Some Sources of Misunderstandings in Intercultural Business Communication Part 1

T. Lázár
University of Debrecen Faculty of Economics and Business,

Abstract. It is always a big challenge for all types of companies anywhere in the world to survive in the globalised and accelerated world. Their primary objective is to stay competitive, keep or even enlarge their market share while keeping their costs at a minimum level. These corporations often cross borders and operate on a multinational level. In order to do that successfully they need flexible workforce: people who have a high level of intercultural competencies and can help their corporations to achieve their aim of profit maximising. It is widely accepted that culture and languages are among the most significant impacts on intercultural communication. In this paper first I am going to interpret intercultural communication and the role of culture and then look at different intercultural skills and the role of languages in intercultural communication. Some areas that might cause problems in intercultural business communication will also be described.


In order for any company to survive in our globalised and accelerated world, a multitude of challenges must be faced on a daily basis. A company’s primary objective is to stay competitive;to retain or even enlarge market share while keeping costs at a minimum. Indeed, a company can be competitive only by reinventing itself, through the use of new forms of business, by forming alliances to cut costs and by enlarging the customer base. In the business world, change happens so fast that companies must be flexible and able to adapt at all times. In some cases, business organisations are forced to cross borders and operate on a multinational level. In order to succeed, they need flexible workforces, i.e. people who have intercultural competencies and capable of assisting them to achieve their business objectives [36]. Business communication in such organisations must accommodate workers coming from different cultural backgrounds, possessing intercultural communication skills which allow them to act successfully on the international level. Such employees either work in multinational teams, take part in multinational business meetings and negotiations or go on assignments to other countries. Proper knowledge of the cultures and foreign languages such employees will meet and use will shape the ways in which they either master or fail in their intercultural communication situations [38]. In this paper, I discuss intercultural communication and the role of culture, examining different intercultural skills and the role of languages in intercultural communication. I also describe specific areas that cause problems in intercultural business communication.

About Professor C.J.M. Beniers

Prof. C.J.M. Beniers is a well known authority in the field of modern and international communication techniques. He developed the Six-Component-Model. This model enables companies, institutions and politicians to communicate and negotiate with counterparts from all over the world successfully. His career began as international manager at Philips and later he earned his doctorate as professor in communication. He has more than 35 years experience as manager and management trainer. Thus he knows both sides – theory and praxis – very well. As scientist, Prof. Beniers conducts frequently research in the field of intercultural communication. The results of his interesting research can be found in news articles, free pod casts, audio books and his E-books such as “Bridging The Cultural Gap.” Here, modern managers learn how to prepare for business meetings with people from different cultures; they acquire the techniques and tools to handle situations in times of crises successfully, master intercultural barriers, country-specific communication patterns, looking into personal cultural values & systems. Knowing all this, men can prevent cultural misunderstandings and misinterpretations – not only in business but also in private life.

Zoetermeer, 10-01-2019