Establishing in Malaysia : The Impact of Cultural Factors
Malaysia is one of the developing countries in the world that is on the verge to become de-veloped (Internationella Programkontoret, 2003). In 2004, Malaysia had a growth rate around 7% (United Nation Statistic Division, 2005) and it is implied that the Malaysian market is continuously growing. One factor that can increase the growth rate in Malaysia is foreign direct investments (FDI), which is, according to Chino (2004), one factor of sus-tainable growth. It has been noticed that the world is getting smaller and more companies are looking for opportunities outside the country boarders and in this situation Malaysia is an attractive alternative for establishment.
The purpose of this study is to investigate and deepen the understanding of cultural factors affecting the establishing process for Swedish companies in Malaysia, and through that cre-ate an awareness that can simplify the establishing process.
To answer the purpose of this study, a qualitative research has been used. Interviews with Swedish companies newly established in Malaysia have been performed. The respondents have been asked about the establishing process in Malaysia and the Malaysian culture. Ad-ditional interviews with the Swedish Trade Council and the Swedish Embassy have also been performed. The interview guides have been based on theories about FDI, the estab-lishment process and culture. Hollensen’s market entry strategies, Hollensen’s network model and Hofstede’s cultural dimensions are the main theories used throughout this study.
The authors have found through this study that the different ethnic groups in Malaysia are highly influential on the business environment and that foreign companies establishing in Malaysia have to be aware of this situation. The multicultural society is an advantage for Malaysia, through the locals’ ability to adapt to different cultures and the many different languages in the country. However, foreigners moving to Malaysia need to be aware of the special treatment of the Malays and how that affects the business environment. Two main problems have been found by the authors; the Malaysian bureaucracy and the locals unwill-ingness to let foreigners into their networks. This can be problematic for foreign compa-nies, but can be handled through the help of governmental functions such as MIDA or MSC, or through a company secretary or auditor.
Through this visualization of the cultural factors that affect the establishing process of Swedish companies in Malaysia, the authors hope to minimize the risk of them running into the same problems and obstacles.
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