European Business is a book written by Simon Mercado, Richard Welford and Kate Prescott. Their aim is to raise the key issues facing European business today and to evaluate some of the strategic and operational responses to European’s evolving environment. Authors seem to be positive towards changes in European Union’s market. They believe that operational flexibility and innovation could be important to the future development and competitiveness of European companies. They also emphasise how crucial is to take account of cultural nuances in order to avoid expensive mistakes.
The book is recommended to be used during business courses. It presents a deep insight into various issues, for example development of European Union, its economic, business and employment policies and different strategies of European companies, to name just a few. It also provides case studies for those problems.
I have decided to focus mainly on chapters containing cultural diversity and environmental policies, for those topics are quite important and interesting for me.
Chapter titled “Managing cultural diversity” explains cultural impact on the strategies of companies and how one can analyse cultural differences. Moreover it enumerates challenges of managing across cultures of European Union and advises, which systems and strategies can be used to help overcome differences.
It was emphasised, that understanding cultural differences and sensitivity to them can lead to better understanding of social-market dynamics, achieving a higher-level of intercultural effectiveness and avoiding faux pas. Learning about cultures in each foreign market is crucial for any successive international company. One must remember, that cultural analysis is about reception, engagement and learning, not only assessing how different groups are. The most generic aspects of cultural environment are: language, social organization, education, material culture, religion, political economy, the law and values and attitudes.
International enterprises should take into consideration those aspects and take suitable action to maintain their effectiveness, when work-related values differ, by for example varying its management process. Adequate training of managers and creating opportunities to work with members of other cultures are also very important for intercultural effectiveness.
In this chapter a very interesting case study was presented—a case of the first Disneyland in Paris. I learned with a great surprise that few years after its launch in 1992 the park was very unpopular amongst French people—and that the farmers had blocked its gates. The reason for mentioned difficulties and dissatisfaction of French customers was company’s insensitivity to cultural differences. Disney finally have found the solution for its problems: the company, inter alia, started selling alcohol in the park, provided American-style snacks, lowered prices of tickets and renamed park from EuroDisney to Disneyland Paris. Only after those changes the park become profitable. This case perfectly shows, why understanding of cultural difference is so important for successful companies.
Next chapter, “The greening of European business: environmental policies and management”, focuses on environmental damage caused by companies and methods, how to limit the pollution caused by production and consumption and what companies can do to reduce the environmental damage.
The biggest environmental issues, that Europe and world is facing today, are atmospheric pollutions, the greenhouse effect, the hole in the ozone layer, poor quality of air and water, and wastes. There are methods, which can be used to reduce the amount of pollution. The most obvious targets for improvement are more efficient use of resources and lesser energy consumption. Companies should ensure that their products, production and distribution are less harmful to the environment. They should also audit their performance and assess impact they have on the environment. Contribution to reshaping of customer behaviour is also important.
European Union has adapted some environmental policies, action programmes and legislations. The first action program, which ran from 1973 to 1976, set a number of principles which formed the basis of environmental action in European Union. Those principles were later used to create policies.
The environmental legislation of European Union and its members is largely based on the ‘polluter pays principle’. This principle means, that the public money should not be used to prevent or clean pollution. Instead, the company responsible for pollution should pay the tax based on the social cost that the pollution imposed or costs of investing in new, non-polluting process.
In this chapter’s case studies authors presented two environment-friendly companies and described in detail their ‘green’ methods of production and distribution.
Author: Agata Smoczyńska