Human Resources Management
Some Key Theories on Cross Cultural Management

Theory #1: each individual perceives the world differently; but it is possible to influence the people in a cultural group to share a similar way of perceiving the world. The very beginning of differences among people is due to their different interpretation to the events or occurrences around them. All sorts of conflicts may results if two people from different perceptions insist on their personal stand or beliefs. It is simply human natural instincts and tendency to stick to what they familiar and believe so far. Rarely people will question their own interpretation of the world, particularly if they do not acknowledge or recognize that their own way of interpreting the world is the root causes of problems. However, such a situation is not necessary. People can easily change their perception or to see from others’ point of view when they are open minded and accept that their differences are mainly attributed to the differing of perceptions among people. Once someone changes his perception, his belief can be changed to – and this is important particularly in a cross cultural arguments or debate.

Theory #2: There are generally five cultural dimensions – namely, power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and long and short term orientation. The five cultural dimensions are very useful in discussing how some people from a cultural setting tend to behave. However, these dimensions are not comprehensive enough in describing the differences. For example, people from Nigeria apparently seemed like to show off, while people from China tend to be shy and keep the profile low. Besides, people from Taiwan can be much more expressive and tend to have very strong personal ideas, while people from China may not stick to a particular idea. Besides, the various behaviors from different cultural setting are also not being captured. For example, people from Nigeria seemingly less considerate and apparently do not understand that their actions or behaviors are actually harassing people. People from China may talk loud but they assume that such way of communication shows friendliness and close relationship between people. However, when talking to other people from other nation, the Chinese may seemed quiet and refuse to communicate much, as because they are actually taking time in judging the situation and the opposite party in a communication process.

Theory #3: Assumptions and perceptions are highly influential towards our interpretations of events and behaviors. As discussed before, the different perceptions are the sources of differences between people from various cultural setting. In group discussion, it is observed that the difference in perception is actually a habit of interpretation by people. After some time dealing with people from different culture, it is not hard to expect how they will perceive an event or questions. They have a habit of seeing things in a certain way, a relatively consistent one. Perhaps much time are spent on observing, we can ferret out their belief and mode of thinking process. Besides, their personal belief and values can also be elicited. Once that is possible and learned, then only we can talk in their language and perception and influence them using their certain way of logics and thinking process.

Theory #4: Communication can be verbal and non-verbal – it is a form of expression of ideas, thoughts and emotions. People do not always communicate in words. From the cultural dimensions, that is considered as either a low context or high contextual communication. For example, the Chinese have a high contextual communication style. They do not talk much, but rather, much of what is communicated must be guessed and are shown in non-verbal communication. Sometimes, only the Chinese themselves understand what another Chinese want to express. The wordings may be soft and polite, but the emotional attachment and intensity can be high. People who do not understand all these may keep pressing the Chinese and create huge conflicts. In contrast, people from other countries, particularly those from Western world are more comfortable in expressing their own emotion and needs. They can be more direct, and this may insult the Chinese, which they think it is rude. The Chinese tend to keep the bad things unspoken, communicated in a non-verbal manner and hope that the other party will understand, for the sake of harmony among people and respect for others. This is largely in contrast to what others in the Western world behave.

Theory #5: Diversity can be a source of competitive advantage, depending on how the issues of differences are being tackled or perceived in a team or organization. Diversity can be a controversial topic to be discussed. There are both advantages and disadvantages to diversity, and both of the arguments are correct and real. As simple as a small group discussion, diversity can create more barriers in effective communication. The diversity will cause the work progress to be slow and sometimes even resentment feelings among the team member. However, on the other hand, diversity can enhance creativity and a variety of ideas. The solutions for a particular problem can sometimes be very creative due to diversity. It is very important for people to learn how to manage diversity.

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