Born in California B.A. in Economics (1970), M.B.A. (1974), and Ph.D in Management (1980) from UCLA Currently a Professor of International Management at McGill University in Montreal, Canada Conducts research and consults on global leadership, cross-cultural management, and women as global leaders and managers Authored over 125 articles Who is Nancy J Adler?
Produced 2 films Published 10 books and edited several volumes Consults to private corporations and government organizations on projects in Asia, Europe, North and South America, and the Middle East Served on several board of governors and executive committees as well as having leadership positions A visual artists, primarily water-based media, in which she has held exhibitions at The Banff Centre located in Alberta, Canada Dr. Adler continued…
All activity in business involves communication! Communication according to Webster's is a sending, giving, or exchange of information/ideas Verbally Words Non-verbally Tone Facial expressions Behavior Physical setting Communication
“Whatever I say and do, I cannot not communicate” Complex multilayered, dynamic process Sender and Receiver message (never identical) “Communication does not equate to understanding unless both parties have the same interpretation of communication symbols.” Flower example Communication is an indirect process Symbolic behavior Encoding (into words/behavior) and Decoding Cultural background effect Hong Kong “eight” sounds like “faat,” which means prosperity American-born Chinese Cross-cultural Communication
Perception – “process by which individuals select, organize, and evaluate stimuli from the external environment to provide meaningful experiences for themselves” No two cultures see the world the same way Tachistoscopic pictures – Mexican versus American Cross-cultural Misperception
Perceptual patterns are neither innate nor absolute They are: Selective – screen out what we see, hear, taste, and feel Learned – experiences teach us to see the world Culturally determined Consistent – hard to change how we see the world Inaccurate – we see things that do not exist and do not see things that do exist Perceptual Patterns
“Finished Files Are the Result of Years of Scientific Study Combined with the Experience of Years” Experiment
How would you describe the activity in this picture?
U.S. executives were asked to study the picture and then describe what they saw to someone that had not seen the picture. That person was asked to do the same and so on…. The fifth person described his perception to a group He said a black man and a white man were fighting. The black man was holding a knife and wearing laborer’s overalls while the white man was dressed in a business suit. Results
This is a great example of how people of one culture stereotype people of another culture Black man – poorer, working class, and more likely to commit crimes or be violent White man – richer, upper class, and less likely to act violently The personal and cultural experiences of the executives caused them to see something that did not exist!! Perceptual Filters
Interpretation – “it is the process of making sense out of perceptions” Based on our past experiences, we make assumptions about our perceptions so that we do not have to relearn things each time we come across similar situations Familiar categories – we simplify our environment Cross-cultural Miscategorization – Korean businessman and Swedish office Cross-cultural Misinterpretation
Stereotyping – “form of categorization that organizes our experiences and guides our behavior toward ethnic and national groups” They do not ever describe individual behavior, they do describe the average behavior for members of a particular group East Tennessee example When is a stereotype helpful? Consciously held, descriptive rather than evaluative, accurate, the first best guess, and/or modified Stereotypes
Stereotypes are hard to change!! Indrei Ratiu – INSEAD (international business school in France and the London Business School) “most internationally effective” “least internationally effective” Stereotypes can be effective or not – your choice! Continued….
Misinterpretation – “possible caused by the inaccurate perceptions of a person/situation that arise when what actually exist is not seen” Sources – Subconscious “blinders” Lack of cultural self-awareness Projected similarity Parochialism Sources of Misinterpretation
Our home culture doesn’t make us think about our assumptions b/c we share them with other citizens from our country Things do not work as well when we work with people outside our culture Canadians in Kuwait Subconscious Cultural Blinders
What is more difficult, understanding foreigners or understanding ourselves? “What is known least well, and is therefore in the poorest position to be studied, is what is closest to oneself” – Edward Hall – anthropologist It is more important to understand your own culture than the foreigners culture you are doing business with. Lack of Cultural Self-Awareness
The assumption that people are more similar to you than they really are AND/OR that another's situation is more like yours that it is Making these assumptions can cause inappropriate behavior and therefore ineffective results Parochialism – being narrow in scope or opposite of universalism Only my way – “I understand you but you do not understand me!” Projected Similarity/Parochialism
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." Kenya "Americans appear to us rather distant. They are not really as close to other people—even fellow Americans—as Americans overseas tend to portray. It's almost as if an American says, 'I won't let you get too close to me.' It's like building a wall." 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 United States to think that life is only work hits you in the face. Work seems to be the one type of motivation." Indonesia "In the United States everything has to be talked about and analyzed. Even the littlest thing has to be 'Why, Why, Why?'. I get a headache from such persistent questions." Ethiopia "The American is very explicit; he wants a 'yes' or '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." How foreigners see Americans ?
Evaluation – “involves judging whether someone or something is good or bad” We use our own culture as a standard of measurement American in Japan By doing this, we will judge all other cultures as inferior to our own Cross-cultural Misevaluation
How to be an effective global leader “know that they don’t know” Observe what is really said and done Look at things through the eyes of the other person Make your idea a guess and not a certainty Communication
Present your message in multiple ways State your thoughts and then show a graph of those thoughts Paraphrase to ensure others from another culture understood you (not just in more words) Converge meanings – double-checking to verify that they understood the message you were trying to communicate to them Suggestions
References Barnes, W. (2008). Tricky feats of cross-cultural communication. Financial Times [London (UK)], 07:18 Raths, D. (1999). Communication is key to cross-cultural success. InfoWorld, 21(45), 83-84 Adler, N.J. (1991). International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: PWS-KENT Publishing Company. pp. 63-91. Balsineler, P.W., Beck, A.K. (1995). Human Resource Management International Digest, 3 (2), 22-24. http://people.mcgill.ca/nancy.adler/ http://people.mcgill.ca/nancy.adler/ Questions – Thoughts?