Comparisonof Work Culture: America versus Vietnam
Theimportance of culture cannot be gainsaid as far as the reputation andlong-term success of a particular business entity or company isconcerned. Work culture, as a concept, encompasses a large number ofdifferent traits pertaining to a business entity. It is defined asthe behavior of individuals who make up a business entity ororganization, as well as the meanings that individuals attach totheir actions. It may also be defined as the collective principles,values and beliefs that organizational members hold and results fromfactors such as technology, history, strategy, management styles,market, products and national styles. It includes the values, norms,systems, habits, beliefs, symbols and working language pertaining toa particular business entity. Further, it is the pattern of thecollective assumptions and behaviors that new organizational membersare taught as a technique for preserving perception, feeling andthinking. It goes without saying that work culture affects the mannerin which groups and individuals interact with clients, stakeholdersand even each other. Scholars have also noted that, as much as theremay be variations between the principles and values of differentorganizations or business entities, there are distinctivesimilarities between the manners in which organizations in aparticular geographical location carry out their business or arrangetheir workplaces (Duttonet al 37). This is especially considering that most organizationslargely incorporate individuals from the same country, in which casethey share similar cultures and values. However, these may bedifferent from those of organizations in other countries, whichunderlines the similarities and differences between work cultures inthe United States and Vietnam.
Oneof the key similarities is the manner in which the initial approachesare made. As much as it is common today for direct contacts and coldcalls to be made, the initial contacts in the two countries areusually referrals. This means that business relationships are usuallystruck on the basis of the recommendations of other businessassociates previously served. Indeed, the best deals and prices anddeals usually emanate from strong recommendations.
Onthe same note, the work cultures of these countries are similar withrespect to what is considered as appropriate clothing. In Vietnam,formal clothing is considered the most appropriate mode of dressing.Individuals are required to be dressed in ties and suits of subduedcolors as bright colors are seen as inappropriate. This is the samecase in the United States where the acceptable mode of dressing isconservative (Duttonet al 45). Men are required to be dressed in dark-colored anduncontentious suits and ties, while women are required to haveconservative dresses or suits with their blouses having highnecklines. It is imperative that all people stick to subdued andneutral colors like brown and beige, while ensuring that their skirtsdo not go above their knees (Lotze54). In case of jewelry, it is imperative that individuals ensurethat it is neither overly expensive nor ostentatious in order to makethe appropriate impression. It is usually recommended that footwearhas extremely low heels or be flat especially for women especially ininstances where an individual is taller than her hosts.
Oneof the key differences revolves around the evolution of businessrelationships. It is common for business relationships in Vietnam toinevitably evolve into social relationships after a short time.Indeed, such business relationships become more social as individualsshare details pertaining to their personal lives including politicalviews, family, aspirations and hobbies. Researchers have noted thatit is common for a considerable amount of time to be spent discussingmatters that are far from business although the other party would,essentially be making up his or her mind pertaining to the deal onthe basic of the quality of the personal relationship that iseventually cultivated (Lotze34). Vietnamese businesspeople usually sign contracts and close dealsover dinner or lunch, where they can ask private questions, givesuggestions at work and even hold discussions pertaining to theirsocial life. In most cases, time is seen as unlimited, withinvitations likely to come even at the last minute depending on howthey feel. This is different from the work culture in the UnitedStates where business relationships usually remain professional andaloof for a long time. Indeed, businesspeople in the United Statesare often likely to first sign contracts in boardroom meetings beforegoing out for dinner.
Further,there is a difference between the manner in which Vietnamesebusinesspeople and their United States counterparts communicate. Inmost cases, Vietnamese businesspeople prefer to make indirectstatements when negotiating a deal. It is common for figures ofspeech such as metaphors, similes, idioms and proverbs to beincorporated in the business talks in an effort to lay emphasis on aparticular point (Storey29). However, the same cannot be said of their counterparts in theUnited States who are often direct and straight to the point. It isoften difficult to make any business statement that does not make itclear what is required or the way forward for a business entity orany deal.
Culturalrationale for the Work Cultures in Vietnam and the United States
Thework cultures adopted by businesspeople in the two countries havetheir root in their cultures at the society level. As statedVietnamese business relationships often evolve into socialrelationships after some time. This may be attributed to the factthat a large number of businesses are centered around familialconnections and backgrounds. Individuals often formed businesspartnerships based on their lineages, in which case business partnerswere most likely to be one’s friends or relatives (Drummondand Mandy 23). This means that it is often difficult to separateone’s professional life from social lives as he or she would belikely to have the same individuals in the two scenarios. The samecannot be said of the United States as business partners do notalways have to be related or even friends rather, their businessinterests (usually profits) connect them or bring them together(Storey29). This explains why it may be difficult for social relationshipsto blossom out of professional relationships.
Onthe same note, Vietnamese businesses and relationships are usuallynot pegged on the ideas rather they are based on the association ofan individual to another. In most cases, ideas come from the samepeople. Indeed, the society is arranged into groups of people chargedwith similar responsibilities (Storey39). In essence, forming relationships with individuals is deemed asthe most appropriate way of determining the appropriateness of anybusiness deal, as it is often likely that similar acts will berepeated in the future by the same person or group of individuals. Inthe United States, however, individuals are defined by their presentsuccess, with no guarantee that similar success stories will emanatefrom the same source (Drummondand Mandy 35). In essence, business relationships are formed on thebasis of the ideas or deals on the table rather than any futureprospects of the same.
Inconclusion, work culture, as a concept, encompasses a large number ofdifferent traits pertaining to a business entity. It is defined asthe behavior of individuals who make up a business entity ororganization, as well as the meanings that individuals attach totheir actions. As much as there may be variations between theprinciples and values of different organizations or businessentities, there are distinctive similarities between the manners inwhich organizations in a particular geographical location carry outtheir business or arrange their workplaces. This is especiallyconsidering that most organizations largely incorporate individualsfrom the same country, in which case they share similar cultures andvalues (Drummondand Mandy 46). The United States and Vietnamese work cultures areextremely different as a result of the cultural values and norms oftheir people. In Vietnam, it is usually the case that businesspartnerships, deals and contracts are to be signed betweenindividuals of the same lineage. Indeed, preferences would always begiven to individuals who are closest to a particular business entity.This explains why professional relationships usually evolve intosocial ones. In this case, the individuals would be trying to forgerelationships that cement their future even if the current deal maynot always be acceptable. This is unlike the case of United Stateswork culture, which is usually forged on the current ideas, in whichcase the communication must be direct and straight to the point.
Drummond,Lisa B. W, and Mandy Thomas. ConsumingUrban Culture in Contemporary Vietnam.London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. Print
Dutton,George E, Jayne S. Werner, and John K. Whitmore. Sourcesof Vietnamese Tradition.New York: Columbia University Press, 2012. Print.
Lotze,Evie. WorkCulture Transformation: Straw to Gold – the Modern Hero`s Journey.München:Saur, 2004. Print.
Storey,John. CulturalTheory and Popular Culture: A Reader.Harlow [u.a.: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2007. Print.