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parker - Running head COMMUNICATION ON WEB SITES 1...

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Running head: COMMUNICATION ON WEB SITES 1 Communication on Web sites Parker Xu University of Mary Hardin Baylor Managerial Communication
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Running head: COMMUNICATION ON WEB SITES 2 Abstract In business world, skills of language and communication, especially high- versus low-context communication styles are critical because they have been shown to lead to differences in Web sites. Based on theories of intercultural business communication and recent empirical studies, this article investigates how communication styles influence Web site design and content. It is hypothesized that, for the global audience, Web sites from low-context communication countries are easier to find, use colors and graphics more effectively, make navigation more user-friendly, contain more corporate and product information cues, and offer more contract- and relationship-related content than Web sites from high context communication countries. Keywords : communication; web sites; international business communication
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Running head: COMMUNICATION ON WEB SITES 3 Communication on Web Sites INTRODUCTION The Internet is a global medium by definition (Kobrin, 2001). It represents a communication network of interlinked computers operating on a standard protocol. There is no geographic limitation to Internet access and suppliers in any country can create Web sites containing information and dialogue content. The Internet allows industrial supplier companies from all countries to relate with customer companies from other, particularly distant country markets. The Internet has also been shown to enable companies to accelerate their internationalization process as compared with companies internationalizing mainly through traditional brick-and-mortar business, to the extent that some new businesses may be considered “born global” (Loane, 2006). Web sites are attractive for business-to- business (B2B) companies as Internet-based business communication tools and tend to be increasingly standardized over time (Jones, 2007). The main purpose of this article is to investigate if communication styles influence the content and the design of Web sites. The study is based on a content analysis of 597 B2B Web sites from 57 countries with a diversified sample in terms of company size and industry. B2B Web site design and content may be assumed to be reflective of country of origin, language, and communication style. When companies have a definite home-country, with homogeneous employees in terms of nationality and culture, all of them speaking the same language that conveys cultural codes and particular communication patterns, Web site design and content are likely to be influenced by their communication style. This domestic country bias is related to ethnocentrism, defined as the natural tendency to view one’s own group as the center of the universe (Sumner, 1906, and expounded by Levine & Campbell, 1972). The approach of culture-centered Web
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Running head: COMMUNICATION ON WEB SITES 4
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