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Investigations of cultural differences between countries play an essential role in revealing opportunities important for unveiling business potential of every organization. Great Britain is famous for its vivid culture inspiring travelers from the remote corners of the world to experience the magnificence of the country. In business, some entrepreneurs aspire to expand business performance into the UK, while others still doubt whether decision to invest in the British business sector is a financially wise decision. Cultural, political, legal, technological, natural, economic, and competitive environments are the objectives of the analysis that should reflect a realistic picture of historical and current trends of the development of Great Britain. A combination of a brief historical context and current trends shows international businesses that they should consider the UK as a favorable platform for business growth under beneficial influence of external and internal forces.
Culture of the United Kingdom (UK) has a long history influenced by liberal democracy, Christianity, major power, and four countries, namely England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Every country belonging to the UK has its own customs, traditions, and symbolism that make the UK rich in cultural aspects. The Western World also contributed to the contemporary culture of the UK by means of representative democracy, Protestantism, and Humanism. Today, the world recognizes British music, cinema, literature, theatre, art, television, media, comedy, education, architecture, and philosophy. Football also became a well-known peculiarity of the British culture that defined a sheer interest of the local citizens in sport. A mixture of cultures and numerous peculiarities made London a cultural capital famous all over the world. It is difficult to outline the main forces that contributed to the development of the UK culture due to the complex influence of many of them. However, the Industrial Revolution that took place in the 18th century became the main contributor to the contemporary culture of the UK, as well as to the development of its science and technologies (Prince, 2014). Geographical location of the UK and beneficial influence of the natural resources allowed Britain to attract other countries interested in trade and cooperation. Extensive coastlines and a variety of navigable rivers became appealing to the traders in the period when water was the main means of traveling and transportation. As a result, the UK started the development of its culture under the influence of the numerous visitors representing cultures from the most remote corners of the world.
Education is another vital aspect in the culture of the UK that aroused global respect and recognition of highly qualified professionals from Great Britain. The University of Oxford, the London School of Economics, and the University of Cambridge are among the most popular educational institutions bringing to the world professionals in every field of human activity (Prince, 2014). Presence of highly ranked educational institutions in the UK is an appealing peculiarity attracting students from other countries willing to enjoy a privilege of studying in one of the most reputable universities.
It is difficult to cover a myriad of peculiarities of the British culture in a full manner due to the complex nature of arts, education, social characteristics, communication aspects, architecture, and national places of interests. However, it is clear that Great Britain offers a favorable platform for international businesses looking for a culturally diverse environment with opportunities that allow finding personal niche in the welcoming British culture (Prince, 2014). However, international businesses should remember that business communication and business etiquette are vital parts of the British culture requiring accommodation to the cultural environment with full respect for local ethical values and traditional peculiarities.
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Political and Legal Environment
The UK consists of three government branches, which are executive, judicial, and legislative branches. The executive branch is liable for appointment and dismissal of a Prime Minister and commission officers, development and ratification of treaties, and deployment of the Armed Forces abroad. The judicial branch aims to find appropriate solutions to the problems of devolution and defines the legal scope of the governments of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The legislative branch focuses on the performance of the Parliament and its Ministers. Trade, economic development, security, and social welfare are objectives of every branch aiming to establish a preferable environment for the UK in the international affairs. NATO and the Common Security and Defense Policy are the tools that help Great Britain ensure its security and sustainability.
Constitutional monarchy is the core of the British political environment that has a symbolic meaning from the viewpoint of the full spectrum of the political platform. Prime Minister is a leader of the parliamentary democracy in the UK encouraging free market economy and contributing to the sustainability of the country and attractiveness of the British business structures to international investors. The manufacturing sector of Great Britain is the focus of the politicians working on the development of the appropriate legal background for foreign investors. Regardless of the 20% income tax, international businesses are seeking cooperation, collaboration, and investment opportunities in the British market due to economic and political stability, which are the main peculiarities of the local business environment. Local government offers reliable protection and support to employees of the foreign companies as soon as these companies become involved in the UK business sector. In addition, Great Britain is a respectable member of many international organizations ensuring that the local political environment meets global standards of business performance. Besides, a myriad of environmental agreements guarantee not only safe environment for career development but also positive influence on the surrounding environment of businesses through well-designed corporate social responsibility strategies.
Another peculiarity of Great Britain is a relatively low risk for businesses because of the secure local environment that offers only occasional developmental difficulties. What is more, the political and legal environments try to improve the business sector in multiple ways that ensure productivity and sustainability of every business entity. There are several national regulations in the legal environment that define the performance of the companies in regard to four aspects: patent, trademark, design, and copyright (Appendix A) ("United Kingdom: Legal Environment," 2017). These regulations establish legal requirements for every business of either local or foreign origin.
The history of science and technology in the UK is long enough to make the country proud of its achievements and continuous advancements. Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin are the most outstanding contributors to the field of science and technology proving that education is crucial to the national welfare and prosperity. Nowadays, Great Britain benefits from the technological environment for many reasons. First, teleworking is a global trend that the UK successfully follows in order to develop its business sector. Telecommunication equipment is one of the means of performance of the many British citizens working from home (Prince, 2014). As a result, rapid development of telecommunications contributed to the growth of productivity in the manufacturing sector and reduced the time spent on the development of new products. For example, Computer Aided Design (C.A.D) is sophisticated software allowing the creation of 3-D objects in a less time-consuming and more cost-effective manner (Prince, 2014). The companies benefit from the most recent technological advancements by integrating them in routine activity (Shaw & Ozaki, 2013). Moreover, the manufacturing sector also uses Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) that fosters productivity by ensuring reliable implementation of the manufacturing tasks with the use of such tools as stock control systems and automated lines (Prince, 2014). Informational Technology (IT) also has a significant influence on the development of the British business sector. In addition, many citizens started increasing their knowledge in the Internet-based occupations, especially in such fields as web design and programming.
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The contemporary technological environment of the UK offers a myriad of opportunities and threats to international businesses. Computers and IT systems are common attributes in the performance of many companies, helping them to manage and monitor financial, personnel, and production records. Unfortunately, the records do not have guaranteed safety, especially in the era of hacking. However, it surelydoes not mean that companies need to return to the previous ways of managing business, since technological sector both in the UK and globally strives to enhance security of information related to business performance. The digital era made Great Britain one of the centers of global trade and advancements in the IT. Nowadays, the companies that do not adhere to the terms of the digital era and deny using Internet sources in their performance are most likely to fail in success achievement. Companies willing to start their performance in the UK should be ready to invest in training of personnel in order to comply with local principles of competition by means of technological improvements. In addition, the companies should be ready to regularly invest in the continuous upgrade of the equipment and technological attributes.
Historically, the UK managed to develop in a naturally appealing region due to the geographical location and natural resources prevailing here. In the past, the UK was a forested country; however, the contemporary era of business contributed to the deforestation of the country and replaced natural resources with malls and plants. Agriculture satisfies more than 50% of the food needs and represents approximately 1% of the national GDP. The UK is rich in both agricultural and geological resources, including coal, natural gas, petroleum, limestone, barley, wheat, and sheep. These resources are appealing to the international companies seeking for reliable suppliers of high quality natural resources. The sector of energy production represents 10% of the national GDP due to large reserves of oil, natural gas, and coal (French, 2017). The northeast of Scotland is the main area of the energy-manufacturing sector with concentration of oil in the North Sea region. Its share is one of the highest among the countries focusing on the industrial well-being. Heavy manufacturing is another distinctive feature of Great Britain. London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Belfast, Manchester, and Birmingham are well-known locations of heavy manufacturing. Since the UK is an island, there is a great potential for the expansion of the energy-manufacturing sector. Tidal and wave power represent the biggest opportunities for international businesses willing not only to invest in the new sector of economy but also become an optimal leader due to wise and cost-effective investment.
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Before becoming a contributor to the local economy, international businesses should consider environmental peculiarities defining issues and problematic areas. Since the UK, England specifically, is one of the most populated regions in the world, air and water pollution are extremely high here. In combination with climatic transformations and changeable weather of the region, the UK is likely to face shortage of water resources. The contemporary tendencies in the natural environment of the UK require organizations to join initiatives focusing on recycling, renewable energy, and reduction of the greenhouse effect. Household recycling is one of the objectives of the environmental organizations working on building eco-friendly behavioral patterns among citizens. It means that international businesses should expect to transform their performance according to the environmental requirements of Great Britain in order to ensure appreciation of business entrance by local government and society in general.
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The UK’s economic environment is characterized by an outstanding financial sector, welcoming trading environment, effective economic resilience, and a liberal labor market. Great Britain remains one of the most efficient investment and business environments. Reliable institutional assets comprise 75% of the national GDP (French, 2017). Due to the reforms of Margaret Thatcher at the end of the 20th century, the UK went through stable economic improvements until the modernity. As a result, Great Britain became fifth largest economy globally. In 2016, a referendum led to the exit of the UK from the European Union that provoked controversial opinions regarding prosperity and further development of the country (French, 2017). However, the economic environment of the UK shows that international arena of business should continue aspiring to the establishment of business entities in Great Britain.
The court system of the country is efficient enough to ensure the protection of intellectual and private property rights. Legal framework offers flexible and fair resolution of economic disputes regarding rights issues. In the economic sector, trade seems to be crucial to the sustainability of the country, since it equals 57% of the GDP ("United Kingdom: Economy," 2017). In general, services comprise 80.22% of GDP, industry – 19.17%, manufacturing – 9.69%, and agriculture – 0.61% ("United Kingdom: Economy," 2017). Economic indicators (Appendix B) and trade statistics (Appendix C) prove that the UK continues to support its sustainable economic environment regardless of the exit from the European Union ("United Kingdom: Economy," 2017). The country is in trade relations with the USA, China, and Germany (French, 2017). Exports also represent a vital part of trade, especially exports of motor vehicles, industrial machinery, and metals. The UK’s economy is open to foreign investments and appeals to companies due to being one of the most competitive financial sectors in the world. In general, the economy is characterized by high-income level and advancements in such top spheres as railroad equipment, automation equipment, electric power equipment, and machine tools.
From the viewpoint of economic environment, it is necessary to distinguish the business sector under the influence of various economic factors. The government actively supports the recovery of the private-sector business. For instance, only 13 days are required for establishing business in the UK according to the legal requirements (French, 2017). Besides, education and training of workforce are top priorities for local companies willing to enhance economic strength of the nation. The contemporary economic environment in combination with political sector is aimed at reduction of corporate tax rates, investment in infrastructure, and development of the financially favorable environment for the potential investors. In the future, the UK may become the safest area for the development of business under the influence of appropriate economic, legal, and political initiatives.
Competitive environment of the UK can be described from two perspectives: labor market and business competition. Both competition phenomena have high intensity in the contemporary environment of Great Britain. Labor market is full of highly qualified professionals looking for the company that would be ready to satisfy personal needs of the employees and ensure career growth. Besides, unemployment rate in the UK is relatively low. However, high density of the population contributes to the difficulties that applicants face when looking for a job. The same situation takes place in the business environment since Great Britain appeals to multiple international businesses and continues to nourish the market with new companies. As a result, competition is the main factor challenging both local and global companies in addressing rivalry issues and establishing a reliable strategy towards reduction of the negative influence of competitors. An ever-changing global economy, continuously emerging business strategies, short life-cycles of the majority of products, demanding consumer needs, and hundreds of competitors contribute to tough competition in the UK region (Shaw & Ozaki, 2013). The problem is that international businesses may underestimate the contemporary competition level because of the welcoming environment of the Great Britain. However, local industries are developing at a fast pace, which means that new businesses should flow in the process of continuous growth and evolution. Otherwise, high competition will lead to devastation of the organizational budget and inability to initiate business progress.
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A detailed cultural analysis of the UK has revealed various characteristics that emphasize attractiveness of the company from the perspective of international business. For example, cultural environment of Great Britain is diverse and welcoming enough to guarantee smooth integration of new businesses in the local area. What is more, political and legal environments offer stability, security, and prosperity to foreign investors and international companies under fair and flexible standards and regulations. In addition, legal environment protects not only employees’ rights but also private and intellectual property rights of the employers. Political environment is transparent and clear, which means that international companies can conduct business in the UK without worrying about the potential influence of the politics on economy. Technological and natural environments are also appealing since they offer a myriad of opportunities. The UK supports the global trends in technological advancements and environmental protection with equal efficiency. At the same time, economic and competitive environments may present some difficulties in becoming a competitive business entity. However, trade, exports, and international cooperation are the main triggers of economic sustainability of the UK. It means that international businesses have a broad range of opportunities in case of investing in the local companies or moving organizational performance to Great Britain.