02 January 2013
This comprehensive case covers essential aspects and facets of cross-cultural co-operation and communication. These are illustrated through the fictitious depiction of a project carried out between Americans and Germans. More specifically, two situations will be presented: (1) an American working on a team, which is dominated by Germans (and their way of co-operating and communicating); and (2) the other way around, a German working on a team dominated by Americans. The difficulties, problems and misunderstandings both sides are facing are particularly stressed.
Cooperating and Communicating across Cultures
Both Americans and Germans noticed more positive thinking and an upbeat attitude in the US culture. Maintaining an overall positive atmosphere is considered a high priority in the American work environment. In Germany praise is the absence of criticism. While in the US, Germans were confused when they were repeatedly praised for what they considered accurate completion of routine tasks. In presentations given by Americans, some of the Germans found that negative aspects of a particular issue were not labeled as such but were listed under a heading such as "items for improvement" or were dropped altogether. To one of the Germans, American positivism was "distraction from genuine problems." This example supports the notion that Americans display more high-context behavior than Germans.
In American meetings, the manner in which a group arrives at a consensus is important. Keeping an overall positive, friendly rapport and avoiding personal attacks ranks high among Americans. In the US, it does not rock the boat if the rules have to be bent a little to achieve the goal. On the other hand, a stricter adherence to truth and exactness in Germany as a core value. An interesting example is the...