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Cross Cultural Communication in Business

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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
Specific to individual Inherited & learned Personality Specific to group or category Universal = Operating system of the mental software Physical & psychological dimensions : ability to feel fear, anger, love, joy, sadness Need to associate with others… What we do with those feelings influenced by culture… Personality: is what is unique – mental programs – partly inherited & partly learned Culture: learned not inherited – collective programming of the minds… Learned Culture Inherited Universal Human Nature Source: G. Hofstede

6 Nature of culture Learned Shared Transgenerational
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 Mental state & cognitive processes
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 EXPLICIT: IMPLICIT: Norms (Do’s & don'ts) Unconscious Implicit Values Mental state & cognitive processes (perception, learning, knowledge, memory…)

8 Manifestations of culture: different levels
Values Symbols Heroes Rituals Practices Cultural differences manifest themselves in different ways… Approach proposed by G. Hofstede – The ONION 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 don’t 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 Tend to perceive the others from the other culture not as individuals GENRALIZE & COMPARE with its own culture… SIMPLIFICATION… HOW DO YOU KNOW? British: imperialistic, ‘Island mentality’, principled, class-conscious, conservative Germans: rigid, methodical, obsessed with order & privacy, unemotional, territorial

13 First approach to culture
The way you live view things communicate Customs, habits, traditions Food & its meaning Music, clothing Religious practice Health practice Child raising Family structures & relationships Beliefs, values Spirituality Perceptions Attitudes Expectations Meaning of language Interaction pattern Communications Verbal & non-verbal Culture Cultural differences manifest themselves in different ways

14 Diversity of values & differences in ranking
USA Japan Arab 1. Freedom Belonging Family security 2. Independence Group harmony Family harmony 3. Self-reliance Collectiveness Paternalism 4. Equality Age/Seniority 4. Age 5. Individualism Group consensus Authority 6. Competition Cooperation Compromise 7. Efficiency Quality Devotion 8. Time Patience Patience 9. Directness Indirectness Indirectness 10. Openness Go-between 10. Hospitality Differences in the values but also in their relative importance…. Critical when looking at the implications for managing cultural differences…

15 Common problems… Unity???
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
Relation to nature Domination Subjugation Relation towards others Individualism Communautarism Relation to power Hierarchy Equality Relation to time Monetary time Living time Relation to rules Universalism Particularism Relation towards activity Do Be Relation to space Private space Public space Relation to emotions Exteriorization Neutralize "Programmation collective" Débute depuis l’enfance, est renforcée par l’école et l’éducation Est ancrée dans le valeurs et les croyances Transparaît à travers les attitudes et les comportements Des caractéristiques visibles : Coutumes, comportements D’autres caractéristiques moins visibles : Valeurs, croyances Source: N. Prime, 2001

18 Values, beliefs & behaviors
Culture Values, Beliefs Situations On pense que nos esprits sont “libres”… Mais il convient d’essayer de bien distinguer la différence entre apparence & réalité… Et de se souvenir que chaque culture est vue par une autre au travers de ses propres “filtres culturels” 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 didn’t. When she talks to him about it, he won't look her in the eyes. What’s 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 doesn’t 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 see Things I do not 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" Some visible characteristics:
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 Informal intro. Cup of coffee. Jokes. Begin.
Opening a meeting Germany Formal intro. Sit down. Begin. Finland Formal intro. Cup of coffee. Sit down. Begin. USA UK France Japan Spain/ Italy 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 employee’s 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 manager’s 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 employee’s 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 doesn’t 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 doesn’t he/she tell me if he/she doesn’t 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 doesn’t 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 Hall’s “Silent Language”
5 “silent languages”: Time Space Material goods Friendship Agreements American anthropologist in the 60’s Approach to time Use of space Norms of social distance : intimacy, friendship, formality… Queuing behavior Spatial positioning vs rank or power Use of material goods Medium of communication & often used to signal status & power Friendship Less importance on material goods, greater emphasis on personal relationships Where is he in the social network Short vs long friendship; easy versus long development Agreement: how people express agreement or disagreement Explicit, spelled out in writing Americans: “ A verbal contract is not worth the paper it is written on” Agreements based on trust, handshake, brief statements Negotiations norms of expressing disagreements – avoidance of direct confrontation Culture as a means of communication...

36 tasks, separated & identified Plans for next months/years
Time: Linear vision (1) Past Present Future Immediate tasks, separated & identified Plans for next months/years 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
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 Hofstede’s model 5 dimensions of culture: Power distance
Individualism vs. collectivism Feminity vs. masculinity Uncertainty avoidance Long term orientation GOT A FEELING FOR CULTURE & its manifestations… LOOK AT A MODEL from G. Hofstede, Dutch researcher & consultant in intercultural 3 studies, very large sample within IBM 70, 80 & late 90’s… 5 DIMENSIONS … look at what this means from a management point of view… Take some examples

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 Impact of family, school Boss/subordinate relationship – visible signs of status… EXAMPLE SWEDEN… Hofstede p 47 Low High Social integration Little concern for hierarchical status Social differential Significant concern for

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 people’s lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.” G. Hofstede Individualism Low High Collectivity Concern for group harmony versus personal achievement Self-determination High concern for achievement & personal growth

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… Low High Nurturing relationships Little concern for control, decisiveness, assertive behaviour or competition Controlling relationships Assertiveness, decisiveness and competitive behaviour Masculinity

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 Low High Informal relationships Little regard for structure & control Formal relationships High regard for structure, rituals and procedures

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 Hofstede’s results 20 countries

58 Cultural dimensions PDI IND MAS UAI Brazil USA France 69 38 49 76 40
91 62 46 France 68 71 43 86

59 Cultural comparison: Brazil, USA, & France

60 A Synthesis of Country Cultures
NORDIC Finland Denmark Sweden NEAR EASTERN Turkey Greece Iran ARAB Oman Bahrain Abu-Dhabi Saudi Arabia GERMANIC Austria Germany Switzerland FAR Malaysia Singapore Hong Kong Philippines Indonesia Taiwan INDEPENDENT India Japan Israel Brazil ANGLO United Kingdom Canada United States Ireland South Africa LATIN AMERICAN Argentina Mexico Chile Peru EUROPEAN France Belgium Italy Spain

61 Managing cultural differences: tips Map – Bridge - Integrate
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 other’s 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, s, 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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