Intercultural Conflict

Case Study: Intercultural Conflict in an Online Business Partnership

Hiromi, a Japanese university student studying in Kyoto, and Ahmed, a Saudi Arabian male, have formed a partnership to establish an online business selling carpets. The partnership arose from their diverse backgrounds, aiming to combine their unique perspectives for business success. However, as they embark on their entrepreneurial journey, they encounter various intercultural conflicts that challenge their collaboration and decision-making processes.

Ethnocentrism: Hiromi, shaped by her Japanese cultural background, tends to evaluate business decisions and strategies through the lens of her own cultural norms. As a result, she may unintentionally prioritise Japanese aesthetics and design elements in their carpet selection, disregarding the preferences and tastes of their potential international customer base. This ethnocentric viewpoint can lead to misunderstandings and hinder their ability to cater to a diverse clientele.

Differences in Cultural Values: Hiromi and Ahmed possess contrasting cultural values, influencing their approaches to business operations. Hiromi's collectivist upbringing emphasises cooperation, group harmony, and consensus-building, while Ahmed's individualistic Saudi Arabian culture emphasises personal achievements, independence, and assertiveness. These divergent values can create conflicts when determining roles, decision-making authority, and the overall direction of their online carpet business.

Differences in Communication Styles: Effective communication becomes a significant challenge due to differences in communication styles. Hiromi, accustomed to indirect communication and relying on nonverbal cues for understanding, may find it difficult to interpret Ahmed's direct and assertive communication style. The nuances of language use, levels of politeness, and the interpretation of silence can contribute to misunderstandings and strain their collaborative efforts.

Resolving Intercultural Conflict: To address the intercultural conflicts and foster a harmonious partnership, Hiromi and Ahmed can implement the following strategies:

By acknowledging and proactively addressing their intercultural conflicts, Hiromi and Ahmed can harness the power of their diverse perspectives and experiences. By embracing cultural sensitivity, effective communication strategies, collaboration, and seeking expert guidance, they can forge a successful online carpet business that caters to a global customer base while fostering understanding and respect between their Japanese and Saudi Arabian cultures.