In the current global age technology has brought the world closer and hence people coming from different cultures now work together and even communicate more often. This interaction is very interesting but sometimes can be very frustrating and clouded with uncertainties especially when one is faced with challenges on how to relate to someone from different culture. This dilemma involve on how to begin a healthy conversation with them i.e. what to say and what to avoid, what cultural taboos one needs to be aware of to facilitate an effective communication at work place that is characterized with cultural diversity ( Vestergaard ,1998).
IKEA is the worlds largest home furnishing retailer unfortunately its still unknown in many locations thus its challenge of focusing on strategies to expand and enter such unexploited markets. This will involve the use of expatriates hence the issue of culture has to be put into consideration by the company's decision makers.
In addition to that the dimension of bonding with culturally diverse people around the world is only the basis but other issues exist for instance the issue of motivating people, structuring of projects and developing of strategies also come into play. All the issues stated above need an individual to get acquainted with the cultural norms of the people involved in the interaction. This is of create concerns especially when one considers the fact that culture that works in one place sometimes works or fail to work when applied in a different location (Hofstede,1994).
To solve the problem of interacting with culturally diverse people two German physiologists Hofstede and Trompenaars emerged with two different models of cultural dimensions that have been recognized to be international standard tools for analyzing of cultural differences at work place and how to ensure that an effective communication is promoted (Pablo &,Javidan 2004).
Hofstede model of cultural dimension
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Hofstede collected cultural data and analyzed it to come up with his model of five dimensions of culture which he found to have clear similar patterns and differences in response. The dimensions are: the power/distance (PD) which refers to the various degrees of inequality that exists and is accepted by bestowed with power or not (Kreitner, & Kinicki, 2001). Second dimension is the individualism (IDV) that refers to the strength of ties that people have towards others in the community in which high score indicates loose connections among people while low score shows strong group cohesion in the society.
Third is the masculinity (MAS) dimension which refers to the degree in which a society adheres to its values regarding traditional roles that males and female play in the society. A low MAS score is characteristic of societies where men are expected to be tough, providing, assertive and strong while a low score gender responsibilities are blurred and doesn't reverse the roles genders play. Uncertainty/Avoidance Index (UAI) is Hofstede fourth dimension which deals with the degree of anxiety that members of a society face when they are in unknown or uncertain situation (Luthans, 2002).
A high UAI score indicates a society where people avoid ambiguous situations as much as possible through establishment of rules and order that often seek a collective truth whereas a low UAI score society is characterized by its ability to enjoy novel events and differences in values hence there are few rules thus encouraging its members to discovering their own truth (Stahl & Mendenhall 2005). Finally the firth cultural dimension is the Long term Orientation (LTO) which deals with how a society values its long standing traditions and values as opposed to the short term ones. In societies with a high LTO score, the concept of delivering on social obligations and maintaining of its identity are very important considerations made by its members.
Hofstede model of cultural dimension in Sweden and china
In Sweden; the power/distance (PD) which usually analyses the power of distance which allows people to accept the large differences that exist between the most and the least powerful members in the society in term of wealth, well being and privileges. The power/distance score of Sweden is low and this means that citizens of the country expect all its members to have a comparable authority and wealthy.
Also they poses egalitarian values and each member expect to be consulted in every decision making process that is undertaken in the country. On the other hand china P/D score is very high and this means that Chinese accept disparities in wealth and authority and expect the powerful to give orders and participative leadership is viewed as irresponsible and incompetent.
The individualism vs. collectivism shows that Sweden has a high score which means that Swedish expect themselves to be self-reliant and independent and focus mainly in taking care of themselves and immediate families while the IDV score of china is very low indication that Chinese expect each one of them to fully serve the groups to which they belong to; for instance their extended families and churches.
The uncertainty avoidance score is Sweden is quite low meaning that most of its citizens are relatively comfortable with people and events that occur at uncertain times where as the quite high score of china means that Chinese are less comfortable with events as well as people that are unpredictable
Trompenaars model of cultural dimension
Trompenaars is also a Dutch who devised four diversity cultures. In this model is assumed that major dimensions of an individual vs. task, centralized / hierarchies vs. decentralized/egalitarian are very common measures which can be easily determined. The factors in the model of relationship between employees include the family which diffuses relationship to an organic whole which an individual is bonded to. The factor of Eiffel tower refers to the specific roles in the mechanical system which carries the required interactions. The guided missile is the specific roles in the cybernetic system which are targeted upon by the shared objectives and finally the incubator factor include the diffuse of the spontaneous relationships that grow out of the shared creative processes ( McSweeney, 2002).
Second model is the attitude to authority which has the flowing factor: the family is the status is ascibed to the close and powerful parent figures while the Eiffel tower is ascibed to other distant yet powerful roles. Guided missile is attained through the actions of group members who are contribute to the attendance of the targeted goal and finally the incubator status is achieved by the individuals who exemplify creativity and growth in the organization.
Another model is the way of thinking and learning which family plays the role of being intuition, holistic, lateral as well as error correcting while the Eiffel tower takes the logical, analytical as well as the vertical and rational efficiency of the system.
The guided missile is professional, problem centered, practical and involves the cross disciplinary measures where as the incubator entails the creative, process oriented, ad hoc and inspirational roles of the system. The model of attitude to people involves the role of family as family members, Eiffel tower as human resources, guided missile as the specialist and experts and finally the incubators as the co-creators in the system.
The final model is the one of managing change where the family especially father changing course, Eiffel tower is the procedures and rules of the change, guided missile is the shifting aim as the target moves and finally the incubator improvises and attunes the entire system to facilitate management of the change..
The model of cultural dimensions applies the role that national cultural values and ideal plays in remuneration of preferences. The model shows that country's culture plays a critical role when it comes to its cultural definition. Secondly, the model itself was founded on studies done on the basis of countries hence its results reflect what nationality plays in cultural dimensions.
Hofstede model is very useful one as it can be applied in analysis of most countries though with exceptions. The values that distinguish countries from each other are grouped statistically into clusters and death with in specific ways: for instance the anthropological problems that different national societies handle in different ways are given definite considerations.
Hofstede model of cultural dimension is carried by country and it is therefore valid for many of these countries but one of its setbacks is the fact that it does not hold in countries characterized with strong subcultures which are based on ethnicity of origin or even geography. For example the model is not applicable in a country like Canada because of the distinct Canadian culture which as a different set of norms than those of the English speaking Canada. Another weakness of the model is the idea of ready interpretation of its analysis only on country level, this is a weakness because it's possible for one to propose that influences of a culturally sourced person values on remuneration preferences should be observed through analysis at individual level.
The problem if national analysis instead of individual analysis of remuneration preference can be solved by obtaining a more complete picture of such preferences through simultaneous modeling that involves analysis of both individual-level and country level influences on remuneration preferences. Finally most individual measures have had inadequacies like marginal item reliabilities, inability for replication of its results, lacks rigorous factors of analysis an results with unacceptable levels of significance and such setbacks can be overcome by developing a robust measures that are culturally relevant to individuals.
The Trompenaars model can be used to investigate national preferences by using the preferred response that Trompenaars obtained from his study in more than 55 national cultures. The responses include response the seven dimensions that Trompenaars identified as having influences on a national culture. Such dimensions include: internal vs. external, sequential vs. synchronic, achievement vs. ascription, specific vs. diffuse, neutral vs. emotional, individualism vs. collectivism and finally on universalism vs. particularism ( Pablo & Javidan, 2004).
Today's business is undergoing a great expansion especially into other countries hence becoming global. For such companies to operate outside the county of origin means that it has no other option but to adapt to both national and local aspects of the host countries. Therefore it's clear that the members of staff of such international companies hence consist of very different people with diverse attitudes and backgrounds. This implies that people from varying cultural backgrounds are becoming engaged in operations that force them to get acquainted with their differences and gain and understanding and acceptance. Communicating with people that are from different cultures has become very essential as cultures mix together and people thus dress differently, speak different languages, practice different traditions and their foods vary. this as made people appreciate the fact that culture has a great influence in their day to day lives hence becoming used to them or even lack the ability to determine them. Therefore it's very critical for such international companies to appreciate and know how to mange the varying aspects of engaging in international business like cultural diversity and this will therefore ensure their level of success in the host countries. In order to achieve this intentional companies need the services of expatriates.
Since expatriates carry most of their works in places of a difference culture, hence they face challenges. For instance; challenges arise when it comes to using the appropriate business etiquette when making business deals in countries with culture different from those in home country. For example a hand shake in America before and after making a successful business deal means very different thing and the situation is complicated if an American expatriate has to make a business deal in a country of an Arab or Asian culture as shaking of hands when making a business deals means a very different things all together. Handshakes make first impressions which in many cases may be even poignant than usual. If business counterparts are male the accepted business etiquette is often to shake hands on meeting. Such kind of greeting varies in different cultures; for instance in china a gentle handshake is initiated or even totally replaced with a short bow from the shoulder. In a county like Japan it is similar to that of china but the difference is that the bow comes from the waist and the lower the bow, the more the respect bestowed to the counterpart. However in places like in Latin America and Europe the proper busbies etiquette is attributed to a firm hand shake with a smile and direct eye contact. In some parts of Middle East good manners are linked to a gentle handshake followed by greeting words like 'salaam alaykum' which interprets as 'peace be upon you'. In most Muslim world one should never shake hand using the left hand as it's is considered unclean.
Finally greetings also vary especially on the age of the person being greeted depending on the culture of the society, in most cases the elder person is greeted first. Thus the example above serves to show the effect of culture diversity in the way expatriates do their assignments in the target countries with a different cultural practice (Hofstede, 1991).
Many multi national corporations (Macs) pay little attention to international training and orientation activities for its members of staff who are due to be engaged in expatriate assignments. In this era of an increasingly changing world of business, Multi national corporations become more involved in establishing of foreign-owned subsidiaries and even gain an entry into joint ventures as well as strategic alliances to enable them get an access to the international benefits of production resources. Such engagements so help these corporations create their presence in the international competition. This ventures forces the cooperation to require the essential services of expatriates who whelp them to locate the skilled members of staff (mangers) and workers in the target international countries.
These expatriate therefore face the challenges of the existing difference between these countries' in terms of existing labor markets, legal systems, economic systems and cultural variations. So carrying out an effective training activist for these expatriate employees is critically required if such corporations are to succeed in the in realizing their business engagements. Such training programs and orientations have several benefits: for instance it provides the expatriates with a better understanding of the unique experiences that come with participating in such international assignments.
In undergoing such programs they are placed in a better position to adjust to the cross cultural conditions that happen during their endeavors while undertaking their international duties. In addition to that they are given the necessary knowledge they require to confront challenges that affect their career goals when performing their duties abroad. Expatriate training programs should focus on international capabilities including issues of fluency in the use of foreign languages well as the ability to adapt to diverse cultural background which is a characteristic of target countries. Such strategic training will therefore enable the corporations that are involved in the international business to succeed in a competitive global environment. The cross cultural training is conducted on expatriates and members of its family prior to and after the attainment of the designated international assignments to enable then adjust to changes that occur bask at home(Hofstede,2003).
For expatriate to commence their international assignments they must have an expatriate training program that will enable them to learn the new language and culture. They shoulder undergo across cultural training which involves learning about the target country culture inform of history, politics, economy, prevailing social climate and business practices and such training includes role-playing as well as simulations and immersion in the target culture (Luger,2009).
Some of the ways of reducing cultural stereotyping include : carrying of an assessment of the present and future level of the need for foreigner in the organization, by determining the strategic markets and cultural novelty or distance ,through assessment of the cultural acceptance of the diversity in countries that are host to the organization, by developing a dual socialization process for those who are expatriates or even are home-country nationals, by developing a support package for the expatriates and their families and finally by monitoring and auditing the liability of foreignness processes and programs in the target countries (Hofstede ,1998).
A successful expatiate must be a person that is sensitive to cultural norms of the country he is posted to, also he must be an expatriate who is flexible enough to adapt to the country's cultural norms and be a person strong enough to make through the inevitable cultural shock of the target country. In addition tot that the family of the expatriate must also be capable to adapt to the new culture and this traits are acquired through the in training programs conducted by the multinational companies. Finally an expatriate must posses the technical competence in his area of operation otherwise respect from the subordinates will not be earned. (Reed Hall, 1990).
There are five ways in which a multi-cultural awareness can be raised among the multinational corporation expatriates: some of the ways include the ability of the tutor to understand that relationship that exist between what is intended to be aid and the effects it has on the learner. So it's important to consider the biases and prejudices that may be carried by the message tutored thus improving on the way the learners experience the training process (Hall, & Reed Hall,2006). Also another way of bringing multi-cultural awareness is to reject the myth of color blind or the act of treating everyone the same as this leads to one ignoring the basic difference that exist between individuals and these result in ignoring the largest part of the individual's personality.
Thirdly, one must recognize owns personal social identity group memberships and the way it affects others who intern emulates (as a role model).in addition to that one must reflect in personal experiences both positive and negative and these help one in understanding what another person in your situation will feel(Mead, 2005). In addition to that, one must be able to know the differences that exist between them in terms of ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, gender, first language, religion and disability. Finally since most stereotype are result from inadequate cultural information and experience relating to other cultures, then conducting cultural awareness programs as well inter cultural training will be of great help in dealing with the cases of cultural stereotyping in the society.