The Management of International Cultural Differences

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Introduction

International business regards the transnational or global trade of capital, technology, services, and goods as well knowledge. Nonetheless, the management of cultural diversity denotes one of the significant predicaments that undermine the execution of business in the international business scope. The aspect regards both working as an expatriate in the international environment as well as the management of a diverse workforce from all parts of the world. A global level business can acquire cross-cultural and multinational teams hence suggesting they can access a broader knowledge base as well as new approaches to the resolution of business predicaments. However, despite the enticing benefits, international companies are also prone to potential obstacles, especially in the scope of culture and the business. That said, this article seeks to discuss several ways of managing cultural variances in the global business environment.

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Diversity Training

The approach entails the integration of a program tailored to enlighten culturally diverse individuals on how to work collaboratively, lower discrimination and prejudice, and foster a positive intergroup relation. Accordingly, the initiative can be skill-based or awareness-oriented. In the former, the business aims at developing the efficiency of its workforce in managing workplace diversity. The process involves the integration of multiple tools to facilitate the enhancement of the workforce’s interpretation of the subject matter from mere awareness to a proficient level.

The tools facilitate the comprehension of cross-cultural variances, adaptability, and communication with people from various backgrounds (Brewster, Vernon, Sparrow & Houldsworth, 2016). On the other hand, the awareness-based form of training is integrated to sensitize the workforce. Such raises the awareness of the workforce on the vitality of diversity in the business environment. Most importantly, it helps the workforce realize its cultural assumptions and prejudices regarding one another, hence fostering unity. By investing in the initiative, international businesses can encourage appropriate behaviors within the workforce.

Through cross-cultural training, managers can comprehend various cultures and consequently develop new skills in managing culturally diverse issues. The investment can aid in alleviating the potential cost of failure, as instigated by the ineffective management of cultural variances. When enlightening both the employees and the administration, the trainers must elaborate on the behavioral impacts of culture in the workplace and consequently touch on matters regarding the phenomena of prejudice, assumptions, and stereotypes (Thomas & Peterson, 2016). Through diversity training, managers and employees can envision and realize things in a different context. The business may integrate the diversity training initiative into the already prevalent training to ensure high convenience. It is also imperative to evaluate the effectiveness of the training. If rendered ineffective, the business should embrace alternative methods.

Effective Communication

Effective communication is critical to corporate success. However, it can be challenging to attain the goal in a business environment. The issue is even worse in an international context where extra impediments like language and communicate culture confront the businesses that decide to go global. Therefore, businesses must invest in cross-cultural communication skills in the bid to alleviate the predicament. The presence of clear and effective communication skills between executives, managers, and co-workers helps nurture equal chances in the workplace, thus empowering diverse individuals to excel.

By practicing effective communication, businesses stand to benefit from enhanced performance, whereas the employees enjoy a suitable working environment. Besides, efficient communication also helps in business-market or community communications where it can alleviate miscommunication (Adekola & Sergi, 2016). That said, international businesses must adapt their communication style depending on the culture of the place that they are visiting or making investments. It is imperative to understand how people communicate in the new environment, and such can be easily attained through observation.

Managers must develop efficient listening skills, bolster self-expression, and invest in learning new languages. Every cultural group communicates differently, and managers, as well as the employees, must nurture effective communication through active listening in the bid to foster understanding in the workplace. That said, listening promotes the capacity to communicate clearly while at the same time understanding multiple groups. Concurrently, self-expression is vital, especially for minority groups. They can express their concerns through the platform and have the matter resolved hence bolstering their productivity. Intriguingly, learning a new language helps in communicating with external parties such as suppliers and the market. By so doing, the business can easily make its way to its desired objectives.

Building Teams

Team building is a critical approach to bolster cohesion while at the same time acknowledging cultural differences. Businesses and managers must acknowledge that the varying demographics of the workforce contribute to the need for managing cultural differences in the workforce. However, the challenge that undermines team working in a diverse context is the approach to conservation of the diversity that promotes creative conflicts, group norms, gender harmony, and decision-making (Thomas & Peterson, 2016). One of the most efficient ways of nurturing culturally diverse teams is by encouraging adaptation.

Leaders and the employees must acknowledge, appreciate, and respect cultural variances. Every participant must be adaptable and flexible when working in a team that has individuals from varying backgrounds. Besides, it is also imperative to choose culturally aware team leaders who can facilitate the collaboration of the team. Concurrently, structural interventions are critical to the establishment of diverse teams where adaptation fails to work. It is imperative for leaders to breakdown roles to smaller groups when the team fails to understand each other. However, the initiative must only be embraced as a last resort.

Concurrently, the leaders must set ground rules for the initiative. Managers and leaders have to formulate team norms that can help attain a mutual agreement on acceptable behaviors. It is also imperative to take time when articulating problem-solving endeavors (Brewster, Vernon, Sparrow & Houldsworth, 2016). Such helps in arriving at resolutions that the participants can accept, hence leading to team cohesion. The objective is to have norms as the focus instead of placing cultural variances as the locus of attention. It is also imperative to consider the attitudes to status, power, and authority, which determine the abilities of the staff to speak up.

Leadership

Leadership also plays a pivotal role in the management of cultural differences in an international context. People have varying leadership styles where some may be participative, and others prefer to delegate. Leadership style also facilitates recognition and promotion, depending on how well leaders get the task done. Nonetheless, the capabilities and leadership styles may render as a liability when deployed in an international context, especially when the leadership style does not conform to the societal culture. Effective leaders must have a degree of flexibility that allows them to change their leadership style based on the culture.

Great leadership must nurture trust as a way of managing cultural differences in the workplace. They should be committed to fulfilling the needs of their teams before serving their interests. When the workforce trusts the leader, he or she has to reciprocate the trust and have faith in them to complete their tasks professionally (Bird & Mendenhall, 2016). Besides, by guiding the workforce to trust each other, the leader can play a crucial role in alleviating cultural conflicts.

Besides, it is also imperative to lead by example, as a way of guiding the workforce to navigate through cultural drawbacks that may impede the efficiency of the organization. The leaders must indulge in proactive engagement and lead with diversity as well as inclusion measures. Such individuals must be culturally sensitive when interacting with their culturally diverse workforce as well as external stakeholders. The leader can set the pace for utilizing inclusive language as well as the attendance of internal events. The employees and other stakeholders, like suppliers and distributors, can consequently emulate the leader, hence leading to the effective management of cultural differences.

Conflict Management

The cultural elements that underlay conflicts are crucial considerations for businesses that operate in an international context. Mediators and leaders have to be culturally sensitive and open-minded to avoid bias and resentment in the workplace (Lasserre, 2017). It is also essential to recognize when things are wrong. Not all cultures are accustomed to airing their grievances through the formal channels. Therefore, able team leaders and employees must spot when things are wrong as characterized by aspects like unusual silence, heightened aggression, and frequent speaking of a foreign language.

That said, members of the workforce, as well as the leaders, must learn the art of listening instead of judging others. For instance, Japan and Chinese natives may have problems articulating their feelings, as they are not accustomed to the public discussion of their feelings. Individuals must look for clues depicting the dissatisfaction of such colleagues. Next, leaders and employees must perceive beyond their cultures and comprehend that the people involved in the conflict may just be acting in culture normal to their profession. All the same, it is critical not to assume as the conflict may be because of cultural variance as issues like age gaps and gender can also be common causes of conflict in the international context. Concurrently, individuals must learn to be empathetic and know when to step in. Leaders must learn the art of mediating in resolving the conflicts that extend beyond manageable levels. Nonetheless, most of the cultural conflicts develop when the employees feel discriminated (Lasserre, 2017). Therefore, it is imperative to embrace universal policies and practices. People must learn to be sensitive. Even though they might be unbiased, they have to refrain from actions that can insinuate otherwise.

Technology

Notably, technology has great promises to sustainability in the improvement of the integral relationships that constitute the work environment. Organizations operating in an international context should embrace the platform as significant leverage to bolster employee’s relationships with one another, their managers, and the organization as well. That said, the form of harmonization extends beyond the ancient internal approaches and efforts of communication like instant messaging chats for groups, executive videocasts, and town hall meetings. Instead, it embraces the integration of appropriate and straightforward communication channels accessible to all that employees can deploy in their communication, collaboration, recognize each other, build community, and offer genuine feedback without the fear of exposure or repercussion.

In the managerial context, the development of technological platforms of communication and interactions aims at connecting and aligning. What is more intriguing is that culture technology can offer insight into a given culture as well as the approaches on how to make it better for the overall wellbeing of the business (Adekola & Sergi, 2016). When employed in the right manner, the technology harnesses unity. However, it is imperative to consider critical issues like alignment that may stampede any technological efforts by polarizing people.

Most importantly, global corporate entities should embrace the platform as access to actionable data. For instance, in a manufacturing premise, responsibility hails from timely data delivery to the employees on the task so that they can spot issues and enhance their performance. The teams can consequently work together to arrive at feasible solutions, hence bolstering unity. Besides, the platform helps in creating a culture of accountability and transparency, which are critical in the international context. Mobile technologies foster transparency, which in turn encourages harmony by alleviating bias. Constructive technology can help in promoting team alignment, better connections, and an ideal coaching environment.

Cultural Synergy

Western cultures differ from the eastern way of life. Despite the apparent variances, they all indulge in successful business activities. Therefore, the aspect of cultural synergy appreciates the variance and consequently considers it as a resource. Indeed, all cultures boast of a multicultural uniqueness that can help provide solutions to some corporate predicaments. As such, international businesses should manage cultural differences by using the best parts of other cultures to solve corporate issues. However, such necessitates the expansion of one’s cultural intelligence.

Managers and employees should comprehend that cultural variances are as prevalent as individual differences. Indeed, people from varying backgrounds act differently. The differences may be challenging to recognize or affect (Bird & Mendenhall, 2016). Nonetheless, in global business, context, the mutual comprehension of cultures is critical for a corporate breakthrough. Most importantly, if the business is the seller, it means that it has to heighten its acceptance, recognition, and bridging the gap that manifests among the variances. Compelling effort and curiosity to study and know culture may instigate the capacity to indulge in the seamless copying of cultural differences in the international context.

By utilizing the initiative, leaders and employees must comprehend the implications of cultural variations to the business. They must also familiarize themselves with cross-cultural conflict prediction and resolution initiatives. By harnessing synergy, it means that the business should familiarize itself with cultural practices and tendencies in the management of intercultural issues. In like manner, the management and the workforce must learn new strategies for persuading individuals with cultural tendencies. In line with this argument, the administration must also integrate cultural knowledge in various corporate contexts such as management and hiring, team management, sales negotiation, as well as leadership.

Integrating Employee Relationship Management Systems

Employee relationship management (ERM) entails a protocol deployed by corporate entities to handle all staff interactions with the ultimate goal of attaining the organizational objectives. The HR department can play a pivotal duty in the success of the initiative through measures such as the coaching and training of executives as well as managers (Deresky, 2017). Concurrently, the integration of ERM software can help bolster the culture of the company. The software aids in focusing on staff growth, performance, and development to ensure healthy competition amongst them. As a result, the organization enjoys healthy working relationships and better working conditions for its staff, which can consequently develop a sense of belonging.

The managers who aspire to incorporate workers from multiple cultures should foster good relationships with them. Besides, they can also integrate some programs that may help in the aspect through language teaching, the celebration of various traditional and religious holidays of the employees, as well as the involvement of the families of the employees in some aspects. Through the creation of such encouraging programs, international companies can bolster their employee retention capacity.

It is imperative for the administrators first to comprehend the backgrounds and personalities of their employees. For instance, they can indulge in constructive conversations during social events or downtimes in the bid to foster more comprehension about them. Indeed, the vitality of listening and respecting the workforce in ensuring cultural harmony cannot be underestimated. Besides, the initiative helps familiarize the employees with company policies regarding their relationship. Employees who are knowledgeable to the company policies are critical to the enhancement of cultural diversity.

Values, Attitudes, and Behavior

International businesses that treat their attitudes as the norm often transpire to cultural identity. In other words, their values, attitudes, and behavior determine their relationships, both internally and externally. Notably, values can be maintained both consciously and unconsciously. Embracing positive values in the organizations helps in defining right and wrong while at the same time defining general preferences, thus alleviating cultural challenges (Deresky, 2017). Values are the foundation of comprehending behavior and attitude as they determine people’s conduct. In like manner, attitudes manifest in the relationship between people, and some sorts of objects are evaluative statements. Having positive attitudes in work affects behavior. They reflect how the employees feel about a given issue. 

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The Management of International Cultural Differences. (2021, Dec 29). Retrieved December 2, 2022 , from
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