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The royal wedding: Tying the knot between countries

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By Michael R Czinkota and Mariele Marki

On Friday, the royal wedding of Prince William of England and Kate Middleton took place. Hundreds of million viewers around the world had their eyes glued to televisions transmitting the momentous event. If student action at Georgetown University is an indicator, in the U.S. at three in the morning, many Americans tuned in to live coverage of the royal wedding. Most major media networks were broadcasting from London.

According to a study by Nielsen, a leader in market research, “United States news and media outlets have out-published their UK counterparts in terms of wedding coverage.” The fascination and romanticism that the United States has for the royal family and the increase in attention ever since the engagement was announced last November, demonstrates the strong ties between the United States and the United Kingdom.

This cultural connection is an excellent example of a concept developed in international business. Psychological distance is the perceived distance from a firm to a foreign market, caused by cultural variables, legal factors, history and other societal norms. A common model used to demonstrate this theory is a comparison of the link between the United States and Canada, with the United States and Mexico. Americans tend to identify more with Canada than with Mexico. Both countries border the United States, but for reasons of language and culture, Canada appears to be psychologically much loser.

While the U.S. and the UK share the same language and have a linked history, one can also see the allure of royalty in both cultures. Disney princesses have a strong presence in every young girl’s childhood in the United States and many movies center around the plot of a fairytale with the prince and princess living happily ever after. Women want to be treated like princesses and it is culturally very common to rejoice when one has “found her prince.” Even though the U.S. hasn’t had a royal leader in centuries, news on royal families is a regular part of television and magazine entertainment. A large portion of the American population maintains a high level of interest in all that is regal.

Psychological proximity is much preferable to psychological distance. It helps business, creates friendships and leads to national decisions which are often unabashedly in favor of one’s friends. Psychological distance in turn tends to slow down relationships and, in a proverb mentioned by international travelers, affects the quality of the water one might otherwise share. That makes it important that all nations work on bridging distances through collaboration, mutual visits, and confidence building measures. Every business transaction is another step in mutual diplomacy which links nations together. Some nations even built their growth and success based on tying the knot and closing the distance through their leading families. For example, for centuries, the proverb in Europe was “Tu Felix Austria, nube,” meaning that (in order to prosper,) you, lucky Austria, just get married .

However, as international business theory shows us, the best quality of psychological proximity occurs when it is close but not too close. Closeness creates better relationships and does make it easier for firms to enter markets. But too much of a focus on similarities can lead to what may be considered unwelcome intrusiveness, and lets managers lose sight of important differences. Even between the U.S. and the UK, here are behavioral and language differences which are ignored at great peril. Just think of how new acquaintances address each other or how one talks about past accomplishments.

England and other countries close to the U.S. often have a society quite different from the U.S. The British royal wedding certainly is interesting. But it is the multitude of other overlaps in interests on a daily basis which creates the real psychological proximity.

Looking at each other and smiling when one realizes the mutuality of thought – that is what brings us closer to each other. That in turn is never the result of one single event, but rather the consequence of growth in a relationship over decades and perhaps even centuries. But that is perhaps discussed best over a cup of tea.

Michael R Czinkota is a Professor of International Business and Marketing at Georgetown University and the University of Birmingham in the UK. Mariele Marki is a research assistant at Georgetown University.

© Japan Today

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The US can always rejoin the British Commonwealth of nations along with India, Pakistan, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and about fifty others. I am sure its contribution would be welcome at Commonwealth, "Heads of Government", talks. I note the birthplace of President Obama, Hawaii, still carries the British Union flag in the corner, similar to Australia and New Zealand and numerous others.

The US, like Australia, Canada and New Zealand especially benefited enormously from the cultural, language, scholarship, parliamentary and legal practices it inherited from Great Britain. There are just too many benefits to mention.

But for King Louis 16th, of France's trumped up interference with US/British affairs in 1776 with a French Naval blockade on British troop supplies, which finished up costing him his bloated navy, his head and the Monarchy and the French bloodletting that followed with the French Revolution in the 1790's, the US would have remained a valuable independent part of the British Commonwealth and its work for good around the world. Canada, New Zealand and Australia did not have to have a phony war of independence, Britain has always given us everything we asked for, including independence. But we are not historically averse to paying taxes for the common good.

The majesty and grandeur of the Royal Wedding was witnessed by billions, not just hundreds of millions, around the world. The soldiers that participated in their historic uniforms are not just for show, they are actually front line combat troops that participate currently in the war in Afghanistan to bring it peace and democracy too.

God save the Queen Elizabeth, the Monarch of Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand et al.

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