As globalization becomes a world trend its impact has led to an ever changing environment diminishing business boundaries as people move from one country to the next searching for business opportunities. Business nowadays require more than just a good expansion plan but must ensure they understand the areas they intend to operate in. This has seen a rise in the need to understand cultural factors for better implementation of business strategies. This is in particular with the workforces of the countries. Therefore mutinational organizations must understand their cultures form national level to organizational level and how it impacts on their communication. This report tries to investigate culture and its importance in communication of business strategies.
The research focused on finding out characteristics of two cultures to find out which factors affect the communication of business strategies. The two culture were Egypt and Burundi. The research was based on dimesions of culture from (Hofstede 1980) and (Hall 1976). The research will give insight into the cultural considerations a multinational organization must look into to have effective communication and understanding of international business strategies.
The research was done through four semi structured interviews conducted with employees from the communication departments of the two companies. The interviews were based on their own national cultures and the cultures of their organizations. The research revealed more similarities than differences in the communication styles and culture of Egypt and Burundi. The differences were mainly in from recent events that have seen the cultures shift. These were based on globalization and local happenings which saw values change. However the majority of the core values and basic assumptions have held strong which continue to dominate most aspects of how communication is done.
The major results indicated that cultural similarities and differences affect communication and being knowledged about them can be a great advantage to organizational communication. The research also identified barriers that occur in communication from communication barriers, behavioural barriers, work specific and other barriers. However it was concluded in relation to the theories of Hofstsde there was a shift in culture possibly due to the impact of globalization, even if the impact appears to be low. Recommendations given were on training to gain intercultural competence through knowledge and awareness, having a flexible attitude and realizing language as a barrier. Other recommendations touched on the need to learn and change organizational culture in particular realizing it existence and how the environment an organization operates in has an impact on the culture. The information culture was also given recommendations to change as it appears to be non existent too.Other information was discovered that does not have a link to how culture affects communication but rather may themselves influence a culture, which is still has an impact on understanding of international business strategy.
More companies are realizing the benefits of going global. The more increase in globalization the faster the environment changes. The requirements of
multinational organizations has continuingly increased the need to understand the cultures of different countries. This research intends to investigate the influence cultures in a multinational organisation's communication. Understanding intercultural factors is crucial to effective communication to effective communication. For international organisations this will assist in the success of communication business strategies (Hofstede 1997).
Telecel Globe Limited is a multinational telecommunications organization based in Egypt which has recently acquired four operating companies in Africa The telecommunication industry in Africa is in an emerging phase, however competition is very high (ITU 2010) hence the company intends to have Telecel Globe Limited being known for successfully operating in 4 countries in Africa. As part of achieving this unified name they intend on having a unified standard of processes, marketing being one of these. The company recently rebranded in Burundi where their marketing strategy met some challenges.
In this light of we intend to investigate the organisational communication problems faced by Telecel Globe from a cultural perspective to give light on what may have caused these problems.
1.3 Significance of the Problem
Cultural influences in business have become a major concern, and an understanding of the influence in international business is helpful in examining many diverse problems faced when communication across cultures. Africa is often assumed to have one culture. A better understanding of the differences in countries cultures and business environment will assist in success of future intercultural business initiatives.
1.4 Research objective
The issue of culture influence was examined in order to make recommendations for improvement of communication of business strategies between Telecel Globe Limited in Egypt and its operating company in Burundi, by providing an understanding of its environment by testing the hypothesis that culture and business environment impact on international communication of business strategies.
The intention was to answer the question what constitutes the characteristics of the two types of cultures including the environment of Burundi that affect communication of business strategies?
1.5 Definition of key terms
We will define communication as the dynamic process of encoding and decoding verbal and non-verbal messages within a defined cultural, physiological, sociorelational and perceptual environment. (Nueliep 2009)
Is defined as deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization that operate unconsciously an organization's view of its self and its environment. (Schein 1998)
This occurs when a minimum of two persons from different cultures meet to exchange verbal and nonverbal symbols (Neuliep 2009)
Describes an ongoing process by which regional economies, societies, and cultures have become integrated through a globe-spanning network of communication and trade. (Cheney et al 2009)
In this chapter we will give an overview of research approach, the choices of research methodology, the data collection techniques and how it was collected, the source, how data was analysed and the limitations.
2.2 Research approach
There are two types of research approaches deductive and inductive. Deductive reasoning is more narrow in nature and is concerned with testing or confirming hypotheses. Inductive research works the opposite by observing in order to arrive at a new conclusion (Saunders et al 2009). For this research we used the deductive approach.
We used semi structured interviews. These allowed for the researcher to prepare questions in accordance with the topic and allow the interviewee some freedom in answering the questions (Saunders et al 2009). The interviews were conducted over the phone and then questions were sent by email for further clarification.
2.4 Data Collection
There were 4 participants in this study, 3 men and 1 woman. 1 of the participants works for Telecel globe, 1 for leoâ„¢ in Burundi. There were two experts one who is a consultant for telecel globe in accounting and the other a consultant who has been working for a while at the Burundi office.
Desk research was also done on both Egyptian and Burundi cultures. The study will employ the use of books, journals, and articles. We also used theories from Hofstede and Hall.
Each participant was interviewed on their individual cultures and on organisational culture. Confidentiality was emphasized. The researcher then analysed interviews according to the answers received from each responded under the cultural dimension under investigation.
When interviewing, there was a limit in that on the email and telephone one cannot see the reactions and behavior of the respondents which would have been very important for research. (Saunders et al 2009.)However due to time, money, and distance face to face interviews were not possible.
Data was analysed according to answers given in the interviews. The data will be applied throughout the report through comparison of the results to the current theories. This will be to gain an understanding of cultural influences on business processes. Please see Appendix B for the interview summaries.
This chapter presents the findings of the research on national and organisational cultures of Burundi and Egypt. The aim is to discover how these influence communication between the two organisations. This analysis is to arrive at intercultural challenges and the relevance of intercultural communication theories in today's world. For the purpose of this report dimensions of Hofstede and Hall were investigated because after
reviewing all the models the most thorough coverage of appropriate dimensions and
concepts for a work-related intercultural communication study is provided through
these dimensions. Please see Appendix A for review of literature on dimensions of culture.
The respondents were
B1- Burundi Contact
B2- Burundi Expert
E1- Egyptian contact
E2 Egyptian Expert
3.2 National Culture
3.2.1 Power distance
Hofstede did not research these countries individually, however he placed Egypt under Arabian countries with a score of 80, which is very high and Burundi is in East Africa and Hofstede gave that area 64 in power distance. The respondents share the acceptance of the existence of unequal power. Authority is to be respected. Respect was identified by all of the interviewees as a way to show acceptance of the other's power. E1 indicates that the respect shown to seniors can be spotted by the use of language, using polite or formal words when interacting with his seniors. B1 in particular prefers to address people in authority using their titles as acknowledgement of their status. A slight variance comes in that both feel even though people in the higher position have greater power but everyone still has the right in showing their opinions. This clearly differs from Hofstede's dimension which sees people from power distance entities as unquestioning.
Under this dimension, Hofstede scored Egypt at 38 while Burundi is at 27 according to hofstede scores these are pretty low with world average at 43. Based on the responds from the interviewees, most of them shared a common view in seeing working with others as a more effective approach in day to day lives. E1 and E2 agree there is tendency to encourage collectivism in working as a team and prioritized teams before oneself that is even if one person makes a mistake the whole team is responsible. In social lives they see family as having to be included in all decision making. B1 agrees with collectivism only to a certain extent. A team is made up if individuals who work together to achieve a goal. Should a team member falter and the mistake is their own, they should bear the consequences alone. However there is contradiction in that socially B1 feels collectivism is inevitable, the society and your family are really important when making decisions. This means for B1 the dimension varies situationally. Overall the interviewees reflected Hofstede's scores.
Most Egyptians are open-minded toward dealing with men or women. E1 and E2 indicated females are given equal opportunity in their careers. However, E2 raised that in the past females were treated differently in both career and education, their roles were more submissive to the males. Socially it appears people live in modesty and being conservative, this indicates femininty as a social dimension. This has a slight conflict to Hofstede who under the dimesions scored Egypt at 52 masculinity which is slightly above world average of 50.
Hofstede scored east africa at 41. In burundi gender equality is mandated by law, but in society the tendency has been for men to be given precedence over women. However this is changing as important roles traditionally reserved for men are being transformed. Burundians are now considering education as a quality for awarding employment creating spaces for promoting gender equality. B1 indicates women can now hold all types of jobs without disturbing workplace relations. This is clearly in line with Hofstede's original score.
3.2.4 Uncertainty Avoidance
Hofstede scores Egypt at 68, according to hofstede scores this is high. Egyptians as people are more concerned with rules or formalities. When asked about rules and behaviour, the respondents clearly indicated rules are made to be followed and one should always be truthful irregardless. East Africa is scored at 52. After 15 years of civil unrest burundians feel change is welcome. B1 when asked about rules believes one can follow them though if necessary can bend them unless the situation calls for strictness. These dimensions clearly match with hofstede's scores.
3.2.5 Long term Orientation
Egyptians have were not scored by hofstede however it appears they are long term and oriented as they have a large respect for tradition and fulfilling social obligations. E1 indicated to Egyptians quality family and social experience than is more important than the task of earning a living. Burundians have become less projecting toward the future and planning ahead. The present moment is what counts. B1 and B2 feel they feel and live in the present moment and therefore make the most of everything that comes along. This is quiet opposite to the score of 25 by Hofstede.
3.2.6 High context
Typically Egyptians have been placed as high context under Hall's dimension. The respondents confirmed this. E1 prefers to maintain harmony in communication by avoiding certain issues as sex, religion. E1 also prefers email as a mode of communication with repeated messages back and forth. This allows for one to do many tasks at once without having to concentrate on one thing. As a result E1 is also very polychronic. Egyptians have a saying "why do today what can be put off til tomoro? E2 confirms time is open and flexible.
Most African countries have been placed under high context, in responds to this however B1 reflects low context. Preferring shorter communication through telephone conversations and messages are blatant and clear. B1 prefers to be highly organized. B1 is monochronic, scheduling and co-ordinating activity through a set plan with priorities. Time is of the essence B1 indicates not to procrastinate. In burundi People who respect time or deadlines are well liked and respected. B2 confirms persistence and precision is required for anything that relates to time. In social spheres however tomorrow may sometimes really mean the day after tomorrow.
3.3 Organisational Culture
The above dimensions have an effect on the organisational cultures as evidence by interviewees. Organisational cultures presented here are in relation to the formulation
and communication of international business.
The company is majority owned by an Egyptian multinational corporation Orascom which has been operating since the 1998. The subsidiary Telecel Globe was formed in 2008. As a subsidiary of Orascom, Telecel Globe iS controlled by its owner. This means that Orascom has a stake in all the strategies that the subsidiary embarks on. TG operates from Egypt, this means that the majority of the work force is Egyptian, hence the influence. All the E1 agrees that the organisation is hierachial. The business is situated in Egypt which generally has a high power distance as indicated by the discussion on national culture above. With the CEO at the top followed by different chiefs under him (CCO / CTO / CFO / Legal / Business Development / PMO), followed by manager and then under each the employees that constitute that department this is a long chain. It appears to take time for information to be passed down. Their culture of information sharing appears to be a priviledge for the few. E1 states information is released as and when needed.
The Burundi organisation was originally owned by TV. It has been operating since 1985 and TG had 59% ownership. In 2000 TG sold the company. However upon restructuring they acquired it back in the May 2008 from the Indian Company global vision limited. Burundi has gone through a series of the different cultural leadership. This means the organisation's culture is quiet complex. B1 stated that the organisation's culture is confusing and complex. The organisation also has a hierarchy, indicating high power distance. CEO, Directors, Managers and then employees. This clearly indicates the influence of culture of the environment that the company operates in. In connection with communication culture within the organisation there seems to one of information hoarding B1 indicates that the most information employees receive about business strategies of marketing in particular is the number of subscribers reached.
3.3.1 Business to Business communication culture
There appears to be no cohesion in how communication is done between the two businesses. The head office has no idea about the processes and the culture of the office in Burundi. Information concerning projects is generated from the head office Telecel Globe and distributed to other organisations. Research is also done from there and strategies formulated from this research are sent out to the operating countries with some input from the managers. The frequency of the communication between the two Egypt and Burundi is unclear as the contact E1 confirmed it to be on a daily basis, where as the contact B2 advised it is from once to three times a month.
According to E1 Telecel Globe has fair knowledge of Burundi business culture and environment B1 however says they have little awareness of the Burundi culture and environment. When asked about the Burundi office's knowledge of their culture E1 has no clear position on how the Burundi office understands their culture and processes. B1 states the Burundi office is largely unaware of processes of TGL while the reverse is also true.
3.3.2 Strategy Formulation
When it comes to marketing strategy formulation marketing strategies for Burundi are formulated by the local Burundi managers. According to E1 marketing strategies are done at the head office in Egypt will formulate strategies for the group to all the other countries, with little involvement from those countries and pass it down to be implemented that would apply to the whole group however are formulated by Telecel Globe and discussed with local managers. Business decisions and strategies are discussed by the top and only filtered to the bottom where necessary. In Burundi B1 advises strategies are formulated and confirmed at the top, then implemented.
3.3.3 Burundi business environment.
According to B1 the general business environment is characterised by growth and stability. The telecommunication industry in particular is in high competition. With 5 telecommunication companies, 8 million people and less than 1,5 million subscribers. The factors in the environment,that are affecting the smooth running of marketing and other business strategies are led by politics. After 15 years of civil war, the country is recovering with peace and stability. However the locals are still sensitive about politics which is very controversial and divides people. People are somewhat suspicious and anything that slightly connects to politics is resisted.
Even though investment has increased the socio-economic environment for innovation and telecommunications in Burundi is still crippled by extreme poverty. However it appears to be changing due to the rise of a national development strategy for ICTs. The cultural environment includes institutions and other forces that affect the basic values and behaviors which has seen the business and marketing strategies hindered in limitation of the media mix to use while communicating to the stakeholders.