Trust and Relationship Building during an International Market Expansion : The case of Elekta

University essay from Högskolan i Gävle/Avdelningen för ekonomi; Högskolan i Gävle/Avdelningen för ekonomi

Abstract: Aim: The aim of this study is to investigate how relationships are built in a cross-cultural setting and to identify which interpersonal factors need to be taken into account to guarantee the successful creation of relationships.   Methodology: The method of this study follows a qualitative approach through the gathering of empirical data. The case of the healthcare equipment company Elekta is selected for data collection from employees of the Brazilian and Swedish office. Interviews have been conducted face-to-face and through videoconference tools. The selection of interviewees is based on the role of the individual within the company and the involvement in the market expansion from Sweden to Brazil. Secondary data from scientific articles and academic journals is compared and analyzed with primary data.   Findings: The establishment of relationships during an international market expansion is bounded to the cultural differences present between two parties. Among these differences language, communication, trust and local business practices play a role in the relationship building process. The use of local employees can reduce risks of an unknown market and give access to business networks. Relationships are essential for Brazilians and personal connections are more important than institutional relationships. Cultural differences should, however, not be completely adapted to the local market, since a mix of Brazilian and Swedish business practices has been shown to be advantageous. This is due to high reputation of the Swedish country of origin of Elekta and the favored Swedish business practices. Therefore, foreignness and cultural differences do not necessarily imply negative effects on relationship building, but can have a positive outcome on the development of trust.   Contribution: The study contributes to relational theories by providing new theoretical insight in the phenomenon of relationship building in a cross-cultural environment. It contributes to current academic studies, focusing on strategies to successfully conduct market expansions and establish physical presence in a foreign county. Furthermore, it gives new insight in relationship building practices in the healthcare sector. The study emphasizes the positive effect of culture in an international environment, which has been neglected in previous studies.   Limitations: Since cultural aspects play a large role in this study, findings are specific to the Latin American continent. Responses obtained during the interviews were a product of questions aimed to the specific geographical area, in regards to the healthcare sector. Therefore, including additional countries in a same sector study may result in dissimilar results.   Suggestions for further research: This research involves Brazil and Sweden as a cultural framework. Therefore, perception of the reputation of country origin and perception of cultural business practices may differ between other geographic locations. Further research should investigate on the differences of relationship building in other nations. This could give insight in positive and negative aspects perceived per country of another culture. 

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