International Business Case Study: Communication Across Cultures

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Charles Foster Sends and Email|
Exam 1|
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Richard Greer|
9/26/2012|

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The case, Charles Foster sends an email, is a perfect example of the how globalization and increased cross cultural interaction is increasing the complexity and ambiguity facing the managers of large multinational companies. The specific focus of this case is to address the repercussions that can occur by using inadequate communication methods, given the importance and complexity of a situation. Also, the case addresses the possibility of cross cultural communication misinterpretation leading to confusion and confrontation amongst the parties involved. The objective of this qualitative analysis is to utilize both theory and practical knowledge to identify the combination of visual and intrinsic factors which directly affected the actions and reactions of the individuals involved in the email chain.

Charles Foster’s, the US Director of Sales for High Technology Partners (HTC), composes an email in order to address some critical issues, which he believes, are threatening the supply of XD19 disk drives as well as the importance of resolving these issues. Foster decided to voice his concerns after several failed attempts were made in previous months to address the issues causing the lack of supply. Also, Foster felt that because the XD19 product line had just been launched, and given the fact it is a “core product” he was “scared” that the inability to meet consumer demand would eliminate any momentum the XD19 had gained. Foster believed the loss of momentum would be caused both internally due to shifting product line focus and externally due to the extensive amount of alternative products offered to both consumers and distributors as a result of the highly competitive US information technology market.

The content of Foster’s email is very direct and critical of the joint ventures manufacturing operations process and directly states two main causes of the inability to meet consumer demand. From Foster’s perspective, given his background as a sales professional with direct exposure to the consumer market, the joint venture’s decision to base production forecasts on run-rates does not reliably project sales figures and are more concerned in cost cutting strategies for the manufacturing process.

As a manufacturing company, run-rates are more attractive for the joint venture when forecasting sales because they keep inventories low and improve the inventory turnover. However, from a sales perspective run rates are based on current performance to generate a reliable projection over a certain period of time and do not accurately demonstrate industry trends based on consumer demand.

Second, Foster expresses concern over the manufacturing method used by the joint venture. Foster states that by opting to produce the disk drive in batches with 3 to 5 month intervals based on the run rate projections, if an opportunity or sudden jump in demand occur, production of the disk drive cannot be ramped up to meet this demand. Thus, Foster feels it is critical to alter the production methods of the JV in order to be more consumer focused rather than focusing on maintaining low inventories.

Also, Foster intends to unveil conflicting views with the JV’s current cost saving methods of production versus his view of meeting market demand and how the lack of quality control issues causing increased costs incurred by HTC. From Foster’s perspective, he is concerned by the current use of the 08 software because it contains several issues that do not meet quality standards in the US. Because the JV produces in batches and is focusing more on using the 08 software, as it meets requirements for use outside the United States, Foster is worried that the limited amount of 07software left in stock will potentially not be able to meet the market demand. Foster identifies the cost that will be incurred generated by the...
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