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Cultural Differences of American and Malaysian Managers

Asia has been on the verge of economic development in recent years that has been the benchmark of Asian economists in their elusive search for progress. Heading the pack of unlikely developers is not the foreseen rise of the transnational corporations but of the people behind them: the managers and entrepreneurs that have maintained their positive outlook and ingenuity in the rise of firms in Asia. External conflicts, maybe from the West, would be the only problems foreseen, although highly unlikely as stated by Mills (2005).

According to Jackson (1995), with respect to this industry expansion in the East, Asian entrepreneurs and managers come to contact with other cultures and bosses such as those from the western companies. Joint ventures, mergers and western acquisitions of Asian companies tend to make this all possible and gives rise to many conflicts that may be resolved thoroughly through proper management, usually by the westerners, particularly, Americans.

However, Jackson furthered, problems that arise are mainly those of motivation and management styles that does not fit well with how things work in Asia, especially in the workplace. This may be explained through differences that may arise from each employee from their managers. For example, an employee may

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be different in nationality and may give rise to cultural differences such as religion, cultural taboos, and morality. This employee may also exhibit psychological differences such as a different analysis of a certain situation, which may be dictated by his personality.

An employer’s attitude towards work may be different if he is an American, and on the other side, his employees also exhibit different kinds of attitudes towards their work, dictated by their own nationality. Mills furthered that Americans especially that of the founders of the companies, tend to pass on the leadership of their companies thru bloodlines. They tend to pass on their position to their own sons or daughters that in turn, would then pass it on to their respective sons and daughters. This ensures the family that in the future, the power would still remain in their family for years and generations to come.

However, in the Asian setting, especially that of the Malaysians and Filipinos, chairmanship of the company may be voted by the company’s Board of Directors. The owner may be part of the board, but he has limited powers since he does not own the Board. So this means that, however good the scion of the owner is, if the Board did not think he is fit on governing the company, then he would not have the power to. As mentioned by Bass (1990), cited by Aramugam and co. (2006), cultures affect leadership behaviour that somehow spawns the differences we experience.

Foreign leaders, especially from those of multinationals, tend to think that their own managers will be able to adopt their own methods to the country they are in, in which adoptive forms of leadership are taken into perspective. But we would also expect that a local employee would always prefer a local leader rather than be headed by a foreign manager, since they share a common bond of culture and nationality. Meanwhile, Mills claimed that Americans can be more passionate, emotional and attached to the work and task given to them.

He also stated that it was more common in America than anywhere else in the world. He states that although Japanese, Chinese and other Asians tend to be the same in some aspects, the difference would be on how decisions are made by these people. He said that Asians tend to show that they are geared towards making decisions that are judged upon by the other workers, or consensus. Although that would promote devotion and emotionality, it would all boil down to not just their emotions, but their pride as managers as well, making decisions personally and holding their own selves accountable to the situation.

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