I interviewed Michael Serwetz who discussed the Ethnocentrism Undermines Your International Business Goals.
Today we're speaking with Michael Serwertz, and we're going to discuss ethnocentrism and how it undermines your international business goals. Mike, can you first provide a brief background of yourself?
Yes, I will. First, I'm coming to you from Brooklyn, New York, where 100 nationalities live happily together, coexist happily together. But I have been traveling the globe for more than 30 years and more than 30 countries and done business on every continent on the planet. I've been present and involved on an executive level of many, many business deals, many, many negotiations. And that's why I've learned of the importance of ridding your company of ethnocentrism.
What is ethnocentrism, and why must it about eliminated from your business practices?
Ethnocentrism is basically the belief that are you all [inaudible 0:01:07]. That your nationality, that your position, or anything about you — your race or anything about you — is better than another. So as a Caucasian, you're better than a Chinese. As a Chinese, you're better than a Latino. Whatever.And that enters into international negotiations because of something that is called self-reference criterion. Self-reference criterion is how you see yourself as compared to others.
Whether it's in politics or business, ethnocentrism detracts from the goals — whatever they would be. I'll give you a real life example.
Some months ago, President Trump met with Xi Jinping of China in Mar-a-Lago. One of the topics they discussed was North Korea. It's clear from the situation right now that nothing of any consequence was accomplished at that meeting. And my interpretation of that is that President Trump was... His self-reference point was, "I'm the president of the United States. I invited him to this lavish place. And because of my personality and my character, he will follow what I want him to do."
On the other hand, Xi Jinping, being Chinese, just told Trump enough to end the conversation without having to make a commitment himself. Therefore, nothing was happening.
If, in this case — and that was a case of ethnocentrism on both sides. Ethnocentrism is not exclusively the property of any people or race. Every people can be ethnocentric, and if they had just sat down and gotten to specifics of what are we going to do specifically about North Korea rather than relying on a pat on the shoulder and a shake of the hand, maybe we would have had some progress right now.
So the same applies to business. Don't assume, when you go overseas, that because you are a VP or a C-level executive that your position and your wallet will get you anything except maybe a good meal. What they care about is what you bring to the table and how you negotiate. That's what's important — the specifics of how you negotiate. Who you are and as a president of a company or whatever doesn't get you what you want. In fact, it may detract from it because it will cause uncomfortable, awkward, or negative feelings.
So this is a great example, which I cited on my website. It comes from a book called Beijing Jeep. Beijing Jeep was written in 1989 by a journalist named Jim Mann. The subject was how Chrysler, which owned Jeep at the time, started to do business in China, or tried to start to do business in China in the late 1980's. Totally, the effort was a failure, and it was a failure not because the Jeep is not a good product, not because it wasn't something the Chinese people would have wanted but the way both sides — the American side and the Chinese side —handled the negotiation, because both sides did not take an interest in learning about or seeing how the other did business or thought or acted, or the culture.
So when you are planning for international business negotiations, what is really important is that you take a self-assessment of your own attitudes and you also examine carefully the attitude of your corporation, the attitude of your staff, and clean out any ethnocentric ideas or any ethnocentric practices from your business. Then you'll be able to negotiate straight on, and the other side will probably recognize that and will have to meet you in the middle.
Otherwise, you'll either cover complicate, or you will fail in your negotiations.
How can people contact you to learn more about how you can help in your business?
You can contact me through LinkedIn, or you can go to my website www.iSourcerer.com. Check out the articles there and then drop me an email or a note, and I will be glad to get back to you, and we can have a chat about what you would like me to help you with.
Thanks again for sharing today.
Oh, you're welcome. Thanks again, Dustin.
About Michael Serwetz
Senior Global Sourcing/Retail/Marketing,/Strategy/Ops Exec,Team Leader. Me: Change. Simplify. Optimize. Lead by Example