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This report of cross cultural management on the analysis of different cultures residing in close proximity will discuss the differences and similarities individuals share belonging to different cultures and ethnicity.
It also highlights the facts about different cultures and the similarities which caused some troubles or helped during the entire course of PALS.
We spent quite a time during this complete course of PALS and experienced a lot of different incidents due to which we concluded lot of information about Pakistani culture as well as the fact that managing diversity in culture while working on any thing is difficult and requires expertise.
We had two major ethnicities in our group, Pakistani and Chinese. There were few similarities and little dissimilarity in both the cultures. If discussed with reference to the cross cultural theory of "Fons Trompenaars". With the five basic dimensions of the cultural model which depicts the way human beings deal with one another, the differences of Pakistani and Chinese culture we encountered will be discussed.
In the entire time during our PALS course, we had different conflicts with each other which we had to sort out but one thing that we all noticed was that all of us were comfortable in working as a team, though in the start the females took time in trusting on Shakoor and myself but once they were comfortable, we made a nice group which actually showed that all of us were used to of being a part of some team, group or a family. We behaved properly and tried to even subjugate our own feelings for the sake of harmony among the group members, especially the girls were peace makers. They most of the time used to communicate in a certain way that it never looked as if they disagree over something it always used to be something like "you are absolutely right, we should think about it" and later on a better time they used to present their own ideas which maintained the accord of the whole group and it felt like a family of five (5) members.
Cross Cultural Theory "Individualism vs. Collectivism
Individualism refers to the way of living which characterises people with their self as most important; it focuses on 'I' most rather than on 'We' whereas Collectivism refers to the way where the actions are based for the betterment of the whole group, team or community (Arrindell, Hatzichristou, Wensink, Rosenberg, Twillert,, Stedema, & Meijer 1997).
It was concluded from the above stated example that Chinese and Pakistani, both the cultures are collectivists. One Pakistani though but it was enough to conclude that he was more interested in group work, team and association with a certain group rather than working alone and getting credit for that.
Focus on Self
I being the leader of the group had to intervene and interfere in every matter of the group. The major feelings that I experienced during the whole session of PALS were very nice, it was a very nice experience overall, though with a little up and down. Being a part of majority Chinese based group I did not encounter much difficulty in the communication and interaction in the group yet I felt that when two persons belonging to a culture with high context communication, it becomes a little difficult to judge which way to go.
Shakoor, the Pakistani male and I myself were discussing about the Activity related to the implications of differences in cultures in the business management of any organization. During the whole discussion I observed that he never disagreed with me directly, wherever he might have had felt the need of disagreement he fell quiet and said something like "it is your opinion and I respect that" I observed that his way of communicating was high context based. It had two meanings and a person like me belonging to the same type of culture with high context communication was able to understand his way of avoiding any feud between the members. Therefore he always had an indirect way of interacting.
Cross Cultural Theory Applied; High vs. Low Context
The famous theory of High vs. Low Context Cultures explains that different cultures have different styles of communication. These can be categorized on the basis of the type of culture, it can be high context and it can be low context.
In high context cultures, the real meaning of the statement is hidden and embedded somewhere deep and is not clearly stated or written openly that everyone can understand it. People belonging to low context cultures face difficulty while interacting with the high context cultures (Hall & Hall 1990).
Low Context cultures are those where interaction and communication style is straight forward and simple. Whatever is said is meant in the same way, no double meanings can be applied to low context culture based communication (Kim, Pan & Park 1998).
The effects of PALS on My Personality
The PALS group was supposed to work in harmony and with coordination, one thing which I lacked before entering in to it. I being a dominant person in nature had to listen to everybody and then decide what to do, this made me realize that working in a team and group is far better than working alone because we used to have lots of ideas at one place and then we used to incorporate them in a unique way of our own with mutual consent of everybody. I learnt to work in a team.
Focus on Other Individuals
PALS was targeted towards learning the differences and the similarities of different cultures and to learn the best ways to deal with these differences and cash them for the benefit of the community and if working in an organization then for organizational goals.
Once we all members were sitting and were chatting, nothing related to the studies or the PALS, it was then that Li Ran asked every one of us to join her on dinner. We all accepted it except for Shakoor, the Pakistani male; he apologized and said "some other time". In our Chinese culture it is taken as an insult if somebody invites you on dinner and one refuses it. But Li Ran did not take it in the same way taken in our culture; she accepted the decline of Shakoor and continued with the discussion in the same pace as it was before Shakoor's refusal. I came to the conclusion that Li Ran understood the fact that in Pakistani culture one is free without any obligations of courtesy to refuse and decline any one's invitation to dine together, just with a mere apology.
Effects on Each Other
Many different incidents took place during PALS which were noteworthy and due to which all the members of the group came to certain rules and the over all harmony of the group was maintained, like at times there was a conflict about the gender biasness from Shakoor, the Pakistani male; he used to be of the favour during discussions and even in the distribution of tasks which depicted that he belongs to a masculine dominant culture, but regardless of that, after some time he became accustomed to the fact that in Chinese culture, gender discrimination is not encouraged, and men and women are dealt at equality. This difference was balanced by both the cultural representatives with mutual understanding and thus the group was based on equality.
Cross Cultural Theory Applied
Egalitarianism refers to the belief that explains that everyone is equal; no discrimination should be done on the basis of gender, cast, creed, or ethnicity. It favours the equal free chance to every one (Putterman. L, John. E. R, and Joaquim. S. 1988).
Murray N. R. (1970) says that a free market should have liberty for everyone of a fair chance. It should not pose any restrictions on the basis of gender. It was thus concluded that to work in a group or for any betterment of the community or an organization, it is necessary to neglect the factor of gender, cast and creed.
Focus on Interactions
In the PALS course, it was majorly focussed on the interactions and lessening the communication gaps between the members belonging to the different culture and backgrounds. It was so scheduled in the basic course outline that we had to interact and come close to each other in order to reach to certain decisions about the projects, assignments and simultaneously get to know each other.
I observed that in the start of PALS, the group members were distant from each other, the females became acquainted with each other, but shakoor and I myself were still strangers to the rest of the group. it was shakoor, the Pakistani male; who broke this ice wall and started a proper introduction in a very friendly way, and because of his initiative we got to know each other. It urged me to get to the depth of the fact and I realized that we Chinese are slow and a little reserve with people we don't know and we take quite a time in socializing with people. On the other hand Pakistani culture definitely must be easy in socializing because Shakoor who belonged to Pakistan was at ease in interacting with us, he asked us personal questions as well which according to our Chinese culture were taken as very informal and something to be asked from people you know for years.
Another thing which I noticed was that all of us used to use our body language and facial expressions a lot. It was our non verbal communication that established such a relationship among all the members that we never felt a need for disagreement overtly, our facial and body language was enough for that and thus it never came in between us and formed any basis for conflicts in negotiation.
Cross Cultural Theory Applied
Cultural Influences on Nonverbal Behaviour; Regulators
Regulators are the gestures and behaviours that regulate the communication among people in a continuous flow without any hurdle. It is said that regulators are the control factors in interacts and communications (Ekman & Friesen, 1969).
Thus it was easy to interact in PALS group because of the non verbal communication which all of us were accustomed and attuned to. It did not cause any trouble while discussing and negotiating over something.
Focus on Cultural Diversity
As four (4) out of five (5) of our members of group belonged to china, it was not difficult for me, even as a leader to adjust and control the group. only one person Shakoor was from Pakistani culture.
So if discussed from Pakistani and Chinese cultural differences, it can be easily said that there are similarities more as compared to the differences. We came to certain conclusions together as well like both the cultures are high context based, both are family and group oriented, both are good negotiators etc.
Once, all of the members of our group went to market. We had to buy few things for our daily use, girls went their way and both I and Shakoor, the Pakistani male went our own separate ways. During my shopping I liked one shirt when I enquired about the price of the shirt I felt it was expensive, I started negotiating on the price and finally settled on the price which was under by budget and the shop keeper was happy too. When all of us friends met for lunch after the shopping and started showing our buying, Shakoor had bought the same shirt I had bought, when I asked about the price thinking that he must have paid higher price for it then I bought on, I was shocked to learn that he had bought on exactly the same price I bought on. I realized then that even Pakistani people are good at negotiating the prices and price factors are important to them in the same way as it is important for us Chinese.
PALS Group as an Cross Cultural Team
If the members of the PALS group were working as a team in an organization, it will have some benefits and some difficulty. Organizations are different from learning institutions, therefore working in organizations on strategies will be different from working on activities and assignments for educational institutes.
Cross cultural teams can be managed and trained according to the needs and targets of an organization. There can be many ways to do that like
Improving Common Characteristics for effectiveness
Improving common characteristics among diverse cultural representatives' means that whatever characteristics are common to all (in this cane both) the cultures should be developed in such a way as to target it for the benefit of the organization.
For example both Chinese and Pakistani cultures have people with good negotiating skills; it can be so designed that the cross cultural team comprising Chinese and Pakistani could make a nice strategic negotiating team which can be utilized at the time of strategic alliances and bidding negotiations as well as at price settlements.
Intercultural Assessment and training Programs
We encountered moments in our PALS course where we had to adapt and adjust to the Pakistani culture as well knowing the fact that it is not common in our Chinese Culture, I would come to the conclusion that if same policy is adopted while working in an organization, that is accepting and adjusting to the norms and values and practices of people belonging to other cultures can create a very strong team which in turn will be good for the Company's target and aim.
Training programs can be arranged for the team members creating such situations in which it is bound for them to choose the option of way of other cultures and so become accustomed to it.
One of the most important factors that form a basis of successful team is common language that is medium of interaction and communication. If a team with members especially belonging to different cultures have to work together for a common goal should have one common language as well, which in our case was English (Barbara, 2001).
One of our members, would not declare the name here, had week English, due to which that person was unable to participate equally in the discussions as others did. This never created any difficulty for us because we had Chinese too as our common language but yet in any organization it could have created troubles during interactions.
Dealings with immigrants
As Shakoor, Pakistani male is an immigrant, so dealings with an immigrant are different. We four people had one common language, Chinese but he was not aware of Chinese Language so we in the start used to use Chinese language as our common language and he used to feel like an outsider but then suddenly we realized that he was the one to break the ice among we members and then we started using English as our common medium of interaction. Shakoor then was comfortable among us.
So if dealing with an immigrant in an organization one must be careful in the language and the words he uses, should be known to everyone belonging to that team.