Discuss how different cultures use verbal communications and how cultural intelligence can positively affect communication outcomes.

1,000 words

Your coffee franchise cleared for business in all three countries (Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and China). You now have to develop your global franchise team and start construction of your restaurants. You invite all of the players to the headquarters in the United States for a big meeting to explain the project and get to know one another since they represent the global division of your company. In preparation for the meeting, you want to avoid cultural silos, while ensuring all parties engage with each other and a generative climate is created.

You are concerned with the following two issues. Substantively address each in a two-part paper, library resources to support your reasoning

Part 1: Effective communication with participants

· Discuss the national cultural profiles of Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and China that are relevant in cross-cultural business communications. Refer back to Unit 2 Hofstede cultural dimensions, as well as the political, economic, legal, and ethical systems and other variables relevant to global business communication.

· What are the implications of the cultural variables for your communication with the team representative from each country in the face to face meeting?

· Address Hall’s high and low context regarding verbal and non-verbal communication. The United States is a low context culture, while each country is high context.

· Tip: Write at least one substantive paragraph for each country

Part 2: Effective communication among participants

· What are examples of barriers and biases in cross-cultural business communications that may impact the effectiveness of communication among the meeting participants?  Consider ethnocentrism, communication apprehension, and culture shock.

· What are some of the issues you should be concerned about regarding verbal and nonverbal communication for this group to avoid misinterpretations and barriers to communication?

· Identify 3-5 mistakes made during business negotiations that could inhibit the team from building strong relationships?  Consider and direct and indirect styles.

Assignment Objectives

· Explain how different cultures influence the negotiation process.

· Identify regional, international, and cultural differences in communications.

· Simulate effective cross-cultural approaches, styles, and tones of written and verbal business communications, including those used in social media.

· Demonstrate knowledge of intercultural communication processes and list ways to develop effective intercultural communication skills.

· Discuss how different cultures use verbal communications and how cultural intelligence can positively affect communication outcomes.

How shall I talk of the sea to the frog, If it has never left his pond? How shall I talk of the frost of the bird of the summerland, If it has never left the land of its birth? How shall I talk of life with sage, If he is prisoner of his doctrine?

Chung Tsu – 4th Century BCE (A Central Concern, 2000)

This passage, written thousands of years ago, conveys some of the complexities of intercultural communication. It metaphorically describes how difficult it can be for people with different perceptions and frames of reference to understand each other.

In this global business world, it is important for business to find commonalities. As country boundaries blur, one can easily find worldwide brands and logos everywhere. While a consistent logo and message is important for product and name recognition among consumers, businesses must also consider if meanings are altered by translation, language, and culture.

Intercultural Awareness

Whether an employee is giving a presentation or creating a logo, intercultural competence and awareness will help the message to be effective. Intercultural competence is the degree to which a person is culturally aware of differences. Intercultural awareness (IA) is the “cognitive aspect of intercultural communication competence” that helps individuals understand one another (Samovar, Porter, & McDaniel, 2005). IA involves attitudes and behaviors.

In 1993, Bennett (1993) established the developmental model of intercultural sensitivity, a six-step process that describes the cognitive process that an individual goes through when interacting with other cultures:

1. Ethnocentrism: the idea that one’s culture is superior to others

2. Defensiveness: the perception of cultural differences as negative or threatening

3. Minimization of perceived differences: the belief that differences among cultures are minimal

4. Acceptance: the belief that cultural differences can either be positive or negative

5. Adaptation: the desire to change and adapt to another’s culture

6. Adoption and integration: the behavior of adopting another’s culture

The Great Global Divide: Crossing the Cultural Bridge with Model Behavior

To build intercultural awareness, knowledge of savoirs is important. In French, the word savoir means to knowSavoirs are the cultural references and foundational knowledge of a culture. The following intercultural competence model shows four savoirs (Byram & Zarate, 1997):

· Savoir apprendre means to know what to learn, seeking to understand another’s culture. If a person understands another culture, he or she is more likely to interpret messages accurately.

· Savoirs are a knowledge and awareness of message meanings, values, and sociolinguistic knowledge in a specific cultural context. For example, in Latin America, it is important to ask about family before engaging in business negotiations or discussions.

· Savoir être is concerned with understanding where culture and identity intersect and the social attitudes and perceptions associated with that particular culture.

· Savoir-faire is knowledge about how to do or make something; it integrates the first three concepts into real-time interactions.

 

Communication and Culture

It is important to know word translations and know what words mean, but it is equally important to know how to respond to various cultures and situations. For example, dialects and norms change from region to region, and adapting to these norms is critical. Learning to deal with reactions from native speakers in respective regions will help business and relationships.

These are just a few of the intercultural awareness theories and models that exist to help members of a global world understand cultural differences and similarities for more successful intercultural communication strategies.

References

A central concern: Developing intercultural competence. (2000). Retrieved from School for International Training Web site: http://www.sit.edu/publications/docs/competence.pdf

Bennett, M. J. (1993). Towards ethnorelativism: A developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. In M. Paige (Ed.), Education for the intercultural experience. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

Byram, M., & Zarate, G. (1997). Defining and Assessing Intercultural Competence: Some principles and proposals for the European context. Language Teaching, 29, 4–18.

Samovar, L. A., Porter, R. E., & McDaniel, E. R. (2005). Intercultural communication: A reader. (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

International Strategic Planning, Communication Planning, and Evaluation

To create a strategic plan, leaders must determine what business issues really matter to the organization. The following are suggested questions for making this determination:

· What is our business, and where is it going?

· What are the major barriers to attainment of our business goals?

· What must be done to overcome these barriers?

· Who is the competition?

· What is the competitive challenge?

It is important to the success of the business to develop answers to these questions and communicate them to all employees. Managers must develop messages that help clarify the key business issues. Employee communication should be a planned, professional process, one directly related to business goals. Well-planned communication can improve quality and productivity among other business measures.

Management’s participation in communication planning and practice should be part of existing accountability systems, including the regular planning process and performance reviews.

Listening as a Communication Technique

One of the most important communication techniques is listening, not just hearing. There is a difference between hearing and actively listening. The four levels of listening are as follows:

1. hearing

2. listening to understand

3. listening to respond

4. listening to analyze

The first level of listening is hearing. Though people with healthy eardrums hear the sound of words, they do not pay attention to most of what they hear. In the second level of listening, we pay a little more attention because we are interested and want to understand. The third level of listening is where we pay closer attention to what we are hearing because we need to prepare an answer and respond to what we just heard. The fourth and the highest level of listening is where we need to completely understand what we heard and analyze the information.

To listen effectively, we need to focus on what we are hearing. Most people need to learn how to listen beyond the first two levels. We need to be prepared to listen not only for information we want to know but also for the information we did not expect to hear.

Evaluating the Communication Plan

The expected outcomes of a good corporate communication plan are as follows:

· a significant contribution to the success of the business

· informed employees who are supportive of management’s strategic plan

· less resistance from employees upon implementing changes

· improved employee satisfaction

· a reduction in grievances and employee turnover

Evaluation of the communication plan is a series of steps for gathering and analyzing information about a given organization. Those involved in evaluation need to understand the different tools that are available to effectively assess the current status in the organization and measure it against the set goals. Different data collection and analysis methods produce different results, so the evaluator needs to consider which methods would best explore the issues that need to be measured. For best results, both qualitative and quantitative methods can be used in evaluation. Qualitative data can be obtained in interviews with individuals and focus groups. Quantitative data can be obtained by administering a survey in the form of a questionnaire. In small organizations, it may be possible to interview and include every single member in a focus group or survey. In a large international organization with hundreds or thousands of employees, interviewing everyone may not be possible or practical. In that case, a sample is selected to best represent the population. It is critical in scientific research that proper statistical methodology be used to determine the best sample size.

Evaluation of the communication plan is a learning process that improves the working environment. Information obtained through the assessment process identifies the gaps between the current and ideal environment in the organization. The success of the evaluation depends on an active involvement and commitment from everyone involved.

Calista’s Cookies has just gone from local to global and it needs your knowledge about international business. Determine whether the statements are True or False to build the factory for Calista’s Cookies.

Activity 1 – Level One Statements

Statement 1: An interlanguage shares commonalities between two cultures based on experience and knowledge of both the host culture and the visiting culture based on his/her own culture.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 1 is: Letter A. True. An interlanguage shares commonalities between two cultures based on experience and knowledge.

Statement 2: Intercultural competence is the degree to which a person is culturally aware of differences.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 2 is: Letter A. True. Intercultural competence describes how aware a person is about cultural differences.

Statement 3: The developmental model of intercultural sensitivity is a six-step process that describes six ways to manipulate and negotiate with an individual from another culture.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 3 is: Letter B. False. The developmental model of intercultural sensitivity is a six-step process that describes the cognitive process that an individual goes through when interacting with other cultures.

Statement 4: Multiculturalism is the idea that one’s culture is superior to others.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 4 is: Letter B. False Ethnocentricism is the idea that one’s culture is superior to others.

Statement 5: One of the steps in the developmental model of intercultural sensitivity is defensiveness. Defensiveness is the perception of cultural differences as negative or threatening.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 5 is: Letter A. True. Defensiveness is the perception of cultural differences as negative or threatening. It is best to refrain from being defensive and to keep an open mind when interacting with other cultures.

Statement 6: In French, the word savoir means to translate. Knowledge of savoirs is important to build intercultural awareness.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 6 is: Letter B. False. In French, the word savoir means to know. Different savoirs help you become more interculturally competent.

Statement 7: It is important to know word translations and what words mean, but it is not important to know regional variations because others will understand what you mean.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 7 is: Letter B. False. Regional variations in words are essential to know. The same word can mean two, completely different things in different places. Do your research to be sure you are using the correct and up-to-date translations.

Statement 8: Savoir apprendre means to know what to learn, seeking to understand another’s culture.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 8 is: Letter A. True. Savoir apprendre helps a person understand what is important enough to learn about another culture and improves a person’s intercultural awareness.

Statement 9: Whether an employee is giving a presentation or creating a logo, intercultural competence and awareness help the message to be effective.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 9 is: Letter A. True. Intercultural competence helps a message to be effective because it helps the business’ awareness of how the message will be received in different regions and cultures.

Statement 10: It is more important for a business to have a clear and consistent product message internationally than it is to consider how the message meaning might be altered or translated region to region.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 10 is: Letter B. False. While a consistent logo and message is important for product and name recognition among consumers, businesses must also consider if the meanings of their messages are altered by translation, language, and culture. For a business’ messages to be effective, the business may have to customize messages for countries, regions, and more.

Statement 11: Savoirs are the cultural references and foundational knowledge of a culture.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 11 is: Letter A. True. In French, savoir means to know. Savoirs help a person develop foundational knowledge about difference cultures.

Activity 2 – Level 2 Statements

Statement 12: Tiffany is from a country who believes that all family members should be consulted before any personal or group decisions are made. She is most likely from an individualistic culture.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 12 is: Letter B. False. She is most likely from a collectivist culture.

Statement 13: High context cultures use an indirect communication style.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 13 is: Letter A. True. Many high context cultures will imply meaning by using nonverbal language and context as much as possible. It may be considered rude to be direct and to the point.

Statement 14: High context cultures use a very direct communication style where word choice is direct and precise, and saying what one means is more obvious.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 14 is: Letter B. False. Low context cultures use a very direct communication style where word choice is direct and precise, and saying what one means is more obvious.

Statement 15: Low context cultures use a very direct communication style where word choice is direct and precise, and saying what one means is more obvious.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 15 is: Letter A. True. Low context cultures do not rely on nonverbals and the context to convey meaning. Word choice is direct and to the point.

Statement 16: Slang words are not included in language dictionaries but are often easy for nonnative speakers to figure out in the context of a message.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 16 is: Letter B. False. Slang is often very difficult to translate and interpret for a nonnative speaker and should be avoided in intercultural interactions.

Statement 17: In the developmental model of intercultural sensitivity, adaptation is the belief that differences among cultures are minimal.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 17 is: Letter B. False. In the developmental model of intercultural sensitivity, minimization of perceived differences is the belief that differences among cultures are minimal.

Statement 18: Languaculture studies the various meanings produced by the language.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 18 is: Letter A. True Languaculture outlines how different cultures influence their language and word meanings.

Statement 19: Languaculture studies the various meanings produced by the language.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 19 is: Letter A. True. Languaculture outlines how different cultures influence their language and word meanings.

Statement 20: Adaptation is the belief that cultural differences can either be positive or negative.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 20 is: Letter B. False. Acceptance is the belief that cultural differences can either be positive or negative.

Statement 21: In collective cultures, individualism is shunned.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 21 is: Letter A. True Collective cultures value groups over individuals.

Activity 3 – Level 3 Statements

Statement 22: In Latin America, it is important to ask about family before engaging in business negotiation or discussion. This is an example of a savoir about this culture.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 22 is: Letter A. True. A savoir is foundational knowledge about a culture. This knowledge would help one negotiate successfully with an individual of Latin American heritage.

Statement 23: In American English, the two-word verb “think up,” meaning to create something or imagine, is an example of cultural slang.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 23 is: Letter A. True. “Think up” is cultural slang because it is a verb set that cannot be translated directly; you must have cultural knowledge to understand it.

Statement 24: Western culture has produced words and phrases such as “out in left field” from baseball, “below the belt” from boxing, and “kickoff” from football. These phrases can be considered colloquialisms.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 24 is: Letter A. True. Colloquialisms are expressions that are culturally derived and become part of everyday vocabulary for the cultural residents.

Statement 25: In most cases, nonnative speakers will understand slang and colloquialisms from the context of the message.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 25 is: Letter B. False. Colloquialisms and slang are expressions that are culturally derived and often are only understood if one is from that culture.

Statement 26: Tommy is from the United States, and he met with a coworker from England. Tommy said the business deal was going to make them “megabucks.” The English coworker did not understand. “Megabucks” is a colloquialism.

A. True

B. False

The correct answer to Statement 26 is: Letter A. True. Although both people speak English, colloquialisms and idioms can be regional and even local. When possible, avoid using slang when interacting interculturally.

End of activity.

Question 1: How does culture relate to intercultural awareness?

Answer 1: Intercultural awareness is being aware of another person’s culture; customs; language; and verbal, nonverbal, and other social nuances. Culture is such a broad and encompassing term. Jenks broke it down into the following four pieces of culture:

· Culture is learned and is a state of mind.

· Culture and civilization are linked and include intellectual and moral ideas.

· Symbolic of culture is its society’s collection of art and other intellectual properties of work.

· Culture is also social and is reflected in its people’s way of life.

To be interculturally aware, a person should consider how each of the four pieces of culture will affect a business interaction. Language is also a smaller piece of culture, and Selinker created the idea of an interlanguage. An interlanguage shares commonalities between two cultures based on experience and knowledge of both the host culture and the visiting culture based on a person’s own culture. This awareness is displayed by attitudes and behaviors of the individuals coming together to share a common activity, such as working on a team or project within an organization.

Question 2: How does intercultural awareness help global business communication?

Answer 2: By understanding another person’s cultural perspective in the communication process, the likelihood of miscommunication decreases. In addition, the ability to create persuasive messaging (or messaging meant to persuade others) increases with intercultural awareness of the target audience. A business will be more successful if it can create advertisements and market ideas in a way that speaks to its target audience’s needs, wants, and concerns.

Cross-cultural competence, also known as learning another person’s cultural environment, is part of the overall global communication process. This cultural competence includes knowledge and applicability to communication situations. By learning about another’s culture, one can apply concepts to the communication process that another culture will understand and to which the other culture will relate. For example, if a Spanish speaker understands the nuances between Spanish spoken in different parts of the world (e.g., in Mexico or in Castilla, Spain), he or she can relate more to that particular culture. To a Castillian, the Spanish language has different meanings with different words than to someone who lives in Mexico; therefore, understanding the other cultural dialects and customs helps in communication.

When an organization with diverse cultures creates a team project, understanding the multiple cultures or raising cultural awareness of the many cultures involved is critical in helping move the project forward. With increased intercultural awareness, individuals learn to trust and understand each other, saving valuable time in lost productivity from misunderstandings and ethnocentric behaviors. Attempting to see another’s perspective from his or her own respective culture helps complete projects and increase productivity and profit levels.

Question 3: What are some characteristics of a person who has intercultural awareness?

Answer 3: When two people from different cultures come together in business negotiations, opening up to another culture is critical in the overall communication process. There are different attitudes in one’s personality that may assist in this understanding. A few traits that one can learn and practice include the following:

Tolerance

In a world of communication chaos and ambiguous communication, tolerance and patience for another’s culture serves the sender and receiver well. If a message is misunderstood, it is best to ask questions seeking meaning and content.

Patience

Patience and tolerance go hand in hand. In most cases, it is never the intent of one person to offend the other, it is usually just a matter of not understanding the culture or where the other person’s perspective or viewpoint.

Acceptance

It is important to ask questions to find out why a person from another culture has the beliefs and attitudes that he or she does. It is easier to accept the other person’s viewpoint and move to productive elements of productivity and business negotiation.

Empathy

Being able to empathize with another culture also helps in the overall communication process by allowing a person to see the other person’s viewpoints.

Adaptability

Similar to the idea of adapting a message in the communication process to fit a specific audience, adaptability is also important in the intercultural experience. Adapting or modifying preconceived ideas to fit the intent of the actual message is essential for total understanding by both cultures.

Question 4: What is cultural competence?

Answer 4: Several scholars explore the idea of cultural competence. Cultural competence involves understanding and being aware of another’s cultural differences, which helps bridge cultural gaps in business negotiations and interactions.

The intercultural competence model explored by Michael Byram and Genevieve Zarate noted the following four “savoirs”:

· Savoir apprendre seeks to understand another’s culture. For example, if a person understands another culture, he or she is more likely to interpret messages differently.

· Savoirs relates to intercultural awareness in message meanings, values, and sociolinguistic knowledge. For example, by understanding the importance of asking about one’s family before getting down to business in Latin America shows that intercultural awareness and the value placed on this type of socialization.

· Savoir être is concerned with understanding where culture and identity intersect and the social attitudes and perceptions associated with that particular culture.

· Savoir-faire integrates the first three concepts into real-time interactions.

Communication is cultural in today’s global marketplace, so another term that applies to multicultural environments is languaculture. Languaculture, as proposed by Michael Agar, describes the application of complexities of culture and language in intercultural awareness. Languaculture studies the various meanings produced by the language highlighting the point that culture and language are inseparable. The higher a person’s intercultural awareness, the more culturally competent he or she is.

Question 5: How do semantics and language affect intercultural communication?

Answer 5: Language reflects culture. Slang words and idioms are produced by culture and a reflection of the beliefs, ideas, and events within a culture.

Language, slang, and idioms produce challenges for businesses because culturally derived words do not always translate to other languages/cultures. The fact that slang words are often omitted from language dictionaries creates difficulty in translation and interpretation for a nonnative speaker. These issues can create misunderstandings in the intercultural communication process. In American English, the two-word verb “think up” means to create something or imagine. Another example is the phrase put off, which means to wait, procrastinate, or ignore. For a nonnative English speaker, many two-verb phrases do not make sense or offer a translatable solution. These can cause challenges for intercultural dialogue.

Western culture has also produced words and phrases such as out in left field from baseball; below the belt from boxing and kickoff from football. Colloquialisms are also culturally derived expressions that have become part of everyday vocabulary for the cultural residents. Some of these colloquialisms include the expressions nuts meaning crazy, in the groove, and I can’t make heads or tails out of it. In most cases, nonnative speakers will not understand such expressions.

In the course of any type of business negotiation, these slang phrases, idioms, or two-word phrases can lead to misunderstandings. In all cross-cultural communication, using the least amount of slang or idiomatic phrases as possible is important.

Question 6: How does cultural identity affect intercultural business communication?

Answer 6: Cultural identity is a combination of personal characteristics, beliefs, opinions, and perceptions about the world and the way it works. For example, if Tyra is from a country that believes family is the most important aspect of life, she would most likely consult with family members before she makes any decisions. Cultural identity affects a person’s behavior and belief structure about the world.

A person’s cultural identity is often rooted in history and tradition, but a person’s identity may be more subject to change based on experiences in the world. Identities have history and roots but are constantly being changed as a person gains more experience. Cultures also have identities. People from different cultures are acutely aware of how other cultures may perceive or view them. In intercultural business negotiations and communication, these perceptions and/or stereotypes can have negative and positive implications. For example, if a Westerner perceives a German negotiator as rigid but precise, a perception formulated by that culture’s identity, this could result in negative and positive attitudes toward closing a contract.

Question 7: How can individualism and collectivism influence business communication?

Answer 7: Culture plays a significant part in shaping an individual’s attitudes and behaviors. Individualistic and collective cultures all have rules for how an individual should behave in the world.

Individualistic cultures believe in the individual’s ability to choose and make decisions. This individual sets personal goals and strives to meet those goals without consulting family, friends, and other people. Choices are made to benefit the individual first.

In a collective culture, an individual is part of a larger whole. When the individual makes a decision or sets a goal, this person consults members of the group. The person does not strive to satisfy oneself but looks at ways to improve things for an entire group.

Different cultures display orientations toward individualistic and collective. In intercultural business communication, this is a critical component of working on teams or projects together.

For example, Samovar, Porter, and McDaniel explore this individualism-collectivism orientation by noting the rich diversity of international cultures and the primary focus from a psychological standpoint. Western cultures, the British Commonwealth, and northern European cultures tend to focus on individualistic behaviors and place great value on personal accomplishments. On the other side of this continuum, Asian cultures gravitate toward more collectivist or shared and blended values. In these cultures, individualism is shunned and a shared system is rewarded.

These cultures are often described as independent and dependent cultures (Samovar, Porter, & McDaniel, 2005) where personal accomplishment is a characteristic of an independent culture and sameness, blending, and group behaviors are characteristic of a dependent culture.

For example in a business negotiation, it is important in Asian cultures that group ideas be unified and everyone agrees before a final decision is determined. In contrast, in the United States, the group may gravitate more toward the unique or individualistic suggestion regarding a process or system in a business negotiation. This individualism is often rewarded in the future with a raise or performance appraisal.

Question 8: How do a culture’s politics and ideologies affect business communication?

Answer 8: A culture’s ideologies or its ideas, politics, economics, legal system, and social norms are the roots of any intercultural communication process. These structures have an enormous and powerful influence on how business is conducted between two cultures. Also, by understanding another culture’s historical roots, economic, political, religious, and legal structures, the first step to bridging any cultural communication gaps starts to close. In countries that are experiencing political upheaval, economic strife, shifting populations, and other cultural crises, members may be in conflict and political opinions may be strong. Sensitivity and awareness of these situations are keys to building effective relationships.

In addition, learning to deal with religious and racial differences may enter into business relationships. Part of cultural competence takes these ideas, behaviors, and attitudes into account, and it is critical to successful interpersonal relationships inside and outside of the respective culture.

Think globally, act locally is not only a popular slogan, but it is essential in successful intercultural communication activities. Intercultural competence is always an interdependence of interpersonal and intercultural relationship building.

Question 9: Does cultural awareness exist in nonverbal and/or virtual communication?

Answer 9: In today’s mediated world, cultural awareness is part of a culture’s virtual representation and identity as much as verbal and face-to-face communication. For example, Web site design, messages, and advertising are presented very differently from culture to culture. Web sites are a potpourri of text, images, audio and video elements, so cultural awareness is very important in targeting the correct message to the correct audience. The intent of the message to the correct audience is critical for maximum understanding.

Elizabeth Würtz studied how advertising is presented differently on Web design and virtual intercultural communication with high- and low-context cultures. High-context cultures use an indirect communication style with more emphasis on nonverbal communication. Low-context cultures use a very direct communication style where word choice is direct, precise, and the ideas of saying what one means is more obvious.

Chen and Starsosta stressed the importance of understanding intercultural communication styles and competence for open dialogue among cultures, working to eliminate us versus them mentalities and stereotypes. This also leads to mutual understanding across cultures for success business negotiations and productivity.

Question 10: What are some strategies to bridge gaps in intercultural communication?

Answer 10: Beyond intercultural competence, strategies, and skill building are essential components of successful communication. Consider the following ideas and strategies when interacting with people from other cultures:

Be sensitive

Cultural competence includes being sensitive and empathetic to others. Knowing about another’s religious practices, national holidays, and current events is a great starting point and excellent way to build rapport.

Know and grow

Knowledge is power and is a proactive partner to targeting a specific cultural audience with the right message. Do the homework and research the Internet to understand your cultural partner. Being armed with knowledge about another’s culture is also impressive, which helps build trust and credibility with a host or guest.

Think globally, act locally

Today’s business strategies most likely include a global component, but acting locally is where all intercultural communication starts. Be aware of language dialects, regional customs, and other differences that not only exist among different cultures but within cultures.

References

Agar, M. H. (1994). Language shock: Understanding the culture of conversation. New York, NY: William Morrow & Co.

Byram, M., & Zarate, G. (1997). Defining and assessing intercultural competence: Some principles and proposals for the European context. Language Teaching, 29, 14–18.

Chen, G. M., & Starsosta, W. J. (1998). Foundations of intercultural communication. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Jenks, C. (1993). Culture. London, England: Routledge.

Samovar, L. A., Porter, R. E., & McDaniel E. R. (2005). Intercultural communication: A reader (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth-Cengage.

Selinker, L. (1992). Rediscovering interlanguage. London, England: Longman-Pearson.

Würtz, E. (2005). A cross-cultural analysis of websites from high-context cultures and low-context cultures. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1).

Question 1: What does it take to be an expatriate manager in a multinational corporation (MNC)?

Answer 1: It is important for the expatriate manager to have a clear perception that he or she is actually going to live and work in a country that has a completely different culture and a completely different language. This situation may also include new risks and strains that a different way of living can naturally bring. Many people do not like change because so much of it is unknown, and the unknown feels dangerous. This uncertainty avoidance coined by Hofstede is relevant to certain cultures but is also a trait that is present at the individual level (Hofstede, 2001). A mindset that addresses the new experience positively will make the assignment more enjoyable for the future expatriate manager and any who accompany him or her.

It is critical to accept others’ culture and to accept the mental agreement that one’s own culture is not necessarily the best. An open mind believes that one culture deserves the same amount of respect as the next culture. It takes mental training to minimize feelings of ethnocentrism, that is, the feeling that other cultures are inferior or should have the same priorities or attributes of another. Ethnocentrism’s fallacy should be especially apparent in light of the rich history and civilization of many countries that extend hundreds or thousands of years beyond that of others. A U.S. citizen should also consider how the American way of life is viewed in the host country and the perceptions that host country nationals may have of the United States from sources such as movies or current events.

The following are some practical considerations and ideas for new expatriate managers with families or significant others:

Many couples are conducting successful careers, and the spouses may not be willing to be uprooted unless there is a strong financial or intellectual incentive that compensates for the hardship.

· Some MNCs located in the same host country have developed exchange programs where they employ the spouses of their respective executives.

· The exposure to other cultures and ways of thinking and the intellectual development that comes with learning a second language can be a great advantage for children.

· A common agreement in families to face the challenges of the assignment together enhances the expatriate’s adjustment and performance.

Question 2: How can an expatriate manager prepare for a foreign assignment?

Answer 2: It is critical to learn the language and culture of the future country of assignment. Foreign assignments are usually made public 6 months ahead of the actual move. This may not be enough time to learn the new language fluently, but it is enough time to learn the basics, including greetings, shopping, money, transportation, directions, and the proper pronunciation of the names of places to which the manager will need to go.

It may also be helpful for the new manager who is relocating to take some lessons in geography to learn more about the location, neighboring countries, population, resources, and gross national product (GNP) of the country of assignment. For basic data, a good place to start is the CIA country report. For more details, the local embassy will be happy to provide the relevant literature usually free of charge and in English.

Learning how the country’s people see themselves as a nation and in what they take pride, including cultural qualities, production, resources, and historical significance, can also be beneficial. The expatriate manager should try not to judge the behavior or customs that are different from any to which he or she has been previously exposed. Being accepting of the people and culture of the host country is equally important. The manager is a guest in the country of assignment. Being adventurous with eating the food, viewing movies reflective of the culture, and asking questions to understand how people think and why will assist in making this transition more comfortable. The longer the preparation is, the better the adjustment will be. If the new expatriate manager brings family or significant others with him or her, helping them adjust will also help the manager make his or her own adjustments and assignments easier.

Question 3: Should a mentor help prepare the new expatriate manager for the assignment?

Answer 3: The answer is definitely yes. The person the manager chooses to help him or her prepare should preferably be his or her predecessor in the job. The new manager is expected to have read all the reports coming from the future country of assignment, but this is never enough. Mentorship is the number one tool in knowledge transfer and, in particular, in the transfer of tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is not conveyed in writing, and there is much one can pick up from a predecessor that can never be read in a manual.

The expression tacit knowledge was invented by the Hungarian philosopher Michael Polanyi. Tacit knowledge is the opposite of explicit knowledge, the type of knowledge that appears in documents and reports (Smith, 2003). Tacit knowledge is what Polyani described as when “we know more than we can tell and we can know nothing without relying upon those things which we may not be able to tell” (Lord & Ranft, 2000). It is the way a person acts and communicates to the other party through, for example, a specific look, a tone of voice, or a form of posture that cannot be translated in written language. Transmission of tacit knowledge is still very much practiced, even in Western cultures.

A Delphi survey of 400 executives performed by Biren (2000) asked where corporate knowledge resides. The answer was that 42% of executives believed that knowledge is in employees’ brains, 26% in paper documentation, 12% in common electronic databases, and 20% in electronic documents. According to this survey, the best source of knowledge on the new expatriate manager’s future assignment is surely his or her predecessor in the job.

Question 4: How can the expatriate manager prevent making cultural mistakes when entering into business negotiations?

Answer 4: The key is for the new manager to learn about the culture of the people with whom he or she is going to do business. Hofstede’s study on cultural dimensions is a good start, especially taking into account the measures in different societies.

Power distance index (PDI) is the relative distance between those who hold the power to those who do not in a society. The rank is 40 for the United States, 58 for Iran, 68 for France, 77 for India, 80 for China, and 93 for Russia. The higher the number is, the higher position in the company or society the decision makers are likely to hold (Hofstede, 2001).

Uncertainty avoidance index (UAI) is the level of tolerance of the unknown or lack of structure a country can sustain. The lower the index is, the higher the level of tolerance is. The United States has a rank of 46 for uncertainty avoidance, whereas the world average is 64. Therefore, the United States has a high level of tolerance for new ideas, thoughts, and beliefs (Hofstede, 2001).

Masculinity index (MAS) describes gender differentiations in roles of the sexes in a society. In a highly masculine society, men are normally the main income providers, and women stay home and raise the children. The American society has a MAS rank of 62, compared to a world average of 50, meaning it is more masculine than the world average (Hofstede, 2001).

Individualism (IND) versus collectivism is another measure used to compare cultures. In an individualist society, the person cares primarily about him- or herself and those close to him or her, as opposed to collectivistic societies, in which the large family and even the tribe is a cause of concern. The American society has an IND rank of 91 as compared to the world average of 50. It is largely individualistic (Hofstede, 2001).

Long-term orientation (LTO) indicates the degree to which the country values long-term commitments and respect of tradition. Such a country will be slower to accept change. The United States has an LTO rank of 29, as compared to the world average of 45 (Hofstede, 2001).

How do these indices assist in an international negotiation? If individual countries were researched, for example, the United States and India (both English speaking countries), one would find some of the following data:

· Power distance is close to 80 in India, as opposed to 40 in the United States. Decisions are committed at the highest echelon in India. It is nearly impossible to get a decision from a lower level because employees will not have permission to commit their company.

· Individualism is the highest in the world in the United States. In India, individualism is ranked close to the world average. The American executive would care more about the personal benefits that a successful transaction for the company will bring that individual; the Indian executive will care more about the company.

· The MAS index is more or less the same for both nations.

· The UAI index is more or less the same for both nations.

· The LTO is 60 for India and 29 for the United States. India has a great respect for tradition. America is a young nation and does not have a long history of tradition. It embraces innovation (Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimensions, n.d.).

These indices could impact negotiation for an American executive if he or she may want to inquire if his or her counterpart has the authority to negotiate. He or she should also display a measure of respect for Indian history and tradition not to offend the partner in business and ruin the transaction.

Question 5: How does knowledge of the other party’s culture affect negotiation?

Answer 5: Imagine that the new expatriate manager has business with a seasoned Indian negotiator. The negotiator imagines the manager as being an American—results oriented and more interested in concluding than in bargaining. The negotiator expects the manager to be in a hurry to conclude as fast as possible.

It could also be that the negotiator knows that the manager is aware of his knowledge of U.S. culture. The negotiator could counteract the manager’s inherent tendency of speeding things up by deliberately trying to slow the negotiation. The negotiator may want to overcome what the manager considers a weakness by deliberately speeding up negotiations. The manager can possibly experience a cultural role reversal.

Game theory and the study of strategy can also assist the negotiator. Negotiation is in large part the strategy and tactics of accomplishing the ultimate goal of reaching the deal at the best possible price. The more the expatriate manager knows about the person with whom he or she sits at the table, the better.

Question 6: What should an expatriate manager keep in mind to not offend the person with whom he or she is in negotiation?

Answer 6: The world of business has adopted Western rules as far as how business people dress, show up on time to meetings, and meet.

The cultural dimensions of Hofstede are important to keep in mind to not offend anyone. In socializing, the host country will let the country members display behaviors typical to the culture and reflective of the country’s power distance. The host country executives will expect the Americans to be more familiar than the French, the Indians, and the Chinese for example. The higher the long-term orientation (LTO) index is, the longer the decision-making process will be. Any show of frustration or impatience on the expatriate manager’s part will be to his or her own disadvantage.

Special rules may also apply to eating and drinking with the host country executives. If the manager’s counterpart is Indian, he or she may not eat beef or may be a vegetarian altogether. If the counterpart is Jewish and orthodox, he or she might expect a kosher meal. If the counterpart is Muslim, he or she will not drink alcohol in the presence of those who are not Muslim.

It is important for the expatriate manager to show appreciation and respect for the aspects of the culture that the host country shares with him or her, whether it be the food or wine of that country, the history, or the sites. Disinterest or lack of appreciation will not assist in negotiation.

Remembering that the counterpart will most likely always appear impeccably groomed and dressed and have the same expectations of his or her partner is also important. Any sloppiness or informality of dress or appearance could be considered very offensive.

Question 7: Is counseling needed when situations include legal issues?

Answer 7: The answer is yes. Even if the expatriate manager has legal training from his or her home country, things are never exactly the same in the country of negotiation. The manager may have submitted the contracts he or she needed to sign for the home office counsel where his or her parent company is, but this is not enough. The expatriate manager must have legal counsel in the country of negotiation, even if the country has an advanced legal system such as his or her own home country. There might be small but critical differences in law, even in such areas as who witnesses and authenticates a legal signature.

In some countries, the protection of the laws is merely nominal, and local courts will always favor the expatriate manager’s opponents; therefore, it is best for him or her to partner with locals when on business in those countries.

References

Biren, D. (2000). Building a corporate focus on knowledge. Fontainbleau, France: INSEAD.

Geert Hofstede cultural dimensions. (n.d.). Retrieved from ITIM International Web site: http://www.geert-hofstede.com/hofstede_dimensions.php?culture1=95&culture2=47

Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture consequences (2nd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Lord, M. D. & Ranft, A. L. (2000). Organizational learning about new international markets: Exploring the internal transfer of local market knowledge. Journal of International Business Studies31(4), 573–589.

Smith, M. K. (n.d.). Michael Polanyi and tacit knowledge. The encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved from http://www.infed.org/thinkers/polanyi.htm

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