Cross cultural management definitions

5 May 2016

Heterogeneity – we are not all the same; groups within society differ. Similarity and Difference – many people differ from me culturally. Equifinality – many culturally distinct way of lining life, working and reaching one’s goal exists Cultural Contingency – many different and equally good ways can be used to reach the same goal.

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Cultural self-awareness – an understanding of their own cultural assumptions and patterns of behavior; Cross-cultural awareness – an understanding of the others cultures’ assumptions and patterns of behavior.

Roman dictum “knowledge is power”:
in knowing yourself you gain power over your perceptions and reactions; you can control your own behavior and your reactions to others’ behavior.

3. Organizational Culture vs. National Culture

Many managers believe that organizational culture moderates or erases the influence of national culture; Assume that employees working for the same organization – even if they come from different countries – will behave similarly.

False supposition; employees and managers bring their cultural background and ethnicity to the workplace. Studies of Laurent and Geert Hofstede (research documents a wide range of cultural differences in work related values, attitudes) who pronounced cultural differences among employees from all around the world working in multinational companies. When working for multinational companies, German become more German, Americans more American and so on.

4. Fatalism/ Choice

Fatalism is the concept that everything that happens to us is unavoidable, either because it is all predetermined by fate or because it is simply beyond us to control.

Free will (choice) is the belief that human beings can make their own choices and determine their own destinies.

In a way, a belief in Murphy’s Law can help these two diametrically opposed concepts to coexist. Murphy reminds us that we’re likely to mess up a lot of the time, but it also helps us see that we’re not in complete control of our lives. For example, if it seems like you always get stuck in the slowest lane of traffic, Murphy’s Law can help you see that it is a combination of your own choices (choosing what time of day to drive, what road to take, which lane to enter) and forces beyond your control (the traffic itself) that cause your delay.

5. Dominance vs. Harmony

Dominance = cultural dominance (in business) – continuing to use approaches you use at home; used when managers believe that their way is the only right way, especially in situations involving ethical decisions.

Dominant over nature (as North Americans) or in harmony with it (Chinese people with feng shui or “wind water” – there is no real separation between people and their natural environment, they leave in peace with it)

Dominant cultures (America) – approach to agriculture – they use pesticides, fertilizers and genetically modified seeds to increase crop yields; other ex: astronauts’ conquers the space, biotechnology and genetic engineering to alter the nature of life itself.

Harmony – approach to agriculture – plant the “right” crops in the “right” places at the “right” time of the year in order to maintain the soil in good conditions.
When Sir Edmund Hillary reached the top of the Everest:
Dominance oriented press : “Men conquers mountain”
Harmony-oriented press – “Man befriends mountains”

6. Advantages and Disadvantages of Parochialism

Parochialism: view the world solely through one’s own eyes and perspective; a person with parochial perspective neither recognizes other people’s different ways of living and working, nor appreciates that such differences can offer significant opportunities or creates serious consequences.

As example, America has a large domestic market, so that the global business expertise is unnecessary; English will continue to be a language of international business;

No understanding on how to manage in an international environment; As an example, Americans think about themselves that they do not need to learn other language or to go to other country to succeed in business; No efficiency in working with other cultures or in a multicultural environment; Cultural misunderstandings;

7. Conservatism vs. Liberalism

Liberal cultures – believe in government action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all. It is the duty of the government to alleviate social ills and to protect civil liberties and individual and human rights. Believe the role of the government should be to guarantee that no one is in need. Liberal policies generally emphasize the need for the government to solve problems.

Conservative cultures – believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, traditional American values and a strong national defense. Believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals. Conservative policies generally emphasize empowerment of the individual to solve

8. Substitutable Values/ Unique Values

Presented in Metaphysics of Morals written by Immanuel Kant,

9. Career Anchors

According to Edgar Schein, he has identified eight themes and has shown that people will have prioritized preferences for these. People tend to stay anchored in one area and their career will echo this in many ways.

1. Technical/functional competence – this kind of person likes being good at smth and will work to become an expert. 2. General Managerial competence – persons who like problem-solving and dealing with people; 3. Autonomy/Independence – people who have a primary need to work under their own rules; avoid standards and prefer to work alone;

4. Security/ Stability – people who seek stability and security; avoid risks; 5. Entrepreneurial Creativity – people who like to invent things, to be creative and run their own businesses; they easily get bored; 6. Service/Dedication to cause – how people can help other people by using their talents; 7. Pure Challenge – seek constant stimulation and difficult problems; change job when get bored; 8. Lifestyle

10. Kinesics

Is the interpretation of body language such as facial expressions and gestures — or, more formally, non-verbal behavior related to movement, either of any part of the body or the body as a whole.

Ekman and Friesen (1969) in their seminal work on kinesics classify kinesics into five Categories: emblems, illustrators, affect displays, regulators and adapters: a) Emblems = are non-verbal messages that have a verbal counterpart. For example, the British sign for Victory (forefinger and middle finger erect) symbolizes the letter V, a sign for victory often seen painted onto house walls during WWII.

However, the same movement may symbolize the number two in the US and may be seen as insulting in Australia. b) Illustrators = are used to illustrate what is being said. In terms of business communication, the importance of illustrator’s usage is quite significant.

For example, in some Asian cultures extensive use of illustrators are often interpreted as a lack of intelligence, whereas in Latin cultures the absence of illustrators is easily construed as a lack of interest. c) Active Displays = are body or facial movements that display a certain affective state, as example, emotions. d) Regulators = non-verbal signs that regulate, modulate and maintain the flow of speech during conversation. e) Adaptors = postural changes and other movements at a low level of awareness.

11. Proxemics

Proxemics or the use of space has a great impact on the intercultural communications. The important aspect of proxemics is that areas very close to our body is usually reserved for people we are intimate with, whereas space further away from our body is open to persons one is less intimate with.

However some differences can be seen when studying certain cultures. For example, persons from Latin cultures sit closer to each other as are people from Northern European cultures. The importance of proxemics in business communication is important for a number of reasons: through the distance that is chosen when communicating to one another, people express their degree of intimacy and trust towards that person.

12. Chronemics

Chronemics – is the cross cultural concept of time. Edward Hall identified two systems used to refer to time and its influence on society: polychronic and monochronic.

Polychronic used to describe the preference for doing several things at once (people-oriented; Italy, Brazil; flexible approach of time; no strict agenda) Monochronic refers to an individual’s preference to do their activities one by one (U.S. or Germany prefer promptness, careful
planning and rigid commitment to plans; task-oriented)

While doing business in other countries, you should consider the different perceptions of time people might have. Everyday global business activities such as scheduling meetings, participating in conference calls or planning a project can be affected by attitudes to time. 13. Cromatics

14. Elaborate Vs. Succinct Verbal Styles

These verbal stylistic variations describe de quantity of talk in everyday conversations in different cultures.

Elaborate Verbal Style = rich, expressive language, which uses a large number of adjectives describing a noun, exaggerations, idiomatic expressions, proverbs and metaphors. Used in Middle East cultures such as Iran, Egypt, Saudi-Arabia, which are moderate in Hofstede’s UAI dimension and are highcontext cultures.

Succint Verbal Style = high context and high uncertainty avoidance cultures; explicit verbal communication does not contain all the information which is supposed to be transmitted; depends heavily on non-verbal aspect, so that verbal message is considered only a part of communication (due to high context cultures). Ex. : Japanese (have developed haragei or the “art of the belly” for meeting the minds without clear verbal interaction.

15. Cultural Representations of Good and Evil

Cultures perceive differently the good and the evil. Americans see people as a mixture of good and evil, they believe in the possibility of improvement through change. Some other cultures see people as basically evil (Puritans orientation).

Others see people as basically good (Utopian societies). Societies that consider people good tend to trust them a great deal, whereas societies that consider people evil tend to suspect and mistrust them. Ex: the study case from the book, in which a young Canadian was employed at a restaurant owned by a Bosnian.

The owner let the young employee alone in a room where the money for the wages were deposited, in the situation in which, the owner of the restaurant didn’t know any information about the new employee.

16. Advantages and Disadvantages of Team Diversity

– multicultural teams have the potential to achieve higher productivity than homogeneous teams; – more and better ideas;
– limited groupthink
– multicultural teams have the risk of experiencing greater losses due to faulty process. – attitudinal problems – dislike and mistrust between members (Indians look down when acknowledging authority). – stereotyping

– communication problems – inaccuracy, misinterpretations and inefficiency – stress (the French want to discuss principles and historical precedent while Americans focus on specific details of the immediate situation) – decreased effectiveness;

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