The Challenges of Globalization
This paper tackles the challenges presented by globalization to companies, zeroing in on the organizational aspect of the company. It discusses globalization, the issues that arise from differences among people working together, the human resources-related concerns and factors that have to be considered before making decisions regarding going global, and the styles that management can implement to deal with such challenges. The case of Aventis is discussed as a company that had to deal with its share of globalization issues.
This paper aims to provide helpful information regarding what management should prepare for if the company is about to venture into global territories. Introduction Going global at these times has become almost unavoidable since the old barriers that served as geographical boundaries of respective sub-regions and countries have been torn down, thanks to the accessibility of many travel and transportation packages, the availability of online information and communication, then the advent of such breakthroughs as globalization and liberalization of trade.
However, the advantages brought on by going global are matched by the challenges that come along. Organizational issues arise from the differences among employees that represent varying cultures, languages, religions and beliefs. This should not at all come as surprising. If running an operation manned by employees who all come from the same locality turns out to be, at times, difficult, then managing an organization in a globalized context can indeed be complicated task. The management of Aventis can very well attest to this truth. Organizational Issues Arising from Going Global
The Aventis case relays the importance of seeing to the issues spawned by going global. In this company’s case, the management just could not afford to allow things to carry on as they did. The issues had become detrimental to the well-being of their newly formed company. It was the merger of Hoescht Marion Roussel, a German chemical and pharmaceutical giant that ranked 13th in worldwide pharmaceutical sales, and of Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, a French pharmaceutical, chemical and agro-chemical company that ranked 17th in the same list, that hence formed Aventis in 1999.
As planned, Aventis set out to capture a targeted portion of the USA market. Accordingly, the German and French management and staff of the newly formed company ended up being based in New Jersey, USA, where the company headquarters were located. One glaring issue that had to be resolved was the existence of cultural differences within the organization. Even the management team members represented such diverse cultural origins – Germans, French and American. Three people – each representing a different nationality – had their distinct way of thinking and seeing things, of making their decisions and moves, and of solving problems.
The cultural differences among the management team members and the staff made it almost impossible for them to amicably work together. In the light of these adverse circumstances, the foremost goal of the Aventis management team was the successful integration of the people of varying culture and nationalities within the company. Thus, a series of orientations on the general traits and ways of thinking of people coming from different countries and backgrounds were provided. It led each one to understand his own self and to see how he compared with the others.
It helped each one to appreciate the differences that prevailed between him and the rest. Indeed, the national differences among the German, French and American executives of Aventis tended to work against the general good of the company. (Margolis & Knoop, 2004) At some point in time, they finally came to realize this, and they installed systems to help address the cultural differences within their organization. It was a good thing that they shaped up before it was too late.
Otherwise, Aventis might never have become the stronger merged company that it was foreseen to be. Organizational issues arising from going global are caused by a lot of possible factors. Bringing together in common tasks two or more people who are culturally different might just mean trouble for the entire operations or project, unless the issues are addressed. It therefore helps a lot to be aware of sample issues and to learn to spot them at early stages so that problems can be arrested as soon as they take shape.
One issue is on individualism or collectivism – individualism values the rights, freedom and progress of one’s self for want of self-respect, while collectivism values the interest of the group, face-saving and one’s self-image in front of others. People from different cultures also differ in power belief, which leads some people to yield to the decision-making rights of superiors even when they are miles and miles away while some others are less likely to believe that their managers are always correct and then goes ahead to make their own decisions.
(Newstrom & Davis, 2002) Some people value clarity and appreciate it when they are given clear and specific instructions by their superiors, while others want ambiguity and actually thrive in uncertain situations. People from some societies stick to the stereotyped roles of men and women, so they have limited viewpoints as to the capabilities of male and female employees and the specific tasks that they should be given. Feminists, then, would have real struggles in environments populated by men who come from places where feminism is totally unheard of.
(Newstrom & Davis, 2002) Some people come from societies where a thorough and long preparation for the future, the merits of values like thrift and the importance of persistence are all upheld. Some people, on the other hand, value tradition – this can give rise to many activities and decisions that could only be explained by adherence to traditions. (Newstrom & Davis, 2002) These are but examples of differences among people that can indeed blow up into conflicts in the workplace. Management Styles for Dealing with the Challenges of Globalization
To be able to handle issues related to differences in culture, beliefs and outlook among the people belonging to a specific organization or project, the manager has to be well-versed, knowledgeable and completely aware of the prevailing differences and how things are getting along despite such differences. There are identified ways to overcome such barriers encountered when running an operation in a different country. One is to go through the careful selection of people who will make up the team.
It would be best to get people who are more open and adaptable to working with people representing different cultures. (Newstrom & Davis, 2002) This way, cultural differences as an issue would somehow be more manageable. The assignments that people are given should fit their cultural traits and characteristics. (Newstrom & Davis, 2002) This can be accomplished when the manager knows both the tasks that the assignments would involve and the individual strengths and weaknesses of his staff.
The right matching of these variables would lead to productive results. Management can also make it a priority to provide plenty of orientation and support for people who are new in the place. They have to be sufficiently educated as to the customs, laws, practices and other norms of the land. This is for the protection of the company’s officers and employees; ultimately, this is also for the best interests of the company.
No foreign company would want to cross any local leader or the people in the locality as a whole by mistakes that any of its officers or employees unknowingly committed. Everybody in the organization should know how to behave, what to do and what to never do. Conclusion Through all these prevailing outlook and priorities of people, it can indeed be difficult there would be clashes on major principles. Issues then arise from these differences and management would have to be able to effectively iron it all for the best interests of the company.
If the people in an organization cannot rise above the given differences among themselves, their organization would tend to be stagnant – the members would end up stuck in a stalemate, and nothing worthwhile can be accomplished.
Margolis, J. and Knoop, C. (2004). Aventis SA (A): Planning for a Merger. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing. Margolis, J. and Knoop, C. (2004). Aventis SA (B): A Company is Born. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing. Newstrom, J. and Davis, K. (2002). Organizational Behavior: Human Behavior at Work. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.