Cultural adaptation in cross-national business relationships: The Netherlands-Sweden

University essay from Högskolan i Gävle/Företagsekonomi; Högskolan i Gävle/Företagsekonomi

Abstract: Aim: The aim of this work is to study the role that culture plays in business relationships between the Netherlands and Sweden. Further, the effects of time and trust on the business relationships are also investigated. The investigation entails whether there are cultural differences between the two countries and how those differences are managed. Method: The research is conducted by a qualitative approach with the use of primary and secondary data. The empirical study is conducted through semi-structured interviews participated by seven Dutch and six Swedish employees from an organization with business operation in the Netherlands and Sweden. Interviews involve one face-to-face meeting and all others are done through Skype due to time, location and cost constraint. Scientific theory is compared against the empirical findings and the coded themes are discussed in analysis. Results and conclusions: The national culture dimensions of Hofstede are compared with the empirical findings and this study supports that the four national culture dimensions of Hofstede’s; Power Distance, Individualism, Femininity and low and middle Uncertainty Avoidance correspond with the description of the Dutch and Swedish interviewees behavior. These national characteristics are observed to have influence in the cross cultural business relationship between the employees in the Netherlands and the employees in Sweden. The two largest cultural difference are in the way the Dutch communicate compared with the Swedes and the perception on pace of work. Although both parties work in different countries, they interact with each other frequently by phone, Skype and face to face meetings due to the fact that they share common customers. The common customers are managed through the local country operation such as Sweden and also at the headquarters level in the Netherlands. As such, the frequent communication results in the development of a working relationship between the Dutch and Swedish colleagues. The efforts to adapt to each other’s cultural differences further increases the trust level in each other's working method in order to serve their customers better. Suggestions for future research: The limitation of the research is that it focuses on one company which belongs to one specific industry. Therefore integrating participants from different companies within the same industry or across industries could result in a dissimilar result. The shortcoming is addressed by suggesting that for future research, this study should be replicated in different industries in the Netherlands and Sweden. Contribution of the thesis: This research contributes to the improvement of business relationships in multinational companies and managers can implement these improvements. Keywords: Culture, Time, Trust, Adaptation, Business Relationship

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