Business Culture Study from the Emic Perspective
作者 :  傅蕾

  【Abstract】the present paper is directed toward business culture study on the basis of emic/etic perspective, in an attempt to figure out a better way to study business culture.
  【Keywords】emic etic business culture study
  Culture can be studied from two perspectives: from an etic perspective which entails comparisons across cultures and from an emic perspective which entails culture-internal research (Spencer-Oatey&Franklin, 2010). These are not contradictory approached, but that each complements the other in important ways. For example, Geert Hofstede’s five dimensions of culture were framed in etic approach, and when we study Chinese culture, we are usually using emic approach.
  From my view, emic approach requires researchers to understand cultures through local people’s eyes as much as possible, rather than to use researchers’ personal knowledge. In this way, researchers have to be familiar with the knowledge and categorizing system. Because of that, when doing the researches, researchers will concentrate on using standard items and concept to describe their results. Nearly all the details of cultures can be described without the misunderstandings caused by cultural differences between researchers and local people. When translating, if a word from source language does not have a equivalent word in target language, some propose that using transliteration and notes to avoid potential misunderstandings.
  Disadvantages of emic approach are: in local residents’ view, many special cultural phenomenons and thought processes are just ordinary. It may result in that the researchers using emic approach will ignore them. A case in point is a movie The Treatment. In this movie, the hero, a Chinese man, thought it was a common sense that when his wife and his unborn baby were both in danger and he must make a choice, he chose his wife rather than the baby. But Americans thought that was merciless and immoral to deprive the baby’s right of existence.
  Advantages of etic approach are that in this approach, researchers can analyze materials from a certain culture and recognize those special cultural phenomenons and thought processes regarded as ordinary things by local people.
  However, the disadvantage of etic approach is that misunderstandings may occur and become a barrier for other culture learners because of different culture background and different levels of knowledge. For example, several decades ago, Chinese readers often misunderstood the word nun in foreign literary works. Chinese thought it referred to nun in Buddhism, rather than sister in Catholicism, for they were unfamiliar with Catholicism at that time.   Supposed someone is going to do business with people from England, I believe using emic approach when he or she wants to learn about the culture is a better way.
  As I mentioned in above, emic approach help people avoid misunderstandings caused by different cultural backgrounds between them. Do in Rome as Rome does. Misunderstandings between business parties are fatal to their relationship. For example, in china it is a kind of greeting and will show hospitality to asking other’s recent development. But as for English, they think highly of privacy, in that they may misunderstand the Chinese, thinking what Chinese do may hurt their privacy or even business interest. Emic approach can effectively avoid potential misunderstandings, such as that Chinese tend to be very enthusiastic when meeting business partners, but sometimes English may think it is over enthusiastic and they may be confused or even scared. However, learning cultures in emic approach, I will know how English people do in each period of business relationship.
  As for the disadvantage of emic approach, I think it has little effect in business. Perhaps there will be some trouble when summarizing the differences between Chinese and English business customs, but if I am familiar enough with English business thought process and customs, this disadvantage can be overcome. For example, if somebody wants to learn the way English use in business negotiations and practice a lot, he or she will be less likely to mistake others or feel hard to understand them.
  Reference:
  [1]Spencer-Oatey H. &Franklin P. Intercultural Interaction [M]. Palgrave: Macmillan,2009
  [2]翁立平.文化动态观下跨文化交际社会心理学过程论的构建[D].上海:上海外国语大学.
  [3]汪润芊.跨文化视角下交际方式的本位客位研究[D].保定:河北农业大学.

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