Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Reminder of True Nature of Capitalism

One benefit of teaching for Bellevue University is that I get students who are, or have been, all over the world, usually because of military service. A current student had an interesting observation on business culture.

Student observation:

America as a whole has digressed when it comes to honesty and respect in our culture. In my travels I’ve encountered several cultures. Japan and Turkey, in my opinion, are the most respectful and courteous cultures I’ve been exposed to.

The Japanese greet one another with not only a formal salutation but a physical form of courtesy as well, bowing. They have “laws” prohibiting talking on cell phones on public transportation to respect workers that may sleep in transit and common practices like turning off heads lights while stopped in traffic to prevent lights from blinding other drivers.

In Turkey, the people are extremely friendly. They greet with formal salutations and hug and business patrons are treated like family whether they are first-time buyers or regular customers. The Turkish like to get to know people before they do any business with you because they consider business partners family. I think these two cultures have deep roots of honesty and respect and Americans can learn a lot from them in those aspects of their cultures.

True capitalism is not exploitative. It is a system of mutually beneficial transactions. It is about relationships. I don't know whether America "as a whole" has lost the sense that cultivation of relationships is part of business culture, but certainly the long-term health of a capitalist system depends on such an ethic.

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