Case Study: Avoiding Communication Breakdowns Between Two Countries

Avoiding Communication Breakdowns Between Two Countries

Columbia Southern University

Knowing a country official’s work culture will help assist business partners to come to a mutual conclusion. While one person may work and provide one specific style of work ethic, the other party may exhibit the total opposite. When one does not understand the other, then that is where the issues start to show themselves. In many cases, business deals can go sideways, just because they do not understand why the other party does not see or work the same way another does. Take India and China for example. There are some similarities and differences when it comes to decision making and planning. When it comes to knowing a person’s culture to come up with a solution, you need to understand their work ethic for that country, what they find important as opposed to what can be forgotten about or dismissed. You will need to know how they handle business deals and seeking a conclusion with other partners. Also, you need to understand is that we all are not the same. That we come from all different backgrounds. A lot of people think that we are built the same, think the same and communicate the same, and by getting frustrated, pushed people back and are unable to correct conflicts because of misunderstandings. Let’s see how we can get to a business decision between two different cultural partners.

The work ethic for China and India is surprisingly similar in some areas, as well as different in others. According to a college professors blog, Rita Nguyen stated, “Indian people are flexible when it comes to punctuality. Arriving at a meeting 15 minutes after the official starting time is not rare. It is not that people mean to be rude or feel uninvolved, it is just their working style that being strictly on time is not seen as necessary.” (Nguyen, 2016). They don’t think that a timeline is important to a point. That things will happen as they happen. Meetings can be shifted from one time to another at the last minute. Now, while working with another country like China, who think thigs are always flexible, both would have a mutual form of understanding. Also, with the Chinese, everything is flexible. Contracts can be changed many times before coming to a solution. It is common for Chinese business officials will come to conclusions long after the meeting has concluded. So, between Iran and China, deciding on a contract for computer equipment can take some time. Both parties will negotiate and take their time. If India wants to have everything on their contract, but it is not discussed by the Chinese, like the technical and financial specifications, all they need to do is ask. According to an Article about Chinese culture, it states, “When working in China, if there is something that is not listed in your contract, or you want to make a change to it, try to take an initiative: ask. If the points you make sound reasonable and mutually beneficial for the other party, you will most likely get what you want.” (Wilson, 2019). One way to come to a mutual agreement would be to ask for more details and to verify that all items listed in a business contract benefit both parties, not just one. Sometimes knowing that sacrifices will need to be made by both companies before the meeting will help push the process of a final product be sooner rather than later.

Knowing how business deals are conducted between both parties will also help with business deals between two different cultural parties. Persuasion is often required for one party to get what they want. According to an article from Harvard Business Review, it says, “Typically, a Western executive will break down an argument into a sequence of distinct components (specific thinking), while Asian managers tend to show how the components all fit together (holistic thinking). Beyond that, people from southern European and Germanic cultures tend to find deductive arguments (what I refer to as principles-first arguments) most persuasive, whereas American and British managers are more likely to be influenced by inductive logic (what I call applications-first logic).” (Meyer, 2014). So, knowing how another culture will argue their point, it will limit the amount of misunderstandings and conflicts. When india argues what they want their computer components to be, Asia may blow off some of their points and go with a more combined approach on how their recommendation would be better for the Indian computers. While this may cause conflict between the two, having them understand the mindset of the argument will need to be carefully explained, and maybe putting into the format of the opposing culture. Instead of India briefing or arguing their needs and necessities, maybe they should put it into a Chinese cultural format, and same with China to Indian formatting. Closely paying attention to your opposing cultures argument will make the decision-making process steadfast and not fail due to miscommunication and lack of seeing the other sides point.

One way to fail at coming to a decision, would be to assume that everyone is considered the same, and that we all think and decide alike. This is very wrong. Chris Moore and Peter Woodrow stated, “People just starting to work across cultures, and even some with extensive experience, often make one of two significant mistakes. First, they assume that all of us are basically the same. Underneath our multi-pigmented skin, exotic clothing and diverse languages and practices we all have identical wants and desires and similar approaches to negotiations and conflict resolution. Those who assert the basic similarity of cultures assume that if “we can just communicate” all problems will evaporate.” (Moore, Woodrow, 2004). Everyone is different, and it makes sense that we prioritize things differently. That is why when India wanted everything listed on their contract, but China wasn’t too interested in the technical and financial aspect, an agreement and conflict happen. India cannot assume that their way is the way for all because it just “makes sense.” Likewise, China cannot assume the same circumstances with their contract with the computer parts contract with India. By the parties looking into the other culture, they can see how they can build upon their similarities and focus more on the important differences between them. As stated in an article, “We must accept that culture plays an important part in interactions between groups, learn how to identify cultural similarities, build upon them and develop strategies that will help to bridge the important differences.” (Moore, Woodrow, 2004). When building a brief, knowing what you have in common will help mediate the decision-making process. Focusing on the little facts about the contract in a similar way will enhance the process. By focusing on the more important details of the contract and placing them together in a way for the other culture to understand and agree with is what will set the goal of a complete agreeable contract occur.

There are a lot of key aspects when coming to a mutual contract agreement between two different cultural organizations. Like China and India, who come from different parts of the world, they need to research the cultural impacts on their business decision making processes and how they seem to come to a conclusion. One cannot just go into a meeting and speak their points and expect the other to understand. Not one person is the same and not one organization approaches and briefs meetings the same. I believe that by knowing who you are talking to, knowing that we are all different, and knowing how a decision can be made ahead of time will benefit both organizations. The overall goal is to come to an understanding and agree on the new contract. India and China both take time in coming to a decision. Both cultures leave a meeting knowing that talk will resume long after it has concluded. India and China both approach briefings in different formats. One comes from how everything fits together as a whole, and the other is more direct and upfront and less involved. Overall, India and China can easily come to a conclusion. They are very similar in most ways and will only need to negotiate small details to come to the final contract resolution.


Meyer, E. (2014). Navigating the Cultural Minefield. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

Meyer, E. (2015). When Culture Doesn’t Translate. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

Moore, C., Woodrow, P. (2004). Mapping Cultures-Strategies for Effective Intercultural Negotiations. Retrieved from

Nguyen, R. (2016). Work Culture in India. Retrieved from

Wilson, M. (2019). Things You Don’t Know About Chinese Work Culture. Retrieved from