Wednesday, November 13, 2013

International Marketing - A Cultural Metaphor for Greece

Within the field of international marketing, cross-cultural consumer behavior, organization and management studies, Prof. Martin J. Gannon uses cultural metaphors to describe, compare, and analyze national cultures worldwide. In order to explore in-depth the unique cultural characteristics of a nation, Gannon adopts an emic approach, focusing on the qualitative examination of cultural symbols, practices, and institutions within their local context.

For the existing cross-cultural research into a country or a nation, the most influential one is the three-dimensional approach developed by Kluckholn, Strodtbeck, Hall and Hofstede. Their dimensions of culture, such as power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism-collectivism, masculinity, time orientation constitute a base upon which a majority of more recent studies have been built. Their works have been invaluable in the area of cross-cultural studies. However, their works are somewhat incomplete. Gannon noticed that the dimensional approach had weaknesses like :
  •  We should not look at a dimension separately, since culture is a complex whole, and psychological phenomena are multiply determined.
  • Can be atheoretical (i.e., always need theory regarding why dimensions exist).
  • Research in cross-cultural psychology tends to examine one dimension
  • Are extremely broad, and miss important elements.
  • Can obfuscate within culture diversity and dynamics of culture.

Gannon was based on all four aforementioned dimensional approaches but also on the following elements, which he suggests that should be carefully examined so that a the protocol for a cultural metaphor is applied. Usually, three to seven of these features of the metaphor, that include elements like below, are needed:

The Greek Comedy

Is the Greek Comedy a good cultural metaphor for Greece? Can it meet Gannon's criteria? Let's discover!

Humor & Komodia

The word komodia means literally in Greek "party (-komos-) song (-odi-)" and, if this is any indication of its origin, then comedy stems from revels (komoi) where partiers (komastai) sang songs (odai) in which they teased, mocked and made fools of spectators or public figures. Aristophanes used to target and mock Kleon, a famous Athenian demagogue, through its plays. Satira, the modern word of comedy, still dominant nowadays, is externalized in small-group discussions, organized team activities, modern Greek theatres and mass media communication channels, by teasing politicians, celebrities and in general influencing the public, social and political behavior in Greece.

Apart from teasing politicians and celebrities, in most Aristophanes comedies, Gods and goddesses were personified abstractions who seldom appeared in his plays. That means, comedies usually boosted the eternal need of the Greek people till today; Greeks like to feel free. They do not like to be dictated by superior forces and dislike the effects of any power mechanisms on their everyday life.

Prologue & Parodos

Introduction sets the mood and gives some idea as to what the audience can expect to occur. In Prologue - Parodos, the topic of discussion is set between the two debaters and it is implied to the audience that the debate will be refereed. This part of the comedy is representative of the ideas and the innovations that democracy and freedom of speech has established, as a public and politics activity. This concept is in fact the foundation of western civilization.

Furthermore, the Parodos process has a direct association with modern Greek entertainment. Parodos provided entertainment, accomplished with music, dance and extravagant spectacle, which is still what modern Greeks seek for, as regards their leisure pursuits and interests. In addition, the high noise levels produced during Parodos can be characterized as a prelude of the aural space of modern Greeks, who usually tolerate high noises as part of their routine.

Leisure interests and aural space in Greece.
Last but not least, Parodos reflects how Greek relationships, both professional and private, are early structured. Greeks tend to convey their feelings and thoughts, at least partially at the beginning of a relationship, usually the other party has some understanding of what will unfold, but it is only an imperfect preview, like Parodos suggested, because the unexpected frequently occurs.

                                                         ...To be continued...