One of the classes I am taking here in Alicante is Spanish for Business. It’s a very interesting course that gives a perspective on how businesses are run in Europe, everything from writing resumes and cover letters to learning about leading industries. One thing that is different than the United States right off the bat is that resumes, CV’s or curriculum vitae, are universal for all of Europe and follow a certain format. The design of a resume in the states is something that helps put your resume in the good pile, of course coupled with great experience. That isn’t completely the case in Spain. Aside from that, other documents like cover letters share the same format pretty much worldwide.
Another part of the business class is learning the cultural factors that influence negotiation within the Europe business world. Certain things we went over were monochronic versus polychronic cultures, high context cultures versus low context cultures and individualism versus collectivism. Una cultura monocrónica is one where time is usually chronological and people follow definite schedules. Punctuality is crucial in this culture and exists in Northern Europe and the United States. On the other hand, una cultura polocrónica is one that doesn’t value as much punctuality but more so flexibility and exists in many parts of the world, specifically in Mediterranean countries.
High context cultures share a more personal relationship in business as people have much more in common and they have fixed expectations as well. Also, there is not as much of a necessity to write messages in great detail and be very explanatory. In contrast, a low context culture is where there is not as much personal importance and someone’s professional life is definitely separated from that of their personal life. These cultures communicate in many different aspects and usually pay great attention to detail. I would say that the United States is in the middle of both cultures, but Spain is more representative of a high context culture.
An individualistic culture is one where people have more of a personal identity, and are taught ‘I’ from a young age separate from others. On the other hand, collectivism looks at a group at large and relates to a part of a family or society. In collectivist countries, it is fundamental to be personal and have trust between negotiations. Collective countries include Latin America, Asia and poorer countries, and individualistic countries include the United States, Canada, Australia and developing Europe.
It is very interesting to see how business differs so much across the globe, but also between different parts of Spain. People in the central and southern parts of Spain exemplify different personality traits when it comes to business. These regions prefer informal topics and places, imprecision, a global vision, general objectives, flexibility, verbal agreements, charisma, passion, creative, quick thinking and talk with much energy. Certain characteristics that are not present are pretty much the opposites like high detail, preparation, punctuality, definite schedule, written agreements and structure. As you can see the world of business is very different on a global scale, but also within certain countries. Some people try to take advantage of certain customs and markets like American born Zaryn Dentzel who created Tuenti, a Spain-based, private social networking website for students and young people, which has been referred to as the “Spanish Facebook.”
Will your next venture be in Spain?