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Intercultural Business Communication Glossary

Intercultural Business Communication Glossary

Interested in how cultural difference can influence business success or failure? We’ve defined some of the terminology you may come across when reading up on the study of intercultural business communication.

Advocate – Someone who speaks up for her/himself and members of his/her identity group.

Affirmative action – Positive steps to increase representation of minorities (e.g., ethnic, women) in activities.

Anchor – A reference point for making judgments.

Behavioural cue – A conscious or unconscious action that elicits or signals a type of behaviour.

Belief system – The way an individual or a culture collectively thinks about something.

Cross-cultural – A comparison and contrast between two cultural groups.

Cross-cultural communication skills – The ability to recognise cultural behavioural differences and similarities.

Cross-cultural sensitivity – The ability to respond appropriately to cultural situations, contexts and behaviours.

Culture – The shared values, norms, traditions, customs, arts, history and institutions of a group of people.

Cultural diversity – Differences in race, ethnicity, language, nationality or religion.

Cultural norms – Behaviour patterns that are typical of specific cultural groups.

Cultural sensitivity – Deliberately being mindful of cultural factors that affect interactions with others.

Development theory – A collection of theories about how desirable change in society is best achieved.

Dialogue – Communication that creates and recreates multiple understandings.

Diversity – Differences within individuals or a group e.g., in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, beliefs.

Entrepreneurship – The activity of setting up a business or businesses to make a profit.

Ethics – Any system or code of moral rules, principles, or values, or the study of moral right or wrong concepts.

Ethnic group – A group of individuals characterised by cultural similarities and differences to others.

Ethnic slur – A term used to insult someone on the basis of ethnicity, race or nationality.

Ethnocentrism – An assumption that your home country is superior to the rest of the world.

Global development – Economic or human development on an international scale.

Globalised – Refers to something that makes international influence or operations possible.

Glocalisation – A global marketing strategy striving to achieve the slogan ‘think globally but act locally’.

Governance – The act of overseeing the control or direction of something.

Human resource management (HRM) – The department or act of handling everything having to do with people.

High context culture - A culture in which a great deal of information lives in the context of communication.

Ideology – A system of ideas and ideals or the set of beliefs characteristic of a social group or individual.

Intercultural communication – How people from differing cultural backgrounds try to communicate.

International relations – The way in which two or more nations interact with and regard each other.

International trade – Economic transactions that are made between countries.

Language – The main means of communication for humans, spoken or written.

Linguistic anthropology – The historical study of language in time, space, and society.

Low context culture – A culture in which messages and knowledge are more implicit.

Legislation – The process of making or enacting law or a group of laws.

Market segmentation – Dividing customers into separate parts or sections with similar characteristics or needs.

Multicultural - A society that contains several cultural or ethnic groups.

Organisational communication – The attitudes, values and goals that characterise an organisation.

Politics – The activities of government, law-making organisations and individuals or study of their activities.

Power distance – A cultural dimension that reflects the extent to which there is unequal distribution of power in a society.

Regulation – The act of controlling or directing something through the enforcement of a law or process.

Society – A community of people living in a country or region with shared customs, laws and organisation.

Standardisation – The process of making something conform to a prescribed guideline or norm.

Taboo – A term that describes human activity that is viewed unfavourably by certain people, groups or society.

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