Essay Cross Cultural Management by Ton van Haarlem
This understanding acquires more importance in the sphere of communicating with people hailing from diverse cultures. The communication system of a business organization Is Interspersed with values, rules, practices & philosophy of the business, Communication system acts as link In transmitting values & norms associated with different cultures In an organization. Since the communication system holds the key to transcending the differences in cultures would regard its communication system as a mechanism to transfer knowledge.
The Multinational company have to ensure that steps are taken o overcome the barriers to cross cultural communication in order to attaining organizational objectives effectively and efficiently. In this case the problem Is that there Is an error of MIM of an product, an Chinese company is making an new design for an Swedish company. The Chinese R&D managers decide to notify an problem to the Swedish manager first and let him decide what to do. It is the Chinese way of showing their respect to superior by asking their opinions on everything.
But the Swedish management team expect that the Chinese company adjust the error and give the company an model. The Chinese many should not Walt for order but Instead they should taking Annihilates. Intercultural
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For instance, Chinese feel that all men are born unequal and they should all obey the decision of the authority. While Western people believe that all men are born equal and they can make independent decisions and act on their own. In other words, national culture can influence the management and communications of organizations. Technical developments have removed most of the physical barriers on communication. However, managers still encounter some cultural barriers.
In order to achieve success, managers working in global environments must be proficient in cross-cultural communication. Different characteristics of culture result in thinking, understanding and communicational diversity. These diversities obstruct organizational development and management more or less. By contrasting the differences of management style, staff behaviors and communication system between different cultures the barriers of cross cultural communication in multi-nation firms will be found. So what are the barriers of cross cultural communication in multinational firms?
Introduction It has to be noted that many business firms have become responsive towards accommodating different cultural perspectives and some business entities have shaped their organizational settings so as to be in harmony with sensitivities in different cultures. Multinational companies operate in different countries and they cater to the needs of customers sharing different cultural meanings. In communicating with customers belonging to multitude of cultures, Multinational companies will have to develop and shape their policies especially in communication to reflect this responsiveness towards cultural diversity.
Intercultural communication that takes place in business entities will have to take cognizance of the differences but at the same time it has become a challenge for them to develop a synthesis whereby unity is brought about in the midst of diversity. The obsession to overemphasized the differences between different cultures may result in stereotypes being conceived and such perceived notions may prove to be a hindrance in communicating with people. The concept of culture has been defined in numerous ways.
A generally accepted view would be: culture is a shared collective of beliefs, norms, attitudes and notions of mindsets. A close examination of any culture would indicate that culture is a phenomenon that has bound societies which share similar beliefs, norms, attitudes and notions of mindsets together. A company were a culture rates a sense of unity and cohesion among people who identify themselves with it. Culture plays a major role in shaping and governing the behavior of people. Culture has evolved in response to the circumstances that have taken place in the society.
Since culture has evolved it can surmised that it would tend to evolve further in response to the needs of the people and societies. The phenomena culture is reinforced in a peculiar manner so that culture shapes human behavior and in turn business firms have to find ways and means of bringing about clarity in communication while being attentive to the different cultural perspectives which underlie the behavior of both sender and receiver, content of message, communication means and import of communication.
As has been said, different elements involved in communication process may be associated with different cultural meanings and interpretations. Cross cultural communication where people belonging to diverse cultures being in communication with each other needs to be effective in order to facilitate business firms to achieve their business objectives. In order to make cross cultural communication effective, a business has to understand the elements associated with a culture, the process of shaping a culture, barriers involved in cross cultural communication process and identifying means of overcoming such barriers.
Cross cultural differences The dimensions of national culture theory, postulated by Hefted are considered to have thrown much light on cross cultural communication in business context and a significant contribution towards cross cultural communication has been made by high context and low context theory introduced by Hall. Hefted makes a clear distinction between organizational culture and national culture. Accordingly the differences in organizational culture have to do mostly with practices of the organization while in a national culture the differences are discerned with values.
Values are inculcated in an individual through family settings and formative years in schools. Practices are ingrained in an individual by being exposed to social experiences and adapting to changes. In the context of operations by Multinational companies, the phenomenon associated with national culture assumes importance since an Multinational company operating in a different country is often identified with the culture of the parent company while employees working in the company hail from the host country.
In view of this, it can be observed that a potential conflict tends to develop between the two different cultures as parent company’s culture has to coexist with host country’s culture. Very often the culture of the parent company may be seen as having been super imposed on the native culture so that employees may tend to develop an obsession to resist the culture of the parent company as a necessary evil. The prevalence of this resistance lowers the effectiveness of activities of an Multinational company and this breeds rivalry whereas cohesion is the imperative need of the hour.
Organizational objectives would be better served by concealing the diverse aspects of different cultures. National culture In understanding a national culture, different elements inherent therein need to be analyzed. Hefted identifies these different combinations of elements as individualism vs.. Collectivism; low vs.. High power distance; masculinity vs.. Femininity and long term vs.. Short term perspective. Power distance deals with understanding the extent to which power has been distributed within an organization.
If the power in an organization in a country is disbursed between workers and mangers then such a culture is known as having a low power distance between subordinates and periods. In a culture like this there seems to be a shared understanding as to each other’s power and very often managers engage workers in eliciting responses to decision making process. Workers are equally conscious of the fact they have a say in comfortable in engaging with superiors. In the case of high power distance cultures, power is concentrated in the organization so that there exists a clearly discerned gap between subordinates and superiors.
Subordinates are hesitant to carve out a niche for themselves in the power structure and they strive to maintain the distance from their superiors. Engaging superiors with ease is perceived to be blurring the distance between them. The comparison based on individualism vs.. Collectivism is premised on how attached an individual is to ties binding one with the society. In a society where individualism reigns supreme, an individual tends to be more detached from the social ties. Individuals value freedom and they aspire to harness one’s potential to achieve acclimatization.
In essence individualism is woven around being individual centric. In a society where collectivism is paramount, individual is attached to collective norms and values. The individual is compelled to abide with these collective norms and values as they seemingly offer them collective security. In the light of this perceived security an individual would hardly question the behavior governed by such norms. The role of females and males is at the heart of the comparison involving masculinity vs.. Femininity.
A society that places more value on being ambitious, aggressive and accumulating material wealth bordering on individualism qualifies to be called as embedded with a masculinity culture. A femininity culture accords priority to a holistic approach in development of an individual so that the wellbeing of the society would bring about the growth of an individual. In fact in a masculinity culture a no holds barred competition rages between individuals while in a femininity culture, individual is expected to act with restraint so that social progress is not impeded.
This difference can be discerned in organizational settings in these cultures. Managers in a masculinity culture tend to be objective in their assessment of situations and try to ensure that the targets are met. Managers in a femininity culture are perceived to be subjective and empathetic in their grasp of situations. Managers would often put themselves in the shoe of others before acting upon compulsions. It is no surprise that employees used to a femininity culture would perceive a manger hailing from a masculinity culture to be ruthless.
How a society treats the future and the approach it takes with regard to time factor is the matter of contention in short term vs.. Long term perspectives. Societies with long term perspectives place high value on ensuring long term stability of the society and they tend to approach issues with hindsight on the future generations. Issues such as preserving environment, providing for future needs, anticipating future contingencies, inculcating the value of savings are some of the strands echoed in a culture steeped in a long term perspective. Societies like China and many Asian cultures fit in to this category.
Western societies are regarded as peculiar with a short term perspective. Sometimes the word short terrorism is applied with disdain by people belonging to other cultures to refer to the west. However a culture with a short term perspective is identified with respect for status and reciprocating with material gifts for the support extended. The above dimensions of national culture necessarily influence communication process when business firms operate across cultures. Firstly the internal communication process of business organization would be affected by divergence of national cultures.
Internal and staff behavior. The former is concerned with the conduct of the superiors and the latter deals with subordinates. Barriers to communication are found between these two layers since the two parties operate with divergent objectives. Barriers to cross cultural communication at the work place The barriers to cross cultural communication could be discerned as stemming due to, management style, absence of understanding between management and staff, power distance prevalent, varied expectations by management, language barriers and worker expectations.
These issues mar the communication process adding complexities to the situation. Broadly the communication barriers can be identified as issues that have to do with the management and issues owing to the behavior of the staff. The style of functioning by management is largely affected by the culture to which the majority of management belongs to. Studies done have revealed that western managers tend to be explicit in their communication. In the case of resolving conflicts, managers from the west tend to adopt a competing style whereby parties to the conflict are encouraged to air their grievances freely.
The issues as the managers perceive them need not be swept under the carpet rather they need to be brought to the surface to understand the intricacies connected with them. In contrast to this Asian managers prefer to avoid direct expression bordering on criticism or provocation as they believe in a healing of wounds through a long term perspectives. Managers may not want to discuss certain sensitive issues as they regard them to be affecting one’s privacy. Communication may be affected due these varying styles since the staff may not be clear on what to say and how to give expressions to their thoughts.
Communication barriers generally arise due to the absence of understanding between parties to the dialogue. Culture tends to create different attitudes and approaches to problem solving. There might be different approaches to solving a problem by the management and staff. When management and staff hail from different cultures their understanding of issues may turn out to be different. This ultimately compounds the process of arriving at a common understanding of the sues at stake. Western culture functions on the notion that power is not individual centric so that decision making need not be concentrated in the hands of a coterie.
This approach would require the staff to assert themselves in performing duties. Individuals are empowered to act and take decisions on the spot. Employees do not have to refer decisions always to the management. Since western thinking is based on individuals, individuals are expected to protect the individual domains earmarked for them and any unobtrusive foray to others domain is not seen as unwarranted. In eastern thinking power tends to be concentrated in the hands of an apex body comprising of the leaders who would take decisions on behalf of the others.
Staff used to be dictated by the management as to what to do in given situations may not be enthusiastic in taking part in the decision making process and they may not be willing to share in risk taking adventures. Managers hailing from a western cultural background may be receptive to the feedback by the staff while Asian managers may not think listening as mandatory or an essential prerequisite for decision making. Staff working in an organization would form a vital element in a business organization. At an Multinational company workers hail from different backgrounds. F expectations. The language barriers owing to workers belonging to different ethnic groups are an issue to grapple with in communication. As has been discussed under low context and high context communication, the words spoken in a different culture may carry a different meaning in another cultural setting. The context in which these words are used may vitiate or steer clear issues. Language has become a barrier in he case of many Multinational companies operating especially in China since the majority of the workers cannot converse in any international language.
Since the Chinese society is more of homogeneous in nature, the receptiveness to speaking in a different language other than mother tongue may not be an attractive proposition. Different expectations of the staff would have to be taken into consideration in motivating them. Empowerment of the staff may not appeal to a group of workers who are more stimulated by extrinsic benefits such as pay hikes and other monetary benefits. Asian staff may be largely motivated by extrinsic motivation in some situations if they are offered additional responsibilities.
In some instances they may prefer leisure over work even though monetary considerations seem to be tempting. Western staff would tend to value monetary gains as long as they could afford them an accepted level of material comfort but once this threshold is surpassed there would be eying for challenging assignments and variety in work schedules. The communication system of a business organization is interspersed with values, rules, practices and philosophy of the business. Communication system acts as link in transmitting values and norms associated with different cultures in an organization.
Since the communication system holds the key to transcending the differences in cultures an Multinational company would regard its communication system as a mechanism to transfer knowledge. This mechanism has to bring about clarity and cohesion to sustain the organizational fabric so that it functions smoothly without being disrupted by cross cultural differences. However the communication system in an Multinational company will necessarily have to confront certain restraints due to he divergence of the work force and management.
It is imperative to overcome differences in cross cultural communication since a uniformed pattern can be evolved through an effective communication system in an Multinational company. An Multinational company will have to ensure that steps are taken to overcome the barriers to cross cultural communication in order to attaining organizational objectives effectively and efficiently. Business organizations may contemplate many actions to remove the restrains impeding cross cultural communication.
Measures to overcome barriers in cross cultural communication In an era of having to operate tit multiculturalism, a communicator has to be competent in intercultural communicating. This competence in cross cultural communication would enable an organization to achieve objectives while according due respect to values, norms, beliefs of the people being affected by its operations. A business organization has to develop intercultural competence in organizational set up to overcome the barriers to cross cultural communication. The cognitive aspect of intercultural communication is known as intercultural awareness.
This dimension involves mastering an individual’s ability to understand other cultures implicit conventions hat govern the behavior of people influenced by that particular culture. Self-awareness in the process. The behavioral aspect of intercultural communication characterizes intercultural adroitness. The development of adroitness focuses on enhancing the skills required enact successfully intercultural transactions. The successful conclusion of transactions would bring about bottom line results to an Multinational company that translate into tangible results.
Interactive management, developing social skills especially etiquette’s, enhancing the quality of salesperson re some of the key result areas where progress is expected to be made. The development of ability to appreciate how people hailing from different cultural backgrounds think, act and feel requires a concerted effort and a considerable time. Apart from this fact a business organization has to deal with inculcating individuals with certain qualities to enable them to continue to maintain intercultural competence.
These qualities would imbibe in an individual long lasting value so that the person concerned would effectively deal with barriers to cross cultural communication as they encounter them. These qualities can be identified as attitudes, knowledge, comprehension & intercultural skills and managing anxiety. Attitudes would encompass respect, openness, curiosity and discovery. Intercultural development trainers emphasize the significance of attitudes as they largely shape responses in cross cultural communication.
Development of knowledge and comprehension would accentuate the process of creating self-awareness along with cultural knowledge and socio linguistic awareness. Cultural awareness would prepare an individual to conduct oneself appropriately in a diverse cultural context. Social linguistic awareness combines cultural awareness with the language. Intercultural skills involve ability to effectively engage different cultures. This is the application of cultural knowledge in practice. Through intercultural engagements positive results are to be gained. This aspect devotes considerable emphasis on behavioral aspects of interactions.
As intercultural communication is often clouded with ambiguity individuals may suffer from a paranoid in dealing with an alien culture. There is an imperative need to overcome anxiety in cross cultural communication in order to ease constrains. Anxiety often stands on the way of effective communication since individuals develop antipathy to dealings with people hailing form diverse cultures. To overcome anxiety in cross cultural communication care has to be exercised in enabling individuals to manage their emotions and actions followed by feelings.
Overcoming the barriers in cross cultural communication would aid in fostering an inclusive organizational culture which is mutually beneficial to the individual as well as the organization. Multinational companies would optimize their results by ensuring the effective use of diverse knowledge base they have been endowed with. 2. Discussion Globalization has resulted in people living across borders being intermingled in varied ways. Business firms such as Multinational companies will inevitably have to be accustomed to different working styles of their workers who are drawn from different cultural backgrounds.
Many business firms have become responsive towards accommodating different cultural perspectives and some business entities have shaped their organizational settings so as to be in harmony with sensitivities in different cultures. In the midst of varied cultures business firms have to find ways efferent cultural perspectives which underlie the behavior of both sender & receiver, content of message, communication means and import of communication. The concept of culture has been defined in numerous ways. A generally accepted view would be: culture is a shared collective of beliefs, norms, attitudes and notions of mindsets.
A close examination of any culture would indicate that culture is a phenomenon that has bound societies which share similar beliefs, norms, attitudes and notions of mindsets together. 3. Summary In studying the cross cultural communication in business organizational context, one as to be concerned with cross cultural management aspect as it dwells on organizational culture, organizational behavior, leadership styles and motivational strategies. The dimensions of national culture theory, postulated by Hefted are considered to have thrown much light on cross cultural communication in business context.
In understanding a national culture, different elements inherent therein need to be analyzed. Hefted identifies these different combinations of elements as individualism vs.. Collectivism, low vs.. High power distance, masculinity vs.. Femininity and long term vs.. Short term perspective. Communication context in which preference for messages by people is made is the underlying basis for classifying cultures as high context & low context. Internal communication process of business communication system in a business organization comprises of management style and staff behavior.