Business Homework


Topic: Global business cultural analysis Greece

Abstract

Greece is famous for its rich cultural heritage, particularly in relation to its role in the spread of democracy in the Western world. The main elements and dimensions of culture in Greece include religion, ethics, values and attitudes, manners, social structures, customs, and education. The aim of this paper is to analyze major elements and dimensions of culture in this country in terms of how locals have integrated them in the process of doing business locally.  This paper found out that local people tend to avoid long-range planning, not just in their cultural framework but also in the way they do business. However, following accession to the EU, Greece has gradually started being influenced by European practices that emphasize on long-term strategies. It also found out that the level of individualism in the US is higher than that of Greece. The findings of this analysis suggest that US businesses are better off adopting a low-intensity strategy when venturing into Greece. They are also better off using Greece as a business hub that links them with other markets in Southeast Europe, Middle East, and Asia.

 

Contents

Abstract 1

Introduction. 2

Elements and dimensions of culture in Greece. 4

Social structure and organization. 4

Christianity. 5

Education. 7

Social values, customs, and attitudes. 8

How these elements and dimensions are integrated by locals conducting business in the nation. 11

Comparison with US culture and business. 19

Implications for US businesses that wish to conduct business in the region. 22

Conclusions. 24

References. 25

Introduction

Greece is a country situated in Europe. The country is renowned for its cultural and historical heritage, which continues to be a source of fascination across the Western world. This heritage is evident in philosophy, art, literature, and politics. After the World War II, Greece went through a period of dramatic socio-economic change. Today, the country is one of the leading actors in the areas of shipping and tourism.

During the late 2000s, Greece was hit hard by the global financial crisis. This problem arose because of widespread tax evasion and high public spending. The resulting recession left the country with a huge debt burden. In 2010, fears emerged regarding Greece’s likelihood to default on payment of debts, something that could have a contagion effect on other countries. Consequently, other euro zone countries decided to rescue Greece’s struggling economy through a massive bailout plan.

In terms of international relations, Greece has for a long time been in conflict with Turkey primarily over territorial disputes. However, during the 1999 earthquake, both countries underwent a lot of suffering. They offered each other help, leading to warm-up of relations. Although the territorial disputes have not yet been resolved, Greece has been a strong supporter of Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. Greece remains optimistic that Turkey’s membership to the EU would bring about greater stability in the region.

In many ways, the story of Greece is remarkable in terms of socio-economic and political transformation. The country has gone through numerous vicissitudes but has remained a single nation. Nevertheless, numerous opportunities as well as challenges continue to manifest themselves in the way the country relates to the world. The country’s tourist attractions continue to be a source of attraction for many people across the world. This was evident when the country hosted the Olympic Games in 2004. The Parthenon in Athens continues to be a dominant symbol of Greek culture. It also continues to exert profound influence on the contemporary Western thought.

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The aim of this paper is to examine pertinent issues relating to Greece’s business future in the context of the global economy. At the outset, the main elements and dimension of the country’s cultures are analyzed. Some of these dimensions include communication, religion, ethics, customer, manners, values and attitudes, social structures, and customs. The paper then investigates the various ways in which these elements and dimensions have been integrated by locals in the process of conducting business in the country. A comparison is them made with cultural and business practices in the US. The paper concludes by a reflection on the implications for US businesses that wish to conduct business in that region.

Elements and dimensions of culture in Greece

The modern culture of Greece is deeply intertwined with ancient traditions and practices. The concept of Greek mythology continues to cause immense fascination throughout the Western world. The modern nation of Greece strongly draws from its rich cultural heritage to chart a path for the future. This fascination has sometimes led people to argue that the country is indecipherable. A lot of interest in Greece also comes from its closeness to different regions with varying cultural backgrounds. To the north, it is close to Europe while to the south it borders Africa. Its closeness to Asia also makes it strategically located, thereby making it an ideal business destination for people from both West and East.

Social structure and organization

Although Greece is a small country, it has continued to play a critical role in world history. It is recognized as the origin of Western civilization. Western civilization is seen to have started during the Classical period in Greece. Classical Greece was of utmost importance to the entire world because it led to the birth of democracy, the development of arts, and the introduction some of the world’s greatest institutions including the Olympic Games. Today, Crete, one of the Islands in Greece, is recognized as the home of the Minoan Civilization (Dimitriades, 2005). On the other hand, Southern Greece is recognized as the home of the Mycenean Civilization (Dimitriades, 2005).

In Classical Greece, the country was subdivided into city-states. These states were self-governed and functioned as independent states. The greatest city-states were Athens, Corinth, Thebes, and Sparta. During this time, Greece was able to colonize many locations in the Mediterranean and in Asia Minor. In these locations, they the colonial era was characterized by rapid developments in commercial activities. Moreover, colonialism led to a spread in Greek cultural and artistic heritage. Values of democracy, which originated in Greece, which ended up prevailing throughout the world, were established in Athens.

Macedonia is one of the great powers that emerged in Classical Greece. During the rise o Macedonia, continental Greece was reunited. During this time, aggressive efforts were made by Alexander the Great  to spread civilization to the East as far as India. The Roman Empire moved into Greece after the collapse of Macedonia. It is during the reign of the Roman Empire that Christianity was born. Soon afterwards, it became the religion of Greeks. However, as the Roman Empire continued to become weaker, divisions started emerging between the Western and Eastern parts.

Christianity

Christianity is one of the dimensions of culture in Greece. This dimension is of utmost relevance in the analysis of the country’s business environment in the eyes of both the local people and the international community. Some of the great leaders of Classical Greece such as Constantine the Great were staunch supporters of Christianity. Given that Greece is the cradle of Western civilization, this support for Christianity greatly contributed to the spread of the religion in most parts of the world.

The Greek culture has always been associated with economic and political strength. The people of Greece are known to have a rich history of repelling invaders. The emperors of this state are known to have fierce fighters who doubled as strategic thinkers. Ancient thinkers from Greece are also known to have contributed to improvements in social organization by writing the Roman Civil Law. The objective of writing this law was to strengthen the Empire’s border as well as to spread Christianity.

As Christianity continued to spread in Greece, the threat of Arabs suddenly turned into a major concern (Triandis, 2004). This threat arose primarily because of the emerging power of Arabs in the neighboring states. This emerging power was evident in the fact that Mohamed had already established a new religion by the name Islam. Both Arabs and Turkish Sultans posed a major threat through frequent armed attacks on various Greek city-states. This led to the loss of many territories, particularly those with the greatest incomes and the best soldiers.

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Christianity remains a major source of cultural heritage for Greeks. Greece played a critical role in the spread of Christianity to Western Europe. As Western Europe scrambled for the Eastern Wealth, it found it impossible to resist the religious influences of these wealthy states. The debate on Christianity also lingers a lot in discussions on the Ottoman Empire. At the point, the cultural influence of Greece on the East becomes evident. In this regard, it is worthwhile to note that the dark Middle Ages constituted a major setback for the East. Similarly, the Greek were enslaved, humbled, and had to endure humiliation for centuries.

Ironically, Greeks suffered at a time when Europe was going through the period of Renaissance. European countries were undergoing this crucial change because they had successfully dealt with the Turkish invasion. The invasion led to the death of many people, destruction of Greek culture, and conversion to Islam. The economy of Greece was also remarkably weakened. However, over time, Christianity emerged as the dominant religion in Greece.

Education

Another critical aspect of Greek culture is education. The country is famous for its highly educated citizenry and contribution to intellectualism. Greece’s course has also been highly publicized through many Greeks of Diaspora, a majority of whom are Europe-educated. This educational trend has continued to exist not just in the present day but also throughout the country’s history. Traditionally, learned individuals from Greece made significant contributions to the country’s liberation. They established movements such as the nineteenth century Secret Society whose objective was to push for the country’s independence from the Ottoman Empire.

The emergence of an enlightened citizenry in Greece has emerged as one of the country’s main areas of endowment. For example, because of this enlightenment, Greeks were able to hastily cobble up a revolution against the Ottoman Empire. The revolution also spread throughout the country within a short time. The events that unfolded during this revolution continue to be a critical component of the country’s consciousness in modern times. For example, during the revolution of the nineteenth century, Greeks fought bloody battles with Turks. This may be seen to have contributed to the present-day culture of hostility and conflict over territorial disputes that pities Greece against Turkey.

The legacy of education is intricately intertwined with other aspects of the country’s cultural dimensions. For example, has traditionally influenced the way the country relates with her European neighbors in times of both peace and war. Many Europeans migrate to Greece to pursue higher education in the country’s universities. In these universities, education is constantly being promoted because of the society-wide desire for recognition and social advancement. It is also promoted by the need for self-fulfillment and the love for learning within the populace. This love and passion has permeated all echelons of society including the government. The government’s commitment is demonstrated the provision of free university education in the country’s universities to all students who pass the national admission exam. In this quest, one of the greatest challenges is the limited number of places available for student admission in Greek universities. Families of students who fail to secure positions in Greek universities are normally ready to sacrifice huge amounts of money to educate them either in private colleges within Greece or abroad. The society also has a culture of promoting post-graduate studies through family-wide financing efforts.

Social values, customs, and attitudes

One of the most unique aspects of Greece’s national culture is the duality of character that arises because of the country’s location between the West and East. This duality has also been contributed to by a blend of modern and classical elements of national character. For four centuries, Greece was under Ottoman rule. This rule had a dramatic influence on Greek institutions, making them look significantly different from those of the West.

One of the most crucial aspects of Greek values and attitudes is their tendency to maintain their ethnic identity. Greeks endeavor to achieve this goal mainly by forging long-lasting dominations in foreign territories. Some of the main indicators of this desire include the fight for independence from Ottoman rule, the ever-growing emphasis on strengthening the family institution, and the important role attached to religion.

Religion is a critical component in the Greek way of life. This dimension is a towering source of national consciousness for the Greek society, where 97 percent of the citizens are Greek Orthodox Christians. The country’s Orthodox clergy played a critical role in the revolution that culminated in the country’s independence. It also played an important in efforts to preserve the Greek culture, language, and tradition at the time when the country remained under the rule of foreign powers for centuries.

The strong links between Greek tradition and Greek Orthodox Church are deeply rooted in the country’s history. They may be traced back to the era of the Roman Empire. During the Roman Empire, the Western and Eastern halves existed. When the Byzantine Empire was finally established in the Eastern half, Greek was designated as the official language. During this time, many church-affiliated scholars, some of whom lived in monasteries, greatly contributed to the preservation of ancient Greek philosophy and culture. Many people believe that the European Renaissance originated from the Byzantine thinkers who spread Greek works throughout Europe during the fifteenth century.

These age-old aspects of Greek social customs, attitudes, and values continue to be celebrated even today. They form an excellent platform through which the Greek national culture is distinguished from that of other countries. A lot of emphasis is normally attached to important events in the life of a person such as marriage and baptism. These events are normally celebrated in churches. Instead of celebrating their birthday, Greeks celebrate their “saints’ day”, also known as name-day. The Greek culture also entails activities in which numerous religious feasts are organized in honor of saints. These feasts involve drinking, music and dancing. Through these social gatherings, social ties are reinforced.

Family values are highly regarded in Greece. Every family of good social standing endeavors to protect all its members from hostile elements and social ills. During the Ottoman era, only the patriarchal family head was responsible for dealing with Turkish overlords whenever the need arose. Today, the patriarchal nature of the family remains a dominant feature of this society. In most Greek families, parents always strive to provide all the necessities of life to their children mainly in terms of education and material wellbeing. They also play a critical role to enable the children secure employment or to start a business enterprise. This has led to a phenomenon whereby numerous small- and mid-sized family-owned firms have sprung up in recent years.

Moreover, a large number of the most successful firms in Greece started as small family businesses. It took many years of hard work and dedication before those business entities grow to become large corporations. In most cases, these firms take the semblance of large patriarchal families, whereby benevolence of the owner is depended upon by the entire workforce and staff members. This tendency somewhat continues to exist even today. However, other means of securing cooperation are being sought largely because of social awareness, increase in size, and the tendency by employees to question the authority. The move to adopt other means of securing cooperation is also aimed at weakening antagonism within the organization. This characteristic is normally demonstrated in both peer and industrial relations within firms.

Antagonism is one of the social attitudes that define the Greek culture. Ancient Greek history  is full of examples that demonstrate the tendency by Greeks to embrace antagonism. This social attitude is reinforced by a tendency to mistrust, individualism, and inability to pull together towards the achievement of a common purpose. It is also common for people to argue and engage in seemingly unnecessary conflicts over ideas and facts.

In most cases, the fiercest arguments relate to politics. Every person feels the need to develop a strong point of view and to defend it aggressively in the context of the existing social institutions. In this context, perpetual political struggles are a part of everyday life in most Greek villages. In most cases, these struggles take place outside the family setting. The ultimate objective of these struggles is to assert one’s individual identity. In most cases, this need to assert one’s identity is interpreted as individualism.

How these elements and dimensions are integrated by locals conducting business in the nation

All the elements and dimensions of culture in Greece have been integrated by local people conducting business in the nation. They have impacted profoundly on the way the local relate with each other in business contexts. The dimensions of culture also continue to influence the attitudes that local people have towards business and self-employment. This is evident in the aggressive approach that Greeks have towards the pursuit of opportunities in the world of entrepreneurship.

 

Traditionally, individualism has been a major obstacle in efforts to delegate authority in Greece. People find it difficult to trust the people with whom they should be forging close ties for purposes of collaboration and teamwork. However, this gaping disadvantage is normally offset through a practice known as “philotimo”. The aim of this social practice is to moderate group conflict. In this practice, Greeks a code of conduct, which is self-imposed, is normally promoted. This code of conduct is based on the values of fairness and trust. In this context, people are able to overcome difficulties arising from conflicts. In the workplace, philotimo encourages cooperation between employees and their superiors. The level of sobriety that this practice brings about is one that no order, rule, regulation, or policy could impose.

In philotimo, an employee who has been treated “properly” will tend to surpass expectations in terms of his performance in order to please his employers. Such an employee tends to derive an overwhelming sense of respect when his employer respects him, praises him, and demonstrates concern over pressing personal matters. For such a person, the best way of reciprocating is by becoming more diligent at the workplace to deliver better results. For an individual to be regarded as a philotimo, he needs to behave towards in-group members in a polite, reliable, generous, truthful, respectful, and grateful manner (Triandis, 2002).

In this environment of individualism, many Greeks prefer to work for themselves. It is common for many Greeks to venture into business after only a few years in employment. They do this because they want to be their own boss. According to Triandis (2002), about half of the country’s labor force works in self-employment. The culture of valuing individualism is also evident in the fact that ninety percent of the country’s firms operate as small business entities with less than ten employees (Triandis, 2002).

The tendency by many people in Greece to participate in entrepreneurial activities is also contributed to by the high degree of social mobility. No line exists to separate different lasses. This has created a culture in which many opportunities exist and expectations for success are very high. Within Greece, local people tend to compete fierce for all emerging opportunities before they can be grasped by any foreigner. This is demonstrated by the preference for business ventures with high profit margins in shipping and trade as well as by the willingness to seek better opportunities abroad (Triandis, 2002).

Greeks tend to be most comfortable when trading with friends. For this reason, building friendships is an integral component of efforts to achieve success in the world of business. Successful entrepreneurs are known to engage in networking efforts as well as activities that enable them become insiders in numerous social engagements. This has led to the emergence of a culture where hospitality and gatherings are regarded in high esteem in business contexts. To promote this culture, business associates and partners frequently engage in toasting, gift-giving, and drinking.

During business negotiations,            local people observe a lot of care in the way introductions are made and how they shake hands. Efforts are always made to ensure that no one rushes into the actual negotiations. First and foremost, the parties involved in the negotiations take most of the time to know each other in terms of body language, background, and business interests. In such contexts, foreigners are expected to be very keen on non-verbal messages.

The need to know the other person in details creates a scenario where an individual may take a lot of time before responding to a proposal. The response may be delayed, and it may come only after several confirmations have been made with the authorities or the headquarters. For this reason, business partners must always be persistent to thrive in the Greek business culture. Successful employers, entrepreneurs, and company executives value business partners who do not give up easily. This is simply because by not giving up easily, such partners succeed in gathering a lot of valuable information. For example, they are able to learn more about the company’s hierarchy, to identify the decision-makers, and to establish third-party connections.

With regard to Hofstede’s dimensions, uncertainty avoidance deserves special mention as far as business practices by the local people in Greece are concerned (Hofstede, 1994). At an index of 112, the level of uncertainty avoidance in Greece is one of the highest in the world (Hofstede, 1994). People in Greece are keen to follow specific career paths that guarantee them job security and benefits upon retirement. In the workplace, they expect rules, regulations, and instructions to be clear. For those who are luck to become formally employed, it is common for them to work in the same organization throughout their lives. This uncertainty avoidance greatly impacts on the way Greeks carry out businesses.

The people of this country assign strict gender roles, adopt a conservative approach, and are keen not to be seen to be undermining their rich cultural heritage (Leontidou, 2008). Indeed, this is on one of the reasons why many Greeks are not comfortable with forging relations with foreign partners. Unfortunately, this is one of the reasons why many people in Greece face numerous challenges in their efforts to survive in today’s increasingly globalized international business environment.

In terms of masculinity versus femininity, the world average index is 50 while that of Greece is 57 (Hofstede, 1994). Gender differentiation roles are highly cherished in Greece. Differentiation is pursued in respect of sex roles. A lot of value attached to material items and financial success. A high priority is on the acquisition of property. This drive pushes many local people into venturing into entrepreneurship. Upon establishing family businesses, local people widely acknowledge the traditional role of fathers as leaders.

In the workplace environment, male employees occupy a dominant position. Organizational power structures assign more responsibilities to male employees. This practice has become entrenched in the country’s business environment. It has created a situation where only a few women have succeeded in occupying middle- and upper-level management positions. At the same time, the gender gap has been widening in Greece. The exact opposite has been happening in recent years in most European countries. For example, in Netherlands, female members of society are treated in almost the same way as their male counterparts in all aspects of social life.

The uniqueness of business culture in Greece can also be understood through reference to the dimension of power distance, which is assigned an index of 60 (Hofstede, 1994). The world average index is 55, meaning that relationships among people of different levels in terms of authority are not as close as in most other countries (Georgas, 2004). The way these relationships are maintained is critical because it influences the extent to which business success is achieved. In the world of business, relationships among low-, middle- and top-level managers are critical to overall entrepreneurial success. The indication in this case is that local businesspeople have to live with the challenge of a culture that does not encourage efforts to narrow the existing power distance. Consequently, subordinates have to learn to expect guidance from top-level managers. They also have to learn to be given unimportant work regarded of their talents.

In most businesses owned by local people, there is little or no room for employees to participate in the decision-making process. For this reason, they lack the motivation to discuss issues affecting the overall production process within the business organization. Similarly, such employees feel constrained in their efforts to open up to the upper-level managers about the existence of more effective production methods. Businesspeople who promote this culture are partly responsible for the continued existence of a wide gap between rich and poor Greeks. In this regard, Greece to be radically different from Switzerland, whose power distance index score is the lowest in the world.

According to Sifianou (2003), a discrepancy exists between the way managers in Greece perceive organizational culture and the way they personally prefer culture to be like. In some ways, this may be interpreted as a desire for change within business organizations. It is also a demonstration that society is increasingly changing. For instance, Georgas (2002) points out that the Greek culture is increasingly being transformed from a collectivist culture to an individualist culture. This is evident in the way the contemporary Greek society is giving more rewards to individuals than to groups. Moreover, it is also evident in the way emphasis is increasingly shifting towards high success rates among individuals.

One of the greatest challenges that the conservative Greek society faces is that of orienting its members towards a more open-minded approach to business. In this regard, the ideal situation would be one whereby people are ready and determined to face whatever challenges that they face with a long-term business perspective. In today’s globalized business environment, long-term planning is critical to success. According to Georgas (2002), this requirement should be introduced at both societal and organizational levels. The culture of lack of long-term planning may be attributed to the country’s history of external political interference and economic instability. Indeed, Greece has historically been modelled around the “here and now” cultural attitude. In the course of the country’s history, this culture has been reinforced by the environment of insecurity caused by wars and environmental instability.

It appears that the challenges that Greeks have faced over the centuries in the form of calamities, wars, and threats have created a situation whereby they are unwilling to plan too far into the future. For instance, frequent changes continue to be made in the country’s legislation. This indicates that such laws were created without much foresight in the first place. The geopolitical position of the country seems to create uncertainty regarding what lies ahead. According to Kessapidou (2002), the people of Greece tend to approach time in a manner that is significantly different from that of Western Europe and the U.S. little advance planning tends to take place unless it has been imposed on local people from outside. At a personal level, a Greek citizen may not have a ready answer to the question about what he plans to do in the next five years.

It is only until recently that this phenomenon was evident in all aspects of Greek culture (Diamandouros, 2004). Businessmen and politicians were especially in the forefront of supporting this culture. Consequently, Greeks have traditionally been channelling their intelligence and talent for business to short-term plans. Most entrepreneurs prefer to engage in trade over manufacturing. Moreover, most local people prefer short-term profit over long-term investment (Black & Mendenhall, 2005).

In recent years, large Greek organizations have been promoting efforts to encourage their employees to engage in the implementation of strategic planning. With strategic planning efforts in place, such business organizations can succeed in not only anticipating and facing the future but also building alternative solutions for changes that are in most cases unpredictable. An alternative solution is for these firms to invest heavily abroad in Western and Eastern countries. They do this in the hope that they will be able to derive long-term benefits. The decision by these organizations to diversity into Eastern and Western nations is driven not only by the quest for long-term benefits but also by the influence of globalization. In today’s globalized world, many multinational firms have ventured into Greece. This has compelled local firms to cover up for lost markets at the domestic level by seeking to grow their share of the overseas market share. Moreover, as an EU member, Greece has no choice but to plan ahead to be able to participate effectively in projects. Without long-term planning, the nation may not benefit from the fund available for EU member states. This requirement has forced the nation’s administration to adjust its cultural practice by becoming more future-oriented.

The business practices of local people have also been influenced by cultural practices as far as dimensions of assertiveness and aggressiveness are concerned. In Greece, children are taught from an early age about the importance of cherishing peace. Young parents may at time discourage their children from using toy weapons. The only time when aggression is allowed in Greek culture is when there is a threat to existence. Although the country has participated in a number of wars in the last few decades, the decision was always made to liberate occupied territories or in response to invasion by a foreign nation.

The Christian teaching of loving one’s neighbour is strongly encourages by teachers and parents alike. People who show aggressive tendencies are frowned upon whenever they rise to positions of leadership. In contrast, those who show compassion to others by assisting them always tend to be preferred as leaders. Nevertheless, in the context of the business organization, aggressive behaviour is sometimes necessary for the goal of efficiency to be achieved. Nevertheless, this does mean that one is allowed to backstab his subordinate or colleague. Instead, aggressive behaviour is only acceptable if it reinforces solidarity. Supervisors are required to behave in such a way that the feelings of their subordinates are always taken into consideration. Whenever a supervisor uses threats and aggression as tools for promoting certain behaviour, the subordinates often respond by portraying the opposite results.

As Joiner (2001) points out, managers who want to motivate their employees normally find it important to continuously appeal to their philotimo simply by showing that they care about their personal problems and that they trust their abilities. To achieve this goal, managers allow employees to engage in activities that are not related to their work. They also spare some time to learn more about the concerns and problems of the employees’ families. In Greece, concern about people and kindness are regarded in higher esteem that mere material benefits. Local culture has taught local businesspeople that better results can be achieved through kindness. In contrast, being tough only helps to establish an adversarial relationship, thereby bringing about negative outcomes.

Comparison with US culture and business

There are many ways in which the culture of the Greece resembles that of the US. For instance, both countries have adopted predominantly Christian values. The only major difference is that in Greece, 97 percent of the citizens are Orthodox Christians (Joiner, 2001). Throughout history, Greece has been affected by both the West and the East. By embracing the values of the East, Greece embraced a culture of collectivism. However, the country also interacted a great deal with the West, leading to the emergence of individualistic tendencies. Individualism is more prevalent in the US than in Greece.

An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that they live in a free country where every person should endeavour to achieve great things through his own efforts. To Americans, individualism is synonymous with freedom. This culture of individualism is based on the notion that every person is free to do as he wishes in order to achieve his goals. Such an individual should not be constrained by cultural and social considerations. This creates a society in which people do things primarily in accordance with their needs and not in accordance with the needs of their families, friends, or neighbours. The needs and considerations of the community take a second position as far as the goals of the individual are concerned.

According to Griffith (2000), the Greek culture discourages the extreme level of individualism demonstrated by the US culture. In Greece, unlike in the US, children are not taught to develop a strong sense of individual responsibility, achievement, and identity. Instead, they are taught to become peaceful Christians and responsible members of the Greek society. The family setting is of crucial relevance to the typical Greek family. It is common for a child born to Greek parents to be introduced to members of the extended family. One of the objectives of this undertaking is to promote conservativeness. In contrast, many Americans have no problem if their newborn babies are not introduced to their cousins, nephews, and grandparents. Instead, the baby is given an own room and cot. As he grows, his parents celebrate each individual feat that he achieves.

In the US, a culture of religious conversion is more prevalent than in Greece (Myloni, 2004). This brings to sharp focus the nature of these two societies in terms of conservatism and liberalism. The US is a highly liberal society while Greek is a conservative society. This aspect of national culture greatly influences the way US firms conduct their business upon venturing in Greece. To some Greeks, the culture of individualism may be rather frightening. Those Greek citizens who have been brought up in a close-knit, community oriented culture may have difficulties acknowledging the cultural differences portrayed by US business partners. The older generation of local businesspeople may feel that the level of disrespect being portrayed by young Americans is too much to bear.

Nevertheless, according to Chai (2004), Americans are also famous for their ability to rise above their individualistic tendencies to achieve causes that are beneficial to the entire community. In this undertaking, the objective is to promote a culture of “community spirit” that exists alongside the value of individualism (Chai, 2004). There are many instances in which the delicate balance between individualism and community spirit has been achieved. For example, this feat was achieved during the war against slavery. In everyday scenarios, Americans easily free up some time from their busy schedules to attend fundraisings in aid of a neighbour in need of money to undergo treatment (Porter, 2009). Such are the activities against which success in the US business culture is measured. The consequence of these efforts is the emergence of a culture that creates room for some of the most dynamic organizations to thrive (Frey-Ridgway, 2007).

According to Tsalikis (2006) the differences between Greek and US cultures are best demonstrated through the way various ethical issues are perceived in these two cultures. Tsalikis (2006) gives the example of bribery and extortion. In this study, ethical reactions to extortion and bribery seemed to vary depending on nationality. Tsalikis (2006) observed that in some of scenarios, Americans perceived the actions as being more unethical than did Greeks. It may be inaccurate to conclude that Americans have stronger ethical values than Greeks merely on the basis of one study. However, it is true that the study provides an insight into differences in the national cultures of the US and Greece and their impact on the way business is conducted in these countries.

Hisrich (2003) also ranked the ethical attitudes of the US highly after comparing the country’s ethical culture with that of Slovenia, Turkey, and Russia. This finding is of great significance given these countries are economically and culturally different from the US. In carrying out this analysis, Hisrich (2003) used the integrative social contracts theory, whereby focus was on the quality of interactions undertaken from the economic perspective.

Other than business ethics, another subject that researchers analyzing differences in the cultural dimensions of different countries focus on a lot is approach to negotiation. According to Markovits (2007), the cultural and demographic characteristics portrayed by US managers during the negotiation process is markedly different from the one demonstrated by Greek, UK, and Russian managers. However, a major similarity in all these countries manifests itself in terms of a similar approach to negotiation and high impression accuracy throughout this process (Markovits, 2007).

Moreover, in both the US and Greece, people are not immune from misunderstandings that constitute a common phenomenon in cross-cultural relationships. Such misunderstandings reinforce the idea of reality being socially constructed (Stening, 2005). In most cases, these misunderstandings and disagreements manifest themselves through ethnocentrism, stereotyping, prejudices, and attitudes (Stening, 2005). In the US, the theme of cross-cultural communication dominates in studies on analyses of different national culture. The preoccupation with this theme is understandable given that a large number of successful American corporations have ventured into the international market. Many US companies have massive economic interests where different cultures exist. For this reason, it makes business and academic sense for a better understanding of these cultures to be promoted in literature (Stening, 2005).

Implications for US businesses that wish to conduct business in the region

The cultural differences between Greece and the US have far-reaching implications for US businesses wishing to conduct business in that nation. Such business would essentially be venturing into a new market. According to Dodd (2002), countries can adopt either a “low-intensity” or “high-intensity” approach when venturing into a new market. The low-intensity approach is preferred when the national culture of the host country is characterized by a high level of environmental uncertainty (Dodd, 2002). From the perspective of many US managers and entrepreneurs, Greece may be categorized as having a high degree of environmental uncertainty (Javidan & Dorfman, 2006).

The high level of uncertainty in Greece is demonstrated by the tendency by Greeks to refrain from engaging in long-range planning. This may serve as a major obstacle for US multinational corporations that thrive on the ability to put in place and implement long-term business strategies. Nevertheless, the recent debt crisis in Greece is so far the best manifestation of the environmental uncertainty that this country poses. Investors from the US may also be bothered by the findings of Tsalikis (2006), which indicates that Greeks do not normally respond as strongly to unethical actions as do Americans. The concern may be compounded by the realization that the recent Greek crisis was significantly contributed to by unethical practices such as tax evasion and opaque accounting practices (Charalambis, 2012).

In the low-intensity approach, the strategy of low levels of investment is adopted. In most cases, non-equity investments are resorted to, such that firms are able to exit the market or switch partners depending on circumstances. In the high-intensity approach, huge investments are made in the foreign country. In this strategy, huge sums of money are channelled to business activities, strategies are implemented, and relationships with the right people nurtured. In Greece, the cultural dimension of mistrust and antagonism poses one of the greatest challenges for US companies willing to forge relationships with the right people in the country. For such companies, the ability to meet the right people in Greece is of utmost importance. This is because it eases the burden on investors as they struggle to navigate the country’s rigid bureaucratic systems in efforts to meet all the legal requirements for their new business enterprises. The low intensity approach is ideal for American firms that intend to begin afresh in Greece as well as those intending establish subsidiaries of businesses that have already been running in the US as well as other countries.

At the same time, US multinational enterprises that have their eyes set on the future may consider the benefits that would be derived by using Greece as a business hub for use during entry into the Middle East, Southeast Europe, and Asia. To increase their strength, these corporations may need to form partnerships or affiliations with various foreign investors that are already operating in the country. In evaluating this possibility, one of the main incentives is the availability of a strong legal framework designed to promote growth in certain sectors within the country’s economy. For instance, the corporations may be attracted by laws aimed at attracting foreign investment in general and investment in rural areas across the country in particular. In 2005, Greece also enacted a new Public-Private Partnership law that paved the way for rapid growth within the real estate sector. Under this new law, the public sector would start partnering with the private sector to enhance efficiency in the delivery of public goods and services.

Conclusions

Greece has a unique national culture that poses opportunities as well as challenges for local people as they endeavour to achieve success through business efforts. The main elements and dimensions of culture in Greece include religion, ethics, values and attitudes, manners, social structures, customs, and education. In this predominantly Christian nation, majority of the citizens are Greek Orthodox Christians. Entrepreneurship is highly valued although Greeks have a cultural tendency of not engaging in long-range planning. In terms of values and attitudes, the pursuit of personal identity and antagonism constitute some of the most outstanding of the country’s culture. Nevertheless, aggression is discouraged within the social system and a communal approach to education is always being promoted.

These cultural dimensions continue to influence the way locals conduct business in the nation. Most businesspeople in the country are not interested in establishing long-term business strategies. This cultural practice arises from the uniqueness of the Greek conception of time. After encountering countless calamities, wars, and environmental changes, the people of Greece have settled for a “here and now” cultural attitude. This attitude has proven to be disadvantageous as far as the country’s participation in EU’s activities is concerned. There is a growing expectation that Greece will adopt a more long-term approach to economic planning in order to benefit from the funds provided by the EU.

This paper has also found out that the culture of individualism is more entrenched in the US than in Greece. In conclusion, cultural differences make Greece a high-risk country for US businesses wishing to conduct business in the country. Such businesses should therefore adopt a low-intensity approach during their operations in Greece. Upon setting up shop in the country, these companies should use the country as a launching pad for future entry into Southeast Europe, Middle East, and Asia.

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