important factors are eye contact, gestures, touch and spatial behaviour. Again the values of individuals vary from culture to culture. The values impact an individual’s behaviour and performance.   

In this study to understand the various cultural relations an attempt has been made to understand various determinants between Rajasthan’s culture with Gujarati, Marathi and Punjabi culture. As stated by John (2008), business is the best arena to watch culture in action. For the better understanding of the cultural relations low and high context model has been used with modifications to suit the intercultural relation within Indian union.  Though it is thought that international business relations are a matter of concern but inter nation relations are not easy and especially in a country like India, where there are various cultures operating. 

Communication in Intercultural Settings

Hindu’s comprise the majority of the population here, and the culture and traditions are known for being colourful. In the past few years Rajasthan has been a preferred destination for IT parks. It has the northern India’s largest IT Park. Tourists from all over India and the world visit Rajasthan. It is said to be the place of the Raja’s.  The state of the Indian Union has the largest desert of India ‘Thar’.

The culture here reflects the ancient Indian lifestyle.  Being a major tourist destination the language is not much of a barrier but the accent and the speed does. People of Rajasthan like every other state in India have a peculiar accent and tone which varies from cities to villages. Amartya Sen stated that ‘Prolixity is not alien to Indians’ because Though adjoining states Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan has barriers of language. A typical Marathi speaking individual would find it very difficult to communicate with a typical Marwari speaking individual. A Punjabi individual would have the same problem. For example, a brother is called “Bhaou” in Marathi, while a Gujarati would say “Mota Bhai”, A Punjabi would say “Paji” and a Rajasthan Individual would say “Bhayo”.  The cuisines of the four cultures are very different. The attire of the women has much dissimilarity. Also the dance forms and music are very dissimilar. While ‘Lavani’ is a dance form in Maharashtra, ‘Garbha’ is a dance form of Gujarat, in Rajasthan ‘Ghumar’ is the dance form while ‘Bhangra’ is the typical dance form of Punjab. 

The cultures of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Punjab shares similarity when it comes to attire the dhoti and the turbans worn by people from all the four cultures, women tend to wear ‘Salwar suits’ in Punjab, ‘Lehenga-choli’ in Rajasthan, ‘Saree’ in Gujarat and ‘Lugada’ in Maharashtra, thus the attire of women has more diversity than of men. Again a similarity is seen when it comes to the religion the four cultures are dominated by Hindu’s and are very religious in nature. Also the four cultures are viewed as festive. One’s view of reality is always shaped by one’s culture. An individual from Maharashtra is considered introvert, while a person from Punjab is considered as an extrovert, the Rajasthan’s individual is again an introvert, and a Gujarati is also considered as an extrovert. It is culture that makes people believe that they share similar reality. In case of Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Punjab’s culture may share a uniformity as being part of one nation but the basic lifestyle, language, perception about realities, goodness, dressing style, eating habits varies from place to place; not just between states but within in states itself (Cinquina, 2016). 

Cultural Similarities and Differences in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Punjab


The joy and colours of the four cultures are evident in their way of life and life celebration. According to Alfred sphutz, a person’s stock of knowledge determines his perception towards other cultures. Life-world= for example a man enters a bus and he knows that there is going to be a bus driver and a conductor in the bus and the conductor is going to ask money for the ticket, now how does the person entering the bus would have knowledge about something that has not happened yet? This is because people are stocked with knowledge collected either first-hand or second hand or transmitted by one generation to another with the use of language. This culture as repeated by people becomes a system and there are several parts to this system like personality system, integration system, latency system or adaptation, etc (Kazuya & Kim, 2004).  As Levis strauss stated that the most two important parts in culture is “what could be done” and “what could not be done”, he further states that the mind divide things in two parts; meaning that in every culture few things are never going to change and few things are always going to change (Strauss, 2005).

India being a high context country the vocabulary used is very vast here, be it a Marwari language, or Gujarati, or Marathi or a Punjabi language. People do not like to respond in short sentences.

The basic barriers and dissimilarity are:

  1. The sentence structure is different
  2. Lack of inter-subjectivity
  3. Stock of Knowledge
  4. Socialization
  5. The pattern of speech are different
  6. The accent and intonations are different
  7. The vocabulary is different
  8. It is difficult for all the above mentioned cultures to process English at some level (Heyward, 2002).


These stated problems among the four cultures due to languages are the biggest barrier to communication. These intercultural barriers could make it very difficult for a Marathi culture individual to be able to develop a relationship with a Rajasthan’s individual.

There are also non-verbal communication issues:

  1. The use of language with meanings implied
  2. Symbols
  3. Stereotye Behaviour, i.e. Instead of asking people make assumptions

People from different parts of India face communicating with each other difficult due to the non-verbal communication. If one crosses the hurdle of verbal communication non-verbal communication can be tricky. Non-verbal communication comprises Kinesics, haptics and proxemics.

India communication heavily relies on indirect and non-verbal communication techniques. A variety of contextual cues are also involved in an individual’s discourse of communication (Yampolsky & Amiot, 2016). This is to say that the use of word “No” is not very common. People generally reply without a direct ‘no’ to a question and take escapes by using open-ended answers like, “I will let you know”.  To understand the non-verbal communication of a culture observation of the subject culture is required (Kazuya & Kim, The effect of self-construals on conversational indirectness, 2004)  

Non-Verbal Communication in India

The result of globalisation and increased awareness a universal culture or global culture has taken shape. This culture is more or less similar to the western world.  According to McKim Merriot, universalization and parochialization takes place, in universalization all the minor cultures are accumulated into the universal culture and in perochialization the smaller culture takes over the major culture when folklore assume as greater importance in a major culture it takes over the major culture eventually (Marriot, 1993). When cultural uniqueness is lost globalization of culture takes place.


According to Bourdeau ‘Habitus’ is a kind of live world and individuals aim to control this live world (Bourdieu, 1990). Thus if a Maharashtra person want to transact business in Rajasthan he would like to know what are the similarities that would help him to assimilate and gain control. Leading to inter-subjectivity where a Maharashtra person’s stock of knowledge is connected with the stock of knowledge of the Rajasthan’s person. This would develop a feeling of similarity and create motivation. Thus for transacting a successful business the three cultures of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Punjab would have to develop inter-subjectivity.

Also in every culture there are standards and hero, like in Maharashtra Shivaji is a cultural hero, and in Rajasthan the warriors of Rajasthan are the heroes and there are set standards to them, thus enhancing inter-subjectivity and motivating the indigenous culture. Also to resolve conflict in business transaction it is advisable to accommodate, assimilate, acculturate and diffusion of cultures (Berry, 2005).  

To develop effective skills and an excellent nurse/patient relationship it is important that a meaningful communication takes place (Kourkouta & Papathanasiou, 2014). For the development of meaningful communication and improvement in ones skills it is crucial that the nurses engage in reflection analysis (Kourkouta & Papathanasiou, 2014)

The best way to motivate and commence business in a cross-cultural environment is to understand one’s partner well. Doing so enhances the chances of cultural adjustments. For motivating people from any cultural background it is crucial that the business transaction intended confirms with the norms of the said culture (Hooker, 2008). Though it is many times believed that business is self-contained process in reality for any business to get anything done; the business is dependent on cultural mechanisms which are pre-determined. With the evident of new world economic order a multi-polar equilibrium has replaced world hegemony. 

References

Barrett, M. (2013). Interculturalism and multiculturalism: similarities and differences. Council of Europe.

Berry, J. W. (2005). Acculturation: Living successfully in two cultures. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 697-712.

Bourdieu, P. (1990). The Logic of Practice. Stanford University Press.

Cinquina, P. (2016). Performing Intercultural Dialogue on the Stage. Journal of Intercultural Communication.

Heyward, M. (2002). From International to Intercultural Redefining the International School for a Globalized World. Journal of Research in Intenational Education.

Hooker, J. N. (2008). Cultural Differences in Business Communication. m: Carnegie Mellon University.

Kazuya, H., & Kim, M. S. (2004). Cross-Cultural Communication and Intercultural Competence. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 1-8.

Kazuya, H., & Kim, M. S. (2004). The effect of self-construals on conversational indirectness. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 1-18.

Kourkouta, L., & Papathanasiou, I. V. (2014). Communication in Nursing Practice. MasteriaSocioMedica, 26(1), 65-67.

Marriot, M. (1993). India's Village. In G. P. Vijay.S.Upadhyay, History of Anthropological Thought (pp. 440-543). Concept Publishing.

Penas, B., & Saenz, M. C. (2006). Interculturalism: Between Identity and Diversity. Peter Lang.

Strauss, L. C. (2005). Myth & Meaning. Routledge & Kegan.

Taylor, C. (2012). Interculturalism or multiculturalism? SAGE journals.

Yampolsky, M. A., & Amiot, C. E. (2016). Discrimination and multicultural identity configurations: The mediating role of stress. International Journal of Intercultural Relations .

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