Business structures in the USA are incredibly varied but tend to have several characteristics in common.
Firstly, the company is an entity in its own right and exists independently from its employees. Members come and go, perform necessary tasks at particular points in the life cycle of the company and then leave when no longer required for the wellbeing of the organisation. The relationship between employer and employee is a transactional one – where relationship and sentiment are a luxury which cannot be justified. Current economic conditions and the increasing influence of technology-based communication methodologies have only increased this disconnect between the employee and long-term, stable employment conditions. In a country where job-mobility and virtual working are increasing, transferable skills become the key to future success.
Secondly, the CEO of an American organisation holds great sway within the company. Senior management is more embedded in the personality at the top than in some other countries such as Germany where senior management is collegiate in approach. Although the company will have a Board of Directors, the Board is highly unlikely to have any input on the day-to-day running of the company which is left very much in the hands of the CEO who stands or falls on results. This can be seen as a high risk, high reward approach – it can bring great success but also spectacular failure.
Thirdly, accountability within the company tends to be vertical and easily observable. Americans like to know exactly where they stand on a particular issue, what their responsibilities are and to whom they report. When job security is weak you would really like to understand the extent of your liability on any particular issue.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
One of the paradoxes about the States is that we all know it from the media, films and music and we all form an internal image of the country and the way things are done there. The problem is that when you start to do business in the USA, you find that your internal image is a far cry from the reality you encounter on the ground. We go to the states with a million preconceptions, only to find them all challenged during the cut and thrust of normal business activities.
People often arrive in the States with the notion that it is the land of free-wheeling capitalism, where everything goes and red tape has been eradicated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Doing business in the States is as complex and challenging as in any other new international market. You need to do the same amount of initial research and strategising when entering the USA market as you do anywhere else in the world.
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security – many have and suffered the consequences.
At Global Business Culture, we are often amazed that clients feel they need to gain a better understanding of Chinese or Brazilian business culture but that the USA will somehow be easy or in some way ‘business culture free.’ Like all countries, the USA has a distinct and formidable business culture which drives most strategy and day-to-day interactions. Of course, there are some distinct regional differences but there are also States-wide attitudes that are well worth understanding and which will make your business dealings in the States more successful.
This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of business culture in the USA in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on: