Global Business Cultural Analysis: Italy
What if, I told you I could guarantee success in your next overseas business project? Most people would be willing to pay a high price for that kind of information. Unfortunately, no one can “guarantee” that you will be successful. However, what you can do, to increase your odds of success is make business decisions based on the right kind of information. What is this “right kind” of information and how do you get it? One of the best ways to position yourself for success is by conducting a cultural analysis of the region you are interested in and evaluating the dimensions of the culture. In this paper, we will look at all eight dimensions of culture as they pertain to the country of Italy. We will look at how the eight dimensions of culture affect the people of Italy socially as well as how it affects the way they conduct business locally. Additionally, we will look at how those same dimensions of culture may affect you if you are an American organization looking to conduct business in that region.
What are the Major Elements and Dimensions of Culture in this Region?
There are many ways to evaluate a region. You can choose to just look at it based on location, size or even climate. However, when looking at the region from a wholistic perspective, one of the best tools to use are the eight dimensions of culture. These dimensions are communication, religion, ethics, values and attitudes, manners, customs, social structures, organizations, and education. Each of the eight dimensions explores a different area of society and how that area affects the people of that region. When looking at the eight dimensions as a whole you can then begin to develop an understanding of the people through the analysis of the culture. This paper will look at each of the eight dimensions and some features that affect each one.
The first dimension we will look at is communication. At first glance, oral communication in Italy would seem like a challenge, even for a native-born Italian. With numerous languages being practiced at the same time, one would think it hard to decipher which language or dialect you are hearing and even harder to communicate. Italian, which is the official language of Italy has multiple dialects. Additionally, because of Italy’s rich and colorful history, there are also many languages other than Italian that are spoken among the people who live here. French, Albanian Greek, German, Occitan, Sardinian, and Croatian are just a few of the languages you can find in this region of the world. The most popular six Italian dialects are Milanese, Venetian, Florentine, Romanesco, Neapolitan, and Sicilian. Depending on where you live you may speak one or more of these dialects of Italian or even an entirely different language. Additionally, in Italy, over 30% of the population speaks at least some English and 19% speak some Spanish. Coincidently, these multiple languages and dialects seem to improve the communications between people not make it worse. With so many languages to choose from it may increase your chances of finding a common language among such a diverse group of people.
The age barrier. Like most places in the world when it comes to communication there is a barrier between the older generation and the younger generation. The difference in Italy however, is the older generation could literally be speaking a different language. Some of the older dialects are only spoken in the older age groups. As people get older some of those dialects are dying off. Additionally, as the younger generations are being influenced from outside sources some of the traditional Italian words are being replaced with words from other languages specifically, English.
Technology also has an influence. As technology gets more and more advanced the world seems to get smaller and smaller. Italy is not an exception to the effects of technology on the culture and how people communicate. With the “art” of conversation slowly given way to the practice of texting, posting and blogging. The way people now communicate has changed and seems to be a point of division among people. Here again we can see a distinct difference between the older and younger generations, in the use of technology (specifically mobile phones) as a means of communication. In an article published in the Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology the authors speak of “digital inequality”. They explain how the younger generation was born in a world with technology, therefore, they are more tech savvy than the older generation who grow up in a less technological world. Hence, the term “digital inequality” which describes the difference is digital usages skill between the two generations (Simona-Nicoleta Vulpe, Corina Ilinca, 2017). So just like the rest of the world Italy has a younger generation that use their cell phones as their main source of communicate and an older generation who can barely operate a smart phone.
The second dimension of culture we will look at is religion. Internationally, Italy, specifically Rome is known for the Vatican and for being the “home” of the catholic religion. The Vatican although physically located within Italy technically, its own city state. (For the purpose of this paper we will consider it part of Italy). The Pope being located in the country has a huge influence on the religious demographics of Italy. We see this with over seventy percent of Italians self-identify as Christian and a large present of them claim the be catholic. The next major religious group is Islam. Although this religion is not as popular as Christianity it still has a sizable following in Italy.
Local conflict. According to an article titled Religion and the city: A review on Muslim spatiality in Italian cities.
It should be noted that Islam is obviously not the only ‘alien’ religion that has settled in Italy in recent decades as a consequence of migration, for Italy is characterized by the presence of a high number of minority religions (Pace, 2013). However, the analysis focuses on Islam because the presence of Muslims is quantitatively larger than that of other minority religions – moreover, it is also the most ‘problematic’ religion, for instance in terms of its relations with local institutions and population. (Religion and the city: A review on Muslim spatiality in Italian cities, 2014)
Other religions. As with other European countries there are more religions practiced than just Christianity and Islam for example Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Sikhism are also found in Italy. However, the percentage of people who practice these religions are small when compared to the main two.