Diversity and Intercultural
The International Cultural Battle
Composed by Daniel Plouffe
In our world of expanding technology and shrinking geography, people of different cultures have increasing frequency of contact and need for effective communication on a daily basis. Whether through travel, immigration, or international business, having the ability to communicate across many different cultures is an advantage in and of itself. Speaking a different language is an obvious obstacle to intercultural communication, but a greater and more difficult hurdle is to “speak” a different culture. To understand and comprehend and even apply these tiniest of differences is to truly communicate across cultures. Even though we may learn the words, the grammar, and the recognizable pronunciation of a language, we may still not know how to navigate around the greater obstacles to communication that are presented by cultural difference. What is culture? Culture involves learned and shared behaviours, norms, values, and material objects. It also encompasses what people create to express values, attitudes, and norms. Culture is largely undiscussed by the people who share it. (Beamer and Varner (2008) Culture… (p. 5)) It is important to understand what makes up the basic elements of culture so that we may be able to compare and contrast different aspects of cultures in order to define and identify them as unique. This knowledge, when used correctly, will be the key to knowing how and why a culture communicates so that we, as a foreign culture, may be able to communicate with them. This paper will illustrate intercultural communication in an international and overseas workplace context. The scope of this research paper will explore and display research in working internationally, specifically expatriates, and their experience with culture shock, the importance of culture intelligence quotient (CQ) and its affect on job performance, and expatriate’s recognition of dynamic cultural differences by using Hofstede’s model.
Companies have been becoming increasingly international in the scope of their operations. Companies both large and small have internationalized activities in an attempt to improve competitiveness and capture greater shares in more geographic markets worldwide. In order for these companies to go international, relations between companies must be established and secured before any attempt is made to access these foreign markets. Expatriates are company workers hired to go abroad and make business deals and investments. By using expatriates it allows a company to penetrate international markets and expand their market shares. What is often over looked in this process is how an expatriate feels, adapts, is motivated, and how they become successful when they are immersed in a totally different culture. Culture shock is a process that every foreign worker finds their self in when they are shipped off to another country for business. There are four stages in culture shock which are euphoria, frustration, adjustment, and integration. Euphoria occurs when the expatriate feels excited and adventurous when surrounded by the new culture. Everything seems to be mysterious and unique and this makes the expatriate feel happy. This stage lasts only for a week or two until the emotions of the expatriate seem to die down. What happens next is the frustration stage because the expatriate will feel dislocated and inadequate in the new culture and will feel lost or homesick. Adaptation to the new culture seems impossible and there is no more interest in experiencing the new culture. During business relations the expatriate might feel clueless because they do not know the customs or practices of the new culture. An example of the frustration expatriates feel is nicely depicted by Australian Jill Ker Conway in her experience with dealing with the...