Effective Business Communication in Cross-Cultures
BA Common Year 1
Communication involves the interchange of thoughts, opinions and information. It is a vital component in business as it is used to exchange information that the business needs to function. In a business, it is of utmost importance that relayed data is clear and concise to ensure that the information is understood correctly. A business can better achieve its maximum efficiency with proper communication and the key to effective communication is understanding.
While globalisation takes place, communication takes a wider meaning in the business world as local companies are now able to transfer goods and services across international borders. Thus, stressing the importance of effective communication even further. The sudden wide range of cultural context brings new cross-communication challenges to the workplace. A lack of cultural awareness may communication between businesses from different cultural backgrounds thus effecting their profits.
The objective of this academic essay is to explain why cultural awareness is important in business communication.
Culture is a broad sense of cultivated behavior that consists of the beliefs, behaviours, objects, and other characteristics that have become common to the members of a particular group or society (CliffsNotes, n.d). Thus, it may be defined as the patterns, traits and products of human work and thought that have been molded within a society or a particular group of people.
Cultures are most often understood from the context of a country. Individual countries have different cultures of their own. These cultures have been molded for years and can be seen as a dictation of what is socially acceptable to them. With 196 different countries, there is a bountiful of different cultures across the globe that are different from each other. What may seem appropriate to a citizen of the West, may not be seen as appropriate to a citizen from the East.
Due to the growth of multi-cultural societies as well as globalisation, businesses encounter culture daily both internally and externally. A large number of companies today have multi-cultured workforces that bring about cross-cultural interaction daily in the company. Cross-culture communication may appear between employees and departments. Businesses encounter culture externally when interacting with international clients that come from different cultures.
2. Corporate Culture
According to Ed Schein, a social psychologist, 'Corporate Culture' is the pattern of basic assumptions that a given group has invented, discovered and developed in learning to cope with its problems of external adaption and internal integration (Alan Cowling & Philip James, 1994). Meaning to say that 'Corporate Culture' comprises of patterns, behaviours and beliefs that a company has incorporated internally to help adapt to the constant changes outside the company. This incorporation defines how communication is used between employees of a company. In multi-cultural companies, it is important to exercise cultural awareness to ensure effective communication. Different cultures have different definitions of what 'social norm' is, and these definitions reflect on how communication is carrieed out within the company.
There are many kinds of national cultures with different kinds of understanding of the world, some of which have similar preferences. Geert Hofstede developed a way of categorizing different cultures thus identifying the norms of their communication procedures. His method describes national cultures by identifying six different dimensions. These dimensions help describe the effects of a society's culture on their values, and how those values relate to their behaviour (Wikipedia, n.d).
The different dimensions of Geert Hofstede are as follows :-