MGT 6306, Intercultural Management 1
Course Learning Outcomes for Unit I Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
1. Compare and contrast intercultural management and multiculturalism. 1.1 Discuss challenges of maintaining central control and local integration for an international
business. 1.2 Discuss benefits and challenges of having managers from only one culture. 1.3 Explain how leadership’s cultural mindset (CM) influences business success.
Learning Outcomes Learning Activity
1.1 Unit Lesson Chapter 1 Unit I Essay
1.2 Chapter 1 Video: What is Culture? Unit I Essay
1.3 Unit Lesson Chapter 2 Unit I Essay
Required Unit Resources Chapter 1: The Impact of Culture on Managing Organizations Chapter 2: The Cultural Mindset In order to access the following resource, click the link below. Promedion/American Multimedia (Producer). (2004). What is culture? (Segment 1 of 14) [Video]. In Culture,
identity, and behavior. Films on Demand. https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=https://fod.infobase.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?wID=273866&xtid=115831&loid=424530
The transcript for this video can be found by clicking the “Transcript” tab to the right of the video in the Films on Demand database. Unit Lesson
Culture There was a time that one would need to travel to another country to experience a culture different than their own. Today, we are surrounded by diverse culture, irrespective of the environment. That could also bring the question about whether any individual country could still portray a distinctive business culture. In this course, we will address cultural issues and how these cultural issues could impact business interactions, both positively and negatively.
UNIT I STUDY GUIDE The Concept of Culture
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Characteristics of Culture
Culture makes individuals a member of a society. It shapes how we think and behave. Nahavandi (2022) states that culture is a system that includes “assumptions, beliefs, values, and behaviors combined in a coherent, logical, and organized system where parts work together to meet the needs of the group” (p. 10). The concept of culture is based on seven characteristics; it is (1) an organized system, (2) complex and multifaceted, (3) unique to a group, (4) stable and dynamic, (5) transmitted from one person to another, (6) a tool to make sense of the world, and (7) a guide to behavior (Nahavandi, 2022).
Levels of Culture Every country has its own culture that is complied with, even in a business setting. Understanding and complying with the business culture would hopefully have a positive impact. Conversely, not appreciating the dynamic role that culture plays could be quite devastating to any international business. This is because culture represents different views and mindsets of different people in the same society and even the country at large. Culture can be quite complex. The core elements of culture include belief systems, language, values, norms, symbols, and dress. You could also look at surface culture such as food and art. Even within one country, culture can be divided into national culture, regional culture, and group culture. Group culture can be examined even further as it relates to race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or socioeconomic factors (Nahavandi, 2022). Some countries may have different cultures depending on the region or geographical location. These differences could be so vast that one may wonder whether it is the same country. For example, the cultural beliefs followed in the Northern United States would be different to those from the Southern United States. Developing a cultural mindset would require paying close attention to these subtle elements within the greater society.
Impact of Culture on Managing Organizations Can you imagine how the merchants in ancient Persia and China managed to trade with such limited knowledge of language, cultural values, or the application of technology we use today to facilitate our
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business transactions? Chapter 1 focuses on the complexity and diversity of the world we live in and the impact that culture has on managing organizations. Nahavandi (2022) describes culture as “a complex system of long-lasting and dynamic learned assumptions, beliefs, values, and behaviors shared by members of a group that makes the group unique and that is transmitted from one person to another, allows the group to interpret and make sense of the world, and guides its members’ behaviors” (p. 9). This gives us an idea of the challenges faced by global managers in multinational organizations. What is considered customary for an American company may be unacceptable in a foreign country. For any organization to thrive in a diverse and complex business culture, it must have a thorough understanding of its customer base and the global marketplace. This includes an in-depth mastery of intercultural communication. Your patterns of communication and behavior—both personal and professional—are all governed by the norms, customs, and rules of culture. You must consider the culture in which you operate, the culture from which you come, and the cultural expectations of your audience. For example, Japanese businesspeople may choose to never say “no” even when the response calls for it. They would rather give the impression that a situation is still a work in progress rather than give an indication that it could not be done.
National, Regional, and Group
This unit also examines the levels of culture, which are national, regional, and group. The national level is anchored in the belief system, which is the most fundamental component of our values. These are rooted in us at a very young age and come from highly trusted sources, such as parents, educators, religious teachers, and so on. As explained, the second level, which is the regional level, it means that even within a country, different regions may have different cultures. The third level, group, includes demographics and status within the society. Apart from the example of the United States, we can dig deeper and see this play out in different countries as well.
Different Views on Culture Nahavandi (2022) introduces different views of culture: parochialism, ethnocentrism, and multiculturalism/pluralism. Before discussing these views in detail, let us first look at the questions that help us have a better understanding of why the views are relevant. Consider the following questions.
1) Do you believe that culture is irrelevant and not a major factor in human interactions or that people are the same across the world regardless of their culture?
2) Are you primarily interested in your own community and believe that your values and beliefs are superior to those of others?
3) Do you consider all cultures, including your own, to be of equal value? Everyone looking at these questions would respond according to their own view of culture. Now, apply the different views in order to answer these questions.
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1) Parochialism answers the first question and believes that the world is narrow and limited to our own backyard.
2) Ethnocentrism, on the other hand, believes that one’s own culture is superior to that of others. 3) Multiculturalism and pluralism believe that since all cultures serve a purpose and function for their
members, then all must have equal value.
The Cultural Mindset Culture is learned and universal to human society. All societies have their own culture and values that they hold dear to their hearts. All cultures, to one degree or another, have the tendency to evaluate an outsider’s behavior by its own culture’s standards; however, the success or failure of a company abroad will depend on how effectively the employees are able to understand and adapt to foreign ways of thinking and acting, hence, having the right cultural mindset. A cultural mindset (CM) is based on personality factors, knowledge, and cognitive factors. These factors are the design of who we are, how we think, and how we react. CM provides context to interpreting others and the world around us. Nahavandi (2022) explains how it is positive for an organization when managers develop a cultural mindset; however, it should be expected that everyone within the business should be part of this experience. Having everyone with a cultural mindset (CM) will become relevant within business operations. Renewing our mind and embracing new ideas and perspectives as we incorporate culture in business operations will change the way employees think and act. Taking time to observe others from different cultures will paint a clearer picture for us to understand and appreciate why an individual or a group may display a unique approach in the workplace. The four characteristics that are presented to helps us better understand CM are depicted in Table 2.2 of Chapter 2 of the textbook. These are transformative, irreversible, integrative, and troublesome.
Taking time to understand and accept the cultures of others provides a better working environment in which all cultures are respected. This, of course, cannot be easily achieved without exerting effort. It is a shift that will help us understand “how culture is one of the foundations of social interaction and how it provides a meta-context in most situations” (Nahavandi, 2022, p. 57).
Research on Culture Having intercultural knowledge and awareness in today’s diverse business world is important. According to Fang (2010) and Lloyd and Härtel (2010), cultural differences can often impact employee morale, job performance, and lead to conflict because of differences in cultural norms and communication styles. Cultural diversity and acceptance in organizations can be strengthened through extensive interactions and cultural exposure. Hammer et al. (2003) explain intercultural competence is demonstrated by a person who can think and act appropriately interculturally. The authors further explained that intercultural competence could be attained through cultural exposure such as international travel or foreign education. You will notice that the more you engage and take time to understand another culture and value, the more you will refrain from imposing yours as the best culture. The beauty of today’s business environment also is that we do not need to travel to other countries to be impacted by another’s culture, which is due to an increase in migration. According to Brannen and Thomas (2010), migration will increasingly lead to people with bi- and multicultural identities. Consider a situation where a woman, Jane, was born and raised in Clinton, Maryland, and her husband, Jonathan, was born and raised in Orange Beach, Alabama. Because of their careers, they were stationed overseas and lived in Dubai,
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Nepal, Turkey, Malawi, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine. Jane and Jonathan will always be American no matter where they live. The same may not be said for their three children born and raised under different cultures, educational systems, values, dress, food, and so on. It would be difficult for these children to identify with one culture, including their accent. Sackmann and Phillips (2004) concluded that such multicultural identities would result in multicultural workforces, as we can see in this case.
Conclusion As business operations become more global, culture will also undergo change, though some cultures change more quickly than others. We must also understand that some cultures are simpler in their patterns of organization, behavior, and beliefs than others. This is due, in part, to size, geography, and distance. In business, you must understand the culture, customs, norms, and beliefs of the people that you hope to do business with.
References Brannen, M. Y., & Thomas, D. C. (2010). Bicultural individuals in organizations: Implications and
opportunity. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 10(1), 5–16. Fang, T. (2010). Asian management research needs more self-confidence: Reflection on Hofstede (2007) and
beyond. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 27, 155–170 Hammer, M. R., Bennett, M. J., & Wiseman, R. (2003). Measuring intercultural sensitivity: The Intercultural
Development Inventory. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 27, 421–443. doi:10.1016/S0147-1767(03)00032-4
Lloyd, S., & Härtel, C. (2010). Intercultural competencies for culturally diverse work teams. Journal of
Managerial Psychology, 25, 845–875. doi:10.1108/02683941011089125 Nahavandi, A. (2022). The cultural mindset: Managing people across cultures. SAGE. Sackmann, S. A., & Phillips, M. E. (2004, December 1). Contextual influences on culture research: Shifting
assumptions for new workplace realities. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 4(3), 371–392. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1470595804047820
Suggested Unit Resources In order to access the following resource, click the link below. The following article reviews intercultural competence. Dias, D., Zhu, C. J.,& Samaratunge, R. (2020). Examining the role of cultural exposure in improving
intercultural competence: Implications for HRM practices in multicultural organizations. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 31(11), 1359–1378. https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bsu&AN=143223868&site=ehost-live&scope=site
Learning Activities (Nongraded) Nongraded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You do not have to submit them. If you have questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information. Complete the Self-Assessment 1.2: Your Values in Chapter 1 of your textbook. After you have calculated your score, read the three interpretation questions. Note your responses for each question in a personal journal.
- Course Learning Outcomes for Unit I
- Required Unit Resources
- Unit Lesson
- Characteristics of Culture
- Levels of Culture
- Impact of Culture on Managing Organizations
- National, Regional, and Group
- Different Views on Culture
- The Cultural Mindset
- Research on Culture
- Suggested Unit Resources
- Learning Activities (Nongraded)