Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Leading Indicators for Building a Business Case to translate for a particular market

During a consultation with one of our clients, the question that came to the table was how to measure the impact of culture on HR communications for one of their clients. This conversation gave us a good opportunity to present our metric around cultural distances and how it can impact your business case for translating for a particular market.

There are many leading indicators for building a business case, but generally there are two decisions to be made:
1. Do you translate for a particular market, and in what language(s)?
2. Do you internationalize or localize for a particular market?

The first point deals with the language of the communication; the second with the cultural distance of the target market as compared with the domestic country of the client as a leading indicator to support this decision. Both of these factors can have a great impact on the effectiveness of the communication, but the second decision was the most important for our client to quantify and to be able to tie into the strategic outcome of the end client's business.

In the proposal meeting, we were able to provide our methodology for measuring the impact of culture on the effectiveness of communications. The measure is built around a couple of key cultural dimensions and the ranking of each target market on that value based on the value as measured in the domestic country (in this case the US). The cultural distance metric ranks how far target markets are culturally removed from their client's domestic country. The metric also gives good insight as to how cultures of different target markets correlate. This would determine whether the messaging needs to be edited for an international audience (internationalize), for a particular region (regionalize) or customized for the particular market (localize).

This metric fits very well with our strategic partner, an HR Global Consulting Firm, who can do further research towards each cultural dimension and relate it to the cultural values that are present in many corporate communications. With this metric, a more informed decision can made towards a directive for localization. We will continue to bring this metric into further practice with our clients and report about the results.

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