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Cross Cultural Communication


Cross Cultural Communication Chapter 7 Life Space Learning Outcomes Involvement: Specific Vs Diffuse Cultures Specific-oriented Cultures (segregate task relationship ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Cross Cultural Communication

Cross Cultural Communication
  • Chapter 7
  • Life Space

Learning Outcomes
  • Involvement
  • Specific Vs Diffuse Cultures
  • Specific-oriented Cultures (segregate task
  • Diffuse-oriented Cultures (involves in close

Specific Vs Diffuse
  • How far we get involved?
  • Whether we show emotions in dealing with other
  • We engage others
  • Specific areas of life and single level of
  • Diffusely in multiple areas of our lives and at
    several levels of personality at the same time

Specific Vs Diffuse Cultures
  • Specific-oriented Cultures
  • A Manager segregates (isolate) out the task
    relationship she or he has with a subordinate
    and insulates this from other dealings.
  • Diffuse-oriented Cultures
  • Every life space and every level of personality
    tends to permeate all others.
  • Reputation always leaks to some extent into other
    areas of life. The extent is what we measure for
    specificity ( small) vs. diffuseness ( large)

Kurt Lewins Model
  • Kurt Lewin, the German-American Psychologist,
    represented the personality as a series of
    concentric circles with life spaces or
    personality levels between them.
  • The most personal and private spaces are near the
  • Most shared and public spaces are at outer
  • U Type ( American life spaces) G Type (
    German Life spaces) are contrasted in Fig.7.1
    Lewins Circles

Kurt Lewins Model
  • U-type (American) life spaces
  • Much more public space than private, segregated
    (separated) into many specific sections
  • Friends enter into the public spaces are not
    necessarily close or life-time buddies
  • American personality is so friendly and
    accessible being admitted into one public layer
    is not a very big commitment
  • G-type (German) life spaces
  • Entry and access to life spaces are guarded by
    thick line
  • It is hard to enter and you need the others
    permission to enter
  • Public space is relatively small
  • Private spaces are large and diffuse once a
    friend is admitted, this lets the friend into
    all, or nearly all private spaces.
  • Your Standing and reputation cross over these

Specific Vs Diffuse Cultures
  • Germans may be thought by Americans as remote and
    hard to get to know
  • Americans may be thought out by Germans as
    cheerful, garrulous, yet superficial, who let you
    into a very small corner of your public life and
    regard you as peripheral.
  • Borders and barriers between life spaces have
    physical dimensions also.

The Danger Zone Specific - Diffuse Encounter
  • What U types sees as impersonal, the G-type sees
    as highly personal
  • Pleasure and pain, acceptance and rejection
    ramify more widely in the diffuse system
  • When Americans let in a German or French and
    show their customary openness and friendliness,
    that person may assume that they have been
    admitted to diffuse private space.
  • French / Germans for example, may be offended by
    criticism-as-a professional which they take to be
    attack-by-a close friend.
  • See Fig.7.2 in this context.

Specific Vs Diffuse CulturesLosing Face
  • Specific Cultures with their small area of
    privacy clearly separated from public life, have
    considerable freedom for direct speech. Do not
    take it personally is a frequent observation
  • In relationship with diffuse people this approach
    can be insult

National DifferencesExercise 1
  • A boss asks a subordinate to help him paint his
    house. The subordinate, who does not feel like
    doing it, discusses the situation with a
  • The colleague argues You dont have to paint if
    you dont feel like it. He is your boss at
    work.Outside he has little authority.
  • The subordinate argues Despite the fact that I
    dont feel like it, I will paint it. He is my
    boss and you cant ignore that outside work
  • Where do you stand?

National DifferencesExercise I
  • Fig.7.3 shows the proportion of managers that
    would not paint the house.
  • Around 80 or higher in the UK, USA, Switzerland
    and most of Northern Europe would not paint.
  • In the diffuse societies of China, Nepal the
    majority would.

Negotiating the Specific - Diffuse Cultural
  • In diffuse cultures, everything is connected to
  • Diffuse culture partner would like to know many
    personal details
  • Specificity and diffuseness are about strategies
    for getting to know other people.
  • Figure 7.4 left diagram shows the typical
    diffuse strategy
  • ( from general to specific) circle around the
    stranger, getting to know him diffusely, come
    down to business specifics later when
    relationship of trust have been established
  • On the right, you get straight to the point, to
    the neutral, objective aspects of business deal,
    and if the other remain interested, then
    youcircle around getting to know them in order
    to facilitate the deal. ( from specific to

Cultural Context
  • Specific and diffuse cultures also known as
  • Low and high context cultures
  • Context has to do with how much you have to know
    before effective communication can occur
  • How much shared knowledge is taken for granted by
    those in conversation with each other
  • How much reference there is to tacit common

High and Low context cultures
  • High context culture
  • Japan and France
  • Strangers must be filled in before business can
    be properly discussed
  • Tend to be rich and subtle but carry a lot of
  • Never really be comfortable for foreigners who
    are not fully assimilated
  • Tend to look at relationships and connections
  • Low context culture
  • America and Netherlands
  • Each stranger should share in rule-making
  • Tend to be adaptable and flexible
  • Tend to look at objectives, specifics and things

Effect of specific-diffuse orientation on
  • Americans prefer MBO Pay-for-performance to
    motivate employees as part of their specific
  • In MBO first agreement on objectives ( the
  • Diffuse cultures approach the issue from the
    opposite direction.
  • It is the relationship between A and B that
    increases or reduces output, not the other way
  • Objectives or specifics may be out of date by the
    time evaluation comes around. B may not have
    performed yet done something more valuable in
    altered circumstances.
  • Only strong and lasting relationships can handle
    unexpected changes of this kind.

Effect of specific-diffuse orientation on
  • Japanese cultures speak of acceptance time
    the time necessary to discuss proposed changes
    before they are implemented
  • Nemawashi concept binding the roots of shrubs
    and trees before transplanting them
  • Fig.7.5 shows the circling around before coming
    to the point
  • Pay for-performance concept not popular as it
    ignores role of superiors / team mates
  • Diffuse cultures do have lower turnover and
    employee mobility because of importance of
    loyaltyand the multiplicity of human bonds.

Effect of specific-diffuse orientation on
  • Pitfalls of evaluation and assessment
  • Specific cultures easily criticize people without
    devastating the whole life space of the target of
    that criticism
  • Example in diffuse culture stealing is not
    easily separable from domestic circumstances and
    the western habit of separating an office crime
    from a problem at homeis not accepted.
  • Frank discussion of subordinates in diffuse
    cultures may be perceived as total rejection /
    betrayal of mutual confidence

Effect of specific-diffuse orientation on
business Exercise -II
  • Some people think a company is usually
    responsible for the housing of its employees.
    Therefore, a company has to assist an employee in
    finding housing
  • Other people think the responsibility of housing
    should be carried by the employee alone. It is so
    much to the good if company helps.
  • See Fig.7.6 for findings of the survey.

The Mix of Emotion and Involvement
  • Different combinations
  • level of emotion or affectivity ( High to low or
    neutral )
  • with its reachor scope ( diffusing several life
    spaces or remaining specific)
  • Four Combinations are described by Talcot
  • Fig.7.7 shows four different primary response
  • Diffusive Affective (DA) expected reward is
    love a strongly pleasure diffusing many life
    spaces ( negative evaluation hate)
  • Diffuse Neutral (DN) expected reward is
    esteem less strongly expressed admiration also
    spread over many life spaces ( negative
    evaluation disappointment)
  • Specific Affective (SA) expected award is
    responsiveness a strongly expressed pleasure
    specific to certain occasion or performance (
    negative evaluation rejection)
  • Specific Neutral (SN) expected reward is
    approval a job, task, or occasion specific
    expression of positive, yet neutral approbation.
  • ( negative evaluation criticism)

The Mix of Emotion and InvolvementExercise -III
  • Which of the following four types of people do
    you prefer to have around you? Review these
    descriptions carefully, then circle the one that
    most closely relates to your preferences and the
    one that represents your second preference
  • People who completely accept you the way you are
    and feel responsible for your personal problems
    and welfare ( combines Diffuse Affective
  • People who do their work, attend to their affairs
    and leave you free to do the same ( Specific
    Neutral approval)
  • People who try to improve themselves and have
    definite ideals and aims in life ( Diffuse
    Neutral esteem)
  • People who are friendly, lively and enjoy getting
    together to talk or socialize
  • ( specific and affective enjoyment)

The Mix of Emotion and InvolvementExercise III
  • Fig. 7.8 shows how a number of nationalities
    score in this exercise
  • Typical American approach is quite close to the
    mean both for emotion and in balance between the
    specific and the diffuse.
  • Eastern and Western Germans are very similar in
    emotional levels, but East Germans are
    appreciably more specific.
  • Fig. 7.9 shows regional cultural differences

Reconciling specific diffuse cultures
  • Specific extreme can lead to disruption
  • Diffuse extreme to a lack of perspective
  • Collision between them results in paralysis
  • Interplay of the two approaches is good
  • Recognizing the privacy is necessary
  • Complete separation of private life leads to
    alienation and superficiality
  • Business is a business but stable and deep
    relationship mean strong affiliations

Practical tips for doing the business in specific
and diffuse cultures
  • Table 1 / Pg.100 highlight the differences
    between specificity and diffuseness
  • Table 2 / Pg.100 shows tips for doing business in
    both cultures
  • Table 3 / Pg.101 shows when managing and being
    managed in both cultures
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