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Intercultural Marketing Management

Dr. Nathalie Prime (Professor, Marketing Area, ESCP Europe)

Managerial Context
Marketing abroad involves expanding corporate activities in a complex multicultural environment. More specifically, international marketers must manage two different sources of cultural diversity:

External diversity: marketing managers are faced with numerous obvious and less obvious effects of cultural determinants on buying and consumption processes (who buys? what? where? how? why?), as well as with the cultural traits characteristic of doing business with foreign partners (negotiation and relationship management with suppliers, distributors, and others) in a variety of entry strategy contexts (greenfield, mergers-acquisitions, international joint-ventures…);

Internal diversity: marketing managers working in the different subsidiaries of multinational companies have to cooperate with teams operating in different countries on key issues ranging from strategic marketing decision making to the implementation and execution of specific marketing programs. Departments are increasingly multicultural, especially in Europe, but also more generally in world companies located in the Triad economies and more and more in Emerging economies. Organizational issues are numerous (management styles, corporate identity, information systems, HRM…) and are reinforced by market forces concentration in most sectors, in most countries.

Within this managerial context, knowledge of cultural variations in management can make international managers more effective when dealing with customers, suppliers, subordinates, colleagues and negotiation partners in foreign countries. It may also help decision makers react better to any ethical, political, social or economic issues that arise in the international operations of their companies.


The basic assumption of this course is that globalization does not mean standardization. Most of us will keep their homebase, their origins and roots, that is, we will keep our local identity while belonging to the global community. Besides, diversity and differences in the global villages are key assets for companies as well as for consumers. Cultural diversity increases the range of alternatives available to us in order to deal with complex problems.

Therefore, International Marketing and Comparative Management should not focus on making the world of companies and consumers increasingly similar and standardized. Instead, understanding and making the most out of international diversity in consumer behaviour and in business and management practices becomes the core issue for international marketers to succeed on foreign markets in a globalizing world. Thus the following objectives:

  1. To emphasize the key influence of culture when making and implementing decisions for expanding on international markets
  2. To enhance intercultural competences in the understanding of diversity in world markets and in local consumer knowledge and marketing practices:
    intercultural sensitivity
    intercultural communication
  3. To illustrate intercultural marketing approaches in a variety of business settings (international marketing decision, country, industry)
  4. To sensitize to the specifics of intercultural marketing to the context of Bottom of Pyramid (BOP) markets

Learning Methods
This is essentially a case discussion based course. Participants are expected to read all the cases to develop deeper appreciation of issues given in the case before they come to the class with their analyses, and decisions.

In addition, they will be asked to prepare the oral presentation of ONE case study (work to be done in group).


Evaluation and Grading

Evaluation of the participants will be based on the following components and the weights assigned for each component as indicated.

- Class Participation and Contribution to class learning: 50%
- Case study Oral Presentation: 50% (A copy of the slides including comments will be handed out to the instructor before the presentation)

Each group is asked to make an oral presentation for 30 minutes, delivering a solution to the case questions for the case it’s been

assigned to.

There will be five groups, each assigned to one case study:
1 - Unilever in Brazil
2 - Bollywood in the West
3 - Fast Food, Halal or Haram?
4 - AIDS: Global Ethics and the Pricing of AIDS Drugs?
5 - The Virtual Beehive

To be read before the seminar:

N. Prime (2002), « Cultural Unity within Diversity: Universal Dimensions of Value Orientations and their Application to Cross-Cultural Marketing”, in Cross-Cultural Marketing, S. Nwankwo & R. Rugimbana (eds.), Thomson, pp. 3-24.

A selection of focused articles relating to specific Intercultural Marketing Management issues will be distributed to consolidate participants’ learning after the seminar.

Related Textbooks
J-C. Usunier and J. Lee (2008), Marketing Across Cultures (5th Edition), Prentice Hall.

S. Nwankwo and R. Rugimbana (eds.) (2002), Cross-Cultural Marketing, Thomson.

In French:
N. Prime et J-C. Usunier (2004), Marketing international: Développement des marchés et management multiculturel, (2ème édition), Editions Vuibert.

Profile of the instructor
Dr. Nathalie Prime, Professor of International Business and Cross-Cultural Management, ESCP-EAP (European School of Management)

Born in Gabon and benefiting from a multicultural family background, Nathalie Prime is Associate Professor at ESCP-EAP (European School of Management). She holds a Doctorate in Business Administration (International Marketing major) from the University of Grenoble and the French qualification for Ph.D supervision (HDR).

Her teaching and research is focused in four main areas: managing and working across cultures, intercultural business negotiation, international marketing and strategies for business internationalization. Her industry work notably concerns the automotive and the retailing and distribution sectors. Her geographical and cultural areas of interests are the fast growing economies, especially in South Asia, Africa and the Middle-East. Her current research projects deal with psycho-cultural distance in export performance, with the modernization of retailing in emerging markets and with the customers’/managers’ acculturation processes in a globalizing world.

Her publications include several articles and international academic communications. A book in collaboration with Jean-Claude Usunier, «Marketing International, Développement des Marchés et Management Multiculturel » (2nd edition, Editions Vuibert, Paris), was granted with the prize from the Académie des sciences commerciales 2004.

Professor Prime has taught in India, Algeria, Morroco, Vietnam, South Africa, Senegal, Madagascar, Lebanon, Italy, Russia, Slovenia and Barhain. She was also in charge of managing several international programs at ESCP-EAP and abroad, among which the Joint Management Development Program in South Africa, and the Specialized Master in International Project Management at ESCP-EAP during 11 years.

She is currently the co-academic advisor of the Specialization courses in International Business and Project Development at ESCP-EAP. Over the last 10 years, she has developed extensive teaching and research links with the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), in India.