Examining Cross Cultural Communication In Organizations Cultural Studies Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Cross-cultural communication also referred to as intercultural communication which is a subset of organizational communication, and comprises verbal and non-verbal communication. This in turn involves transfers of information and knowledge between individuals in the organization with significantly different people in different languages and from different cultures. "We define cross-cultural communication as a subject which focuses on the communicative activities of people from different cultural background and the essence and rules of the communicative activities (Jia, 1997, 563)".

Many cultures have their own etiquette when communicating. Communication can only be succeeded if messages are appropriately delivered and received. Especially in cross-cultural communication, two-sides of peoples are from two different countries with different culture, custom, thoughts and languages. This would make a successful communication more difficult to be reached. Miscommunication may lead to conflict, or more serious conflict that already exists.

Therefore, it is important to explore the problems of cross-cultural communication, and the problems of deducing those rules of communicative appropriateness that are applied in the other culture. Furthermore, much discussion has focused on differences international negotiating styles. However, there is little attention to examine how and what degree language plays a significant role in a cross-cultural communication. Unfortunately, some monolingual experts believe that any languages can be completely transferred into another language. According Geoff Hart, 2007:

Effective and good communication is very important to all organization. In today's business environment, in order to communicate with the outside world, it is essential to have successful communication skills in workplace. Cross-cultural communication in the workplace compounds certain problems. There is lack of interaction in the field of communication among individuals in the organization with significantly different ethnographic profiles. In addition, words imply different meaning in different languages.

Much cross-cultural communication in workplace and worker within limited English speaking abilities and their cultural differences leads to misunderstanding and tension at the workplaces. Thus, business is taken very seriously in many cultures that often show up in the workplace. Misunderstandings and miscommunication can cause and enhance conflict in workplace. Within cross-cultural communication, our seemingly normal approaches to meaning-making and communication will never be clear enough that we can see them for what they are which is a set of lenses that shape what we see, hear, say understand, and interpret. Culture is linked to communication and a wide range of human experience including feelings, identity, and meaning-making. Communication is the vehicle by which meanings are conveyed and feelings are expressed. Both conflict and harmony are possible outcomes of any interaction as we communicate using different cultural habits between workers. According Charlotte-Mecklenburg Development Board (WDB), 2002:

Cultural barriers between different cultures often cause much frustration, annoyance, and lead to problems that erode efficiency and effective in daily life. The biggest barriers to cross-cultural communication refer to language difficulties. Cultural barriers and language cannot be divided. This is because language carries the information of language and culture. Every kind of language is created and developed in a certain historical circumstance of society. Therefore, "Language reflects the feature of nation. It contains not only the historical cultural background of this nation, but also the view of life, the way of life and the way of thought of this nation (Xiao, 1997:159)". Some problem increase which are barriers caused by semantics, barriers caused by word connotations, barriers caused by tone differences and barriers caused by differences between perceptions.

Barriers caused by semantics word meaning. As we've noted previously, words mean different things to different people. This is particularly true for people from different national cultures. Some words cannot translate and imply to English and special meaning to different people from different cultures. It is reflects the differences of culture most extensively. "For example, to conduct business in Korea, you must understand the concept of Kibun, which does not translate into English. Its meaning is something similar to "inner feelings" or "mood": people must communicate in a manner to enhance one another's Kibun or risk creating an enemy and destroying the relationship (Mary Munter, 1993)."

Barriers caused by word connotations or implication of words. On the other hand, the meaning extent of a word and the connotation of future are not complete equivalent between different cultures. Negotiations between English and Japanese executive, for instance, are made more difficult because the Japanese word "iie" translates as "no," but its connotation may be "no, I'm not studying," rather than "No, I disagree."

Barriers caused by tone differences or the mood or feeling your words convey. The tone changes depending expression of slang, feelings, emotions and thought. Slang may lead barriers to communication. For example, a conversation demonstrative between A and B dealing with slang.

A: Will you really join?

B: You kill me.

It is very confuse for different people to understand the conversation because the sentence of B is slang. It means (If I won't join,) you kill me. The sentence of A is more polite while the sentence of B is more offhand. "In some cultures tone is usually more formal, whereas in others it is more informal; in some it is more polite, in others more offhand; in some more impersonal, in others more personal; in some more dry, in others more colorful ( Mary Munter, 1993)."

Barriers caused by differences between perceptions. People who speak different languages from different cultures look into the world in different ways. Every country perceive different perceptions.


"Any communication relies on the context in which it takes place," (Victor, 1992, 137). Some cultures rely on the context of communication much more than others. Contexting refers to the circumstances surrounding the exchange. To make an effective and successful communication, every people have to consider the cultural differences and the preeminent communication process in individualistic. Cultures context refers to high context and low text communication. High context refers to societies or groups where people have close connections over a long period of time while low context refers to societies where people tend to have many connections but of shorter duration or for some specific reason. High contexts cannot carry the context information internally and hard to enter if as an outsider. Instead, low contexts are easy to enter if as an outsider because the environment contains the information and form relationships.

The exchange of information between workers from high-context and low-context has to work together in cultural context occur the problems. These problems can be categorized as differences in "direction", "quantity" and "quality". High-context cultures like China adapt to their close friends, relatives and also to colleagues or in-group members at differences in direction employees. They communication with them mightily and exchange specific information regarding many different talks and topics. In comparison, like Germany, their direction of communication is orientated on personal characters and referred to situations as direction difference. They mostly communicate within their out-groups in a broad and dispersedly way as quantity difference. They exchange information through communication just to the necessary extent so that work can be done and will not discuss or exchange information in the work environment and colleagues as quality difference. In China, the workers discuss everything in advance and consider meetings where the already commonly agreed decision will be announced. The Germans in contrast inform the participating attendants in a meeting about the hard and necessary facts. The decision-making process takes place within the meeting.

Besides this, communication is also related to appearance such as clothes and accessories. In cross-communication cultural, these is relating to the context including formal and informal, status and individuality. In Islam, Muslim women are expected to cover in their entirety including the face, except for their eyes, while in Western countries most women, even in a business context, will wear smart attire. Western cultures tend to gravitate toward low-context starting points, while Eastern and Southern cultures tend to use high-context communication.