Expanding or relocating a business into a new environment can be a daunting prospect in itself; however, conducting business abroad is without doubt a separate transition in its own right. The most successful businesses in the world are able to pride themselves primarily on the efficiency and quality of their communicative capabilities; take globally renowned advertising dons WPP, for example.
With offices in more than 25 different countries, and a diverse array of services available in a multitude of different languages, they are the perfect example of how, even on the biggest of scales, expanding a business into host countries and succeeding requires the most exemplary level of communications, both internally and externally.
The administrative, communicative and logistic departments of any worldwide business are paramount in effectively managing suppliers, clients and colleagues alike in foreign countries alien to the original location of the company.
It is often the case that employees of multinational corporations are either expected to have a wide base of language skills as a prerequisite to their employment, or they are expected to learn the foundations of a host country’s language so that effective communication can be carried out when needed. This is why school-aged pupils in the Netherlands are taught English from such a young age, seeing as their native tongue is so narrowly represented outside of their home country.
Moreover, it is not only language that can prove to be a barrier when conducting business abroad. Everyone remembers the HSBC advert where the respective commuter works his way through a series of cultural misdemeanours while on a business trip in Asia, culminating in a discerning look from a waiter as he proceeds to finish all of his meal in a Japanese restaurant.
When doing business abroad, therefore, it is important to be aware of and respect the various systems of values and customs that exist in countries. Sometimes the way in which one greets a prospective client, or even conducts themselves in a restaurant or at a meeting, can determine the way in which a company or a business is perceived. It is therefore fundamentally important to have a full understanding of the culture and language that one is engaging with.
This is why businesses emerging from developing regions such as the east Asian economies might make sure their employees are sent on an English course in London; this way, not only do they learn to speak to at least the level of language school English, but they also gain an appreciation of the culture.