Why cultural awareness is important in business? INTRODUCTION The main objective of the academic essay is to explain why cultural awareness is important in business. It demonstrates about culture and the uses of it in business. Communication is a vital element in a business both internally and externally as it is a source of exchanging information. Corporate culture is a part of communication which is introduced. The essay includes barriers to communication and their consequences, to rectify main reasons for misunderstanding.
Cross-culture communication is looked into with examples of different cultures and factors that can overcome cultural misunderstanding. CONTENT 1. CULTURE 1. 1 Culture is a mixture of language, religion, cuisine, social habits, arts and music. All nations or societies have a culture that gives them a separate identity from one another (Alan Cowling & Philip James). Culture builds up a country, as there are large group of people from different countries (immigrants) mixed together. 1. 2 There are various kinds of cultures spread throughout the world.
Western Culture determines the culture involved in European countries along with cultures in United States, Latin, Celtic, Germanic and Hellenic. Nowadays western culture can be seen mostly in every country. It is where Christianity basically rose from. Eastern Culture basically denotes countries situated in Far East Asia which involves China, Japan, Vietnam, North Korea and India. Such culture are heavily influenced by religions. The difference between western and eastern culture is the fact that eastern culture tend to avoid separation between secular society and religious philosophy, whereas Western culture do.
Middle Eastern Culture includes countries in Middle East. Their society has strong belief in Islam and their religion. A country situated in such areas has Arabic as their common language; even though at some places there can be barriers in communication. African culture is seen in countries situated in the African continent. The country has many tribes, social and ethnic group. There are mainly two essential cultures: North Africa and Sub- Saharan Africa (www. livescience. com). 1. Culture influences business in terms of what can be acceptable or unacceptable, whether it is important or not, is it right or wrong, is it workable or unworkable. This explains how a group of people or an organized community deal with their work. To be added the interaction between the members either involved or not involved. In a business the rules & regulation, working environment and ways of dealing responsibilities is the culture that will be identified. The ability of passing on the culture is also important in a business.
Culture in a business can depend on beliefs, knowledge, norms, and assumptions, values along with attitudes, behaviour, dress sense and language ( www. businessdictionary. com ). Culture of a particular company can vary. It can be at times in a country point of view. Like for example Google offices in USA is much different compared to the one’s in China. This is because of the different culture they follow. The environment in the office has some difference, even though their working structure or procedure is same. 2. CORPORATE CULTURE 2. The respects and behaviours of a group of people involved in a particular organization is a corporate culture. It includes the organizations expectations, its philosophy, experiences and value that bind it as a whole. It can be expressed in terms attitudes towards work and people, beliefs, symbols, habits, rules whether it is written or unwritten and values. It is important for a new member in an organization to know the flow that is followed by others in previous years. It has a huge affect on the member’s both internally and externally involved in an organization.
This indicates the way people interact with one another whether it can be dealing with their colleague or externally which indicates clients and stakeholders. Corporate culture also includes a number of facts that are essential in an organization. It suggests the manner in which the organization structure is built and the way it is conducted. Ways to interact or treat the employees, customer and the community as a whole. The freedom given to the members to be a part of any important decision-making, development, allow them to share their personal experience and ideas. This generally is a motivation.
The strength of flow of information in an organization is an essential. Corporate culture has a huge influence on the organization’s performance, productivity, sales services and of course responsibilities towards environment. (en. wikipedia. org; www. businessdictionary. com) 2. 2 Geert Hofstede was born on 2 October 1928 in Haarlem Netherlands. He is also known as Gerard Hendrik Hofstede. He is a Dutch researcher in areas of organizational studies and especially in areas of organizational culture, cultural economics and management. Developing cultural dimensions theory has been his work that he is mainly famous for.
The five dimensions are; Power Distance, Individualism, Uncertainty avoidance, masculinity and Long Term Orientation. (en. wikipedia. org) 2. 2. 1 Power distance Index generally measures the wealth and power of the people in a nation. It seeks to establish the extent to which subordinates or average citizens present to authority. In general a low power distance within a country or an organization suggests that people have equal values. In terms of business, internal communication seems to have a smooth flow. This means that there will be less or weaker authoritarian hierarchy that an organization have to follow.
All levels in an organization will have equal rights. Like the working environment in Google adapts a friendlier environment. While a high index figure suggests that there is a strong authoritarian hierarchy in the country or organizations present in it. This can affect the company internally as employees’ level is not equally distributed. This can lead to conflicts (Wikipedia; investopedia). Countries having very high score include Latin, Asian countries, African areas and the Arab world. On the other side countries that can be seen with lower power distance are Anglo and Germanic, Austria 11and Denmark 18.
Japan has 54 though their culture indicates that they believe in working together as a whole or team, investors spend a lot on training works to know the current situation in precise. In general they have meritocratic society. China score 80 in this index, as people in the society believe and accepts inequalities. Common people have fewer rights and accept their position and tend to stay within their boundaries. United Kingdom has a 35, that shows the country have interest in minimizing the inequality between the people. Malaysia has 104, which means there is no scope of consideration of inequalities.
People accept the orders of their hierarchy with no arguments. It is more of centralized (greet-hofstede. com). There are few main reasons that effect internal communication with high PD that includes centralized system, strong hierarchy and wide distance between each level. However, leaders are treated with respect according to their power and people are aware to know who to attempt for top answers, while low PD points spread organization where employees are given more or less equal values. Though such countries or organization are great believer of teamwork and believe to involve everyone in decision process. www. mindtools. com) 2. 2. 2 Individualism verses Collectivism: Individualism reflects that individuals in a society have loose knots and every person is supposed to be responsible for them self (via-web. de). United States has a highly individualistic culture as a mark of 91(greet-hofstede. com). It is believed that they are more self-centred and have individual aims. Generally people having such culture tend to think about their career alone. Employees generally aim for their own benefit and success. They depend on themselves to get bigger and better.
They tend to aim high to climb the level faster. They have a tendency to improve their connections and values. Improvement is what they seek in every step, though not for the organization as a whole but for themselves. France ranked 10th have a score of 71(greet-hofstede. com). Collectivism indicates that individuals in a society are taught to not only look after themselves but also look into others interest. Protecting others and in exchange receive unquestioning loyalty. Generally Asian countries adapt such culture. Such culture in businesses amplifies on working together as a team.
Basically loyalty and harmony is what is sought for. Businesses having such culture aim for a goal as a whole and individuals are trained the same way. Relationship is built with trust and harmony between the higher hierarchies to lower hierarchy (via-web. de). China has a highly collectivist culture with a score of 20. Bangladesh has the same score as China, while Malaysia has a score of 26. 2. 2. 3 Masculinity verses Femininity distribution of roles and behaviour between genders. Masculine culture generally indicates competitiveness, assertiveness, ambition, materialism and most importantly power.
In a masculine culture men required to be able to be a provider, they should be strong and tough. Working women generally have separate profession then men. Japan has the score highest in this category as 95. Generally employees are motivated if they are a part of a winning team in a competition and can be workaholic. It is best for business to hire male employees then female. Philippines scores 64 while China scores 66. Femininity culture is more focused on relationships and quality of life. Men and women work together and are given equally right in terms of strength, power and skills. Sweden score lowest at masculinity as 5.
They seek for skills and talent not gender. United Kingdom has a score of 66; they have a culture of modesty and understatement. (Wikipedia; greet-hofstede. com; mindtools. com) 2. 2. 4 Uncertainty Avoidance Index measures the feeling of anxiety of the people in a society towards unknown situation. In order to cope up with uncertain situations society follows law, technology and rituals. Rituals can either be rational or non-rational. High UAI scoring indicates that organizational structure is very formal. It is well planned and structured. Any decision made is been proceed with time and perfection.
The changes are coped with proper rules. In general such organizations dislike frequent changes and avoid differences. It can be disadvantageous as the worlds we are living in now have new things coming up every now and then and the more flexible the internal changes the better it is. Planning and controlling should be done from an early stage. Arab Emirates score 80, Latin-American countries, southern and Eastern European countries have high scores in UAI. Low UAL indicates that the society enjoys frequent changes. It is very informal. Organizations are willing to take risk with few rules and regulation.
Members in an organization are encouraged to adapt frequent changes and adapt accordingly. Such organization pays more attention to the plans as a long term basis, rather than worrying about day-to-day changes. Countries like Sweden 29 and Denmark 23 have a more flexible working environment. Organizations in such countries deal sudden situations in a relaxed way. China scores 30. (Wikipedia; greet-hofstede. com; mindtools. com) 2. 2. 5 Long Term Orientation verses Short Term Orientation: Long term orientation focuses more on to the future, which includes savings, rewards, persistence and capability to adopt to situations.
Organizations adopting such culture believe the truth of any decision lies in the situation itself. China scores 118, while Hong Kong 96 and Japan 88 having a high LTO. Short term orientation promotes values, tradition depending on the present and past, respect of one’s face. They believe in following the truth. Latin American, the Muslim world, Anglo countries and Africa have low LTO. United Kingdom has a score of 25, while United States have a score of 29. (Wikipedia; greet-hofstede. com; mindtools. com) 3. BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATION AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES 3. There are few main reasons that cause barriers to communication. Perceptual, an individual may interpret the world in his/her own understanding. They tend to receive messages which they find are significant. And reject those which are against their values. Every individual have different way of perception. Language is a very important factor the sender might use certain vocabulary that may not be understood by the receiver. Information overload is also a factor. Generally when managers get a flow of information in a go, it’s likely for some information to be misunderstood or forgotten.
Therefore the way of communicating should be slow and in a process. Lack of attention and interest can be another problem. If the sender is conveying a message while the receiver is distracted there might be disappointment. Sufficient time in an organization is very important. At times organizations have to accomplish a target within a fixed time. During this time of period there might be lack of communication within the organization. It can be seen that some members in an organization having physical disabilities like hearing problem or even difficulties in speech. Noise or distraction can be an affect to communication.
Things like uncomfortable sitting, poor lightning and hygiene can cause problems. Members with loud volume can also be a distraction. Emotions can be every affective. If there is a misunderstanding between the sender and receiver, the message might be misinterpreted in a wrong manner or maybe even ignored. Organizational structure in an organization can also be a fact. The more level of hierarchy the more complicated it will be to communicate from the top level to the bottom level. At times messages get lost in the process or the tone tends to change. The lower level members end up with little knowledge about the organization.
Stereotyping or false assumptions can be affective as well. Believing in what’s not true and jumping into wrong conclusion. (skillsyouneed. com; tutor2u. net; managementstudyguide. com) 3. 2 There are certain areas in which cultural misunderstanding take place. Cultural differences are the main factor. People from different culture have different ways of thinking that includes the way they see, interpret and hear. Culture sharing same language can also have different ideas about the same word. And communications between cultures in different language always require a translation.
Misinterpretation takes place for such cases. Every culture has different ways to express their emotions and follows different rules. Stella Ting-Toomey introduced three methods to effective cross-culture understanding. The first one is “cognitive constraints” suggest that different countries have different ways to view new information. Second one is “behaviour constraints” suggests that people in different cultures have various rules and manners to communicate; it can be either verbal or non-verbal. The manner in which people in a culture looks; talks or even the distance in a conversation can vary.
The third one is “emotional constraints” some culture has different ways of expressing. Some people tend to talk loud. It is important to know other cultures before communicating with them. (Colorado. edu; skillsyouneed. com) 4. CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION 4. 1 There are certain ways to prevent cultural misunderstanding. It is better to understand other cultures difficulties and search for similarities. It’s better to obtain information is a descriptive manner rather than interpreting it. For better understanding of other culture observing through others prospective and verifying them can be useful.
To avoid misunderstanding, a common goal should be established that is satisfactory by all members in an organization. (rammexcomm. com) 4. 2 Organizations need to focus on countries believing in sub culture before starting business. Sub-culture implies to the group of people that live life according to their culture following their language. The French government placed rules that involve not allowing their language to be translated in English. Most of the foreign products are limited to use English for marketing and packaging purposes (studymode. com).
On oil rig in Indonesia a timekeeper was ordered to take a boat in shore. After a moment labours started chasing the commander, it was later discovered that the American company named the brand name of the cooking oil in Latin that meant “Jackass Oil” in Spanish. It’s important for organizations to know and have knowledge about other cultures language as it has great influence in external communication. In Southeast Asia local people prefer to chew betel nuts for blacken teeth as they find it attractive. Pepsodent tried to introduce its product in the country but failed as it slogan points “whitens your teeth”.
In 1920 Coca cola marketed in China and the slogan version in Chinese culture meant “female horse stuffed with wax”. Later Coca cola changed it to “happiness in the mouth”. An Egyptian movie was produced by Columbia Pictures with Pakistani accent. The movie offended the Islamic culture as there was a part that the President of Egypt kissing his wife in public. Businesses in the entertainment world should be aware of the rules and restriction in of a culture before presenting and marketing it. It has a huge influence in the external communication, as a failure can occur in marketing the product. studymode. com) CONCLUSION Cultural awareness is important in a business as it has a huge influence both internally and externally. It affects communication and causes rise in barriers. It should also be taken into account about respecting others culture and ways to express it in right terms. Businesses nowadays are becoming more global, as effective cross-cultural communication is required. It is critical for multinational companies to built proper relations with employees, customers and suppliers. A common goal and rule must be set to achieve the aim without any misunderstanding. |