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American Business Culture

Origins of American Business Culture

American Business Culture has its origins with the 16th and 17th century pioneers.  These were immigrants from different lands who came to America to find a new life in an unfamiliar environment.  As a result, the origins of American culture and American business culture generated characteristics of self-reliance, independence, freedom, competition, and individuality.

American Business Culture Beliefs and Behaviors

Direct Communications

A straight forward, direct form of communication is highly valued in American Business.  Americans take pride in saying what they mean, and meaning want they say.  No means no in the boardroom.  Having this belief system, American business people expect the same of their foreign counterparts.

Time is Money

How often have we heard this cliché of "Time is Money"?  This concept has been interwoven into American Business Culture.  Time is a commodity.  American businesses try to improve efficiencies in their operations by saving time on completing tasks.  American business people want to be punctual in getting projects completed on time or ahead of schedule.  Unlike other business cultures which put less value on time, Americans want to start and finish their meetings on time.

American Optimism

Although the level of optimism various according to the state of the economy, Americans typically are very optimistic about their businesses and future.  It is no wonder.  The American economy is driven by small businesses created by those with the American dream.  If you work hard and follow the rules, you will succeed.  You control your own destiny. Many of these small business entrepreneurs have started several businesses and watched them fail.  Their tenaciousness and not accepting failure kept them going.  This is the core of the American Optimism in American Business Culture.

Photo Credit: New York - Caroline Keyzor

Cultural Stereotypes of Americans

Foreigners have stereotypes of Americans and American culture.  Such stereotyping transcends into the American business world.  Here are some of the major stereotyping of Americans:

Americans Only Care About Money

As the most prosperous nation in the world, and the ultimate example of capitalism, it is no wonder that Americans are perceived as money hungry go getters.  However, America is also one of most generous countries in the world.  Yes, it is true that they earn a lot of money but they also donate a lot of it to charities too.  Although Americans and American culture are despised of in certain parts of the world, it is the Americans that the world expects to be the first to lead and volunteer in almost any crisis around the world.  

Americans are Just Loud and Aggressive

Compared to Europeans and the Latin American community, Americans may seem reserved.  Relative to Canadians, Asians or British, Americans do seem loud and pushy especially in a business environment.  However, this aggressive and pushy characteristic is often considered a positive for American businesses.  It is a sign that the American worker can get things done for the organization.

Americans Have a Naïve View of How the World Works

America is blessed with an abundance of natural resources and political stability.  These characteristics provided many Americans the opportunity to capture the American Dream.  You can accomplish whatever your heart desires.  You can be whatever and whoever you want to be. This philosophy is perceived as Naïve and childlike by countries around the world when they are constantly being invaded or trying to survive the latest natural disaster.

Americans tend to be Self Absorbed

Life outside the U.S. doesn't get much attention within the U.S. unless Americans are involved or American interests are at stake.  Then the issue gets focused by the U.S. media and it becomes a spectacular event.  To the average American, the outside world's constant bickering and strange cultures do seem foreign and far away.

Americans Love Guns

When thinking about Americans, many have images of the Wild West where gun slinging cowboys ride horses into the sunset.  Unlike many countries in the world, the right to bear arms is in the U.S.'s constitution. It makes it difficult to have any kind of gun control or gun reform.  The fundamental right has been a debate for every generation since the birth of the constitution.  So it is no wonder that foreigner think that Americans all own guns

Americans Stick their Noses in Other People's Business

It appears that Americans are always involved with other countries' affairs especially wars.  Some aspects of this point of view are true as Americans see themselves as the defender of freedom within its borders and outside of its borders.  Consequently, Americans are drawn into other countries' civil wars when freedom is at stake.   Often times Americans see themselves at the 3rd party trying to resolve conflict.  "When you see two people killing themselves on the street, you just need to get involved".

Americans are Phony When it comes to Friendships

Americans appear friendly but it is difficult to establish real friendships. This phenomenon can be traced to the country's migration from East to West.  Unlike other nationalities, Americans are very mobile.  It is not uncommon for them to move from one city to another for their careers every three to five years.  This willingness to relocate does make it difficult for the Americans to establish long term relationships.

Americans Appear to Take Pride in their Lack of Sophistication

Americans just don't stack up when you compare them to the sophistication of the French or Italians in the area of arts.  Appreciation for fine arts just isn't a national pastime in America as in other nations.  Although the United States has the highest standard of living in the world, illiteracy is still quite high relative to the rest of the world.

If you are an American dealing with foreigners in the international trade of importing from China, you need to be ware of these American stereotypes. If you are a foreigner doing business with the U.S., try to understand what aspects of the stereotype are true and which ones are not true.  It will make your business dealings much easier.

Real Experiences!

Miguel L., Import to USA

“Our company is trying to import a product line to the USA.  Thanks for providing all the rules and regulations.“