Academic journal article Journal for East European Management Studies

International Marketing in an Enlarged European Union: Some Insights into Cultural Heterogeneity in Central Europe*

Academic journal article Journal for East European Management Studies

International Marketing in an Enlarged European Union: Some Insights into Cultural Heterogeneity in Central Europe*

Article excerpt

We inhabit a global village in which international marketers are encouraged to think and act with both global and local interests in mind. The enlargement of the European Union (EU) in January 2007 has created a 27 member state EU with a population of nearly half a billion. The purpose of this article is therefore to examine the nature of these differences in so far as they impact on the segmentation decisions made by international marketers. This article examines the literature on culture, identity, and self-concept and presents empirical results showing the diversity of these concepts within three countries that are now full EU members - the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

Wir bewohnen ein globales Dorf, in dem internationale Verkäufer dazu ermuntert werden in globalem und lokalem Interesse zu denken und zu handeln. Die Erweiterung der Europäischen Union im Januar 2007 hat einen Wirtschaftsraum mit 27 Mitgliedstaaten und einer Bevölkerung von fast einer halben Milliarde geschaffen. Die Absicht dieses Artikels ist es deshalb, die Natur dieser Unterschiede zu untersuchen, insofern sie auf die Marktsegmentations-Entscheidungen der Verkaufs-Experten einwirken. Der Artikel untersucht die Literatur bezüglich Kultur, Identität und Selbstkonzept und präsentiert empirische Ergebnisse, die die Ungleichheit dieser Konzepte innerhalb von drei Ländern - Tschechien, Ungarn und Polen - aufzeigen.

Key words: International Marketing, segmentation, EU enlargement, identity

Introduction

Initial Eastward enlargement of the European Union (EU) in May 2004 created a domestic European market of over 450 million consumers in 25 member states, with further enlargement in January 2007 taking membership of the EU to 27 countries with a population of almost half a billion. Accession negotiations with Croatia and Turkey started in 2005, and, although an official candidate, a start date for negotiations with Macedonia has not yet been set. While authors such as Paliwoda and Marinova (2007:234) identify the EU as "the largest single market in the world and the largest entity in world trade", making it a very significant area for academic study, much of the recent literature has focused specifically on the challenge of integrating a diverse EU that now includes member states from the former Eastern Bloc. In their editorial, Paliwoda and Marinova (2007:239) note that "EU marketing studies have addressed issues in specific country contexts, industries, cultures and geographic areas rather than being able to tackle pan-European marketing issues". They also identify that some of the challenges facing those aiming to segment enlarged EU markets are rooted within the debate on convergence and divergence.

Globalisation has given rise to claims concerning the contracting role of the nation-state (Steger 1998), and the dilution of national identity (Williams 1999), "mirroring the insidious movement of power in any economic union, from the periphery to the centre" (Skinner/Croft 2004:8). Many authors recognise that in a globalised world convergence is evident that will lead to cultural similarities overshadowing cultural differences (Pugh/Hickson 2002; Zielonka/Mair 2002). Indeed Fuchs and Klingemann (2002) explore the belief that a democratically legitimate "European demos" can only be based upon a collective identity, although are concerned that, given the cultural heterogeneity within and between member states, this may not be achievable. Moreover, Aveline (2006) asserts that it is the creation of supra-national entities such as the European Union that moves the concept of the nation state "beyond the national framework" (p336) and towards a post-national order where the classic parameters of the nation are rethought, unbounded by geography and national politics in the face of globalisation, and where nationhood is superseded by a higher notion of citizenship. When considering the post-national argument that nationhood will become less important when cultures converge in a globalised world, it is also important to recognise the opposing argument proposing that nationhood will become more important to individuals in such circumstances. …

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