American Business Culture • The American Experience and Value System • Personal Qualities • Communication • Protocol • Mores and Morality • The Business Climate
American Business Culture • Political Correctness • Employer-Employee Relations • Salary and Benefits • Socializing • Negotiations
The American Experience • Searching for the American Dream • Dislikeofcentralized systems which limited personal development • The importanceofsuccess • Material success as a measureof personal development: U.S. consumerdebt: $14 trillion • Success is individual—individualism vs. feudalism • The emphasisoninitiative vs. govtintervention
Indvidualism: Positives and Negatives • Creates a need to performbecausepeopleareevaluated & rewardedonindividualperformance. • Make youcustomer a performer—”youwill save yourcompany X $ and increaseitslatteralcommunication.” • Rememberthestrain and worrythat Americans are under.
Indvidualism: Positives and Negatives • Self-improvementmania—Americans want to be better so show themhowyourproductwill make themseembetter. • The negatives includethefeelingthatfailure is individualinspiteofthefactthatoften it is theresultofcircumstances—especiallytoday.
Positive Thinking • Positive thoughtsarerewarded and negative thoughtsoftenpenalized. • Americans canfail to seethesituation in a criticallight and over-estimatewhattheyarecapableof—especiallysinceindividualperformance is the basis oftheirsurvival. • Analysis/criticismcan be viewed as negativism. Thus self-deceptioncanresult.
Positive Thinking • A contradiction given the present situation • The American economy is in shanbles, 7 million jobs have been lost and Americans areworriedabout losing theirjob. • Yettheyareexpected to be positive, whichmayhelpthemkeeptheirjobs, whiletheirsituation is theopposite.
Positive Aspects of American Business • Relatively limited government regulation—pro business orientation • Favorable tax structure • Access to venture capital—pro risk • Can-do spirit which encourages entrepreneurship • Huge consumption-oriented market
The Mood in the U.S. • Main St. • Desparation: loss of jobs, homes, homelessness • The greatest fear: loss of job, home and health insurance • Rising anger against Wall St. • Nickle and Dimed • A state of denial
Negative Aspectsof American Business Culture • Tremendous pressure • Job insecurity • Highly competitive—”Swim with the Sharks without being eaten alive” • Short term thinking • Hype • Wall St. mentality—quick profits, little responsibility, gambling, moral hazard.
Personal Qualities • Assertiveness • Loyalty—in spite of job insecurity—Corporate downsizers fire 1/3 of staff • Team player--informative • Outgoing—sociable & enthusiastic • Confidence • Toughness, drive & dedication
Communication Style • Informal • First names and nick names • Joking and bantering (one-upsmanship) • Extrovert behavior (highly respected) • Uncomfortable with silence—the Japanese weapon • Time is money--be brief • Conflict and confrontation accepted • Exhibit confidence—hype?
Protocol • Dress--formal in business, informal socially • Time--punctual in business, 20 minute rule socially • Limited gift giving (Christmas) • Achievement based respect, not seniority • Not as rigid rules as Asia and perhaps Europe
Mores and Morality • The importance of religious affiliation • 2/3 go to church regularly • Churches and civic organizations are meeting places for making connections • Puritan tradition-- Sexual modesty (at least publicly) is a must • You must appear to be moral, but morality does not always extend to business dealings--i.e. Enron, Tyco, etc.
Morality? • Stock options and huge salaries • 300 times the average worker-$12 million is the average for C.E.O.s in Fortune 500 • In order to justify these, C.E.O.’s are tempted to cook the books. • 1970-2000 over 700 companies were caught doing this aided by auditors. • Billions of $ have been stolen from the public—employees and stockholders
The New Religion • Positive thinking and attactions • Masschurcheswherethecongregation is motivatedratherthanpreachedthe gospel. • The message is thinkingpositively and God willrewardyou. • ”I believe God wants to giveusnicethings.” • ”Think like God. Thinkbig. Thinkincrease. Thinkabundance. Think more thanenough.” • Corporate religion, religiouscorporations.
Political Correctness • Conservative and distrust of social democracy • Life is a jungle, creates initiative • Best not to tout the value of social democracy • Harassment is the kiss of death • Avoid discussing politics • Labor relations--union membership is frowned upon: Walmart
Salaries and Benefits • Paid vacations--2-3 weeks • 50 hour week not uncommon • Unpaid overtime for managers • Meritocracy, not seniority • Never ask about one’s salary • Health insurance--must be negotiated • Most benefits must be negotiated--no free lunch
Socializing • Voluntary organizations are often meeting places • Americans are joiners--Rotary Club, etc. • Gentleman sports--tennis, squash, golf, hunting, alpine skiing are meeting places • Smoking is frowned upon • Expected to adapt to American values
TopicsofConversation • Sports—know thesituationofthelocal teams. TV programs • American accomplishments • Both as a nation and theaccomplishmentsofthecompanywithwhichyou’re dealing • Findcommoninterests—hobbies • Getthemtalkingaboutwhattheyare in to • Taxes in Norway—they’ll love it
TopicsofConversation • AvoidmentioningtheNorwegiansocialwelfare system and thatNorway is #1 onthe UN human developmentindex and thatthe U.S. is #13. • Avoidmentioninghealthcare reform and howpopularObama is in Europe • In fact just avoidpoliticalissues, regulation& collective governmental responsibility.
Negotiating • Tough negotiators • High/Low balling is common • Keep your bottom line a secret • Your opponent will be looking for it • Americans may promise more than they can deliver • A result of high expectations • Hype is common
Employer--Employee Relations • Short-term thinking • The quarterly report • The basis of fat bonuses for execs • Layoffs and firings • Increases stock value • Creates a loyalty dilemma • No job security, no loyalty • It’s a jungle out there • Informality does not mean concern
E-E Relations Continued • Teamworking is important • Requires good communication skills and information sharing • Bosses can be tough and demanding, but performance is rewarded • You must showcase yourself to be promoted • Teamworking and competition for promotion--a contradiction?
Norwegians’ (Europeans’?) Perception of Americans • Loud • Naïve—Optimism vs. skepticism? • Assertive/boastful • Open • Friendly • Superficial/uniformed