IM_Case study 7_Malaysia_ASEAN.pdf - CASE STUDY Malaysia...

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Case study CASE STUDY 3 Malaysia: ASEAN’s cultural gold mine Dr. Siva Muthaly, Graduate School of Business, University of Newcastle, Australia Dr. Robert Rugimbana, Marketing Group, University of Newcastle, Australia Ms. Kavitha Sivagnanam, Pelabuhan Kelang, Malaysia Mr. Mike Willis, Department of Marketing, Monash University, Australia Introduction Malaysia with a population of 21.7 million is arguably the most racially and culturally diverse nation in the Asia- Pacific region. This rich heritage of diversity comprises of several cultural groups, such as the Malays, the Chinese and Indians, as well as important subcultural groups, such as the Ibans, Bidayuhs and Kadazans to name a few. The oldest indigenous peoples are referred to as bumiputera , which translates as sons or princes of the soil . Despite the diversity, ties between people have and continue to develop through education, sport and commerce. This reality, added to Malaysia’s natural wealth and strong economic growth, has paved the way for a very favourable investment climate as reflected in the soaring international trade and increased interest shown by foreign companies vying to gain entry and investment opportunities. This case study attempts to draw important links between the condition of Malaysia as a multicultural, rich society and the opportunities this presents to foreign business interests. The significant condition of cultural differentiation and its consequences is reflected in the significant works undertaken by Hofstede (1991) and other noteworthy cross-cultural authorities. The oppor- tunities to foreign business interests in Asia’s ‘tiger with a vision’ arising from this condition have also been discussed widely (Rafferty, 1990; Aliah Hanin Mohamed et al, 1998). Malaysia’s linguistic twists The main languages in Malaysia are Malay, Chinese, English, Tamil and native languages (Kaur & Melcalfe, 1998). However, in an effort to promote national unity, the government initiated a program to establish Malay as the exclusive official means of communication (i.e. Bahasa Malaysia), for all administrative purposes and as the medium of instruction in the state education system (Abdullah, 1992). However, from the late 1980s, there was growing concern in regard to the lack of sufficient competence in the English language and how this was hindering the educational performance of young Malaysians and ultimately the nation’s potential to deal effectively in an international setting.This concern lead to the introduction of a ‘language policy’ whereby greater emphasis was placed on promoting English as the second official (but in reality the first) international business language (Abdullah, 1992a). This bilingual stance implies that in order to successfully negotiate one’s way in Malaysia’s business world, a working knowledge of both Bahasa Malaysia and the English language is necessary.
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  • Fall '16
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