German & American Perspectives

Topics: German language, Culture, Germany Pages: 5 (1162 words) Published: October 5, 2014

Question #1
Identify all the differences you can find between the management approaches in Germany and the U.S.

This is a unique case study which provides a great comparison between two different cultures. It's difficult to label one of the perspectives as being superior to the other; rather they each have their advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, the players within the organization are individuals and can't be seen as representatives of their respective cultures; Jim is simply one American businessman and Klaus is merely one German man. The project is dominated by Germans

First described is the American perspective of Jim. It's important to note, that he thought himself to be a good fit, due to his experience traveling to Germany, as well as his ability to speak the language, his wife being a native to the land and his email contact with his German colleagues. Simply understanding the German language proved to be insufficient; Jim lacked an understanding of their culture and their business practices, which made fitting in a battle. Jim was met with immediate problems, mostly because he had expectations of how he thought things would begin and lacked openness.

The first step was the planning phase, and the Germans believe in taking time to come talk plans out thoroughly. Jim became irritated, and wanted to move forward. Due to his frustration he began to pay attention less, and his negative attitude became clear to his German counterparts. At the end of their planning phase, Jim felt unprepared as to how he should proceed. He felt he fully understood the problem, but was unclear of how to proceed. This experience demonstrated how "Germans are obsessed with their focus on the problem, whereas we Americans focus more on solutions" (Hitt, Miller, Colella, 122). Americans tend to want to get moving on a problem quickly and figure things out as they go.

Moving onto working under his team leaders, proved to demonstrate additional differences of how things should be done. Jim felt his team leader should have acted more like a leader, and taken more of an authoritative role. In contrast, the German team leader felt he was part of democratic model and should be a participant, rather than a traditional leader. He also felt that once he began his work, he received too much input from his team leader, which impeded his progress. Jim continued to feel unclear of his role, and was additionally confused as to what his coworkers were working on. Communication styles were clearly different between the Germans and the Americans.

The project is dominated by Americans
When Klaus, a German employee traveled to America, he ran into the same issues as Jim. Pretty quickly he had differences of opinion with his American co-workers. This was largely due to his ideas of how things should be done, and like Jim he had the same inability to be open to his coworker’s ideas.

Klaus felt he was given specific targets which were unattainable and as a result his work suffered. He would have preferred to spend more time in the planning phase, and develop a clearer understanding of the problem. Klaus felt having rushed into working too quickly forced him to do a job he wasn't satisfied with. This is a clear difference between how Germans and American believe the planning phase to function. The Germans tend to want to make things perfect and in contrast the Americans are looking for a quick solution. For Americans, “time is money” and decisions must be made as quickly and efficiently as possible. The primary concern is with speed as opposed to quality and effectiveness.

American organizations tend to have more of a hierarchical structure and German seem to have flatter formations. This seems to contradict some of the cultural differences between the two. Germans are more formal in how they address each other, using full names when addressing each other. Americans are more informal in this manner...
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