How important it is for managers to have good understanding of cultural diversity in the workplace?
Everywhere around the world, there is an increase in workplace that employees come from different countries, background, believes, religion, attitude, experience and level of education. As consequence, the managers need to have a good understanding of diverse of cultures in order to better manage the business. The one of reason is workforce vital capital in any organization. Therefore, managers and employees who are work with colleagues from different culture, they realize that it is important to have a vision to respect other cultures.
This piece of academic work will discuss importance of having good understanding of cultural diversity and will analyze why it is coming more popular and necessary in modern time. It is going to start with discussion of communication in organization with relevant examples. After that will examine what is culture, change, ethics and deal of different cultures.
According to Thill and Bovee (2002), they defined “culture is shared system of symbols, beliefs, attitudes, values expectation and norms for behavior”. People in a group, they all have similar assumption about how people should think, behave and communicate and they all tend to act on following assumptions in much the same way. We belong to the culture you share with all the people who live in your own country. Moreover, people do belong into other cultural groups such as ethnic group, religious group and profession group which have its own language and customs. In order to communicate efficiently, people need to understand a few essentials about culture.
Everyone grow up in a culture, culture is transmitted from one to another, decade to decade, telling us who we are and how most excellent to function in our society. Also, cultures vary in stability, complexity and tolerance.
Culture do change but at different rates in different society. Rapid change can obstruct with decoding and receiving messages. For instance, Japan’s culture has come to anticipate the safety of lifelong employment. However, today’s economy is forcing employees to face the possibility of developing their own benefits. Furthermore, some complex cultures anticipate much more effort from outsiders who wants to communicate undoubtedly with insiders. What is more, some cultures are unreceptive toward outsider, some prefer to be remoteness and other half friendly and like to collaborate toward new arrivals. In organization with this attitude we can meet people who have different cultures. Communication affect by culture therefore people can grow their ability to communicate effectively across cultures by recognizing cultural differences.
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When you are communicating with person who comes from different culture, you encode your message using your culture assumptions. Similarly, that person decodes your message using his or her assumption of culture. In this situation, your message could easily misunderstand. For example, in Mongolia, when people purchase something, they do not give the cash or card by their space between fingers to seller or counter. If you do so, they will not like it because it means you are not respectful to the person serving for you. However, in many countries it does not mean anything, they do not offend if someone does so.
Problems would arise when we assume, wrongly, that other people’s attitudes and lives are like ours. As a complete of one intercultural training program said, “I used to think it was enough to treat people the way I wanted to be treated. But after the course completer said I realized you have to treat people the way they want to be treated. Thus, recognizing and cooperative cultural differences is necessary.
Today’s dramatic increase of international business and multinational corporations, the chances of meet people from different cultures, beliefs, views, behavior and backgrounds are greater than last decades. At the beginning of twenty first century the business world had truthfully become global village. In Adler and Elmhorst’s rcent book(2005,p43) presented about eighty percent of U.S. products competing in international markets; some three thousands five hundreds multinational corporation were based in United States; and a staggering forty thousand U.S firms were doing business with overseas customers. It illustrates some of challenges communicators face in today’s international market place, where working with people from very different backgrounds is in practice. The ability to work efficiently with people comes from completely different culture of yours is really significant especially in management of organization in globalization. “We would be blind not to see how critically important international experience is, “says Colby H. Chandler, CEO of Eastman Kodak. Whether person work with foreign colleagues or in abroad, it is significant to understand diversity of culture for effective communication.
According to Thill and Bovee (2002) determine cultural context is the pattern of physical cues, environmental stimuli, and implicit understanding that conveys meaning between members of the same culture. But, from culture to culture, people convey contextual meaning differently. In reality, right social behavior and effective communication can be defined by how much a culture depends on contextual cues.
In a high context culture people rely less on verbal communication and more on the context of nonverbal actions and environmental setting to express meaning in South Korea or Taiwan. A Chinese speaker anticipates the receiver to find out the essence of a message and uses indirectness and metaphor to provide web of meaning. In high context culture, the rules of everyday life are rarely explicit; instead, as individuals grow up, they learn how to recognize situational cues (posture and tone of voice) and how respond as expected.
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In low context culture such as the United States and Germany, people rely more on verbal communication and less on conditions and gesture to convey meaning. An English speaker feels responsible for transmitting the meaning of the message and often places context culture; rules and expectations are usually spelled out through explicit statements for example: please wait while checking in progress. Contextual differences are obvious in the way cultures approach situations such as negotiating, decision making and problem solving.
Differences in negotiating styles, U.S and Canadian negotiators more likely take a comparatively impersonal view of negotiations. Members of these low context cultures see their goals in economic terms and usually assume trust of other party. On the contrary, high context Japanese negotiators have a preference more sociable negotiating environment that is conductive to forging personal ties as the basis for trust. To high context negotiators, achieving immediate economic gains are less important to establishing and maintaining a long term relationship.
Difference in decision making practices, in lower context cultures, executives try to reach decisions as quickly and efficiently as possible. They are concerned with reaching an agreement on the main points, leaving the fine points to be worked out later by others. On the other hand, this approach would go wrong in higher context Greece, because Greek executive believe that anyone who ignores the fine points is being elusive. Working on each little point is considered a mark of good faith.
Differences in problem solving techniques, cultures vary in their acceptance for open disagreement. Low context business people identically like argument and debate, but high context Japanese executives avoid such strategy. To avoid the unpleasant feelings that might result from open conflict, Japanese firms may use a go between or third party. Chinese business people also try to avert public conflict, making allowance slowly and staying away from proposal – counterproposal methods.
According to Adler and Elmhorst (2005), communicating across diversity that communicating with others from different culture is not easy and hard to make an assumption. The simple example is attitudes about talk. The amount of talk and silence that is appropriate can differ from one to another. In contrast, African American and Euro American cultures place a high value on verbal communication, and their members tend to speak more. It is easy to imagine how the silence of, say, a Japanese American or Euro- American colleague as a sign of dislike. Nonverbal standards also vary. Most communicators unconsciously assume that their rules for behavior such as eye contact are universal. Researchers, however, have found that eye contact can vary significantly. On study found that widely opened eye are usually interpreted in mainstream U.S culture as a sign of surprise or wonder and in Hispanic culture as a call for help, signifying I do not understand. To African Americans, the same kind of gaze is often regarded as measure of innocence. Since euro – Americans often associate eye contact with honesty and respect, it is easy to misjudge others for whom steady eye contact would be a sign of disrespect. There are many cases where attempts by Puerto Ricans and Native Americans to show respect to people in authority by not looking at them has been interpreted as dishonesty or disrespect by those accustomed to greater eye contact.
According to Adler and Elmhorst (2005), individualism and collectivism compare cultures. Individualistic cultures suggest their members a great deal of freedom, the belief being that this freedom makes it possible for each person to achieve personal success. In contrast, collectivist cultures have tight social frameworks in which members of a group feel primary loyalty toward one another and the group to which they belong. Japan and most East Asian cultures are highly collective. This orientation is clear at corporate events where employees often sing their company’s song. It is unbelievable members of individualistic cultures such as the U.S and Canada. In collectivist societies, members are anticipated to believe that the welfare of the organization is as important as their own.”You seldom see an individual Japanese executive who stands above the rest until he is the most senior individual in the company,” says international corporate Richard M. Ferry. The influence of collectivist beliefs was shown when PepsiCo rewarded one of its managers in China with a bonus of 60000 yuan (about $12000). The rewarded manager divided the prize equally among his subordinates. Rather than taking the money himself, as an American manager probably would have done.
In conclusion, cultural diversity does not just differences in look and language. It also implies different ways of thinking, managing, and communicating. Diversity is a concept that counters discrimination and embraces the inclusion of people with various experiences and backgrounds such education, parental status, geographic location, language, and culture. Diversity is about learning from others, providing support and respect to those with similar and different experiences, and creating an encouraging workplace for them.
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