Avoid the Hamster Wheel in International business and trade culture

For humans to be portrayed as hamsters in a wheel is not considered something positive. It suggests putting in effort without ever obtaining results. A waste of time. More importantly, though, it points out people’s silliness for sticking to a habit and the inability to pause, reflect and redirect efforts. That is a problem in international business and trade culture.

Efficiently Doing the Wrong Thing in International Business

The metaphor of a hamster wheel can be understood in terms of efficiency and effectiveness; efficiency is defined as ‘doing things right and effectiveness is ‘doing the right thing’. People being portrayed as hamsters in a wheel, therefore, are considered as efficiently doing the wrong thing.

The Concept of Time

Unlike hamsters, humans are time conscious and their concept of time is influenced by many variables, including national culture. Regardless of culture, many people in international business like to measure time in terms of change, such as achievement. To achieve, people adopt habits to reach success quicker and more frequently.

Humans as Hamsters in International Expansion

For companies that aim at international expansion, some established habits can be helpful. However, consciously or unconsciously applying old habits in new markets can be catastrophic. The examples are numerous, but the example of Walmart ‘serving with a smile debacle’ in Germany, stands out.

The Wheel in Reverse

For companies that want to expand internationally, it is crucial to recognize habits and seek guidance to obtain new insights. Long-term persistence may be required or success might be close already. Avoiding the hamster wheel in international business and trade culture altogether is better than getting out of it, because after a while in the wheel, one may be tempted to run back.

An article about “assumptions in international businesscan be found here.

Trust is important in international business, read more about trust here.

An article on international management expectations can be found here.


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