Ethnocentric approach polycentric approach and geocentric approach
Global organizations are those that sell or produce goods and/or services in more than one country. Toyota Motor Corporation is an ideal example of a global company since its automobile brands are available throughout the globe. This entrance into the global market requires an organization to buy and sell internationally as well as set up its operations in foreign nations. This brings about the task of managing human resources on a global scale which can present various challenges. Every country has its unique culture and the country’s people also have different beliefs and attitudes. This poses a challenge to human resource managers of global organizations. These human resource managers face the same set of challenges as those managing domestic operations. However, for global managers, the challenges are more difficult due to the differences in national culture.
The essential difference between human resource management on the international scene and that on the domestic front is the additional responsibilities and knowledge needed in foreign operations. Basically, these include language (especially in non-English speaking countries), the national and local laws and regulations governing the operations of the company within a foreign country, company incentives and benefits, the country’s currency and exchange rates, and the ethics and etiquette expected by the foreign business associates (Parry, 1979). Human resources managers in foreign nations need to understand these differences deeply so as to prevent embarrassing scenarios and unintentional affronts that would result in scandals and lawsuits that could cost the multinational corporations they represent.
There are three management techniques that multinational corporations employ in human resources management. These are the ethnocentric approach, the polycentric approach, and lastly the geocentric approach. An ethnocentric approach involves centering management on the home market. In such a management approach, suggestions from the company’s headquarters enjoy superior consideration compared to those from staff in the foreign branches. The polycentric approach entails looking at each market uniquely. Here, the local branches’ management positions are usually filled by local personnel. The geocentric approach has similarities to the ethnocentric orientation since it is the headquarters that have the power to hire managers. In this approach however, the managers are sourced from different areas of the world. The geocentric approach basically uses merit in employing personnel rather than nationality. This compels the managers to understand the cultures of the regions they are employed in so as to understand the attitudes, beliefs, and values of the people (Daniel & Radenbaugh, 2001).
As a manager in a multinational corporation such as Toyota, one will have to manage a much diversified workforce which has many challenges. A diversified workforce has its advantages since having people from different cultures interact and share suggestions will lead to varied perspectives regarding opportunities and threats to the organization. But whenever there are advantages, disadvantages must exist. The job as a manager is to maximize these advantages and reduce the corresponding limitations. As a manager, the important thing to note is that the understanding of every employee’s unique way of working is required. One can understand this by learning every employee’s values, attitudes, and beliefs.
Resource management requires an understanding of the employees’ personalities and abilities (Stevenson, 1999). As a manager, one has to focus on the employees’ abilities, especially every employee’s special abilities, since taking advantage of these abilities by structuring the work process around these abilities will lead to effectiveness and efficiency. This requires a deep understanding of the Japanese culture. To have a comfortable environment in the workplace, one needs to respect the culture engulfing almost all the company’s employees. Culture is not easily altered since it has deep roots among members of any society. Hence, as a manager with Toyota based in Japan, one will need to successfully study the Japanese culture as well as the culture in the organization so as to make the two compatible. This will be beneficial to the company as it will incorporate the Toyota corporate culture deep in every member of staff leading to the development of a positive social environment in the workplace.
As a manager, one also requires to understand employee behavior in order to gain a better understanding of their personalities, values, and beliefs. Workers differ in many ways, some are enthusiastic and more positive because of their personalities and as a manager, one will need to use communication and interpersonal skills to understand what is important to each employee and also what motivates them. There is also a need to do constant periodical job satisfaction surveys so as to provide good working conditions for the employees. Cases involving employees who lack enthusiasm in their jobs will require one to come up with different means to motivate these employees such as performance appraisals and pay based on performance.
One also needs to develop good relations with the employees since it is a fact that relationships are part of human coexistence. The key to develop a good relationship is to have good communication skills (Hyman, 1983). Lack of good communication in the workplace will work against the success of the company and as such, the development of an open communication channel will be required in order to effectively manage the human resources of Toyota Motor Corporation. Taking the aspect of being employed in Japan by the Toyota Corporation, there are many cultural factors that require special attention for effective human resource management, especially considering that the manager is foreign to Japan and its cultural practices.
Compared to the western nations where individualism in the workplace is the normal trend, Japanese culture contradicts this practice. The traditional team work principle holds great popularity and is considered to be very effective in Japan. This team work principle essentially determined the progress of Toyota Japan by making the company’s processes extremely effective. Given that this principle coincides with the way of thinking of the Japanese people, it has been easily assimilated by the staff (Yasuda, 1991). The enhancement of this teamwork principle to meet current conditions will thus result in a substantial increase in productivity and effectiveness from the company’s employees. This is very important to the company’s progress and international expansion.
Ethical matters make up the agenda in any organization (Jackson & Schuler, 2008). Being in a foreign environment, it is necessary as a manager to get a better understanding of ethical matters in the Japanese culture so as to effectively carry out the duties of a human resources manager. In order to avoid conflicts due to cultural differences, as a manager in a multinational corporation, one will be required to develop universal ethical principles to work hand in hand with a universal corporate culture to be used in all subsidiaries of Toyota no matter their physical location. These ethical principles will obviously have to accommodate the Japanese culture in a similar fashion to the team work principle mentioned earlier. Thus, the result of the integration of universal ethics principles with the local Japanese culture will provide an autonomous organizational structure which works in line with the multinational corporation’s principles. At the same time, this will develop an organizational culture that meets the requirements of the Japanese personnel.
Gender issues are also an important matter in human resources management. The Japanese culture has continually embraced the idea of women involvement in the corporate world and as such, for effective management of human resource, a manager is required to keenly look into how conducive the working environment is for female staff. Strategies to be employed in order to make this possible include enabling women to work and raise their children simultaneously, assisting the women employees build and advance their careers, and also reforming the work environment and employee awareness regarding gender related issues. Another strategy to employ with regard to women in the workplace would be the setting up of an on-site child care facility with a residential nurse. Such a facility will facilitate stress free working for mothers who have resumed work after maternity leave. This will not only help create a good image of Toyota to its female workforce but will also assist greatly with the organization’s strategy to attract more women to its workforce.
Language forms a small and yet big issue among cultural issues (Parry, 1979). In Japan for example, many Japanese are proud of their language and country. However, working for a multinational corporation like Toyota requires linguistic diversity among the staff for the company to succeed. As a manager, effective human resource management requires fluency in the local dialect, Japanese, as well as ensuring that the staff are conversant in both Japanese and English since being part of a multinational organization, the staff could be sent on assignments in various regions of the world and this will require people conversant in several languages. Fluency in Japanese and getting more familiar with Japanese culture will also be beneficial to the management since it will not only eliminate the culture problem but will also create a positive image for Toyota among the Japanese since the people will think that the corporation reserves the jobs for Japanese and only allows foreigners fluent in their language.
One major issue in Japan is the country’s high statistics regarding suicides. This Far East Asian nation has the highest suicide rate in the world. This is an issue that cannot be looked over by a human resource manager based in the country. Basic strategies such as job satisfaction surveys, mentioned earlier, will be essential to effectively control this issue in Toyota Japan but other methods need to be employed too. Provision of counseling and support services for the staff is a strategy I would employ as a manager in the company, with special attention been provided to employees going through trying circumstances that would push them to extreme psychological states. This will require development of a good personal relationship between management and the staff as highlighted previously too. Enhancement of the company’s teamwork strategy will also prove beneficial to this cause since a consensus environment in the workplace will also create a good relationship among the staff hence enhancing support for one another which is essential in countering issues like depression which contribute greatly to cases of suicide in Japan.
As mentioned earlier, knowledge regarding company benefits and incentives is crucial for effective management of human resources. This differs among cultures since some cultures value individual action while others value consensus (Robbins & Finley, 1995); the latter is the case in Japan where the team work culture is embodied. And similarly to how culture impacts on the decision making in projects, culture also impacts on when to start a project. While in some cultures the people celebrate after the completion of projects, Japanese culture facilitates celebration before the commencement of the job as a way to motivate the staff while also strengthening their resolve for the project. Personal knowledge and a high level of professional trust are required for this to be successful though.
Ensuring workplace safety is also important for effective human resource management (Jackson & Schuler, 2008). This will involve dealing with issues such as drug problems, spirituality, diversity, and offering employee assistance. This will also help counter the suicide aspect discussed above as well as enhance good employee relations which will translate into increased productivity for Toyota Japan. Setting up multiple sets of regulations and policies will be required to achieve this and this in turn will also require gaining knowledge in Japanese laws so as to maintain compliance to these regulations and policies with the country’s legislations.
Any multinational corporation faces challenges when people from different cultures interact. These challenges vary from differences in linguistics which affect communication to differences in attitudes such as the one highlighted earlier between individualistic driven employees in western countries such as the US and the popularity of the teamwork strategy in Japan. For effective management of human resources though, managers need to put extra effort to deal with these challenges. The only way to ensure this is for the managers to thoroughly learn as much as they can about the other cultures.
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