• Focus On: Intercultural Communication

    Doing Business in... Moldova?

    MapProfessor Mariann Maris of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, was not surprised when she brought up doing business in Moldova and her students asked her if it was a real country. Of course, it is, but her students' lack of knowledge about Moldova provided a terrific jumping off point for a creative assignment.

    As an adjunct to Dr. Guffey's Business Communication: Process and Product
    Chapter 3, "Intercultural Communication," Dr. Maris devised a way to tie an assignment to help her students learn to adapt to business practices abroad. Although she asked her students to create a brochure using the scenario below, it can work using several genres. The outcome could be a group oral presentation with accompanying PowerPoint or other media. Or students could to write a collaborative report, either short and informal or long and formal. Likewise, you can change the country.

    See how you can tailor Prof. Maris's scenario for your students. Any way you look at it, we do our students a favor when we help them become aware of the global marketplace.

    The Situation: A Milwaukee-based company that manufactures medical supplies plans to send a team of sales people to Moldova and Transnistria for a month. The goal is to create another market for these products. You and your team's job is to help prepare the salespeople for doing business in Moldova and gather information about the all facets of the country including:

    • Business practices
    • Cuisine
    • Cultural and ethnic backgrounds and traditions of the people
    • History
    • Religious practices
    • Tourist attractions
    • Other information about Moldova and Transnistria that will affect doing business

    As you conduct your research, you'll need to address these issues:

    • Define culture. What are cultural characteristics? Is Moldova Transnistria a high context or low context culture?
    • What is ethnocentrism? How do tolerance and patience help you succeed in a global economy?
    • What techniques can be used to improve nonverbal and oral communication in Moldova and Transnistria?
    • Which techniques can improve written communication with your company's business partners in Moldova/ Transnistria?
    • Does the sales team need to understand more about intercultural ethics including business practices abroad, bribery, prevailing customs, and coping with these practices?
    • What does the team need to understand about workforce diversity including racial and gender issues in these countries?

    Ten questions to guide research:

    1. Is Transnistria a part of the country of Moldova or not? What issues does Transnistria face now and in the future?

    2. What travel arrangements would you make to travel from your town to the capitol of Moldova, Chisnau? Would it be difficult for you to visit Transnistria?

    3. What language(s) would you hear spoken in Transnistria?

    4. Before you got and once you get to Transnistria learn about the country.

    5. What holidays are celebrated during the year?

    6. If you were to spend a year in the city of Bendery, what kind of clothing should you pack? Do you need an umbrella? Snow boots? A swimming suit?

    7. What current events are in the news about Transistria? If you are living in this area on business, how should you respond to the news and political events taking place around you?

    8. What key features of business etiquette should you know about Bendery and Transistria? What behavior will be considered appropriate? What are  some examples of inappropriate behavior?

    9. What kind of gifts should you bring to your hosts?

    10. You have some time to spend weekends and your vacations sight-seeing. Where should you go in Transnistria? In Moldova? In the Ukraine?