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Cultural adaptation in cross-national buyer-seller relationships: A study of Russian buyers and Norwegian sellers of seafood

Gøril Voldnes (Nofima, Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research, Tromsø, Norway)
Kjell Grønhaug (Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration (NHH), Bergen, Norway)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 21 September 2015




The purpose of this paper is to investigate how buyers and sellers in cross-cultural business relationships manage cultural differences to ensure functional, successful business relationships. Failure to consider specific cultural issues may lead to the failure of business ventures crossing national borders. To succeed in today’s global business market, it is critically important to understand and manage cultural differences. Adapting to each other’s cultures is one way of managing cultural differences between business actors.


A qualitative, explorative approach examining both sides of the exchange dyad was adopted to obtain insight into adaptation as perceived by both buyer and seller.


The results of this study indicate that mainly Norwegian sellers adapt to the Russian culture and way of conducting business. This is explained by power asymmetry between partners, as well as cultural barriers and lack of cultural sensitivity from the Norwegian partners. Still, the business relationships function well.

Practical implications

Knowledge of and applying strategies for managing cultural differences should be helpful for business managers engaged or planning to engage in business ventures with Russia and Norway – especially those doing so for the first time.


The study provides new and important information about West-East business relationships and how to manage cultural differences in cross-cultural business relationships. The study shows that business relationships can function well in spite of the absence of some factors previously found to have detrimental effects on these relationships. In addition, the study investigates both sides of the buyer-seller dyad, which is a limitation in previous studies of adaptation.



The authors wish to thank Professor Geir Sogn-Grundvåg and Dr Ingrid Kvalvik for useful comments on the manuscript.


Voldnes, G. and Grønhaug, K. (2015), "Cultural adaptation in cross-national buyer-seller relationships: A study of Russian buyers and Norwegian sellers of seafood", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 837-857.



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