Cross-Cultural Issues in Colombia that H&M Company Must Consider

Cross-Cultural Issues in Colombia

There are cross-cultural issues in Colombia that H&M Company must consider when venturing into a new business. Cultural issues will refer to people’s beliefs and values during interactions (Gerstein 2009). The first cross-cultural issue that exist in Colombia is the diversity of business culture across the country. Evidently, major cities embrace formal interaction in business while smaller cities encourage informal business approach. Therefore, the new company will face different business culture depending on the location.

The predominant language in Colombia is Spanish. However, there is a notable difference between the Spanish spoken in Europe and Latin American in terms of accents and usage of words. In fact, any company making the effort of entering the Colombian market must demonstrate efforts to communicate in Spanish. The Spanish usage is met with positive responses, particularly for those companies with an international outlook. Indeed, initial written approaches, such as product description and basic company profile for a new company should be in Spanish language.

Another cultural issue common with Colombians is that they do not do business over dinner. However, they are open for evening receptions, which should be purely for social purpose. Therefore, the management should restrain from organizing company meeting in tandem with evening parties.

Digital System Issues

In Colombia, multiple barriers hamper the use of the internet. Those challenges are found in all digital ecosystems, which include services, infrastructure, applications, and the end-user (Diego 2013). Firstly, the internet is not perceived as essential in business operations. The survey indicates that micro-business and the public do not use or consider the internet necessary (Thompson 2010). In fact, lack of specialized and vital applications and the content for the micro-enterprise explain the public view of the internet. Secondly, the cost for installation is expensive compared to other countries such as the United States of America. In addition, there are very few access points for internet, for instance, in 2010, only 200 municipalities had as access to the fiber-optic networks as compared to 1,120 available municipalities (Diego 2013).

The geographical features where urban areas are scattered, and the presence of administrative problems hinders the use of communication networks. Thirdly, the country has limited resources, which makes the investments in network infrastructure difficult (Export.Gv. 2014). In fact, the company has low purchasing power; therefore, the costs of subscribing to the internet services and the computer hardware are relatively high for the majority of Colombian citizens (Jainaba, Serengul, Elke and Paul 2004). Equally, many organizations prefer to use the analogue technology, which appear cheap and convenient for many employees and the company’s management (Costalas 2009).

Strategic advices for cross-cultural issues

Dealing with those issues requires training, education, and experience to unveil the steps required to progress behold cultural stereotypes and misconceptions. Firstly, the management must enhance their cultural awareness by doing research about the location of their intended business (Kari 2010). The information will assist in understanding the backgrounds and behaviors of the individuals they will be working with. The cultural awareness will improve the management’s cultural intelligence, a factor that will make an individual become more efficient and more in-tune when dealing with cultural differences (Lim nd). In addition, the management will identify the cultural nuances and their impacts on the new business.

Secondly, the management requires a mental preparation to avoid anxiety and stress in the overseas assignment. For the long-term success, the management must modify their behavior to accommodate the existing cross-cultural in the new country. Thirdly, all the business manuals and cards should be translated in Spanish to embrace the Colombian people and make them feel as part of the organization (Communicaid 2014.) Fourthly, Colombian people value families, friends, and their social life; therefore, during business meetings the management should integrate other discussions concerning Colombian employees. Lastly, the management must have a basic understanding of Spanish language, both as internal and external strategy or use the local interpreters. In this case, the management will communicate well with Colombian employees as well as their target customers. Eventually, the issues of the language barrier will not hamper the development of the new organization. Finally, the managers should ensure that their employees are intrinsically motivated by involving them in the decision-making process (Sanford and Sheena 2004).

Strategic Advices for Digital Systems

The development of ICT in Colombia market will increase the competitiveness of the entire country. The organizations will take advantage of the opportunities in the market through the emergence of interconnectivity, which will facilitate the global and local business opportunities. Firstly, to overcome this challenge the H&M Company will create interfaces that are accessible to the public explaining the importance of internet use to the people. The company will also develop content in local languages to inform the people about the usefulness of the internet as an intermediary between organizations and their business transactions (Diego 2013).

Secondly, the company will focus on training employees on how to use the internet as a tool for doing business and reaching out to other organizations and customers (Javier 2000). In fact, Colombia enjoys relative advantages in terms of the business environment, infrastructure, costs, and risks. Therefore, the Company will use these factors as a foundation for launching cheap internet infrastructural development. Thirdly, the internet challenge will be dealt with by expanding the applications and digital content focusing on the local needs. The content will assist the management to communicate their product benefits to the consumer as well as increasing the development opportunities. Those applications will allow the users to execute procedures, communicate, work, and learn various types of terminals, such as mobile phones, computers, and tablets.



Costalas, G. 2009, Intercultural Communication between Colombian and American Teachers

in Colombian Institutions. Bogotá, Colombia, pp. 159-167.

Diego, M. V. 2013, Colombia’s Digital Agenda: Successes and the Challenges Ahead, The Global Information Technology Report, pp. 1-7.

Export.Gv. 2014, Doing Business in Colombia. Viewed on 23rd October 2014.


Gerstein, L. H. 2009, International handbook of cross-cultural counseling: cultural assumptions and practices worldwide. Los Angeles: Sage.

Lim, T. (nd) Leadership Across Different Cultures. Available at: <>

Jainaba J., Serengul G., Elke, D., and Paul, C. 2004, Cross-cultural Interface Design Strategy. Interaction Design Centre, pp.1-7.

Javier, Q. 2000, Organizational Change: Formulating, Implementing, and Sustaining a Fundamental Organizational Change in South American Central Banks Pilot Study Colombia, 16-302.

Kari, H. 2010, Cross Cultural Marketing Tips. Available at:<>

Sanford, E., and Sheena, S. I. 2004. Manager’s theories of subordinates: A cross-cultural examination of manager perceptions of motivation and appraisal of performance. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 93, pp. 47–61.

Thompson, A. 2010, Doing Business in Colombia. A Cultural Guide, pp.1-39.

Communicaid. 2014, Colombia in focus. Available at:  <>

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