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Cross Cultural Communication in Business

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Title: Cross Cultural Communication in Business


1
Cross Cultural Communication in Business
2
Program outline
  • Introduction to culture cultural differences
  • Challenges in cross cultural communication
  • Understanding cultures culture models

3
  • 1 - Introduction to culture cultural
    differences

4
  • "Cultural differences"

"For a German and a Finn, the truth is the truth.
In Japan and Britain it is all right if it
doesn't rock the boat. In China there is no
absolute truth. In Italy it is negotiable."
Richard
D. Lewis
5
Culture Human mental programming
Inherited learned
Specific to individual
Personality
Specific to group or category
Learned
Culture
Inherited
Universal
Human Nature
Source G. Hofstede
6
Nature of culture
Learned Culture is acquired by learning
and experience
Shared People as a member of a group,
organization, or society share culture
Transgenerational Culture is cumulative, passed
down from generation to generation
7
The iceberg of culture
Languages (verbal non-verbal)
Explicit
Conscious
Explicit behaviours Habits traditions (food,
housing, clothing, health)
Know-how (communication codes, tools..)
Institutions (collective organizations modes
family, education
Norms (Dos don'ts)
Unconscious
Values
Implicit
Mental state cognitive processes (perception,
learning, knowledge, memory)
8
Manifestations of culture different levels
Source G. Hofstede
9
Manifestations of culture
  • Symbols words, gestures, objects that carry a
    particular meaning which is only recognized by
    those who share the culture.
  • Heroes persons, alive or dead, real or
    imaginary, who possess characteristics which are
    highly prized in a culture and who thus serve as
    models for behavior.
  • Rituals collective activities, considered
    socially essential.
  • Values basic assumptions about how things
    should be in society.They are convictions
    regarding right or wrong, good or bad, important
    or trivial. Learned implicitly. Cannot be
    discussed.
  • Practices what is visible to an outsider.

Source G. Hofstede
10
Americans as other see them
  • India Americans seem to be in a perpetual
    hurry. Just watch the way they walk down the
    street. They never allow themselves the leisure
    to enjoy life there are too many things to do.
  • Turkey Once we were out in a rural area in the
    middle of nowhere and saw an American come to a
    stop sign. Though he could see in both directions
    for miles and no traffic was coming, he still
    stopped!
  • Colombia The tendency in the US to think that
    life is only work hits you in the face. Work
    seems to be the one type of motivation.
  • Ethiopia The American is very explicit he
    wants a yes or a no. If someone tries to
    speak figuratively, the American is confused.
  • Iran The first time my American professor told
    me, I dont know the answer, I will have to look
    it up, I was shocked. I asked myself, Why is he
    teaching me? In my country a professor would give
    the wrong answer rather than admit ignorance.

Source N. Adler., 1991
11
Brazil?
12
Stereotypes
French logical, cartesian, elitist,
authoritarian, proud
Americans superficial, Frontier
Spirit, materialistic,
over-optimistic
Italians loud, macho,impatient,
over-emotional, talkative, unorganized
Chinese quiet, hardworking, enigmatic,
smiling, cruel
British imperialistic, Island
mentality, principled,
class-conscious, conservative
Germans rigid, methodical, obsessed
with order privacy, unemotional,
territorial
13
First approach to culture
14
Diversity of values differences in ranking
USA Japan
Arab
1. Freedom 1. Belonging 1. Family
security 2. Independence 2. Group harmony
2. Family harmony 3. Self-reliance 3.
Collectiveness 3. Paternalism 4.
Equality 4. Age/Seniority 4. Age 5.
Individualism 5. Group consensus 5.
Authority 6. Competition 6. Cooperation
6. Compromise 7. Efficiency 7.
Quality 7. Devotion 8. Time
8. Patience 8. Patience 9. Directness
9. Indirectness 9. Indirectness 10.
Openness 10. Go-between 10. Hospitality
15
Common problems
  • There are a number of problems that all cultures
    try to address bring solutions to
  • relation to nature
  • relation to others
  • relation to power
  • relation to rules
  • relation to activity
  • relation to emotions
  • relation to space
  • relation to time
  • Unity???

Source N. Prime, 2001
16
Cultural answers through different solutions
  • Culture, is the mechanism that allows to
    select an attitude, an interpretation, a solution
    as the one that makes sense  de facto , when
    facing a situation ( decision, relationship,
    emotion)
  • Nathalie
    Prime, 2001
  • Diversity...

17
Universal problems cultural responses
Source N. Prime, 2001
18
Values, beliefs behaviors
  • Culture

Values, Beliefs
Situations
FILTER
  • Perception
  • Behaviors

19
Cultural conditioning (1)
As a leader of of cross-cultural team, Ms. C. is
having difficulties managing Mr. H., one of the
foreign member of the team. He promised to
compile a report by the deadline she set, but he
didnt. When she talks to him about it, he won't
look her in the eyes. Whats happening? Can
you identify the two cultures that Ms. C. and Mr.
H. belong to?
Source CCL, 2002
20
Cultural conditioning (2)
Ms. C. suspects that Mr. H. is either very
disorganized or doesnt respect her as a leader
His unwillingness to make eye contact looks like
evasive behavior to her.
Source CCL, 2002
21
Questions
  • Do you understand your own cultural background
    conditioning?
  • Do you approach cross-cultural communication
    with an awareness of how differences may affect
    communication?
  • Do you have the attitude that  different  is
    bad, inferior, or wrong?
  • Are you aware of ways that you stereotype
    others?
  • Arte you willing to adjust your communication in
    order to be more effective?

Source CCL, 2002
22
Anticipate Adapt to Cultural differences
  • Examine your own cultural conditioning
  • Watch for discomfort that can signal cultural
    differences
  • Recognize modify your communication

Source CCL, 2002
23
What do we know about culture?
Things I do not see
Things I see
  • Open for discussion

Things they see
  • My blind spot
  • Shared blind spot
  • Their blind spot

Things they do not see
Source Jouard, 1964
24
Culture?
  • "Collective Programming"
  • Starts from birth, is reinforced in school by
    education
  • Relates to values core beliefs
  • Displayed in attitudes behavior
  • Some visible characteristics
  • Customs, behavior
  • Some less visible ones
  • Values, beliefs

25
  • 2 - Challenges in cross cultural communication

26
Opening a meeting
Informal intro. Cup of coffee. Jokes. Begin.
Formal intro. Cup of tea. 10 min small talk.
Casual beginning.
Formal intro. 15 min small talk. Begin.
Formal intro. Protocol seating. Green tea. 15/20
min small talk. Signal from senior member. Begin.
20/30 min small talk while others arrive. Begin
when all are there.
Number of minutes
5
10
15
20
25
Adapted from Richard D. Lewis
27
Behavior cultural differences (1)
  • A foreign manager is conducting an annual
    performance review with one of his direct
    reports. He begins the session by discussing all
    the areas in which the employees performance
    meets or exceeds goals. The employee listens
    attentively with serious and thoughtful
    expression.
  • But when the manager begins to discuss weaknesses
    and problem areas, the employee starts smiling.
    The sterner the managers tone, the broader the
    employee grins. The employee does not comment on
    anything the manager says or defend or explain.
    The manager becomes angry because he believes the
    employee is mocking him and treating the
    evaluation as a joke.
  • What do you think is happening? What does the
    employees smile may mean for him/her?

Source CCL, 2002
28
Cultural differences J. meets Y. (1)
  • J. goes to the airport to meet Y. The two men had
    talked several times on the phone but had only
    met once before. When Y. spots J. in the baggage
    area, he enthusiastically embraces him and kisses
    him on both cheeks. J. feels uncomfortable and
    hopes that nobody he knows has witnessed this
    greeting.

Source CCL, 2002
29
Cultural differences Ms H. V. (1)
  • When Ms. H presents her proposal at the meeting,
    V. reacts strongly. He pounds on the table and
    questions her in a loud voice. When Ms. H casts
    her eyes down in embarrassment, V. seems to get
    more excited. He leans across the table and jabs
    his hands towards her face.

Source CCL, 2002
30
Negotiation cultural differences (1)
  • Tom in London Hitoshi in Tokyo both like Armani
    suits, football, Beethoven, good French wines.
    But Tom recently spoke for days with Hitoshi, his
    potential business partner and yet the barriers
    between them were never broken. The deal did not
    get closed.
  • What is your assessment of the situation?

Source CCL, 2002
31
Discomfort cultural differences (1)
  • Why doesnt he/she says yes or no?
  • In one culture, an indirect signal may signal
    indecisiveness, while in another culture it
    signals deference respect.
  • Why he/she always staring at me?
  • In one culture staring can signal aggressiveness
    or intimidation, while in another culture direct
    eye contact shows attention esteem.
  • Why does he/she have to be right in my face
    whenever he/she talks to me?
  • In one culture the range of personal space can
    be much smaller than in another culture.

Source CCL, 2002
32
Discomfort cultural differences (2)
  • Why doesnt he/she tell me if he/she doesnt
    understand something?
  • In one culture,asking questions is accepted as an
    effective tool for communication, while in other
    cultures questioning superiors may signal
    insolence.
  • Why doesnt he/she sit there smiling when I am
    talking about his performance problems?
  • In one culture smiling during a discussion about
    performance problems may signal contempt and
    disinterest, while in another culture a smile may
    reflect sincerity and attention.
  • Why does he make a joke about everything?
  • In one culture, a joke can signal lack of
    confidence or seriousness, while in some others
    it's a sign of deference.

Source CCL, 2002
33
Cultures
  • We think our minds are free
  • But be careful to distinguish between appearance
    and reality
  • And remember that every culture is viewed by the
    others through their own "cultural spectacles"

34
  • 3 - Understanding cultures culture models

35
Edward Halls Silent Language
  • 5 silent languages
  • Time
  • Space
  • Material goods
  • Friendship
  • Agreements
  • Culture as a means of communication...

36
Time Linear vision (1)
Present
Future
Past
Plans for next months/years
Immediate tasks, separated identified
Over
37
Time Linear vision (2)
  • Action oriented
  • Time dominated "time is money" cannot be
    "wasted"
  • Focus on one thing at a time within schedule

Anglo-Saxons, Germans, Swiss, Scandinavians
Adapted from Richard D. Lewis
38
Time Cyclical vision
  • Past provides background
  • Circling around the problems "walk around the
    pool" before making decision
  • Time is precious
  • But one needs plenty of time to look at details
    of a deal and develop the personal side of a
    relationship

Far-East, Asians
Adapted from Richard D. Lewis
39
Time Vision from
  • The more they can do at the same time, the
    happier they are
  • Not interested in schedule punctuality
  • Focus on the human side of things meeting,
    business relationship are more important
  • Time is event, personality related
  • It can be "used, manipulated, stretched..."

Latins, Arabs
Adapted from Richard D. Lewis
40
Monochronic vs. Polychronic behavior
Monochronic
Polychronic
Time is crucial Punctuality Get to the point A
then B then C then D Time is an asset
Time is not ours to manage Events have their own
time A B or C, D or B Talk business, but also
football, food, friendship
Task, linear
Task Relational, circular
41
Space
  • Availability of space
  • use of space physical personal ex, USA
    wide open space, frontier spirit Japan
    limited space, island mentality
  • readiness to make contact, nature degree of
    involvement with others keep distance, suspicion
    of strangers ex, Europe vs. USA

42
Material goods
  • Use of material possessions
  • North America indication of status, level of
    success car, house, money
  • Other cultures Japan, Middle-East, not viewed
    as important emphasis placed on other elements
    taste, harmony, friendship

Adapted from Richard D. Lewis
43
Friendship
  • Formed quickly with neighbors, coworkers
  • North America
  • Takes more time, lasts longer, goes deeper and
    implies obligations
  • Asia, Middle-East

Adapted from Richard D. Lewis
44
Agreements
  • How to view law, rules, practices informal
    customs?
  • Need for a written agreement, binding North
    America, Northern Europe
  • Oral, handshake, with trust sufficient - Asia,
    Arabs

Adapted from Richard D. Lewis
45
Communication process
INTENT MEANING
EFFECT INTERPRETATION
Channel (medium)
Sender
Receiver
Encoding
Decoding
symbols words pictures gestures
Feedback (clarify, confirm)
  • Ideas, feelings...
  • cannot be communicated
  • directly...
  • Noise from culture...

46
Explicit implicit communication
Japanese
High Context
Arabs
Latin Americans
Italians
British
French
North Americans
Scandinavians
Germans
Low Context
Swiss
Implicit Communication
Explicit Communication
47
Hofstedes model
  • 5 dimensions of culture
  • Power distance
  • Individualism vs. collectivism
  • Feminity vs. masculinity
  • Uncertainty avoidance
  • Long term orientation

48
Power distance
  • Defined as the extent to which the less powerful
    members of institutions and organizations within
    a country expect and accept that power is
    distributed unequally.

  • G. Hofstede

49
Power distance Sweden
Source G. Hofstede
50
Power distance
Impact on management ...
  • Type of management structure
  • Decision process
  • Flow of information
  • Inequalities/equalities
  • Formalism
  • Status

51
Individualism vs. collectivism
  • Individualism pertains to societies in which
    the ties between individuals are loose everyone
    is expected to look after himself and his
    immediate family
  • Collectivism pertains to societies in which
    people from birth onwards are integrated into
    strong cohesive ingroups, which throughout
    peoples lifetime continue to protect them in
    exchange for unquestioning loyalty.

  • G. Hofstede

Individualism
High
Low
Self-determination High concern for
achievement personal growth
Collectivity Concern for group harmony versus
personal achievement
52
Individualism vs. collectivism
Impact on management ...
  • Employee/employer relations
  • Decision making
  • Conflict management

53
Feminity vs. masculinity
  • Feminine
  • focus on - work to live, quality of life,
    relationships
  • Masculine
  • focus on - live to work, material success, money

54
Feminity vs. masculinity
Impact on management...
  • Masculine societies will value
  • competition, speed, strength and wealth
  • promotion
  • emphasis on individual responsibility
  • open hard conflicts
  • Feminine societies will value
  • equality, security, peace and nature
  • cooperation, work conditions
  • emphasis on collective responsibility
  • conflict management through discussions

55
Uncertainty avoidance
  • Defined as the extent to which the members of of
    a culture feel threatened by uncertain or unknown
    situations.
  • G.
    Hofstede

56
Uncertainty avoidance
Impact upon management...
  • HIGH
  • strict guidelines, a lot of rules, process
  • need for an absolute truth
  • employment stability
  • important roles for experts
  • LOW
  • few guidelines, few rules
  • relativist attitude
  • risk taking, initiative


57
Hofstedes results 20 countries
58
Cultural dimensions
59
Cultural comparison Brazil, USA, France
60
A Synthesis of Country Cultures
61
Managing cultural differences tips Map Bridge
- Integrate
  • MAP
  • Understand the
  • differences
  • Cultural values
  • Leadership style
  • Personality
  • Thinking style
  • Gender
  • BRIDGE
  • Communicate
  • across
  • differences
  • Approaching
  • with motivation
  • confidence
  • Decentering w/o
  • blame
  • Recentering with
  • commonalities
  • INTEGRATE
  • Manage the
  • differences
  • Building
  • participation
  • Resolving
  • conflicts
  • Building on
  • each others
  • ideas

62
Communicating across cultures  guidelines 
  • Speak clearly more slowly than usual
  • Pronounce your words clearly enunciate
    carefully
  • Use the simplest most common words in most
    cases
  • Avoid slang colloquial expressions
  • Use visuals
  • Confirm your spoken communications by memos,
    e-mails, letters, faxes

Source CCL, 2002
63
Conclusion
Culture is more often a source of conflict
than of synergy. Cultural differences are a
nuisance at best and often a disaster. But if we
really want to globalize, there is no way around
them so we better take them for what they
are.
Geert Hofstede
64
Bibliography
  • When cultures Collide Richard Lewis Nicholas
    Brealy
  • Riding the waves of cultures Fons Trompenaars
    Charles Hampden-Turner McGraw-Hill
  • Cultures Organizations Geert Hofstede
    McGraw-Hill
  • Managing Across Cultures Susan Schneider
    Jean-Louis Barsoux FT Prentice Hall
  • The end
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