Beyond language - Cultural characteristics in Finnish-Russian business communication as perceived by Finnish negotiators

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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International Business Communication
International Business Communication
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Objective of the Study: The objective of this thesis was to investigate other than language-related cultural characteristics in the Finnish-Russian negotiations and other business communication situations, and to observe the substance of so called "Russia-knowhow" in communication situations and in their context. Methodology and the theoretical Framework: The method of the study was qualitative: Five long semi-structured theme interviews were conducted among interviewees that have been operating in the Finnish-Russian business context either in commercial negotiations or in a role of a specialist. The interviewees were intentionally selected from very different types of professional backgrounds. In the theoretical framework cultural dimensions and characteristics were generally observed in relation to the most commonly cited cultural models and other theories related to cross-cultural communication, and in relation to selected other research particularly related to the Russian culture. Findings and Conclusions: The Russian society has undergone a major transition which still continues to affect the business context, where great steps have been taken toward western standards. In general, the Russian culture has high-context elements with a heavy emphasis on people-orientation, relationships and networks. The networks are not only for certain business purposes, but are intertwined with private life and have a long term dimension. Most negotiations were considered "normal", yet they may be vivid and emotional and include culturally characterized episodes especially when the partners are not known. The business language in Russia is Russian, and some knowledge is preferable for business activities. Yet fluency is not expected; the use of interpreters is considered normal. There seems to be increasing possibilities to use English as business language in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The role of alcohol in business is significantly smaller than commonly believed. Finland and the Finns are seen in Russia very positively in general. This study indicates that a certain type of cultural "Russia-knowhow" can be identified and it includes elements of 1) Interest and understanding of the "bigger picture" of the Russian general and cultural context, 2) Learned abilities to cope in practical situations such as business negotiations flavored with national characteristics, and 3) Deep understanding of the Finnish-Russian relationship, which seems to have also a strong spiritual level.
International Business Communication, culture, Russia, Russia-knowhow, negotiations, kansainvälinen yritysviestintä, kulttuuri, Venäjä, Venäjä-osaaminen, neuvottelut
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