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Public opening ceremonies of Russian manufacturing facilities of foreign corporations as a phenomenon of cross-cultural communication and the stage of inclusion of manufacturing subsidiaries of multinational corporations into the Russian socio-economic context

Priority areas of development: management
2018
Department: Centre for Fundamental Studies

Goal of research

The purpose of study is exploration of the sense and execution of an important phenomenon of international business – public opening ceremonies of new overseas manufacturing facilities of multinational corporations.  This phenomenon is a mandatory stage of greenfield investment projects. In addition, it is often used to mark the significant expansion of the existing Russian manufacturing facilities of multinational corporations. 

Methodology

The methodology of the study was the analysis of videos devoted to public opening ceremonies of new plants opened by foreign multinational corporations in Russian in 2012-2017. To analyze videos a special codebook was developed which allowed marking the most important elements of verbal and non-vernal communication during the events and the overall design of events. Initially the codebook included more than 20 elements of the ceremonies in all really observed variants (for some elements, up to 6-8 variants), as it was unclear beforehand which elements and in which variant have real importance for the content of a ceremony. Through accumulation of the experience after watching the videos we developed a metrics for the analysis of the ceremony, which included the following elements:

  • Types of attendees of the ceremony (executives of the investors, representatives of Russian local and federal authorities, foreign diplomats, members of the launch team and employees of a newly built facility).

  • To total number of active participants of  ceremonies.

  • The total lengths of speeches, the content and the tone of speeches of active participants of ceremonies.

  • Forms of a symbolic action of putting the facility in motion and the number of participant of that symbolic action.

Empirical base of research

We analyzed 119 videos depicted 56 public opening ceremonies

Results of research

Public opening ceremony of a new manufacturing plant usually executive with attendance of the top management of a parent company and top local and federal officials is “a rite of passage” and indicate the acceptance of a newly opened plant into institutional and business environment of a host country. In a great extend foreign investors try to maintain the corporate-wide standards and patterns of such ceremonies, paying little attention to the specific tradition of such ceremonies in a particular host country. For example, in Russian ceremonies of opening new production facilities of multinational corporations one important elements of the local tradition for such ceremonies was completely missing – we mean here speeches of participants of launch teams and employees of a newly built production facilities, honoring the most distinguished members of the launch team (both local employees and expatriates).

Through the video analysis we distinguished mandatory elements of ceremonies – orientation tour of local (federal) officials through the newly established facilities, speeches of top-ranked participants of a ceremony, performing a symbolic action of putting in motion of a new manufacturing facility. There were also variations in the ceremonies. The analysis of the content of speeches revealed the presence of three major elements – cognitive (transfer of information), affective (expression of emotions), conative (demonstration of the will (intentions) to perform specific types of actions).   The proportion of the indicated components differed in the speeches of representatives of foreign investors and in the speeches of representatives of authorities of the host country. Foreign investors and authorities of the host country have different interests regarding the newly established manufacturing facilities. Investors are mostly interested in technical and financial efficiency (performance) of newly build plants, local authorities put the emphasis of longevity of investments. Each side of the ceremony must accept in its speeches the interests of the other side. Thus, foreign investors stress the long-term character of investors while representatives of authorities emphasize the high technological level and technical efficiency of the newly build manufacturing facilities.

The additional element of 43% of the studied ceremonies was the participation of diplomates from the countries of origin of foreign investors. All diplomates delivered their speeches in Russian, although for some of them there were visible difficulties in dealing with specific terms related to manufacturing operations. All the diplomates who participated in plant opening ceremonies are diplomates of high ranks (Ambassadors or Ministers-Counselors). Speeches of diplomates reinforce the affective elements of the verbal component of ceremonies.    

Starting from the beginning of 2015 the character of speeches delivered by representatives of foreign investors changes drastically. The average length of a speeches increases from 2-3 to 6-8, sometimes 10 minutes. The major content of speeches is the cognitive component – representatives pf foreign investors explains in details to representatives of Russian authorities (and to themselves) the reasons of investments into Russia. This increase of the cognitive component also increases the conative components (assurance of long-term plans of foreign investors) in the communication between foreign investors and Russian authorities.

Level of implementation, recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results

The practical value of the study is the possibility to use its results for the improvement of the overall design and the content of ceremonies in order to increase the positive impact of the ceremony to attitudes of authorities of the host country towards specific direct foreign investors. In particular, the more active role of employees of a newly built production facility (members of the launch team) in a ceremony and the more often participation of foreign diplomates in such ceremonies can be advised.