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Cultural Analysis- Czech Republic
Understanding cultural diversity is significantly important in driving global business. This is because different countries have different cultures and in one way or the other affect the business environment. For a company or organization that seeks to expand its business or activities to international markets, cultural analysis is a must process. This involves looking at issues such as the country’s relevant history, geographical setting, social institutions, religion and aesthetics, living conditions, social security, health care and language among others. The company at hand is Dogfish Head and was started in June 1995 with the intention of bringing original beer, original food and original music to the area surrounding the resort beach community of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware (Dogfish, 2016). The company now intends to expand its operations to Czech Republic with its major export product being beer.
Brief Discussion of Czech’s Beer History
Indeed Czech has a long history of beer brewing estimated at more than a thousand years. Earliest evidence of a brewery in Czech was discovered a few years ago by historians and it is now nearly certain that it was founded in 993 at Brevnov Monastery in Prague. However, before the confirmation of that date, reference to brewing in Czech was thought to be in 1088 when the use of hops for brewing was first mentioned by Vratislav II. It is also worth noting that much of the early beer was brewed using top-fermenting yeast and due to its cloudy white appearance, it was widely known as “white beer” or bile pivo. There was also another type of beer known as stare pivo or “old beer” and was usually kept for longer using bottom-fermenting yeast (Rail, 2016).
By early 19th century, importation and exportation of beer was made easier, thanks to improved transportation. Bottom-fermented beer imported from Southeastern Germany began arriving in Bohemia and drinkers fell in love with the so-called “Bavarian Beer”. With the growing popularity of the beer, brewery owners began to produce their own imitations. For instance, the brewery owned by residents of Pilsen City with brewing rights became successful to the extent that they inspired more Czech breweries to embrace bottom fermentation. The rest of the 19th century was characterized by increase in developments and more specifically, a shift to industrial brewing. Despite various challenges in the history of beer brewing in Czech, the industry managed to pick up and by early 21st Century, there were over 100 breweries producing varieties of beer. Today, the country boasts of over 250 breweries and most importantly, consumers embrace original beer hence, providing a window of business opportunity for Dogfish Head Company.
Czech Republic is strategically located in the geographical heart of Europe hence, extremely accessible from both the developed western markets and the emerging Eastern Markets (Stamenkovic, 2006). Being a land locked country, Czech shares borders with Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia, creating a densely populated market for the product. In regards to climatic conditions, Czech experiences a moderate and transitional climate resulting from the country’s topography. There are two regions to consider when discussing the topography of the country. First, there is Bohemia in the west characterized by rolling plains, plateaus and hills and second, there is Moravia in the East which is very hilly (Nations Encyclopedia, 2016). However, it’s worth mentioning that the country has accessible roads as well as enhanced rail infrastructure that makes it easier to distribute products across the geographical setting.
In Czech Republic, family is considered the center of the social structure hence; one’s first priority is obligation to the family. A typical household unit is the nuclear family and generally consists of the husband, wife and children (biological and or stepchildren). As for the extended family, it is common to see households that allow married couples to live with their parents in the same house. For majority of urban Czechs, the relationship with extended family is limited to close relatives such as uncles, aunts and first cousins.
In regards to parental roles under dynamics of the family, the father is the head of the family and provides for the family. Women on the other hand are responsible for household chores, but also compete with men for employment hence, contribute in providing for the family. It is also common to see families taking in their parents to help them take care of their children while they go to work. Children on the other hand are expected to help at home and when they secure employment after studies, they are expected to help their families. When it comes to marriage, selecting a spouse is the sole responsibility of the young couple unlike in the past where the socioeconomic standing and education played a significant role. Most newly-weds chose to live separate from their families, but are sometimes forced to live with them due to housing shortage. It is also common to see spouses working to provide for the family, unless a young child keeps the mother at home temporarily (Everyculture.com, 2016).
It is also important to examine the gender roles of the Czechs. Generally, there is a tremendous shift in roles in that in the past, men were expected to work and provide for their families, while women remained at home to take care of household chores. Today, both men and women compete in the job market and many women in particular have become successful performing roles that were otherwise associated with men. In fact, women in Czech Republic participate significantly in domestic decision making (Everyculture.com, 2016).
Indeed education is highly valued and plays a major role in the Czech Society. Public primary schools or what is known as elementary schools are free and children are required to attend for five years. The quality of education is good and generally prepares students for secondary education. For those who plan to join a university, they enroll for an eight-year gymnasium which is basically a secondary school that prepares them for higher education. They then take a final examination at the end of the eighth year known as maturita. Higher education is highly valued and offers quality education to students. It consists of public, state and private universities. Public and state universities are free and unlimited up to the age of 26 (Everyculture.com, 2016).
Based on the fact that the government offers free education that is compulsory at the elementary level in public schools and also free public secondary and university education up to the age of 26, literacy levels are high in the sense that many people can read and write.
Czech Republic is basically a parliamentary democracy, characterized by the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers. Two chambers exist in the parliament; chamber of the Senate and Deputies. The president is elected by the parliament for a term of five years. The president in turn appoints the Prime Minister based on results of parliamentary elections. Worth noting is that due to Czech Republic being a parliamentary democracy, the Prime Minister bears the bulk of the political power (AFI, 2013).
When planning to do business in the Czech Republic, there are two main Codes that should be taken into consideration. They are; the Commercial Code and the Trade Act. These Codes govern forms of business entities, the rights as well as obligations of individuals engaging in business activities, commercial commitments and relationships that relate to domestic and foreign trade activities (AFI, 2013).
Understanding social organizations in Czech Republic is important for avoiding cultural conflicts and for effective interactions with potential customers. There are a number of group behaviors that are common in the country. One such group behavior is respect for the elderly and pregnant women. It is common to see people going to the extent of vacating their sits in trains or public buses to allow the elderly or pregnant women to sit. Another group behavior is the use of titles when addressing one another. The use of first name is preserved for the elderly addressing younger members of the society and to very close friends. It is also important to note that Czechs stand at an arm’s length when addressing others except for situations where the message conveyed is confidential. There is also the group behavior of taking off shoes when visiting a private home and in fact, some home will have slippers for their guests (My Prague Sights, n.d).
In regards to social classes, initially, the communist rule created a social hierarchy that artificially kept wages at similar levels and property ownership was through state channels. However, Czech Republic is fast drifting from the relatively equal distribution to that of a class system. It is also important to mention that Czechs socialize through clubs and there are many of them. Examples include; lecture clubs, art activities, sport and cooking. In terms of race and ethnicity, Czech is practically homogenous and given that minorities make up a small percentage of the population, they have been assimilated into their culture and are rarely discriminated (Everyculture.com, 2016).
Business Customs and Practices
Based on Dogfish Head’s intentions of expanding its operations in Czech Republic, it is obvious that a number of business meetings and interactions in general will have to be conducted. It is therefore important to understand some of the business customs and practices observed in the country in order to guarantee successful business.
To begin with business meetings, Czechs are strict on appointments. One has to make an appointment in advance and letters should be addressed to the company instead of a specific person. Punctuality is also important and initial meetings are meant for both parties to get to know each other. Communication on the other hand tends to be formal and somewhat indirect. Generally, Czechs avoid confrontations or purposively offending those they do business with. Their body language is worth observing such as lowering of the eyes while silent to mean they are not happy with what has been said (kwintessentia, n.d). In regards to business negotiations, it will take some considerable amount of time before Czech business counterparts become familiar and appear comfortable with those they intend to do business with. Also, business is conducted slowly since it is hierarchical meaning that decisions are made by the top management. It is therefore recommended that one acts politely and be patient in order to avoid cancellations or unsuccessful business (kwintessentia, n.d).
Religion and Aesthetics
Czech Republic is composed of different religious denominations. While there are no precise numbers of the members of existing denominations, it is estimated that Roman Catholics make up 40 percent of the population, protestants, 4 to 5 percent, orthodox, 1 percent and atheists, uncommitted and agnostics, 54 percent. This shows that there are no major religious hindrances to consumption of beer. As for aesthetics, the country supports various arts such as visual arts and music. For a long time, music has remained Czech’s most popular art. This has enhanced the culture of attending concerts, recitals, folklore and other musical presentations (Everyculture.com, 2016).
Traditional Czech diet may be considered heavy given that it emphasizes on meat, potatoes and dumplings. There is also the use of substantial amounts of animal fats, cream and butter. As for beverages, Czech is well known for beer. For instance, good wines are domestically produced in Moravia (Everyculture.com, 2016). Housing on the other hand is a big challenge in the country hence, invitations are normally limited to close relatives and close friends. Some are also forced to live with their parents in the same household. In terms of clothing, Czechs are keen on dressing for the occasion and as such, it is common to see individuals adhering to official dressing while conducting business. Worth noting also, is that Czechs embrace sporting and recreational activities such as skiing, hiking, boat peddling and horse riding (Everyculture.com, 2016).
In Czech Republic, every person who is working is insured with the Czech Social Security and automatically pays contributions to the social security system. This automatic deduction is done by the employer and amounts to 8 percent of one’s gross salary. It’s important to note that employers are expected to pay, from their funds, social insurance amounting 26 percent of gross wages for their employees (My Prague Sights, n.d).
Since the Velvet revolution in 1989, health care system in Czech Republic has undergone and continues to undergo major changes. In general, the health care system in Czech Republic is anchored on five pillars. The first one is solidarity, whereby the system fosters solidarity between the healthy people and the sick by simply separating the provision of health care and its financing. The second pillar is high degree of self-determination. The third one is multi-source financing. The health care is majorly funded from direct funds, national and regional budgets and public health insurance. The fourth one is equal access to health care by all insured persons and lastly, obligatory vaccination against diseases identified as infectious.
Comparing Czech’s health care to the world’s average, it is much better. Firstly, the country has one of the lowest numbers of persons per physician and one of the highest number of hospital beds per capita. It also has an infant mortality rate of 6 per 1,000 live births which is equally impressive. Life expectancy on the other hand stands at males (70.5 years) and female (77.5 years). The main causes of death are cancer and diseases of the circulatory system (Everyculture.com, 2016).
The official language spoken and written in Czech Republic is Czech which is basically a Slavonic language in the same category as Slovak, Russian, Polish, Bulgarian, Serbian and Croatian. The language is spoken by approximately 96 percent of the inhabitants and has several regional dialects. Mainly, the differences in these dialects emerge from the pronunciation of vowels and also the names of local or regional dishes, costumes and plants (Everyculture.com, 2016). It is however important to note that nowadays people can make themselves understood in English, German and Russian.
AFI. (2013). Czech Business Environment. Retrieved April 7, 2016, from Association for Foreign Investment: http://www.afi.cz/czech-business-environment
Dogfish. (2016). Company Profile. Retrieved April 9, 2016, from Dogfish : http://www.dogfish.com/company/dogfish-way/company-profile.htm
Everyculture.com. (2016). Czech Republic. Retrieved April 8, 2016, from Countries and their Cultures: http://www.everyculture.com/Cr-Ga/Czech-Republic.html
kwintessentia. (n.d). Czech Republic - Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette. Retrieved April 7, 2016, from kwintessentia: http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/czech.html
My Prague Sights. (n.d). A Little Czech Republic Culture. Retrieved April 8, 2016, from My Prague Sights: http://www.my-prague-sights.com/czech-republic-culture.html
Nations Encyclopedia. (2016). Czech Republic - Location, size, and extent . Retrieved April 8, 2016, from Nations Encyclopedia: http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Europe/Czech-Republic-LOCATION-SIZE-AND-EXTENT.html
Rail, E. (2016). A Brief History of Czech Beer. Retrieved April 8, 2016, from Prague.eu: http://www.prague.eu/en/articles/history-of-czech-beer-10522
Stamenkovic, B. (2006, March 1). Investment in the Czech Republic. Retrieved April 9, 2016, from Expatz.cz: http://www.expats.cz/prague/article/prague-business/czech-invest/
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