Literature review importance education essay
In recent years there has been a drastic change in the pattern of the work force where there has been a lot of involvement of the multicultural people in various organisations. So every organisation had started concentrating to improve their essential skills through various training programme (Sabo, 2000). During this process they recruit, train and promote from global labour pool (Herr, 1990). Moreover there has been tremendous increase in the number of the minority enrolment in the organisation at different levels. So every organisation is more focused to get prepared to learn and work with different people with different cultural background throughout the world internationally. In order to understand and to cope up with different people employees are provided with needful training programmes as well as strategies. And in these training programmes much focus is given over the conflicts in the cross-cultural relationships (Sue and Sue, 1990). Difference in these learning styles can act as a hindrance to the training programmes. Apart from these there are certain internal factors like self-esteem and attitude which will act as barriers during the training work area (Field and Aebersold, 1990). Moreover internal personal relation skills are the most general skill which is provided in every training programme (Greenan and Winters, 1991). And these skills are inter-related to each other and their impacts over the training programmes are immense.
Cross cultural management:
There has been significant increase in the cross cultural interactions among people and organisations because organisations are trying to prosper and develop globally in order to become earn more profit. (Alder, 1983, 1991; blunt and Richards, 1993) stated that the importance of International Human Resource Management has been increasing in terms of academic and practical aspects. (Black and Mendenhall, 1990) argued that cross cultural training is an effective way for facilitating effective cross cultural interactions. In old days, multinational companies used to focus on only one dimension while selection of an employee for foreign assignment and that is technical competence without considering the effects of interpersonal skills and relationship skills (Mendenhall et al., 1987, Miller, 1973, Tung, 1981). Cross cultural management deals with selection of candidates for international project,
Cultural training Models:
During these training the trainers use few words like training and orientation which are very frequent in their educational pattern. Orientation means getting acquainted with the surrounding environment or situation (Batchelder, 1978). orientation is characterised as who, what, when and where approach regarding their preparation period but in training every individual learns practically about the environment, learns the required skills and approaches depending upon the situation. Finally they become so potential and capable enough that start performing well in those new environments effectively. There are various models which are used by the trainee to train the students. These are some of them.
(Bennett, J. M. (1986) “Modes of cross-cultural training: conceptualizing cross–cultural training as education”. International Journal of International Relation, Vol. 10: 117-134
Table. : Models used in the cultural training
Cognitive affective behavioural
Cultural specific (who, what, when and where)
Cultural specific (who, what, when, where, and how)
Cultural specific cultural general (who, what, when, where, how and why)
Source: Bennett, J. M. (1986), pp.121
Various cross-cultural training theories:
(Fiedler et al., 1971; Mitchell et al., 1972) stated that there are four different types of teaching- learning theories are most effective for cross cultural training and these are:
Cognitive assimilator theory:
This is also called as the ‘Class room’, ‘University’ Model (Harrison & Hopkins, 1966). Here it is believed that the cognitive understanding is essential for effective performance because here the participants learn the things with their interest towards the learning. Fiedler et al. (1971); Mitchell et al. (1972); Landis et al. (1976); Randolph et al. (1977); Worchel and Mitchell (1972); and Weldon et al. (1975) designed and developed this theory to assess the knowledge of candidates regarding cultural difference and their impact on their performance while performing work in a different country. This theory involves preparation of short incidents that describe the interactions between sojourners (someone visiting or living temporarily in given country) and host national (native of given country). So, the candidates are divided into groups and each group has to study series of multicultural incidents collectively. For each incident, candidates used to get various multidimensional questions and they have to choose one option based on their knowledge and preferences (Parhizgar, 1998).
It is a cross-cultural experiential training program. It includes five types of processes and these are :
Attention: candidates are required to have deep and close concentration on some particular events. They have to notice some key things only and ignore others. However, some cultural values do not require close attention because these values are quite similar to candidate’s own culture values.
Selection: the trainees have to select some particular kind of cultural values, beliefs and behaviour patterns to be learnt and analyzed.
Detachment: it includes finding of cultural values, beliefs and behaviour patterns that are quite different from trainees own culture in order to learn effectively other culture in simplest way.
Emphasize: the trainees has to give more attention towards certain parts of selected cultural values in order to deeply understand the basic functioning of that culture. It also helps in analysing the emotive power of images which varies according to individual’s own perceptual values.
Variety and contrast: if trainees find that the new cultural environment is extreme and visible in the same way as their own culture, then trainees do not able to learn significantly. So, to learn effectively, trainees have to see or hear the new culture from different way otherwise similarity causes them to lose interest (Parhizgar, 1998).
(Bandura, 1969; Sims, Jr., & Gioia, 1986) stated social learning theory which argued that to understand the behaviour of a person we need to study person’s social and intellectual environment. It consists of taking trainees to field trip to a different country to observe and analyse the cultural patterns directly. This theory comprises of eight components namely:
Observation: in the simplest way, trainees can watch and record events on the basis of their observation. (Moorhead & Griffin, 1990) described various forms of observation that trainees are free to use and important ones among them are – structured observation, participated observation and hidden observation. Structured observation involves look after of particular type of events by the trainees to learn on particular area. In participated observation, trainees have to actually participate in the events and record the meaningful effects in their dairy. Inspection and observational recording of the events without the pre and post knowledge of observers play an important role in hidden observation.
Attention: this process helps in determining the selection of events that is required to extract important information from those interactions. The factors that may change or disturb the trainee’s attention are – position, interest and analogy of the model and the repeated availability of the modes (Black & Mendenhall, 1990).
Perception: (Zalkin & Costello, 1962) stated that a person has to gone through series of processes to understand information about modelled cultural behaviour. It also helps in increasing the awareness of person regarding its knowledge of modelled cultural behaviour.
Apperception: the process of embedding or incorporating new concepts into one’s own culture – habits, desires, interests and values is known as apperception. The manmade instruments like cultural traits are responsible for generating particular types of psychological responses in human beings. The observer has to show desire and interest in order to understand the order or nature of thoughts of other cultures.
Retention: (Black & Mendenhall, 1990) stated that the process by which we can incorporate modelled or desired behaviour as memory is called retention.
Innovation: it is a process which helps us in the explanation of new things or concepts in terms of general and specific characteristics, common values and principles. It also plays an important role in challenging the existing knowledge as well as to discover the new concepts.
Adaptation: in the simplest form, adaptation means is to make adjustments effectively to know the cultural environment, factors behind the environment change, and how people able to new concepts by means of acculturation.
Behavioral modification: it means the interpretation and utilisation of new learned cultural behaviour and values that is to be embedded in the person’s own culture. It is the process of conversion of behaviour of a person to understand the other culture in deeper way.
Modem humanistic cultural training theory is concerned with two main types of teaching learning phenomena. One consists of cultural philosophy: ethics, morality, literature, poems, religion and other distinguished fields of inquiry such as metaphysics (cosmology, ontology, and causality), epistemology and axiology. The second consists of related human ritual activities, modes of collective cultural perceptions and experiences in creativity, productivity, or performing arts and those involved in perceiving, appreciating, using, enjoying, evaluating, managing, teaching, and preaching values dealing with it. This theory presents a challenge to the trainee’s philosophy and free ways of understanding. It is founded on the theory that learning occurs primarily through reflection on personal experience. The work of a collaborative group of trainers-multicultural trainers-is not to put anything in the mind or repertoire of the trainees, but to extract views from the trainees’ own sensational and rational insights and experiences. It is a deductive and dialectic teaching-learning approach. On the basis of trainee’s experiences, trainers explain stimulated statements, then trainees make new connections in a composite formation. Both teaching and learning processes are inductive in terms of reasoning, assertion, visualization, reflection and generalization of the facts. A humanistic approach is manipulated neither by trainers nor by trainees. It is the natural flow of approaching and experiencing with highly motivated techniques (Parhizgar, 1998).
Integrationist approach: Research suggested that to enhance the success of person who is going to work in a different country in terms of performance and personal satisfaction, person has to go through acculturation. Berry (1997) proposed a theoretical model to attain acculturation easily and effectively is by means of integrationist approach. This approach is quite different to separation, assimilation and marginalisation. The organisation has to encourage their employees who have been selected for an international project to take or follow above said approach in order to understand new culture by means of acculturation. In this approach, candidates are asked to retain or memorise their own culture as well as to learn new concepts and values related to the new culture (Abbott et al., 2006).
Downs (1970) explained four types of training models for cross cultural issues:
Intellectual Model: this model comprises of lectures and reading materials about a culture that is different from person’s own culture and it is based on that the exchange of information regarding new culture is helpful in living in different culture.
Area Simulation Model: this model is generally referred to as culture specific training program. These training programs are based on belief that an individual has to get special training regarding the culture he/she is going to enter. These programs mainly involve analysis of future behaviour of an individual for particular situation in the new culture.
Self Awareness Model: this model is based on assumption that to understand a new culture, it is vital for an individual to first understand the person from the different culture. To understand person, means understanding likes, dislikes, behaviour, social values and norms of that particular person.
Culture Awareness Model: (harris and Moran, 1991) stated that to work effectively and strongly in another culture, an individual has to learn the basic or general behaviour principles that is accepted by the society with respect within that type of culture.
Developing Cross-Cultural Management Skills : Experiential Learning in an
Generally, there are two major types of training programs that are used by organisation in order to give training to their potential employees to learn some new techniques and strategies and applies the already learnt techniques for smooth and proper functioning in a different country. The first type is culture general and other type is culture specific. Both types of training programs have distinct features and characteristics. (fiedler et al., 1971) designed and illustrated the oldest, culture specific approach which involves forced choice answers of people from one culture who are being received training in respect of other culture. The aim of culture specific training program is to give general information regarding new culture to employees so that before actually going to a different country, they enable to do some preparation to deal with cross cultural issues. This type of training approach is preferable when an individual is often going to one particular country. On the other hand, as organisation starts working hard to become a global player to earn more money, then the focus of the organisations begin shifting towards culture general training program (David, 1997).
Parameters of cultural differences:
In the past, lot of researchers and anthropologists have been tried to define culture and the distinguish feature that constitutes culture. The study by Hofstede( 1981, in Hofstede. 2001) explained the difference between cultures on various parameters namely - collectivism vs. individualism, high power distance vs. low power distance, high uncertainty avoidance vs. Low uncertainty avoidance, masculinity vs. feminism and long vs. short term goals. The detailed description of above said parameters is given below:
Individualism vs. Collectivism: It is the degree to which a human is bound under societal norms and values while making any decision. In an individualistic culture, people have been encouraged or supported to make their own decisions to live their life without consulting their decisions with others. On the other hand, people in collectivist culture have been encouraged to make decisions in groups and always support team work.
High power distance vs. Low power distance: it is the degree to which the power of making decisions has been allocated in the society. Generally, people with high power distance always give importance to hierarchy in making vital decisions while people with low power distance give authority to every individual to take part in decision making without following hierarchical order.
Masculinity vs. Feminism: it is the extent to which a society allows the individual to take part in working culture on the basis of gender. In a masculine culture, men considered to be working harder than women while in a feministic culture, women are also given equal opportunity as compared to men to live their life.
High uncertainty avoidance vs. Low uncertainty avoidance: it is the degree to which an individual is encouraged to work in a challenging or unpredictable environment. In high uncertainty avoidance, people prefer to work under strict rules and formally structured ways of doing work. While in low uncertainty avoidance, people prefer to work freely and like to devise new ways of doing things and challenging the past ways.
Long vs. Short term goals: it is the degree to which a culture given importance to timeframe to learn something new. People with long term goals, characterised by patience, emotional stability and anxiety and they prefer working in such a way that they will be able to deliver a better future. On the other hand, people with short term goals always focus their attention to make their present better than past without considering the impacts of their decisions on future.
Advantages of cross cultural training:
To increase the knowledge and experience of employees to enhance their understanding to seeing the world from wider perspective.
To maximize the cultural sensitivity.
To learn how to avoid misunderstandings based on cultural differences.
To learn how to communicate verbally and non-verbally with colleagues in other cultures.
To increase the flexibility of the employees to adjust in different culture.
Hence cross-cultural training can be seen as a tool for improving the corporate culture and practices by constantly learning through induction of foreign nationals in the organizations. Further the cross-cultural training will help to reduce the psychological stress and cultural shock which often lead to failure of expatriates.
Major Cross cultural issues:
The study by Hun and Jenkins (1998) mentions following issues for the cross-cultural training:
Different aspects of time like punctuality- The time factor here involve two dimensions that are punctuality and relationship dimension. While in some cultures like USA starting and ending on time are very important in others like South American countries that may be considered exceptional. Some cultures prefer to take time for relationship building, which may not be acceptable at all in others. Hence cross-cultural barriers related to time need to be taken care of.
Linguistic barriers- The English are being used for most transactions but then usage of English tends to change with the country contexts. For example the pronunciation in India is significantly different from the American way. Secondly certain terms may have different meaning in different languages; hence context also plays an important role. In case of countries with different language the expatriates must be trained in opening dialogues and discussions with the help of translators.
Different business practices, like conduct in meeting and unstructured and open discussion. Hofstede’s (2001) dimensions like power distance can play an important role in situations like conduct during the meetings. In cultures with lower power distance the employees may tend to call their bosses with their first names while this may be impossible in cultures with higher power distances. Hence, developing a firsthand knowledge about the practices is very important.
Cultural stress (ambiguity and difference of perceptions) - The training should also involve methods to counter stress and to interpret situations. The expatriates will have to understand the situations on their own and then form perceptions. The training should avoid any kind of stereotyping where trainees may be lead to believe certain things about any culture. The culture may broadly explain value system of a community or country but every individual is different. Hence any individual with a pre-formed notion about the culture will be shocked to see people different from his beliefs leading to lot of confusion and stress.
Body language and greetings- The way emotions are expressed in the various cultures may differ, for example the face expressions and hand gestures may convey different meanings in different culture.
Communication: It is basic skill in today’s business world and fundamental part of any relation. Presentations, meetings, report writing and customer contact are the major elements of communication. It occurs in two ways among the people namely oral and written. Both ways have unique features and characteristics. Employees working with people from different cultural backgrounds have to be given special training in listening, verbal communication and writing patterns. Listening is the most difficult skill to acquire because it needs a lot of attention. Poor listening results in misunderstanding as well as show disrespect and hence often create miscommunication between the employees. For proper flow of information and to achieve the desired targets within certain deadlines, foreign employees have to work hard to improve their level of communication. In terms of written language, foreign employees often wrong apply the verb, tenses and hence disturb the structure of English language. So, team members consider those employees as often unclear or unable to think appropriately for the completion of objectives. The weaknesses in listening, speaking and writing of foreign employees play vital role in impacting the reputation of those employees and local people consider those employees as technically less competent (Thompson, 1990).
Different opinion and view: Foreign employees think that they have to work a lot harder than expected as compared to the local employees in order to adjust efficiently and effectively with the working environment due to language barrier. They have to work not only on maintaining good working relationships with every member of team but also to enhance cooperation among team members (Thompson, 1990). to overcome these various coping strategies were introduced in the learning programme through intercultural education (Hughes, 1983).
Cultural gaps: To reduce the gaps i.e. difference between attitudes of local and foreign employees, organization has to build some strategy and give training to employees regarding vital aspects of their working objectives (Thompson, 1990).
Personal Characteristics of the Expatriate
Researchers have recently begun to examine individual differences variables to explain why some expatriates adjust more successfully to cross-cultural environments and exhibit higher levels of overseas performance. Specifically, these researchers argue that CCT effectiveness may be a function of individual differences. Furthermore, it is possible that individual differences may interact with training delivery in determining the effectiveness of CCT programs in influencing the success of the expatriate assignment. An example of the possible interaction between training delivery and expatriate individual differences is provided below.
Based on Mendenhall and Oddou’s (1986) profiles of expatriate acculturation, it is possible to determine which training techniques would be most appropriate for individuals exhibiting one of the seven acculturation profiles. In an attempt to predict which types of individuals would be most successful as expatriate employees, Mendenhall and Oddou developed taxonomy of acculturation profiles of expatriate managers. These authors hypothesized that three dimensions are critical to the acculturation process: self-orientation (SO) (the degree to which the expatriate engages in activities that represent concern for self-preservation, self-enjoyment, and mental hygiene), others orientation OO) (the degree to which the expatriate expresses concern for host nationals and desire to interact with these individuals), and perceptual orientation (PO) (the degree to which the expatriate understands the nature and reasoning behind host national behavior) (Mendenhall & Oddou, 1986).
Although the authors stressed that the individuals most likely to be successful on overseas assignments would be high in all three of these dimensions, they understood that it would be unlikely that an expatriate would be naturally strong in all three of these orientations. Thus, based on these three dimensions, (Mendenhall and Oddou, 1986) presented seven acculturation profiles: the ideal expatriate, the academic observer, the well-intentioned missionary, the Type A expatriate, the introvert, the ugly American, and the dependent expatriate. Each acculturation profile is based on a combination of the presence or absence of the three dimensions, and thus, based on the expatriate acculturation profile, it would be possible to identify which training strategy would be most useful in developing the dimension in which the expatriate was deficient.
For instance, according to the first acculturation profile, the ideal expatriate (+SO, +OO, +PO), the individual would be perceptive of the reasons behind host national behaviour, concerned with helping the host nationals and would engage in activities to reduce stress (Mendenhall & Oddou, 1986). Because this individual is already exhibiting high levels of all three dimensions, the only training strategy that would be useful to this individual would be repatriation training. Research has revealed that the individuals who adjust most extensively to the foreign culture often have the most difficult time adjusting on return to the home country (Hammer, Hart, & Rogan, 1998). Because it is obvious from the acculturation profile that the individual has successfully adjusted to the foreign environment, repatriation training would be appropriate for adequately preparing the expatriate for the experience of returning to the home country.
On the other hand, an entirely different training strategy would be needed for an expatriate exhibiting the sixth acculturation profile, the ugly American (−SO, +OO, and –PO) (Mendenhall & Oddou, 1986). An individual who could be characterized by this profile would exhibit high levels of self-confidence. However, this individual would possess low attributional and interpersonal skills and would continue to engage in home country behaviours inappropriate for the foreign culture (Mendenhall & Oddou, 1986). For this individual, attribution training, cultural assimilator, role plays, and simulations would be required to enable the individual to make correct attributions about host national behaviour, to aid the individual in effectively interacting with host nationals, and to assist the individual in learning the behaviours appropriate for the new environment. In an effort to use the acculturation profiles to improve training strategies, researchers and practitioners would need to use the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) to identify the expatriate’s stage of development (Bhawuk & Brislin, 2000). In addition, a needs assessment would need to be conducted to further isolate the dimensions on which the expatriate was deficient. Then, the acculturation profiles could be identified for the expatriate, and using the links established between profiles and training strategies in Figure 1, CCT programs could be designed using the seven acculturation profiles and accompanying training strategies.
Ideal Expatriate (+SO, +OO, +PO)
Perceptive of reasons behind host
Concerned with helping host nationals
Engages in stress-reduction activities
Highly adjusted individuals typically
have problematic readjustment
Academic Observer (+SO, −OO, +PO)
Perceptive of reasons behind host
Deals effectively with stress
Does not interact well with others
Unaware of host culture values
Build cultural awareness
Build cultural awareness
Practice interpreting situations
Type A Expatriate (−SO, +OO, +PO)
Good intercultural skills
Does not deal with stress effectively
Situation in culture are emotionally,
socially, and psychologically stressful
Reduces stress because understand
Practice interacting in a variety of
Introvert (+SO, −OO, +PO)
Does not interact effectively
Exhibits socially inappropriate
Simulations and Games
Learn culturally appropriate behaviour
Ugly American (+SO, −OO, −PO)
Low interpersonal skills
Low attribution skills
Engages in inappropriate behaviour
Learn isomorphic attributions
Learn appropriate behaviours
Develop interpersonal skills
Dependent Expatriate (−SO, +OO, −PO)
Good interpersonal skills
Inability to handle stress
Does not understand host country
norms and behaviours
Build cultural awareness
Build cultural awareness
FIGURE 1: Link between Expatriate Acculturation Profiles and Training Techniques
Defining key expatriate’s competencies:
The expatriates need to perform the same set of functions but in a completely different environment which can cause lot of stress to the person. The cultural stress will have significant impact on various aspects of the job related behaviour. Most of the expatriate failures are related lack of adjustment in new culture. Hence while defining the competencies for the expatriates human resource professionals also need to assess the soft skills of employees which will be handy in the new environment like tolerance of cultural difference, ability to adapt new culture and interpersonal relationships. The cross-cultural skills required for successful expatriate assignment can be listed broadly as (Hofstede, 2001):
The capacity to communicate respect
The capacity to be non judgmental
The capacity to understand relativity of one’s own knowledge and perception
The capacity to display empathy
The capacity to be flexible
Tolerance for ambiguity
The focus is clearly on the soft skills and emotional maturity. The people undertaking foreign assignments must be mature and stable enough to accept the existence of cultural differences. They should also be able to understand the context of various situations and happening, which calls for objective evaluation of a situation without bringing in one’s own biases and perceptions. The cross-cultural competencies have can be viewed as combination of three different dimensions (Black and Mendenhall, 1990) that are self-maintenance dimension (mental health, psychological well-being, stress reduction and self confidence), relationship dimension (ability to foster relationship with the people of host nations and perceptual dimension (perceptions of host nation’s culture and its social systems.
Thus perceptions have been given an important role in defining competencies. Most often employees tend to make perceptions based little information they receive through the media or stories. This leads to general stereotyping causing formation of wrong notions about the host culture. The employee should instead form opinions and beliefs related to the host nation only after spending considerable amount of time over there. The events which are used to form these perceptions should be seen in depth using the back ground information like social value system, political system and cultural values. Only then a clear picture of host nation culture will emerge. The employees on expatriate assignments must be able to decode various verbal and non-verbal ways of communication used in the new culture and work in unstructured and ambiguous situations (Demers, 2002).
The expatriate employees should have capabilities to deal with alienation and isolation, willingness to communicate and empathy for people of other cultures (Mendenhall and Odou, 1986). The competencies required for expatriate assignments have been classified under categories of stable and dynamic competencies in the paper by Sullivan (1999). The author has broken the dimensions proposed by Black and Mendenhall (1990) in stable and dynamic components.
Hence the employees should have the ability to question the perceptions and resolve conflicts arising out of the cultural differences. The stress management skills have been given importance because the cultural differences and lack of proper socialization along with cultural shock causes stress on the expatriates. The stress might also arise from living at a distance from the family.
Defining intercultural competence:
Ruben (1989, 233-4) stated that there are three components of intercultural competence: building and maintaining relationships, transferring information and acquiring acquiescence. All the above three competences depend heavily upon the individual’s attitudes, knowledge and behaviour. The main literature interprets cross cultural adjustment as multi-dimensional while the latest view divides these competencies into work adjustment, interaction adjustment and general adjustment (Black et al., 1990).
To determine the intercultural adjustment capacity of an individual, we have to study three variables: self dimension or self oriented skills, relationship dimension or relationship skills and perception dimension or perceptual skills (Black et al., 1991). The self dimension skills are those by which an individual is able to maintain its psychological well being, mental health and self efficacy. Self efficacy is the ability of an individual to have faith in oneself to work effectively in a strange environment, even when the level of uncertainty is high. Research also supported that individuals with high level of self efficacy, like to show new behaviours that they learnt without giving importance to success or failure. Relationship skills help an individual to build strong relations with people that are entirely different from his own culture. (Mendenhall and Oddou, 1985,1986) defined perceptual skills as the natural ability of an individual to analyse and interpret the strange environment in the way that is required to be perceived. Hence, (Gudykunst and Kim, 1984) argued that decreasing the uncertainty level is vital to intercultural adjustment and good relationship skills are important to minimise uncertainty.
Effectiveness of intercultural competence:
The factors on which intercultural effectiveness depends are: abilities, attitudes and traits (Hannigan, 1990). Abilities that help an individual in cross cultural adjustment are: interpersonal and communication skills, including listening skills. To initiate interaction, to speak other languages, to deal effectively with stress and ability to manage communication misunderstandings are also important. Attitudes that play vital role in intercultural adjustment are: cultural empathy, appreciation of other cultures, showing respect for others. Self-esteem, flexibility, tolerance, self-confident and maturity are some of the traits that help an individual in enhancing its intercultural adjustment.
Summary of Literature Review:
In the previous chapter, we discuss the brief outline of the research topic. The background, need, arguments and vital issues regarding the cross cultural training programs is also discussed. The types of training programs used be various as well as importance of each training program is discussed in detail to analyse the structure and foundation of each training program. Now-a-days, most of the organisations are giving more importance to culture general training program rather than culture general.
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