MGTS 2606 Contemporary Business Communication and Organisation
You need to analyse the assigned case in the context of cultural differences between companies from two countries. This includes identifying intercultural differences (e.g., values) and communication problems, relating them to theories/models covered in lectures, readings, and previous courses dealing with “people problems” (e.g., OB/HRM/Leadership). Based on existing literature (i.e., empirical studies), provide recommendations on how these problems can be overcome.
Case Study: Planting Seeds For Trade With Naturebios
Last year, members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the Southern Common Market, Mercosur, entered into negotiations to form a free trade agreement. Attracting new global partners offers hope for Mercosur member, Brazil, to turn around its worst economic recession in history. The country already has a longstanding relationship with multi-nations from the EFTA to supply them with coffee beans and other commodities to meet high consumer demand. Under a new agreement, tariffs will be lowered or removed to grant cheaper access to more diverse industrial sectors. Norway, in particular, is eager to tap into benefits of the enormous Brazilian biodiversity for general health products and pharmaceuticals.
Currently, the Nordic nation is experiencing a booming appetite for nutrition and energy drinks with many restaurants and snack bars even stocking these items on their menus. Sales growth is predicted to continue rising as new players come onto the scene, jockeying for competitive advantage. One small health food retailer, BodyHigh, plans to capitalise on this trend, extending their existing range of diet and protein supplements to reach a broad spectrum of consumers desiring natural energy boosters in their Oslo stores. They researched technology companies in Brazil that are developing bio-products from plant-based compounds, and stumbled across Naturebios, a therapeutics company that patented and is completing the final stages of trialling a lycopene. It is a phytochemical found in guava and is useful for reducing the energy needed to transition to high energy states.
Naturebios claims their lycopene is more advantageous for usage in health drinks over the traditional red carotene synthesised in tomatoes because it is a stable substance. BodyHigh wants to exploit this opportunity to approach management at Naturebios before others try to access them in light of the proposed EFTA, and since access to rich deposits in Brazilian rainforests are opening to private entities. Previously, the law was so restrictive that virtually no one dared to take the steep risks to entry until Biodiversity Law, enacted in 2015, changed legislation to facilitate the possibility of foreign partnerships.
Headquartered in the bustling metropolis of São Paulo, much of Naturebios research and development is handled in collaboration with Amazonian Bioscience Laboratory, a private institution that is primarily subsidised by public funding; yet, they are seeking investment from national and foreign private entities. When BodyHigh’s marketing executive, Sofie Hansen, contacted the CEO of Naturebios, Dr. Ana Sousa, to schedule a meeting for her boss, Jakob Larsen, and herself, she received a favourable response. The following month, Hansen and Larsen’s plane landed in São Paulo and they were greeted by the CEO of Naturebios with her assistant who presented their business cards and handshakes. Hansen and Larsen casually said hello and read out their first names. Then the hosts took the visitors for breakfast to get acquainted. Sousa asked about their lives in Oslo, but Hansen and Larsen focused on business matters, and they did not seem to know about each other’s families. Following a stopover at the hotel, the group reconvened at Naturebios office to gather in the board room.
Naturebios chief scientist, Dr. Victor Gomes, explained the company history of capacity- building and expansion of industry-oriented research. The BodyHigh team asked about market release dates and future plans to extend the lycopene product line. However, they did not enquire about harvesting techniques or support for Indigenous people where the plants would be gathered. Gomez spent time discussing the crucial role conservation plays in concert with operations, explaining how resources are devoted to protecting the culture and preserving natural resources for all involved local communities. He gave them a detailed sustainability report, stating how they complied with all national rules. Larsen said BodyHigh would be drafting a corporate social responsibility policy, but he did not have time to prepare a statement addressing concerns for local welfare or sustainable development.
Hansen justified she had been on holiday and instead asked about recommended ways to package and sell the guava-derived lycopene as powder, liquid, gel or bar forms for retail purposes. Naturebios leader, Sousa, described her vision for the product launch. Then she questioned BodyHigh about their views of the reputation of ‘cowboy’ behaviour in the Norwegian industry where smaller stores were accused of bringing in products from Sweden to avoid payment of GST and resell supplements in Norway at higher prices; and she asked their views on claims that stores sell energy supplements to people who are not conditioned or do not exercise which could put them in jeopardy. BodyHigh said these activities were baseless and they dismissed concerns over the use of misleading marketing by dishonest retailers. Many trustworthy actors in the industry though warned Naturebios of these dangers of dealing with small companies so they were curious if employees were trained to discourage these practices. Sousa asked about BodyHigh’s recruitment procedures. Did they have training classes? Larsen explained that new employees are given a product manual containing manufacturer product specifications when hired, and they can consult with management if necessary. Retail turnover is fairly high in Norway he reasoned, to let people laterally build their careers and put in efforts to succeed.
Sousa probed further about BodyHigh’s corporate culture. Did the company encourage get- togethers for competitions perhaps? And did they have incentives in place for team building? Hansen said she posts online and in-store notices of sports competitions in which employees or customers share their experiences, especially on Instagram and Facebook. Employees cherish having their own free time to travel for skiing and to enjoy other recreational activities.
Sousa wanted to know if BodyHigh has reinvestment plans. Larsen said he set up an initial business plan and opened his outlets all at once in prime commercial districts. They are busy centres. He is trying to maintain costs to take out a loan to open up another store in a new zone on the waterfront, and he reassured Sousa that they will continue to look for similar opportunities.
Although Naturebios wanted to strengthen trade cooperation to stimulate their production and employment through increasing exports, they decided it was in their corporate and national interests to meet with other established businesses in the sports nutrition field. When they received a follow-up email from the BodyHigh representatives, Sousa personally thanked them for their visit in a letter, but she indicated a desire to await an answer from the regulatory body prior to selecting a business partner.
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