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United States of America Business
Etiquette, Culture, & Manners

Etiquette & Manners in the United States + Hofstede Analysis           Manners, Etiquette, Cultural Relationships, Geert Hofstede

United States Introduction

The population of the United States is 300 million people of mixed races and heritage. Although the population is predominantly of European descent, the country has been a welcoming beacon to immigrants from virtually every country and culture in the world. English is the predominant language, although languages from many foreign countries are spoken within cultural enclaves throughout the U.S. The majority of American's (U.S.) are Christian.

The United States of America consists of 50 states governed on a federal level, as well as a state level. Laws are written at both levels, and when doing business in the United States one must make sure to meet the requirements mandated by these laws. The country is very litigious so legal resources are available and specialists can be found to assist with any transaction.

The culture and geographic location of an area will influence how business is done. Traditionally, the East Coast is more conservative and formal in their dress and manners than the West Coast. That is not to say a West Coast meeting carries any less importance. The climate and lifestyle are just more relaxed, which is reflected in the pace and informality.

 

United States Fun Fact

Many years ago business was conducted predominantly by men. A woman's role was to maintain the family and home responsibilities. Evening events and dinners were strictly for social enjoying with family and friends. Social registers were maintained so only those in the "proper" group would be included. A gentleman never carried his business cards to these events, but a social card with just his name. Times have changed. Now, business is conducted continuously (thanks to breakfast meetings, e-mail, and cellular phones); and, women are now as significant in the business world as men.

The U. S. was founded on the work ethic that good, honest, hard work is rewarded. Because of this work ethic, time is money and punctuality is highly regarded, so a cellular phone can save the day when automobile traffic in a major city causes unexpected delays.

Brain Teaser: What do you wear to a high level meeting with a corporate executive who is worth millions, is 22 years old, lives at the beach, and has the latest computer innovation?


Geert Hofstede Analysis for
United States of America


The Geert Hofstede analysis for
the United States is very similar to other World Countries that have their heritage founded in Europe with strong ties to the British Isles (see Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand). Individualism ranks highest and is a significant factor in the life of U.S. Americans. The low ranking of Long-term Orientation reflects a freedom in the culture from long-term traditional commitments, which allows greater flexibility and the freedom to react quickly to new opportunities. 

There are only seven (7) countries in the Geert Hofstede research that have Individualism (IDV) as their highest Dimension: USA (91), Australia (90), United Kingdom (89), Netherlands and Canada (80), and Italy (76).

The high Individualism (IDV) ranking for the United States indicates a society with a more individualistic attitude and relatively loose bonds with others. The populace is more self-reliant and looks out for themselves and their close family members.

The next highest Hofstede Dimension is Masculinity (MAS) with a ranking of 62, compared with a world average of 50. This indicates the country experiences a higher degree of gender differentiation of roles. The male dominates a significant portion of the society and power structure. This situation generates a female population that becomes more assertive and competitive, with women shifting toward the male role model and away from their female role. The United States was included in the group of countries that had the Long Term Orientation (LTO) Dimension added. The LTO is the lowest Dimension for the US at 29, compared to the world average of 45. This low LTO ranking is indicative of the societies' belief in meeting its obligations and tends to reflect an appreciation for cultural traditions.

The next lowest ranking Dimension for the United States is Power Distance (PDI) at 40, compared to the world Average of 55. This is indicative of a greater equality between societal levels, including government, organizations, and even within families. This orientation reinforces a cooperative interaction across power levels and creates a more stable cultural environment.

The last Geert Hofstede Dimension for the US is Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI), with a ranking of 46, compared to the world average of 64. A low ranking in the Uncertainty Avoidance Dimension is indicative of a society that has fewer rules and does not attempt to control all outcomes and results. It also has a greater level of tolerance for a variety of ideas, thoughts, and beliefs. More Geert Hofstede Details

Written by Stephen Taylor - the Sigma Two Group

 

Religion in the United States of America


* WORLD FACTBOOK 2011

In analyzing Predominantly Christian countries, the primary correlation between religion and the Geert Hofstede Dimensions is a high Individualism (IDV) ranking. This indicates that predominantly Christian countries have a strong belief in individuality, with individual rights being paramount within the society. Individuals in these countries may tend to form a larger number of looser relationships. (See accompanying Article)

The predominant religion in the United States is Christian at 56%, and when added to Catholic practitioners (28%) , the total practice of Christianity within the US is 84%. (We have defined a predominantly Christian country as over 50% of the population practicing some form of Christianity, other than Catholicism. See the accompanying article)

 

United States Appearance

International Business Dress and Appearance  Business suit and tie are appropriate in all major cities. Wear dark colored business suits in classic colors of gray and navy. For an important formal meeting, choose a white dress shirt, for less formal a light blue shirt will still give you a conservative appearance.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Women should wear a suit or dress with jacket in major cities. Wearing classic clothing and classic colors of navy, gray, ivory, and white will ensure you give a confident and conservative appearance.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Rural areas and areas with extremely warm summers have more informal wardrobe requirements.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Women may wear a business dress, or skirt and blouse, in rural areas.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Men may conduct business without wearing a jacket and/or tie in rural areas.

International Business Dress and Appearance  The formality of a meeting, even in rural areas, may dictate a sports jacket and tie for men. The same formality will require a woman to wear a dress, possibly with a jacket.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Casual clothing is appropriate when not attending a work related meeting/dinner. Building a casual wardrobe using classic lines and colors (navy, gray, camel, ivory and white) will give you a look that is stylish and professional even when you are relaxing.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Clothing, whether formal or casual, should be clean and neat in appearance.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Men may generally wear jeans or khaki pants with a shirt for casual attire.

International Business Dress and Appearance  Women may wear comfortably fitting slacks with a casual shirt. Wearing jeans or shorts, even in a casual setting, may be inappropriate for the city. It is better to err on the conservative side if you are not sure.

 

United States Behavior 

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Business conversation may take place during meals. However, many times you will find more social conversation taking place during the actual meal.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Business meetings may be arranged as breakfast meetings, luncheon meetings, or dinner meetings depending on time schedules and necessity. Generally a dinner, even though for business purposes, is treated as a social meal and a time to build rapport.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Gift giving is discouraged or limited by many US companies. A gracious written note is always appropriate and acceptable.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  If you do give a gift, it should not appear to be a bribe.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  An invitation for a meal or a modest gift is usually acceptable.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  If you are someplace with a line or queue, go to the end and wait your turn.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Do not use or chew on a toothpick in public.

International business behavior, introductions, gift giving, protocol, culture  Many public places and private homes do not allow smoking. In some areas laws have been passed to prevent smoking in public places.

 

United States Communications 

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Offer a firm handshake, lasting 3-5 seconds, upon greeting and leaving. Maintain good eye contact during your handshake. If you are meeting several people at once, maintain eye contact with the person you are shaking hands with, until you are moving on the next person.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Good eye contact during business and social conversations shows interest, sincerity and confidence.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Good friends may briefly embrace, although the larger the city, usually the more formal the behavior.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Introductions include one's title if appropriate, or Mr., Ms, Mrs. and the full name.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Business cards are generally exchanged during introductions. However, they may be exchanged when one party is leaving.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  A smile is a sign of friendliness, and in rural areas you may be greeted with a "hello" rather than a handshake.

International Business Communication, handshaking, introductions  Ask permission to smoke before lighting a cigarette or cigar. Due to health concerns, you may or may not be given permission.

 

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Page authored by: Kimberley Roberts & Stephen Taylor



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