Primary and secondary research

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This section presents the findings from the primary research and the secondary research. The findings from the primary research i.e interviews and questionnaires are discussed in detail, followed by a brief description of the findings from the secondary research (literature review) that has already been studied in detail in the previous chapters.

Analysis of primary research:

Interviews: The interview with the store manager has been very useful for obtaining the answers for the study. A detailed description of the circumstances that they face has been obtained. The interviews from the line-managers have enabled the author to get a complete understanding of the dilemmas that they face.

From the questionnaires, the author has obtained information such as, the dependence attitudes towards work on culture, the acceptability of the cultural variance at work place, satisfaction of employees, dependence of nature on the ethnicity etc. The questionnaires have also provided the statistics of problems faced by the managers due to cultural diversity of the workforce in McDonalds.


The culture of a person is the attributes of that person (Parekh, 2006). Rijamampianina & Maxwell (2002) have found that the characteristics that are imbibed deep are most difficult to change and those that are most visible are most easy to change.

As postulated by Rijamampianina & Maxwell (2002) that the centrality and the visibility of values depend on each other, the managers have also identified some values to be imbibed deep that they cannot be changed, while few can easily be modified. They have found that understanding the foreign culture is very easy but understanding the language and the speaking is not that easy. They have also found that the nature, ethics and values are imbibed so deep that they are most difficult to change.

Attitudes and perceptions of culturally diverse workforce:

Due to a variety of cultural backgrounds from which the employees come and their attitudes, the combinations are numerous, thus their perceptions vary (Ricaud, 2006). From the questionnaires it has been found that 46% of the employees think the attitudes of the employees vary depending on the cultural background.

At the start of the study, the author had a view that the attitudes of employees towards the cultural diverse workforce differs with the gender. It can be seen from the above table that most of the statistics for males and females are the same. Most people who agree that attitudes towards work vary with ethnicity are men.

The manager thinks that with the culture even the attitude towards work changes. He has observed that foreign employees are more committed and hard working than the local employees. He also mentioned that their dedication towards work is also more. He thinks his Indian and Polish employees are very hardworking.

Importance of training:

From the interviews and collected questionnaires it has been found the most of the managers at McDonalds have not received enough training to deal with the multicultural workforce. Most of the managers feel that they have learnt more from experience than the training that they have undergone. It was also observed that most of them feel that training could have helped. There are also some managers who think that a cross cultural training is not required because, the attitudes of people is hardly influenced by the national culture.

Problems faced by managers due to cultural diversity:

There are many problems faced by managers at McDonalds, but almost all the managers feel that communication is the main problem that they have faced. Most managers find it difficult to communicate their ideas through to people of different culture. They also find it difficult to understand what some people say, because of their accent.

Language barriers:

Language barriers become problems in cross-cultural environment. The problems caused due to language barriers at McDonalds will be described in terms of visible and invisible problems as portrayed by Handerson (2005) Employees find a difficulty in communicating and interacting with the others due to the language barriers between them. Due to a language barrier, many visible and invisible problems are caused at work place. The managers at McDonalds opine that all the problems caused between the employees are due to a lack of proper communication amongst them.

Visible problems:

Some problems that come up due to language variation in a culturally diverse work force are very visible. Some examples are grouping of people who speak same language, reduced or lack of interaction between the employees or a communication gap among the employees. These examples are discussed in detail in this section.

Grouping is a very common event that takes place in a cross-cultural environment (Toggenburg, 2005). People who speak the same language form groups and start ignoring the others. The reasons behind grouping could vary, the reasons discussed in this sections are the ones identified by the mangers at McDonalds where the study was carried out. It has been found that most people who group among their fellows who speak same language because of the familiarity of their language or a difficulty to understand a foreign language. It has been identified that most of the foreign employees at McDonalds face a problem understanding the accents of the locals and the local employees find it difficult to understand the foreign way of using the words.

When people who speak the same language work on a shift, they tend to speak in their native language (Hopkins, Hopkins, & Gross, 2005). Due to this, the others feel left out alienated and sometimes might be offended. This not only happens with the foreigners but also with the natives. The natives (locals) tend to talk among themselves usually due to a not just the professional ties but also the personal links that they develop.

In most occasions, when the foreigners were speaking among themselves in their native language, the managers and other employees who do not understand that language felt offended. The managers have also observed that some customers felt offended when the foreign employees working in the front counter spoke in their native language.

The manager, in the interview mentioned an instance where he was working in the kitchen and four Indian employees working along with him. All of them started speaking in their language and the manager felt grouped out and alienated. The manager mentioned that if it was some other employee who did not know the language he would have felt the same way, and many of his employees had complained the same, most of them felt offended. In occasions like this, the manager had faced a major ethical dilemma as to what is the best action that should be taken, because they cannot ask people to speak only English. Because there are many employees who work in McDonalds that cannot speak English properly. The author has also mentioned this in the Methodology chapter because she had to get some one to translate her questions so that they could understand better.

However it sometimes becomes essential for a manager to group his employees to get the best performance. The manager had to group his employees who work on the night shifts because the some managers and employees were not getting along well together. The manager says, "It might not be the best thing to do, but that is what we do". This is another ethical dilemma the manager has faced.

Communication gap and misinterpretation is created between the employees due to improper interaction between them as also observed by Cockrill (2006).

The managers have noticed that foreigner employees faced problems of expressing themselves (Scase, 2006). They have also discovered that some of the foreign employees could not understand the local accent. Foreign employees, who could not speak and understand the local accent well, faced an inferiority complex and had a difficulty in expressing themselves confidently. This is one of the reasons behind the communication gap created between the employees. The inability to interact properly with the colleagues causes misunderstandings, misinterpretation and thus communication gap.

The manager gave an example of an instance where a foreign employee and a local employee had a problem communicating with each other, they did not understand each other and it caused a communication gap between them. The local employee was working on the front counter taking orders from the customers and a foreign employee was working in the kitchen preparing food. The employee on the front counter asked for an order to be prepared as soon as possible. But the employee in the kitchen could not hear and understand it properly, he thought the order had been cancelled and did not make the food. In the mean-while because the food was taking too long, the customer started to lose his temper. On that occasion, the manager found that both the employees were not at fault but a misinterpretation and a communication gap formed a base to this instance. The manager was placed in an ethical dilemma; all he could do was ask the local employee to speak slowly and the foreign employee to listen more carefully the next time.

McDonalds being a very busy and noisy store, it is necessary for the people working to shout for the orders so that they are heard. When the managers shout for the food, it is often misinterpreted by the employees as yelling at them. When the store is very busy and the foreign employees do not understand what they are trying to say the line-managers often get frustrated, yet can not do anything.

Reduced of interaction between the employees is an issue that comes up in a cross-cultural environment mainly due to an inability to understand each other (Ferraro & Cummings, 2007). When people think the opposite person is not able to understand what they are trying to express, the enthusiasm to speak reduces. Most of the foreign employees in the store cannot understand the local accent properly due to which most of the local employees and managers do not interact much with the foreigners. The same is true with the foreign employees; they tend to speak among themselves.

A reduced interaction in the organization limits the process of knowledge sharing and innovation (Kandler & Laland, 2009). The work atmosphere improves maximum when all the employees work together and interact among themselves. One of the key aspects of a group work is interaction, if the interaction between the employees is reduced, the work place does not seem enjoyable anymore. A hostile situation can be easily created in such an environment. The managers feel that the interaction among the employees is less when people from different cultures work together. While some managers feel that, a reduced interaction helps them do more work. When they are free, because they prefer not talking, they do some work instead is what they feel.

The manager who felt that reduced interaction is a bad sign for a work place mentions a circumstance where they had faced problems due to a reduced interaction among the employees. The employees go through a process where they are rated according to their work by the managers and employees. A foreign employee whose work is usually very good was given a very poor rating. When the store manager tried to find out from the line mangers the reason behind it, he found that the employee did not interact well with his colleagues and managers. The store manager says that interacting well with the colleagues is also a stem of the job because not all the employees work in the kitchen, interacting with the customers is one of the important jobs of the employees at McDonalds. The manager had faced a major ethical dilemma as to what should be done with the employee whose scores were rated low only because of his inability to interact well.

Invisible problems:

The invisible problems that rise due to a multi-lingual work environment are not necessarily completely invisible, but the root of these problems seems different to the person watching.

Perceptions of people from different cultures vary (Balkin, Schiosser, & Levitt, 2009). The perception is the way in which a situation is viewed by a person. It is not necessary for everyone to perceive a situation in the same way as the other (Leveson, Joiner, & Bakalis, 2009). The author observed that all the managers do not perceive things in the same way. When the questionnaires were distributed and interviews of the managers were taken, even though all the managers saw language as the main problem, some managers said it just takes some time for either of them to adjust, while the others said they faced a major problem putting their ideas through. These managers asked to be scheduled to avoid the foreign employees as much as possible, not because of any personal feeling but they wanted to avoid any kind of misunderstandings in their shift.

In a multi-cultural environment, it is possible that even the personal attributes are perceived as the cultural ideals and principles (Sahin, Nijkamp, & Rietdijk, 2009). In such cases the managers faces issues as to what should be done. The manager mentioned an incident where a line-manager was accused of being a racist because she was doing her job. In McDonalds every employee should wear a hair-net and no jewellery is allowed (for quality control). An employee wore a chain for work, and the manager asked her to take it off; the employee lost her nerve and started accusing the manager of being a racist. The store manager called for both the employee and the manager separately and listened to their versions of the story, he had told the employee that it was against the rules of the organization to wear jewellery to work and he would talk to the line manager about it.

Customer service that is the most important part of the job becomes difficult with the foreign employees (Kongsompong, 2006). Most of the customers can not understand the foreign accents, due to which taking wrong orders becomes a common problem. Almost every manager said they have faced this problem. Taking wrong orders and getting complaints from the customers is very dangerous as it could become a stamp on the organization. The store is open 24/7, so in the nights quarrels (between the customers and staff) are a very common issue for the managers. The managers working in the night have got acquainted with calling the police and dealing these kinds of issues. In a meeting with the police officials to reduce the rate of disputes, the officials had proposed to the manager to have less or no foreign employees in the front counter (taking orders and giving them) in order to reduce the conflicts. The police officials said that most of the differences were ignited due to foreign staff serving the customers, the employee does not understand what the customers are trying to say and because of the alcohol consumed by the customers they get aggravated at the staff for asking them to repeat their order. Some customers claim that they have placed different order and they have been given some other food. At the meeting the manager got furious at the police officials for discriminating his employees, but when he thought about it, he understood that it was a fact. But he thinks it would not be a fair on the foreign employees if he distinguished them from the local employees. It is one of the crucial ethical dilemmas the manager has faced.

Prejudice is something the manager has observed in most of his line managers. The managers tend to build up a prejudice about the foreign staff and act according to that. The manager says, "It can't be changed, it is in the mind". It is not only the managers, sometimes even the foreign staffs tend to have a prejudice about the managers. In such cases it is very natural for a misunderstanding to occur. But these kinds of problems can not be avoided. The manager says, they find it very difficult to deal with such problems because it is not easy to soothe this kind of situation. Neither the employee nor the line manager would be right, but if they are pointed out, it makes the manager look wrong and rude.

Communication style changes with the person, the culture might have a large impact on the way they communicate. But it does not necessarily rely on the culture in which the person belongs. One of the managers says, the nature of the person is what matters and the culture hardly has any influence on the work or attitude of the person (Barinaga, 2007). She believes that acquiring knowledge of the culture in which the employees belong would be of minimal help.

Increase in issues between the employees becomes common with an increase in language problems. Reduced enthusiasm to work becomes common if the employees are not friendly with each other and working in the place becomes difficult for them (Wu & Chiang, 2007). If these conditions prevail a hostile work environment is created, which in turn lead to conflict.


A conflict takes place when there is a disagreement of ideas or misunderstandings (Wouters & De Meester, 2008). The manager at McDonalds feels that a communication gap is where a conflict arises most of the times. There could generally be many other reasons but, at the store a lack of communication is the base to most of the problems. They hardly face any issues with conflict and they do not see it as a potential problem in the future as well.

A conflict could occur not only between the employees but also the managers or with the customers. There was an occasion when a customer ignited a conflict with the employee (Indian) and the customer started swearing at the employee. The employee called the manager, and the manger called the police and asked the customer to leave the store. After the incident, the employee who was a part of the conflict came along with 3 other Indian employees and told the manager he was not happy with the action taken against the customer. The manager was placed in a situation where he felt offended. He had done all he could do, yet was found at fault.

Ethical dilemmas faced:

Apart from language and conflict, there are many other problems and ethical dilemmas faced by a manager. Some of them are discussed below:

The manager says it is not very easy to satisfy everyone (Wu & Chiang, 2007). But in the process of making all the employees and line-managers happy, the managers are seen to be at fault by the employees and line-managers. So the biggest ethical dilemma the manager faces is if he has to go by the rules or feel empathetic towards his employees and line-managers.

He says that some of his line-managers are very directive in their approach. No matter what, they make sure that all the work is done rightly and on-time. This approach to getting work doe is very good, but most of the employees think he is very rude to them and do not like to work for him. Some of the employees perceive the line-manager to be a racist. The manager knows that he is not wrong but it is inevitable.

Another line-manager (Polish) on the other hand is very hard working but does not give orders effectively, due to which the work does not progress as efficiently. The manager thinks she has very good work ethics but she is not a good leader. All the manager can do is to ask her to be more dictate at work. He adds that it is her nature and it can not be changed. Even though the work does not progress effectively, no action can be taken against this line-manager because of her work-ethics. The manager says it is necessary for a line-manager to develop leadership qualities to manage a multicultural team well (Lim & Zhong, 2006).

There are many employees who work in McDonalds who can not even understand English properly, yet they are allowed to work because of the efficiency of their work. They have excellent work-ethics. But the problem comes when these employees have to interact with the customers; the customers get frustrated when the employee is not able to understand what they are trying to say.

The managers have observed that giving away free food is more common in foreign staff than the local staff. Fraud prevention is an issue in a multicultural environment (Reddick, 2008). He was thinking if it was an ethical thing to do in their country (wasn't sure though). These employees could be sacked as soon as they were caught, but they were warned and left. These employees have been working for the store from a long time and are very hard-working people. The manager did not want to lose some hard working employees. He said it is not always possible to go by the rules. It is an ethical decision to be made by the manager.

Inspite of all these problems why does McDonalds employee foreign staff? Most of the applicants that apply to work for McDonalds are foreigners. The reason behind this is not perspicuous but the manager has observed that, the foreign staff is more motivated and hard working than the local staff. These are the prime reasons for recruiting foreign employees.

Solving the problems:

Toledo's (2008) rules to solve a conflict without allowing the cultural disparity to come into the frame of action are:

  1. to solve the problems as quickly as possible
  2. avoid taking emotional decisions
  3. talk only to people who are involved
  4. listen
  5. plan
  6. do not give charge to anyone else; Solve it yourself.

Building relationships is the key to making a cross-cultural a team work (Leitner, 2008). That is what most of the managers at McDonalds have been trying to do. Managing a cross-cultural team is not an easy task.


The researchers in Australia have deduced after a study that, a mere understanding of cultural diversity and its roots will be of minimal help unless the procedure is implemented collaboratively in all levels of an organization (Syed & Kramar, 2010).