A Study into Problems of Managing across culture


The report gives a profound idea about cross cultural management. The purpose of the report is to make a detailed study on the need of cross cultural understanding & problems of cultural differences. It also to focus on different methods that could be used by the mangers to manage culturally diversified staff. In addition to that a study is made on the role of anthropological applications in cross cultural management.

The information is collected and summarised from the secondary source of data i.e. the internet URL.

The report points out the need of understanding the culture to sustain in the dynamic global scenario. It also throws light on the necessity of management training for the managers which enables them to manage the staff from different cultural backgrounds. The impact of cultural barriers like language, dialect, social norms, values& beliefs, attitudes etc. on business has been discussed in the paper.

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To put it in a nut shell, the awareness of cultures in which management practices are carried out is important to avoid miscommunication and misinterpretation. Anthropology based training has been found to be helpful in cross cultural management as it involves collaboration of experiences of participants.

2. Term of reference

a) Scope and necessity of cultural understanding:

An Individual's culture is defined as "sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another"( American Heritage Dictionary, 325). Global marketing presents a tremendous opportunity but is also a challenge. To succeed in these markets, sales managers and sales teams need to understand how such factors as geography, culture, technology, and legal systems impact on business. The subtlest of these influences is culture because we each perceive our own culture as normal and are puzzled when we meet unexpected behavior that stems from different cultural standards. By developing cross-cultural awareness we can begin to understand different perspectives, to adapt our own behavior so that we respect local cultures, to suspend judgment of what is normal or better and, using this knowledge, adapt our sales campaigns and business interactions to specific localities and situations instead of assuming that one approach will work everywhere. . Any sort of failure to interpret culture might cost heavily. Cultural misunderstanding makes people result in offensive behaviour of others. So it's necessary to have the knowledge of the culture one is regularly concerned with directly or indirectly. It implies that cultural understanding from view point of managers is important.

b) Aim of the report:

Purpose of the report can be summed up as follows.1) This paper discusses the need of cross cultural understanding. It paraphrases the barriers & misunderstandings that might arise while dealing with the people from different culture.2) It is also endeavoured to incorporate possible ways to overcome the problems faced by the managers during managing across cross culture.3) This paper also tries to assess the role of anthropology in cross cultural management.

C) Limitations of the report:

The topic requires a detailed explanation. The word limit for the report was limited to1500 only.

Research methodology:

The research was carried out using secondary data. The information was gathered and organised from internet URL


In today's global economy almost all managers are involved in some form or another with the global management.A global manager is someone who works with or through across national boundaries to accomplish global corporate objectives.Inherent in this definition is the assumption that many-if not all-of these managers work with people from differing cultural backgrounds and, as such, must somehow accommodate or respond to these differences. Also inherent in this definition is the recognition that some of these cross cultural interactions may be across countries with fewer cross cultural differences than others. Indeed some of these cultural differences can be found within a single country.

After all, succeeding in today's demanding global economy requires a greater degree of international and cross-cultural communication and collaboration and cooperation than ever before. Increasingly companies must think in global terms, as national and even regional companies are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. In this environment, successful managers bring a depth and breadth of understanding of how to capitalize on cultural differences in ways that enhance both corporate goals and employee welfare.

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Business deals are often affected by the approaches to the negotiation. These approaches are the result of espoused values possessed by the parties involved in the deals. Companies might have to pay heavily if cultural distinctions are overlooked. Any failure to read cultural signs might end up in loosing important deal or contract.

Companies go global through modes like contract manufacturing, management contracting, licensing, franchising, joint ventures (JV), mergers & acquisition, partnership etc. At all these stages managers have to deal with the clients or staff from different culture. So it becomes necessary for managers to go through the formal or casual training of cross cultural management. This can be initiated by identifying six specific multicultural competencies for global managers viz. cosmopolitan outlook, intercultural communication skills, cultural sensitivity, rapid acculturation skills, flexible management style, cultural synergy.

But updated training is required to sustain in the global competition. It is also important to note that there are few companies & consultancies that believe in imparting training because it's trendy and not because it is necessity (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/300d8cea-c1f4-11d9-866a-00000e2511c8.html#axzz1FAy24JJL).

Thus it is observed that training of cross cultural management is indeed important.

Available evidence demonstrates that cultural differences can at times play an important role in accounting and financial practices in different regions of the world. Global managers that do business across borders and understand how accounting and finance practices differs- or simply know that they do differ- are in far better position to negotiate contracts, manage partnerships, and build working relationships with both customers and partners around the world.

Anthropologists in cross cultural management:

To support managers and organizations operating in an international context, anthropologists have explored new directions in cross-cultural management by making managers aware of practices of (cross-cultural) collaboration. The interest is not so much in gaining knowledge of other (national) cultures but rather on spaces and boundary objects in which cross cultural collaboration in daily organizational life takes place. Recently a large project management firm had asked help to anthropologists to manage their large diversity of workforce. The company had employees of more than 35 different national cultures working in complex projects. Instead of training the management on all these cultures they studied collaboration practices at the work floor from a socio-material perspective which includes spatial settings, materiality and social behavior. The French anthropologist Latour called this symmetric anthropology. We found that engineers and project employees of both the company and the client gathered around so-called "roller boards". These are tables that can roll and have large paper drawings of installations on them. Around the roller board 6 different professionals' stand, hang and are bending over the drawings. In debating which objects had to be left out, changed or added, each of the 6 professionals got time to explain their view, experience, perspective. If agreed upon, different colours were used to materialize the debate and colour the drawings on spots were the debate was on. The manager was surprised as he wanted to replace the roller board by a computer system, which would have ruined this efficient cross-cultural collaborative practice. In this way anthropologists can deliver knowledge and advice that are not given by traditional cross-cultural consultancy firms.

. Alfons Van Marrewijk reports in his article that most of the organisations across the world are using multi value based training methods. These methods are derived from the theories professed by people like Hofstede and Trompennars which are oversimplified and stereotyped as they look at every culture as a fixed object that can be manipulated. However Alfons believes anthropological tool are more holistic in approach as they do not oversimplify the very institution of culture rather they believe in collaborative approach. He opines that one can't just categorise different cultures or ethnicity based on theories that differentiate them by specific set of values. He thinks just understanding the information about culture is not enough rather a manager should collaborate the experiences & use the international sensitivity. He also states that anthropological applications are not that largely in practice because of inability of the anthropologist to make their ideas sellable & this is the reason why most of the consultancy and organisation use trendy methods based on multi value theory. (http://culturematters.wordpress.com/2009/02/28/anthropologists-in-cross-cultural-management/).


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To conclude it can be said that cultural understanding is necessary to be globally competent. It gives an edge over competitors, helps to sustain in the dynamic environment. It is also important to have the global cultural understanding to be able to manage & motivate staff from different cultures. It helps in expansion and entry into new market; new partnerships, mergers & acquisition etc. Corporation can't afford to lose a deal, an important client, talented employee just because of cultural barriers which include difference in language, dialect, body language, values, customs & norms, habits etc. So the need to understand the cultural differences and to impart apt training to managerial staff holds importance.

There are various methods for cross cultural management which are being used globally. Each one has its own pros and cons. But it all depends on the extent to which an organisation is exposed to the global environment. Those who are confronted with dealing with staff and customers from other culture more than often, needs more intensive training and knowledge of the cross cultural management. Cultural presentation, leaflets, computer aided training & on the job training are few methods that can be used to train managers.

Anthropological approach can be used in cross cultural management training effectively. Unlike multi value based methods it believes in collaborating international sensitivity & experiences of trainees into work practice to avoid cultural barriers. But it is also worth noticing that these tools are not as popular as methods based on theories of multi value models because anthropologists are not good at selling their concepts effectively.