cross cultural communication l.
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Dr. Mwenja is the President of California Miramar University. He has been active in academia, consulting and entrepreneurship over the last 25 years. His areas of specialization are strategic management, social networks, entrepreneurship, and leadership. He has consulted heavily for different industries including credit unions, restaurant chains, telecommunications companies, and governmental agencies both in the United States and in Asia./nAs an entrepreneur, Dr. Mwenja has started and operated many businesses, including import/export, retail, wholesale, management training and staffing, business development, and non-profit organizations. /nDr. Mwenja is a specialist in Social Networks and uses this background to help organizations create value by creating social capital through online and offline social networks. /nDr. Mwenja received his MBA from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky and his Doctor of Business Administration in Strategic Management from Marshall Goldsmith School of Management at Alliant International University in San Diego, California.

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cross cultural communication



Presented at the San Diego World Trade Center.

November 2011


-VN is one of the fastest growing economies in the world

-Total number of registered business enterprises increased from 199,788 in 2005 to 544,394

-Largest number of businesses in 2009 was in construction, followed by manufacturing, generation and distribution of electricity, telecommunications and insurance had only 79.

cross cultural communication3
Cross cultural communication

-To understand how similar or different communication across cultures is, we have to figure our how similar or different the cultures are.

-differences in cultures helps explain why people from different cultures communicate differently—these are called dimensions of cultural variability. (Gudykunst and Matsummoto)

historical influence
Historical influence

-VN has had influence of the Chinese (1,000 years), the French (100 years) and Americans in the South.

-All three have had a significant influence on Vietnamese culture and it is evident between the business cultures of the north and the south of the country.

-The last 15 years has ushered in an era of materials and cultural awareness that distinguishes the young generation from their parents and grandparents.

historical influence cont
Historical Influence cont.
  • -A duality of cultural continuity and rapid change---a young population with a long historical tapestry where old threads are caught between modernity, cultural integration into the global culture and preservation of the old Vietnamese cultural fabric.
use hostede s cultural dimensions to look at vn vs us
Use Hostede’s Cultural Dimensions to look at VN vs US

How the dimensions affect communication between Americans and Vietnamese business people

  • Collectivism vsIndidualism—most important is the sphere of influence– in collectivistic cultures, it is very general while in individualistic cultures it is very specific.

VN—the in-group affects many different aspects of a person’s life, importance of relationships, responsibility, and obligation, avoid aggressive behavior (Confucianism), respect age rank orders are important. All these figure into negotiations and business dealings

US– the in-group affects behavior in very specific circumstances


2. Uncertainty Avoidance. High or Low

VN—HUA but also LUA in some aspects depending on business and ownership structures.

-Most likely to display emotions and especially if there is a likelihood of losing face

US--LUA –Low stress levels, weaker superegos and accept dissent and taking of risks


3. Communication distance

VN--- High CD and US---Low CD

  • Power Distance

VN—HPD—prefer to use coercive or referent power so superiors consider themselves as different from the subordinates and vice-versa. Looks at tact, servitude and wealth as an antecedents to “freedom”

US—LPD---Believe power can be used when it is legitimate and prefer expert or legitimate power

Views respect for the individual and equality for the individual as antecedents of ‘freedom”


5. High context vs Low context culture

VN—HCC—communication is indirect and ambiguous, it conceals speaker’s true intention, pays attention to other’s behavior and other’s status characteristics, direct requests are viewed as ineffective, openness is uncommon and people are more reserved

US—LCC---communication is direct and unambiguous, it conveys speaker’s true intentions


Other aspects of culture that affect communication:

  • Face: VN people are most likely to go a great length to avoid losing face
  • Dressing for business when in business meetings. You have to take pictures and may have to dress down if the VN counterparts are not dressed up as you are.
  • Eye contact: Looking at people’s eyes when you are talking to them is not always looked at as polite and especially when talking to an older person.