Research on Intercultural Communication in International Business


With the development of the information age and the continuous strengthening of the trend of global economic integration, international business activities have become more and more frequent, and the cross-cultural communication of business personnel has also played a huge role in it. This paper analyzes the importance of cross-cultural communication in international business activities on the basis of theoretical research on cross-cultural business communication. In view of the differences in language, social history, and way of thinking in cross-cultural business communication, the author puts forward suggestions for cross-cultural business communication, including: being familiar with the language communication modes of different countries; respecting and tolerant of other cultures; improving the ability to resolve conflicts; enhance business ability; cultivate the comprehensive quality of business personnel in cross-cultural communication.

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Wang, G.F. and Hu, X. (2022) Research on Intercultural Communication in International Business. Open Access Library Journal, 9, 1-7. doi: 10.4236/oalib.1109064.

1. Introduction

Driven by the rapid development of the Internet and economic globalization, the exchanges between countries are close, and the world is gradually connected as a whole. In the continuous in-depth exchanges between countries, different exchanges and collisions have created cultural diversity and created the multiculturalism in the world. Since the reform and opening up, China’s economy has developed rapidly, and exchanges with other countries have continued to deepen. Therefore, cross-cultural communication activities have been valued in the frequent exchanges between countries.

In 1959, American anthropologist Edward Hall first proposed the concept of “intercultural communication”. In 1983, Canal put forward the well-known concepts of communicative competence, namely grammatical competence, sociolinguistic competence, discourse competence and strategic competence [1]. Lay the cornerstone of cross-cultural communication. On this basis, Canal proposed the concept of sociolinguistic competence, emphasizing the ability of communicators to transform in different cultural contexts. Among them, discourse ability refers to the basic knowledge reserve that communicators need to have in a specific environment; and strategic ability refers to the grasp of language strategies in communicating with people from different cultural backgrounds, thereby improving the effectiveness of communication. From the perspective of language teaching, Bayram sublimated the concept of cross-cultural communication and put forward the skills that cross-cultural communicators need to have, thus laying the foundation for the development of cross-cultural communication skills. With the continuous development of social economy, cross-cultural communication is also constantly progressing.

2. The Importance of Intercultural Communication in International Business Activities

In order to comply with the inevitable trend of economic globalization, all countries are constantly exploring channels for economic development. In order to establish trade relations with other countries in international trade, we actively go abroad: one is to allow domestic enterprises to break the shackles of the domestic market and go international; the other is to allow the world to experience China’s cultural background. International business refers to conducting trade in the world, and it is coexisted by people with different cultural backgrounds and different values [2]. In the process of cross-cultural communication, modern enterprises also need to start from the ideas and behaviors of people under different cultural backgrounds, strengthen the communication ability of cross-cultural business, and lay the foundation for international business activities, so as to promote the development and progress of international trade.

The way of communicating will not be the same as other countries and it is important to know some values of other cultures and so of other ways of communicating for, first of all, avoiding some misunderstandings and then knowing better some aspects of different cultures. That is why cross-cultural communication is an essential exercise to do; a person who comes from a certain country does not necessarily get the same ideas about time, death, identity, as another one from a different country because each person has his own identity. First, a national identity, defined by a surname, a first name, citizenship, and a “personal” identity perceived as what are your activities, your opinions about issues or your experience in life [3]. Sometimes, your own identity can be modified or influenced by different factors, for example religion, your environment, your family. This influence can replace your previous vision of life and changing your way of expressing yourself and so your way of communicating but you can also adapt this influence to your own way of thinking and it can be resulted in a different way of communicating. In spite of a certain influence coming from a close surrounding, everyone can develop their own identity through their opinions and experience and this is interesting to notice that even within a close group of people.

3. Factors Influencing Cross-Cultural Business in International Business

3.1. Language Differences

Language, as a carrier of cultural output, carries a redundant social background, which is produced by historical accumulation. Different language and culture reflect different social backgrounds and are the most direct expression of people’s ideology. For example, in business transactions between Chinese and English as a bridge of communication, under the long-term cultivation of Chinese culture, our language expression is more euphemistic, need to explore the hidden meaning of words; while for native English speakers, the expression is more direct; making the two sides in the language understanding level of ambiguity, thus affecting the trade communication. While language interchange is the cornerstone of communication, in the long run, cultural identity is far more important than linguistic precision. The communicator needs to carry out the exploration of his own culture, and then integrate it according to his own understanding to form a unique opinion; and then through the cultural identity of the communicator with him, he can make certain elaboration of the viewpoint from different angles and backgrounds.

3.2. Differences in Social Structure and History

The differences in social and cultural backgrounds lead to great cultural differences between the East and the West, and bias in the formation of people’s ideology [4]. Chinese people pay more attention to figurative thinking and explore problems from the whole picture, while the West pays more attention to abstract thinking and analyzes the details of each point. The difference in thinking logic is also inextricably linked to the different cultural practices of the two sides. The difference in customs makes the starting point of the problem different for both sides. The West believes in theocracy, while China focuses on Buddhist culture, and the difference in cultural pressure also makes the two sides think differently.

3.3. Influence of Environment and Technology

In different forms of society, the influence of geographical location, climate, natural resources, and degree of development has a significant impact on the formation of local people’s ideology. These factors have great limitations in international business transactions. For example, in the transportation of goods, the cycle of shipping, preservation of goods and a number of other issues affect the trade process between the parties. Population density and demand determine the type of export products, different regions have different needs, and businessmen need to have a keen insight. Different cultures create different technological conditions, and the development of technology or not also restricts the trade to a certain extent, without the addition of relevant technology, making certain products cannot be realized.

3.4. Non-Verbal Expressions

If language is the cornerstone of communication between two parties, the meaning conveyed by non-verbal is by no means inferior. Body, gesture language, appropriate dress, eye contact, and detailed actions are all expressions of attitudes other than words. The meaning of different gestures varies greatly from region to region. For example, the “OK” gesture, for the United States is to express agreement, no problem, everything is ready; but in the south of France, it means disapproval, zero, said not worth mentioning the meaning; in Brazil this action is the meaning of nasty low; for the Korean people this gesture represents money. This shows that there are not only differences in the language and culture of different regions, but also in the non-linguistic culture.

4. Suggestions in Cross-Cultural Business Communication

4.1. Familiarize Yourself with the Language Communication Patterns of Different Countries

The basis of communication lies in the intercommunication of languages, and only on the basis of language intercommunication can the two sides achieve effective communication [5]. In international business and trade exchanges, the root of the conflict is the difference of language and culture. At the beginning of trade negotiations with foreign enterprises, it is necessary to prepare sufficient negotiation content and make efforts to eliminate the barriers brought by language and cultural differences. To have a certain understanding of the other party’s cultural background and communication style, to prevent friction in the process of communication.

4.2. Respect and Tolerance of Other Cultures

First of all, we need to build our own cultural self-confidence and have a certain basic knowledge reserve of our own culture. The mastery of our own culture is conducive to cultural negotiation with other countries, triggering cultural discussion and resonance. While building cultural self-confidence, we need to give more respect and understanding to foreign cultures. Each person’s mindset and cultural output is closely related to the cultural background of the region and the national system. For cultural differences, we should uphold the concept of respect and tolerance. Respect the different core values of the enterprise, the core values of the enterprise is the goal for which the enterprise is pursuing and the concrete performance of the future development of the enterprise. Therefore, it is necessary to make the trade relationship more stable and long-term on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and seeking common ground while reserving differences between the two sides.

4.3. To Enhance Conflict Resolution Ability

Effective conflict resolution requires sufficient knowledge to resolve conflicts, a willingness to consider and try alternatives, and the skills to manipulate alternatives. In fact, cultural differences or cultural conflicts may arise even within the same cultural level or country. For example, cross-cultural conflicts can arise within and between companies in the same country, and if the scope is expanded, cross-cultural conflicts may be more complex, so cross-cultural conflicts are inevitable. Based on the phenomenon and causes of interpersonal conflict, five types of interpersonal conflict management can be derived: cooperation, compromise, conformity, competition, and avoidance. Cooperation, compromise, and conformity are important elements of intercultural competence that help to resolve intercultural conflicts. At the same time, in the context of certain intercultural competence, in the international business conflict to examine the situation, in the competition to strive for economic benefits, try to avoid some easy to produce conflict situation, while improving their own cultural sensitivity, try to avoid the conflict, in cooperation, compromise, compliance, competition and avoidance in a good trade-off, to achieve the maximum economic in international trade.

4.4. To Improve Business Competence

In cross-cultural business communication, behavioral competence refers first and foremost to the ability to construct and understand the speech acts of various discourses. The nature of international business is intercultural business communication, which is necessarily conducted by people. Successful business communication is based on the establishment of good cooperative relationships. At the same time, the purpose of communication identifies and requires different ways of relational competence, and its differences often create obstacles in the communication process of intercultural business communicators. Relational competence is particularly important for intercultural business communication, as it determines the use of discourse and language and is an important moderating factor in business communication. Therefore, in the new era of economic globalization and integration, the requirements for competence in intercultural business communication are becoming more and more stringent, and business competence plays a role that cannot be ignored. Business competence is the ability to operate in interaction and to reach agreements with business partners of other cultures, including the understanding of different attitudes toward contracts and finding the real decision makers. This requires proficiency in international business trade and strong intercultural management, administration, and operation skills under the premise of acquiring sufficient cross-cultural knowledge and business expertise. The company also needs to be proficient in relevant laws and regulations, and be able to use them to solve practical problems, protect their legitimate rights and interests, and actively and effectively fight for more rights when fulfilling corresponding obligations. It is necessary to have a broad international perspective to discover some dynamic factors and cross-cultural business opportunities in time, and actively grasp the market trends to make strategic adjustments in time.

4.5. Cultivate Comprehensive Quality of Intercultural Communication for Business Personnel

Enterprises provide targeted and regular training for business personnel, not only for language mastery, but also for the analysis of the cultural connotations behind the language. To develop the ability to understand the culture of different countries, so that business people can better understand and accept the cultural differences of different countries. By simulating different business negotiation scenarios, business people’s ability to adapt to different situations is tested, thus enhancing their insight and ability to adapt. Business people are required to have a certain understanding of the customs, cultural characteristics and social values of different countries. When conflicts arise, they can choose a timely response according to the situation, and appropriate concessions can avoid the deterioration of the conflict; in the competition, they should take the interests of the enterprise as the basis and fight for the economic interests of the enterprise. In business activities through appropriate regulation of communication, efficient, multi-dimensional, targeted analysis of problems and problem solving. Improving the professional ability of business personnel can effectively promote the business cooperation between the two sides and maximize the mutual interests.

5. Conclusion

With the continuous development of social economy, intercultural communication plays a significant role in the international business arena. The cultivation of intercultural communication is inseparable from the formation of culture. Culture is a microcosm of a society’s way of life, which is intricate and contains a society’s human habits, historical background, geographic location, food culture, beliefs, and the conditions in which people live. Improving intercultural communication skills means enhancing one’s intercultural sensitivity and being able to deal with the differences between cultures appropriately. We need to continue to explore a “harmony and difference, beauty and common” international trade platform, not only for the development of economic trade to seek greater profit space, but also to close the world’s ties, strengthen exchanges between countries, and contribute to world peace.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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