The Importance of Cross-Cultural Studies for Managers

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   Monash University English Language Center 

   English Language Bridging Program Diploma 2 

Research Essay 

“Evaluate The Importance of Cross-Cultural Studies for Managers”   

Student   : Galih Ardisatria
Student ID   : 23006773
Teachers  : Jonathan Steven
Date of submission:  27 September 2010                               Word Count          : 1394

In the twenty-first century, globalization encourages people to do business across countries and this leads to global markets, which remove boundaries for people to do business. This means that people from different cultural backgrounds across the world now work together. People now also have more opportunities to work in international teams. Therefore, companies have to deal with members of national cultures, including their employees, customers, and business partners. Today’s managers are facing modern management demands as their work become increasingly more challenging (Walker, Walker & Schmitz 2003). In this case, it creates major awareness on the need of cross-cultural studies as an essential skill for managers. What are cross-cultural studies? Brislin (1976) defines them as ‘Empirical investigations, which compare groups who have had different experiences that have led to predictable and significant differences in behavior.’ On the other hand, Hofstede (1984, as cited in Dwyer, 2002) argues that culture is “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from another”. By these definitions, I understand that culture is learned and shared by groups of people, and it makes values and standards of behaviors, which bring people together. Culture influences people minds and behaviors. As Usunier (1998) states, ‘Culture can be considered as behavioral patterns.’ These social beliefs are different from one and another and that makes culture diverse. The diversity of culture generates cultural differences, which distinguish societies in the world. In this essay, I will discuss the issue of cross-cultural studies in reference to managers and how it helps managers to perform well in the international business environment in three aspects. The first aspect is communicating across culture. Speaking of communicating, Dwyer (2002) defines communication as ‘Any behavior, verbal, non-verbal or graphic that is perceived by another.’ Information, ideas or knowledge transmitted are in three different forms, which are verbal (spoken words), non-verbal (body movement, intonation) and graphic (signs, visual). And cross-cultural communication ‘highlights similarities and differences across culture groups to promote communication.’ Since culture is shared by groups of people, language is one of the ways people communicate their attitudes and local perspectives to others. Kramsch (1995, as cited in Kivik, 1998) states that ‘Culture in the final analysis is always linguistically mediated membership into the discourse community.’ (p. 70). Managers can learn how local people behave and think by learning the local language, which also helps them to be familiar with the local environment. Nevertheless, because of cultural differences, miscommunication may happen frequently. Miscommunication is a broken message of communication (Kushal 2009). Managers might find it hard to express and understand ideas, thoughts, or feelings that are shared, because a different culture may mean a different language. For instance, Japanese people have different understandings of the word "yes". According to international trade administration, Japan export information center (1994), to avoid any kind of confrontation, Japanese people use the word "yes" to show that they understand what is being said, and not to show that they actually agree with the speaker. However, good language...
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