Cross-cultural Interactions

Topics: Culture, Leadership, The Culture Pages: 8 (2626 words) Published: December 18, 2013
Communication differs in various cultures. A multinational or a global company employs a great number of people with different cultural traits. Some may possess traits that are good for business when sent to countries away from home and some may not take up this responsibility well. People with different values respond in various ways to leadership especially from leaders from a different background or culture. Cultural diversity is very wide and this would cause to some extent difficulties for a foreigner in a strange land. This is mainly because the foreigner has little or no knowledge of the land’s culture. For instance being a German and working in a subsidiary of the German mother company in China, I have come to realize the big difference that there is in various cultures. The team that I work with is a cross-cultural team. National culture does not fit with the organizational culture from my experience in this cross-cultural team. National culture is the values that an individual learns early in life and continues to grow or change slowly with generations. It is highly held in individuals hence difficult to influence . Organizational culture on the other hand means the wide guidelines that are created by an organization and is rooted on the job tasks and practices. . It is a programmed way of thinking and reacting. It is used to differentiate a certain category of people from the other. Due to the deeply held national culture by people, it is difficult to change the organizational culture especially in a cross-cultural team. This is because for some, the organizational culture goes against the national culture therefore the practices of the organization will be taken for granted and undermined e.g. a leadership trait which falls under an organizational culture can be easily shunned by a particular employee from a different culture if the trait is against his/her national trait. I encounter various tensions at my workplace. A group of a certain culture will follow or conform to a certain set of values and beliefs, and the other would differ from them. A large group with a set of similar values would fall in the same culture. The minority and the majority therefore have conflict when it comes to certain situations within the team. For instance, Germans are always on schedule and very punctual. This is their national culture. In the cross-cultural team there are people who have different perception when it comes to keeping time. When it comes to attending meetings for instance, there will be a set of people who will be punctual and those who will be late. This is a cause for tension within the cross-cultural team. Tension is a known cause for a decrease in a company’s productivity. Action should therefore be taken to resolve tension or conflict in these teams. Conflict is a challenge that is always faced by a team that is cross-cultural because it arises from time to time. The success and failure of a team depends on its response in time of conflict. To initiate organizational changes, I have done research and have come up with a plan of giving lessons to my team members. These lessons don’t give a direct solution to the conflicts but guidance on how to prevent, respond to and manage tension. The tips in my lesson plan include:

Knowledge of one self and culture- when one becomes aware of his culture, i.e. where he/she comes from and who he/she really is, it becomes easier to understand other people’s background hence become open to different ideas. This can be achieved by establishing friendship within the team Being inquisitive- ask other members with a different background from yours about your new environment and how best things are run and more importantly know how to deal with situations to avoid conflict Listen to people from a different culture effectively to have a better understanding of one another’s ways. This should only be done in situations where it doesn’t cause...

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