It’s Saturday night and I’m preparing tomorrow’s lecture on Global Marketing when the discussion will focus on social and cultural environments. Critical to the discourse will be expressions and manifestations of culture that can impact global marketing strategies, and key aspects of high and low-context cultures. I’m joyful as my mind races back to the Mona School of Business and Management.
Toward the end of the EMBA programme we sat the Business Government and Society course. Twenty four months had gone. Fatigue. We wanted to complete and get out! But what a delightful, memorable, learning experience awaited us! That course was delivered, in different modules, by UWI’s finest: not one, nor two, but three distinguished scholars-Professors Edwin Jones and Rex Nettleford, and Dr. Derrick McKoy, himself now a professor. Navigating social and cultural issues wasn’t high on the agenda of most of us. But who could forget Prof. Jones leading the discussion on social capital, Jamaica being a low trust society, and the implications for governance and national development? We were under the spell of a master (sorry, professor) of his craft who simplified things without making them simple. And yes. His coined expression: the optique! Which takes me to tomorrow’s lecture.
Edward T. Hall (1976) has suggested the concept of high and low context as a way of understanding different cultural orientations. Keegan and Green (2013) claim that in a high-context culture lawyers are less important, there is trust, a sense of fair play, and a widespread acceptance of the rules of the game as it is played. That, according to them, defines the social and cultural environments in Japan and the Middle East, whereas in the low-context culture lawyers are very important and you had better “get it in writing.” Cited examples were America and Northern Europe.
The “Global Edition” of a text on, would you believe, global marketing, makes little mention of our precious Caribbean Nations. Shame on Keegan and Green! So, what would you say describes the social and cultural environments in our region: high or low context?
Hellllooo Prof. Jones!
Herman Alvaranga is a marketing and sales consultant.