In the blog serie doing business in Germany, our International Trade Consultant Suntke Kröger will guide you while doing business in Germany. The second blog is about culture. Did you know that there are also regional differences as well as cultural expectations within the country?
The foundation of culture
Culture is the umbrella of social behaviour and norms found in societies. Furthermore, culture is found in knowledge, arts, laws, customs, and habits of societies. This means culture directly influences the decision making of companies, as well as the behaviour of a customer. Companies now have two options:
- disregard culture in hopes of making sales regardless,
- embrace the culture to enter the market successfully.
Similarities and differences
Now, the question is where to find information about cultures. Many frameworks and databases were developed to precisely give information about countries specific cultures. Frameworks like the organizational culture framework, Cage Distance Framework, or Hofstede’s Insights can give an overview of different cultures and can be used as a guide to enter the new market.
What to do while doing business in Germany…
When we concentrate on the Dutch & German Cultures, we can see that the similarities are existent, however, these similarities are matched with differences as well. For example, whereas Germany is a very masculine country according to Hofstede, which means that the German society is rather oriented towards the mindset “live in order to work”, whereas the Dutch society is a rather feminine, in which the concentration is rather on the Work/Life balance.
When operating in Germany, it is important to be precise in the conversation, as Germany is a low context country. In a low context country like Germany, information is explicitly found in the message itself and thus is more literal than in comparison to a country with high context communication like Spain or France.
What to do when there is a cultural conflict?
Culture comes in many forms and is not subject to judgement, as this would deeply insult a country for its behaviour. Instead of avoiding cultural conflict, we should aim for cultural synergy to cooperate. In order to achieve Cultural synergy, three steps can be followed:
- Describe the situation from all points of view
- Interpret the cultures
- Increase cultural creativity
If with these steps all parties gain a cultural advantage, then we created cultural synergy.
Would you like to know more about doing business in Germany? Please contact us.
About the author
My name is Suntke Kröger, 22 years old and International Trade Consultant for the WTC Leeuwarden. Simultaneously I am a 3rd -year student of International Business at the Hanze University of Applied Science Groningen. While being born and raised in Germany, I was introduced early to the international world. With experiences gathered from around the world, I embrace a multinational environment. The work I provide is done with dedicated efficiency and effectiveness in order to offer the best possible outcome.