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Service oriented organisations, their structure, people and strategy are finding themselves immersed in an increasingly competitive global arena we call globalisation. Due to the complex interactions so synonymous with today's society, organisations over the last decade have moved towards Multi-National (MNC's) status where they are able to produce services on a global platform in order to remain competitive. Consequently it is becoming more important for HRM professionals to create new strategies which are best places to deal with changing political, economical, social and technological issues such as:
Unpredictable economic environment and transient work teams
Cultural values and differences, and integration of employees
Performance management and values
The growth of service industries over recent years due to globalization i.e. tourism and hospitality presents HRM professionals with a diverse workforce. Service sector business is renowned with keeping ahead of its competitors and anticipating future customer needs (http://www.trial.eunits.co.uk/html/tertiary_sector.html) therefore effective HRM strategy is essential to in order to remain competitive.
(Note to client: I have suggested tourism and hospitality sectors for you to study .i.e. culturally diverse and heavily affected by globalization; but it's your choice and obviously depends on the ease of being able to collect data. Other suggestions may be education or retail)
What will be the gain in knowledge?
The gain in knowledge which will arise from the above will present itself in the following ways:
Maximising synergy within cross-cultural teams to create efficiencies across the board offering a competitive edge within the service industry. As organisations move towards global service provision multi-cultural relationships become increasingly more important, therefore we will gain knowledge from using methodologies to exploit these synergies.
Developing new models for training and development which will enable service organisations to transform global threats into opportunities, develop motivational techniques in accordance to an individual's culture and to nurture a variety of leadership styles which support an individual's values.
â€¢ What theoretical issues will you examine?
Culture: By using Hofstede's theory of 'four cultural dimensions' which draws on distinct groupings of national character I will be able to identify distinct characteristics from each of these dimensions in relation to an individual's culture and therefore what makes a successful multi-cultural team.
Power Distance Index (PDI) - the extent to which lesser powerful individuals of an organisation accept, and expect that the power balance is distributed unequally. Represented by inequality following the notion that most societies are unequal, but some more than others.
Individualism (IDV) - versus Collectivism where each represent the measurement of how cohesive a society is. For example the former would be found within groups where individuals are independent of each other and synonymous with modern western culture. The latter is exhibited in societies which display strong cohesive bonds through loyalty.
Masculinity (MAS) - against Femininity which varies enormously throughout society and heavily influenced by culture and tradition. It is a measurement of masculine attribute at one end of the spectrum (assertive and competitive) to the opposite end of femininity (modest and caring). In masculine countries women are assertive whereas in feminine they are considered modest.
Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) - addresses the extent to which a society feels comfortable within unstructured and uncomfortable situations, where uncertainty accepting cultures possess a higher tolerance of opinions differing from their own.
Competencies & Skills; Barlett and Ghoshal (1990) posit that a 'multicultural perspective in training and development enhances a company's ability to operate effectively in different cultural environments'.
Woods (1992) presents a 'training cycle' diagram;
Assessment of needs of corporate culture and specific job tasks of employees..
Identification of training objectives;
Reaction-based - investigates how employees feel about the issue
Learning-acquired - examines how a trainee obtains knowledge
On-the-job behavior - analyzes the degree of behavior change after the training.
Results-oriented - measures the influence of training in improving technical skills
Creation of Proper training plan to include sensitivity training, orientation programs and communication competency programs (Cox, 1993; Gamio and Sneed, 1992; Tung, 1993).
Implementation of program; either on-the-job (supervisors) or off the job ( lectures and simulation)
Evaluation; Black and Mendenhall (1990) found a positive relationship between cross-cultural training and job performance, and proposed three indicators of multicultural training success:
cross-cultural skill development
By presenting this training cycle framework to chosen companies as part of my data analysis I hope to draw conclusions from its effectiveness at maximizing an individual's development.
â€¢ Based on the above, which are your research questions? Be as clear about these as possible.
I am ideally looking to explore:
'How can HRM assist in development of effective multi-cultural teams within service industries (using Hofstede's framework)?'
'How can cross-cultural skill sets and competencies be maximized within a service oriented organization (using the training cycle)?
â€¢ How are you going to address the research questions?
The first question will be addressed through the dissemination of the following questionnaire, taken from Hofstedes Different Cultural Characteristics (1991) within the workplace: This will be handed out to a cross-section of international service organisations of varying nationalities.
(Note to client; if this is too difficult then ensure that you have picked a number of known different nationality led companies within the UK; or at least with a diverse workforce)
Power Distance Index (small)
Hierarchy means an inequality of roles, distance societies established for convenience
Subordinates expect to be consulted
Ideal boss is a resourceful democrat
Power Distance Index (large)
Hierarchy means the existence of distance societies in equality
Subordinates expect to be told what to do
Ideal boss is a benevolent autocrat (good father)
Value standards differ for in-groups and Individualism societies out-groups
Other people are seen as members of some group
Relationship prevails over task
Moral model of employer-employee
Same value standards apply to all societies (universalism)
Other peoples seen as potential resources
Task prevails over relationship
Calculative model of employer-employee
Femininity vs. Feminine societies
Assertiveness ridiculed Masculinity
Stress on life quality
Stress on careers
Dislike of rules-written or unwritten avoiding societies
Less formalization and standardization
Emotional need for rules-written or avoiding societies unwritten
The second question will be addressed through the Training Cycle framework and will be handed out to a cross-section of international service organisations of varying nationalities. (note to client as above)
â€¢ How are you going to acquire and analyse the identified data?
Data analysis from the Hofstede questionnaire should be approached from the angle of:
Hofstede: i.e. do you think your organisation shows masculine attributes (oversell yourself, stress on careers, decisiveness) on a scale of 1 -5 (1 strongly agree / 5 strongly disagree: answer .......
Ensure that these questionnaire's go out to a proportionate sample size i.e. demographic factors (age segments, gender, ethnicity, religion (if so wish)
Upon retrieval data analysis can be undertaken using simple statistical analysis ( i.e. mean, mode etc)
You are looking to see whether there are significant patterns within an organisation which make it dominant in certain traits, thus you can offer recommendations on how to create the appropriate HRM strategies.
Data analysis from the training cycle should be approached from the angle of:
Finding out how many of your chosen organisations use this approach, and if so requesting feedback on its effectiveness regards maximising an individual's talent for you to analyze.
If they don't- would they prepared to undergo a small pilot study with a few select employees using the training cycle to test its effectiveness on employee's productivity etc?
Failing this - undergo your own training cycle experiment with a few of your peers and emulate a multi-cultural business environment and draw your conclusions from this
â€¢ Which organisations, individuals or sources will provide the necessary data? Any organisation within service provision; individuals who posses experience pertinent to the above; and relevant literature.
â€¢ Will the data be available in the depth required? Yes providing it is distributed effectively
â€¢ Are there matters of confidentiality? I do not foresee any issues with this as many organisations are only too keen to display their efforts towards diversity and communicate pro-active HRM strategies.
â€¢ What is your hypothesis?
'By understanding the cultural dimensions within a service oriented organisation and the different motivations culture brings to an individual. It is hypothesised that creating synergy within teams through acknowledge of these cultural factors will enable a competitive edge within the service industry in an increasing globalised environment'
â€¢ How will this guide the research?
The hypothesis will assist the research by ensuring it remains succinct and 'to the point' following the objectives set within it.
â€¢ How will you make adjustments following any changes in the hypothesis?
The only adjustments I foresee will be amendments to data collection depending on the effectiveness of the questionnaire.
Bibliography / Suggested References to be used
-Gahan, P, Lakmal, A (2009) 'What shapes an individual's work values? An integrated model of the relationship between work values, national culture and self-construal' The International Journal of Human Resource Management. London: Jan 2009. Vol. 20, Iss. 1; pg. 126
'Geert Hofstede Cultural Dimensions for International Business' available at http://www.geert-hofstede.com
-Hofstede, G (1980, 1984) 'Culture's Consequences: International Differences in Work-related Values'; Beverley Hills, CA: Sage, 1980, 1984
-Lee, C, Key-Sung, C (2000) 'An investigation of multicultural training practices in the restaurant industry: the training cycle approach'. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management. Bradford: 2000. Vol. 12, Iss. 2; pg. 126
-Mabey, C & Salaman, G (1995) 'Strategic Human Resource Management'; Cambridge, MA: Blackwell
-Porter, M (1990) 'The Competitive Advantage of Nations' London: Macmillan
-Shenkar, O (1995) 'Global Perspectives of Human Resource Management'; Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1995
-Warr, P (2008) 'Work values: Some demographic and cultural correlates' Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. Leicester: Dec 2008. Vol. 81, Iss. 4; pg. 751
-Woods, R. (1992), Managing Hospitality Human Resources, Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Motel Association, East Lansing, MI