Modern organizations and global competition

Modern organizations and global competition

Modern organizations irrespective of their size and scope work under the parameters of a global competition. Even organizations that function within small areas of operation are still required to have a global outlook in their day-to-day activities. Nevertheless, irrespective of this global approach, ethnocentrism still has considerable influence on the modern enterprise. Although ethnocentrism is sometimes accorded negative connotations, it is a natural occurrence. Human beings naturally isolate themselves into tribes that assume an “us versus them” stance and work under the belief that their culture is superior to that of other people. By extension, ethnocentrism also refers to an inability to consider the human condition from a universal point of view thereby ignoring the premise that people all over the world face similar conditions under the surface. This paper provides applications of ethnocentrism in regards to the modern business world enterprises and subsequent ethics.

Ethnocentrism is not a new concept, as it is as old as humanity and its societies. History is rife with examples of how ethnocentrism drove humanity’s agenda including the history of slave trade, monarch-sponsored shipping lines, and conquering civilizations such as the Roman, Persian, and Greeks. More recently, ethnocentrism was a central pillar of European colonialism and most-specifically their contacts with indigenous tribes in places such as Australia, America, and Africa. The standard that was often used to judge these tribes was informed by ethnocentrism even by missionaries, explorers, and anthropologists. The concept of ethnocentrism is also responsible for the age-old European belief that people who did not write or read were savages. The origins of ethnocentrism indicate that the core elements of this idea have not changed much over time. However, the only thing that has changed is that there has been an increasing awareness about this issue, particularly in the context of globalization. Today, ethnocentrism is a bit more subtle, but it is still an ever-present phenomenon in the business environment. In its current manifestation, ethnocentrism is not a preserve of any particular group or nationality. Anyone from any part of the world is inclined to ethnocentrism and no one grouping can be said to be more ethnocentric than the other.

One major influence of ethnocentrism in the business world is that it has shaped the images that enterprises and economies project to the world. No organization wants to be considered as ethnocentric and as such, most companies strive towards a form of political correctness that is acceptable to clients and other stakeholders. Awareness of ethnocentrism has led businesses and individuals to be conscious about the manner in which they judge and interpret other cultures. However, political correctness is in essence a form of ethnocentrism. If there was no labeling as a result of ethnocentrism there would be no for companies to “act” in a politically correct manner. Most modern businesses are built on the foundation of a global culture but this denial of ethnocentrism is often overcome by circumstances. The inclination is for these enterprises to explicitly or implicitly favor the culture of their core client base. For example, diversity is a major issue in the American culture. Consequently, businesses that target American customers tend to associate themselves with the culture of diversity by acting superfluous about customer segmentation in terms of race, ethnicity, or even gender. At the same time, if the same company was operating in a culturally uniform societies such as Saudi Arabia or Pakistan it would not work hard to prove its commitment to issues such as women rights and freedom of worship. Therefore, companies only strive to achieve political correctness courtesy of ethnocentrism. Interestingly, even when companies issue statements distancing themselves from cultural insensitivity, they are in essence perpetuating ethnocentrism because they are condemning beliefs that differ from their own.

Ethnocentrism is also applied to how countries and other people consume local products versus international ones. For instance, in the course of doing business, some products and services are henceforth associated with accompanying cultures. Preferring some goods and services from specific cultures is a form of ethnocentrism. Often, this preference is associated with a form of justification such that products from a country like Germany are usually of a higher quality”. However, the true reasoning is that German engineering culture is preferred over others. In other scenarios, it is common for countries to use ethnocentrism to promote their local industries. On the other hand, in an effort to promote domestic industries goods from different countries often paint goods from competing countries as inferior. For example, for several years the US has tried to promote the “buy America, build America” slogan as an ethnocentric way to promote the American economy at the expense of other countries. Besides, goods from China and other East Asian countries are often culturally ridiculed in America as being of low quality and a product of unethical labor practices. In an effort to navigate the issue of ethnocentrism in the international environment, some businesses have resorted to relying on existing ethnocentric undercurrents. Furthermore, companies that are seeking to venture in foreign markets often explore the existing ethnocentric patterns before packaging their entry. For example, in some countries, it is easier to market a product as an exquisite foreign brand-item while in others it is better to give a foreign product a local brand. Even in the environment of proliferated globalization, ethnocentrism is still a factor of international business. In the current global environment, ethnocentrism is exploited to the maximum to ensure that goods and services achieve some advantage over others. Some of this exploitation can be seen in the manner in which items in the global market are labeled including Chinese medicine, German machines, French wine, and Canadian bacon among others.

The manner in which ethnocentrism interacts with business ethics leads to various possibilities. First, due to ethnocentrism different sets of ethics and moral codes apply to different countries. Similarly, ethnocentrism can make one culture to consider another as unethical depending on the circumstances. The main issue with this ambiguity is that companies that operate globally often have a problem trying to maintain a uniform moral and ethics code. Consequently, these companies have two good options; to formulate their own company culture or to adhere to resident cultures. Forming a company culture requires a certain degree of ethnocentrism because in doing so an enterprise is assuming that its culture is superior than that of the local business environment. On the flipside, by conforming to resident cultures companies engage in ethnocentrism because they are at times forced to denounce their own company culture as inferior. Morals follow a similar pattern whereby organizations strive to adhere to universal morals of ethnocentric-inspired morals that are based on the prevailing cultures. Moral universalism has been a challenge to many enterprises. In one instance, a company might be judged by a resident culture for trying to introduce universal morals into its country. On the other hand, a country might be judged by followers of universal morals for abandoning the widely accepted practices in favor of openly ethnocentric pursuits. In most situations, the ethnocentric approach is the one that is often preferred by enterprises because it is client-focused.

The reach of ethnocentrism in the modern world is a factor that most businesses cannot afford to ignore. Businesses and enterprises around the world need to understand ethnocentrism in order for them to maximize their opportunities in the global business environment. As an age-old concept, ethnocentrism is still relevant because it shapes how enterprises formulate their brand image. In addition, this concept has is often utilized by countries when they are promoting their local economies. Ethnocentrism is also a factor in the manner in which companies formulate and adhere to different types of moral codes.

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