Essay on Cultural Differences

The manager of a multicultural team often meets difficulties. The best and most often used means, applied in solving such problems are trainings. Training of managers of multicultural teams can be performed under the program including 4 levels. On the first of them the main attention is given to revealing of cultural distinctions and their influence on results of business. The second level is focused on formation of relations and their influence on behavior. The third level provides with actual knowledge concerning the concrete country. And on the fourth level attention is given to the knowledge of language, skills of adaptation and correcting behavior (Clarke, 2003).
Here are some recommendations about the organization of training for managers of multicultural companies:
– Study features of culture of participants. For example, in Japan risk is not accepted. Therefore you can find out that no Japanese will want to participate in training role games as it means decision-making and, hence, risk voluntary (Snow, 1996). In a similar way in the Near East role games are considered as an entertainment for children, instead of activity for adults.
– The public criticism represents a taboo for some cultures of the Far East. That is why it can cause difficulties in such simple question, as a choice of the voluntary observer in discussion or role game because this role means criticism of behavior of other people.
– It is important to save the face and not to admit awkwardness in relation to other people from the countries of the Near East, East and Western Africa and some European countries, including Spain and Italy. Actually problems can arise in any situation when the behavior of trainees can become a point of issue and-or critics (Brooks, 1995).

– It may also become difficult to receive an adequate estimation of teaching. Even if you break a taboo, pupils will not state you the displeasure as it would mean to criticize you and to compel you to lose the face.

– Correctly understand what relation to studied issue is spread in national culture of trainees. In the USA, for example, it is usual to teach trading agents writing letters to heads of the top echelon to provide the access to the organization. In Japan such practice is not accepted. Instead, they recommend personal visits to company with delivery of cards (E Miller, 1999).
Training programs of expatriates and local citizens can also include questions of studying corporate values, techniques of servicing, work in collective.

Globalization of economy and expansion of international contacts strengthens a role and value of cross-cultural negotiations (K Stahl, 2010). Scale and importance of problems of international business dialogue force to search for new methods of modeling and optimum control by cross-cultural negotiations. For the success of cross-cultural negotiating processes preliminary preparation of the personnel is important.

In the West, especially in the USA, cross-cultural research is a traditionally priority direction. 1500 centers all over the world hold seminars, trainings, intercultural researches, develop methods of intercultural researches (Saith, 2011). Therefore for many companies cross-cultural trainings are habitual and necessary, and for some they remain new.

Training as the way to improve intercultural communication is very popular in business environment. Problems of mutual understanding between representatives of different nations, conducting business, regardless of cultural background and achieving high performance in international teams are solved during trainings in intercultural and cross-cultural communications.
At the training manager is recommended to learn communication features of representatives of each culture and their relation to the basic working concepts, such as planning, reporting, relationship to time, goals, outcomes, and ways to accomplish the task, business rhythm, etc. (Pollar, 1994) Intercultural training at this stage is an immersion into a foreign environment and requires a vivid illustration of examples from the life of another culture, of business games and simulations.

Thus, in the first phase of acquaintance with other cultures it is necessary to dwell on a detailed consideration of the following topics:
– Similarities and differences between cultures;
– The role of history and traditions that form the matrix of culture: symbols, rituals, heroes and values of that culture (Pedersen, 1999);
– Disclosure of the concept of “cultural iceberg” on the surface of which are goals, technology, finance, management, and a huge amount of values, beliefs, perceptions, emotions is hidden;
– Description of the system of values, or, in other words, a set of preferences of a given culture, learning, for example, such concepts as “typically Russian”, “typically German”, “typical American” list of values (Hunt, 2007);
– Disclosure of the value system in relation to social interaction, i.e. description of how their vision is refracted in the everyday, working and business cultures;
– Assessment in terms of differences in values, success factors, i.e. what is generally considered a success in every culture;
– Determination of cultures’ points of coincidence, knowledge of which could help in the implementation of future collaboration.
During the training, managers learn the cultural differences between representatives of different countries. At the stage of the extended intercultural training it is necessary to tell about cultural features of each communicating party, to characterize core values that determine human behavior as a cultural archetype (Vallaster, 2004).

The first manager’s step to understanding and further adoption of cultural differences is indication of their existence. It is appropriate to highlight the most important aspects that have the greatest impact on communication. Thus, the attitude to time of representatives of various cultures is different (eternal German punctuality or admissibility of tardiness in conditions of Russian reality, the reason of which is – idling in traffic jams). Also different is, for example, the perception of the existence of friendly relations in commercial activity (D’Netto, 1999).

At the extended intercultural training both business and communication issues related to the difficulties that result from cultural differences are discussed with greater depth. The method of conducting such training is related to its purposes: first, the problem must be specified through theoretical entry or report, and then the situation should be simulated during the business game. Thus the business game is usually done with involving managers.

We recommend such an outline of the training:
1. Theoretical, or introductory, stage. We present theses that are appropriate to be accompanied with the slide show to visually perpetuate the information on the type of American comics.
2. Discussion of theoretical stages, debates (Aritz, 2010).
3. Practical consolidating of knowledge through the dry run and participating in role-playing games. For example, the most successful exercise of one of cross-cultural trainings became role-playing game “Briefing” when the participants without any suspicion, exactly specify all the cross-cultural issues that hindered the implementation of international production.
4. Discussion of practical steps. The conduct of “brainstorming” about solutions of specific problems is most effective when a specific problem is offered to be solved to the managers from different countries. After the training, manager should nail down all the acquired skills in practice (Brain, 2004).

Globalization is the process of global economic, political and cultural integration and unification (Fritz, 2011). The main consequence of this is the global division of labor, migration across the planet of capital, human and production resources, standardization of legislation, economic and technological processes, as well as the harmonization of cultures of different countries. It is an objective, natural historical process that is systemic, i.e., covers all aspects of society.

The central figure of management is a professional – manager, able to see the prospects of the case he is doing, quickly assess the real situation and find the optimal solution for achieving the goal (Syed, 2010). In this regard, the manager must have certain professional and personal qualities: high competence, flexibility of thinking, the ability to take risks, forcefulness, to realize the plans and be a leader in the team. The basis of the human factor is personality: psychological aspect of man as a functioning member of society, conscious of his role in it.

Members of multicultural teams have different perceptions of the atmosphere of situations they encounter during working process, as well as different perceptions of the motives and incentives for behavior, norms and rules of communication and interaction, the process of stereotyping and formation of various prejudices. The consequences of these differences are reflected in lower rates of team’s effectiveness, because of violation of social cohesion. The task of a manager is to make the work of multicultural team effective. In the management of multicultural teams, cultural differences and cross-cultural conflicts become a common problem that requires common solutions (Li, 2002).

Thus, the active involvement of companies and individual entrepreneurs in international operations requires managers to have new knowledge and skills related to the implementation of strategies for engaging with individuals and companies, whose behavior is determined by another values and cultural priorities. More and more large, medium and small companies actively appear in external market, engaging in export activities, licensing, joint venturing, direct investing, management consulting. More frequently there occur processes of merger and acquisitions, establishment of strategic alliances and associations. The skills of managing multicultural workforce are of great use in diversity team. There increasingly appear multicultural organizations whose workers must admit and respect differences, interests of cultural and social groups, manifest political correctness and rejection of discrimination.


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