Research paper: Challenges faced by managers of multicultural workforces and recommendations for management training

Cultural factors of motivation. According to the model proposed by Hofstede (2001), individualist cultures highly estimate the opportunities for career growth, while collectivist cultures appreciate the opportunity of belonging to an influential group. Feminine cultures positively perceive short and clearly defined working hours.

In masculine cultures, the ability to compete for success is valuable. Cultures with high levels of uncertainty avoidance are focused on safety and reliability, and cultures with low uncertainty avoidance level value diversity in the work. In cultures with high power-distance index, it is important to have an opportunity to work with the leader, who is loyal to subordinates and is giving precise instructions. Cultures with low power-distance index value the opportunity to work with the leader, supporting consultative relations with subordinates.

In addition, an interesting cultural-specific interpretation of the famous Maslow’s model of the hierarchy of needs was suggested that Nevis (1983), who studied the People’s Republic of China, which had to overcome a series of revolutions and social upheavals in a relatively short time period. The studies were conducted when the country was overcoming the impact of the Maoist totalitarianism and Cultural Revolution, as well as during post-Maoist market reforms. Nevis (1983) described the 4 levels of needs’ hierarchy:
• Level 4 – the needs for self-actualization and public service;
• Level 3 – the need for safety and reliability;
• Level 2 – physiological needs;
• Level 1 – the need for belonging to the community.

Thus, this model takes into account the unusually high level of collectivism, in which the physiological needs are subordinated to the social ones (Pearson & Entrekin, 2001).buy research paper

Cross-cultural aspects of organizational conflict. English-speaking cultures perceive a certain degree of proneness to conflict as a necessary condition for creativity and initiative. Tension within the organization is seen as normal and is considered to be a sign of health within the organization (Evans, 1992). Well-managed debates and discussions are leading to “energy recharging” of the participants and generation of new ideas (Rollinson, 2008). Eisenhardt et al. (1997) emphasize that the conflict is very valuable in the top-management teams. For instance, Mead (2004) cites the example of an American company Motorolla, in which a sharp confrontation of top managers at the meetings of the Board of Directors is a tradition allowing managers to remain friends after such clashes.

Cultures with the value for “actions”, as opposed to cultures with the value of “being”, are more focused on the conflict as a factor contributing to the creation of something new, whereas the cultures of the second type avoid conflict as a factor destroying the harmony of the group. In collectivist cultures, direct confrontation is avoided, whereas in individualistic cultures, the expression of one’s own opinion is a feature of an honest man. Hofstede (1991) cites the example of Japan, where direct confrontation between people is seen as rough and undesirable. The word “no” is pronounced extremely rarely, because it actually means certain confrontation.

At the same time, the word “yes” does not exactly mean agreement, but, above all, it is a statement addressed to the other party which says “Yes, I hear you”.

In cultures with high power-distance index, the conflict between hierarchical levels is normal and expected. In cultures with low power-distance index, the harmony between the “powerful and powerless” is appreciated, so the colleagues tend to cooperation. Hofstede (2001) showed that managers from cultures with the low degree of uncertainty avoidance easier tolerate the stress caused, in particular, by conflicts and new managerial technologies, which include an abundance of group meetings and discussions (e.g., re-engineering).

It is clear that the culture affects the choice of strategy and tactics of organizational conflict resolution. In masculine cultures, the conflict is solved in a fight; in feminine cultures – through negotiation and compromise. In English-speaking cultures, the desire for confrontation is appreciated, while the strategies of exit from the conflict and adaptation are seen as defeatist (Cateora et al., 2010; Hill, 1997). The Japanese tend to resolve conflicts through cooperation, compromise and consensus. Their commercial contracts tend to avoid rigid formulations and contain the remarks like: “All the situations not included in this contract, are considered and resolved in a spirit of honesty and faith”(Pearson & Entrekin, 2001; Moran et al., 2007). The Chinese also seek for consensus on the differences: the Confucian values of collectivism and conformism are responsible for the lower level of aggressiveness and confrontationality of the Chinese in comparison to Western people (Chew & Horwitz, 2004).

Cultural factors also influence the choice of the leader’s mode of action in a conflict situation. In cultures where open conflict is not accepted, the manager can suspend the dialogue with the parties and involve the reputable third party (Eisenhardt et al., 1997). In cultures, where the power distance is larger, the leader chooses not to intervene in a conflict between the subordinates, because, being involved in it, the leader is “losing face” (Thomas, 2008). Arbitration is especially appreciated in collectivist cultures, where the conflict is perceived as a threat to the integrity of the group, for instance, in Southeast Asia (Pearson & Entrekin, 2001).

Many of these tendencies are also related to cross-cultural aspects of decision-making. In addition, it should be marked that group decisions in collectivist cultures tend to require considerably more time than in individualistic cultures. It takes more time to come to a consensus, to take into considerations the interests of all participants. Then, the solution accepted by everyone is almost impossible to change (Mead, 2004).

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