With globalization in full swing, cross-cultural training is a necessity in the modern day world. The aspect of diverse culture in the business environment ought to be taken as a serious issue. Inability to understand and contain diverse culture in a business environment is critical as it can result into a diminishing business environment. Qualified decisions must be made as to the best cross-cultural training programs that an organization should adopt. There is no adequate research on this. This research study aims at establishing the adequacy of cross-cultural training by outside institutions such as universities in Chinese business environment rather than in-house cross-cultural training programs. To get the results, a comprehensive literature review was conducted. It was foun that cross-cultural training offered by outside institutions in Chinese business environment is common. This is due to the fact that China has unique cultures and in-house training on culture does not present sufficient opportunities for success. This study is essential as it serves to provide information to businesses not only in China but in other parts of the world regarding the best way to offer cross-cultural training to reap the benefits of the presence of diverse cultures in a business environment.
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Cross-cultural training is a phrase commonly used to define a form of training that is offered with an aim of highlighting the difficulties and problems faced in working in a cross-cultural context. In addition, cross-cultural training teaches both skills and methodologies necessary to overcome such difficulties. With globalization in full effect, cross-cultural training in businesses is indispensable. Since globalization took effect, the traditional way of business operation and communication in businesses has been dispensed. Indeed, in the modern day world, it has become exceedingly common for staff in a particular country to regularly deal with clients, colleagues or even suppliers in another country over such communication mediums as emails, telephones or even video conferencing. While people from different regions in the world may work for one organization, possess same knowledge and skills or even work in the same industry, the manner in which each individual works, interacts and does business may be characterized by vast differences.
Therefore, when working in a multicultural context, having the appropriate professional skills and understanding personal and colleagues' cultural make-up is indispensable as it helps avoid business failure and misunderstandings given rise by inadequate cultural sensitivity and competence. In the Middle East, especially China, businesses have increasingly realized the need for cross-cultural training. This follows after research identified that doing business in the Middle East presents formidable cultural challenges. Therefore, businesses in the region engage themselves rigorously in this aspect to ensure that their businesses operate effectively. A significant number of businesses in China tend to use outside institutions such as universities to conduct such training. Therefore, this paper aims at establishing the extent to which Chinese businesses use outside institutions cross-cultural training.
In a review of 228 multinational companies in China, Solomon (1994) found out that all the companies had well-designed cross-cultural programs for expatriates, which were administered not only before but also after the individuals left their home countries, if they wanted their expatriates perform successively oversees. In addition to this, Solomon (1994) established that out of the 228 multinational companies studied in China, 167 offered cross-cultural training to their expatriates through expatriates. Most of the companies studied used outside institutions such as higher educational facilities where professors, especially those specializing in business fields, offered cross-cultural training to the expatriates of the respective companies.
In his study, Adler (2001) identified that cultural differences in the Middle East are too essential to be ignored or even denied. Adler and Bartholomew (1992) assert that the use of outside institutions by businesses with an aim of helping employees learn about different cultures is very essential. They further contend that higher education facility educators, who in most cases, have a high level of knowledge and skills in handling cultures owing to their education levels and experiences, facilitate and diffuse cultural synergies. Indeed, facilitation and diffusion of cultural synergies is considered to be an essential and a critical economic success factor. Forster (2000) supports this by indicating that employing the use of higher education faculties in a business organization's cross-cultural program is very essential as it serves to assist business expatriates adapt to living, as well as, working conditions in their host countries.
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Brewster (1995) sampled a total of 24 multinational companies in China. In the sample, 12 of those companies exercised cross-cultural training on their own while 12 of them employed the use outside institutions such as University professors to facilitate cross-cultural training. The researcher found out that the multinational companies that conducted cultural training on their own was insufficient, incomplete or simply non-existent. On the other hand, those that utilized the services of outside institutions were better placed in terms of business success since such aspects as misunderstandings within the business had been eliminated and thus an improved performance.
Shumsky (1992) identifies that those companies that fail to provide cross-cultural training in their businesses through outside institutions often do so since they have no international experience. In addition, such businesses assume that offering such training through such institutions is a waste of business' financial resources and not a necessity. Such businesses opt to offer cross-cultural training on their own without employing the use of other people with adequate knowledge and experience on the field. This is indeed, suicidal for a business since in-house training cannot render adequate cross-cultural training, considering that it is a very broad issue and thus requires professionals to offer training on it.
The culture and behavior in China is unique and many researchers identify it as an integral aspect of the Chinese language. For a business to be a success in the Chinese business environment, it is a mandate that a business first understands the customs and the context of the Chinese business. The requirement for this is adequate knowledge of the business culture in China. The Chinese higher education board has introduced a system where the curriculum addresses the diverse needs of cultures in China. This means that the educators who offer education on cultures are well versed with cultural knowledge, skills and experience. In Chinese educational facilities, students come from different backgrounds and thus diversified cultures. To ensure that there is no conflicting nature of education, the students are offered education on the best way to live and study as a unit irrespective of the cultural differences. This is done by cultural training versed professors. The business environment in China is no different from educational facilities. Therefore, since higher education facility professors are well versed with knowledge, skills and experiences on cultural differences and coupling with their levels of education, they are seen as the best people to offer cultural education in the business environment.
In his study, Tung (2002) suggested that the best and the most effective cross-cultural training in the Chinese business environment need to be specific and one that puts a stern focus on a particular population and situation. This can only be offered by outside institutions. The researcher further indicates that it is for this reason that it is logical that multinational companies, as well as, organizations in China provides their employees with specific cross-cultural training, which deals in important details about the Chinese population, as well as, project management issues by employing the services of outside cross-cultural training facilitators. Cross-cultural programs offered by outside institutions tends to put an exclusive focus on the specific culture, religion, as well as, on the manner in which laws, leadership and ethics can be covered.
The reviewed literature in the literature review section highlights the practice of cross-cultural training in Chinese businesses. The common characteristic of the reviewed literature is that they endorse the essentialness and the need for outside facilitated cross-cultural training in Chinese businesses. However, the literature has served to reveal the inconsistency attributable to approaches adopted by prior researchers to access the extent to which businesses in China use outside organizations in offering cross-cultural training to employees. This section aims at presenting the essential logic of utilizing outside institutions in offering cross-cultural training in Chinese business environment with an aim of permitting empirical research with accord to stable criteria.
The presence of diverse cultures can exist to affect the manner in which employees perform in a company owing to the difficulties evident in attempting to adjust to the new business environment. Indeed, this affects them both psychologically and emotionally. The presence of diversified cultures in a business environment especially in China, whose cultures are unique, can surface conflicts between employees. As a result, employee performance worsens and ultimately, the business underperforms.
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The strategic observation that cross-cultural training should be offered by outside institutions is well informed. As it is affirmed in the reviewed literature, incorporating the use of training services from outside sources promotes the formulation of customized strategies necessary to help in responding to the challenge emanating from the presence of diverse cultures in business environments. The Chinese business environment is perceived to be a complex one and this implies that calculative strategies, mostly offered by outside institutions, are necessary if at all there is a need for employees to become empowered.
The development placed on employees to enable them thrive in contrasting cultural setting in a business environment is necessary considering the dynamics of the modern-day world. Simply put, while the current wave of globalization is on an increase, diverse cultures persist. This affirms the need for employees to have multicultural knowledge. This is not a matter of simply cross-cultural training but one offered by outside institutions, which are better versed with the cultural developments. Organizations in cultural diverse environments such as China cannot manage to distance themselves from this aspect. Therefore, it is necessary to incorporate such form of training into its management strategy.
The following recommendations are advanced by the paper as a way of increasing the management's role of providing cross-cultural training within organizations in China.
Make cross-cultural training a priority. The management should ensure that it cultivates the culture of multi-cultural training, whether offered by outside institutions or not. This will empower the employees and give them knowledge regarding how to be successful in inter-cultural business environments.
Liaise with higher education facilities offering business related courses and arrange for a session where the employees of the company can go and learn on cross-cultural training. This is particularly advantageous as the employees will have the chance to interact with the institutions' professors who will offer exclusive education and training on understanding, interacting and working in diverse cultures in a business environment.
Ensure that outside institutions cross-cultural training facilitators are fully supported by the company. A company ought to give support to the facilitator by way of allocating adequate staff, financial and time resources in order to ensure that the program is run successfully. In addition, all the required materials for training should be availed.
Periodic training sessions at the convenience of the outside cultural-training facilitator ought to be organized. The aspect of culture is characterized by a significant range of dynamics, which serve to give a business a new shape on almost a daily basis. In other worlds, attributes of culture keeps on changing regularly and this affects a business on a daily basis. Therefore, periodic cross-cultural training offered by outside institutions is necessary to make good of these changes.
In summary, cross-cultural training by outside institutions should be an integral aspect of the top management of businesses in areas characterized by diverse cultures. This is particularly necessary to ensure survival and success of a business. In reality, an in-house cultural-training program is not adequate and does not help. Indeed, it may make an organization become a chaotic system thus resulting into severe repercussions to the business.
This paper reported a pattern of cross-cultural training in Chinese business environment and attempted to address the pattern from the managerial perspective. In the process of doing so, the bodies of science of cross-cultural training's concept were reviewed. The objective was to provide a coherent view of the extent to which the outside institutions are better placed to offer cross-cultural training to employees in the Chinese business environment.
Going into the future, adequate research on cross-cultural training by outside institutions should be conducted to enable businesses in diverse cultural business settings establish the best practice when it comes to cross-cultural training.
This might be perceived as an unnecessary task. However, given the current wave of globalization, such research is necessary for the survival of businesses. However, these research studies ought to further examine the models used in cross-cultural training in relation to the habits of an individual when introduced to foreign business environments. If this is done, knowledge of effective strategies for cross-cultural training would lead to an increased business performance.