Cross Culture Management
The globalization of the world has accelerated at an unprecedented rate over the last few decades. More and more international cooperation will inevitably bring about more impacts of the cultural management. According to Samovar and Porter (1994), culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving. Gudykunst and Kim (1992) see culture as the systems of knowledge shared by a relatively large group of people. Americans often hear that we are engaged in a culture war. This expresses the importance of the culture in the high-speed developing globalized time.
Can culture be measured? The answer is “yes”. Culture is the way we are, both physically and mentally. It is both a state in which each of us exists and a process which changes constantly according to the individual, the time and the place. As a result of the geographical differences, the culture actually has lots of distinctions. Different groups of people in different places have the different cultures. This is the culture differences, and also each group's culture could be defined as the “national culture”. McLaren summarized the culture as four categories: learned behavior, sharing of values, a dialectic process and an interactive process (1998). Human being selects, evaluates, and organizes stimuli from the external environment. Such as the English man always take umbrella with them because of the weather there always be raining. Japanese like eating sea food because Japan is an island. It is very rich in marine resources. In the view of dialectic process, culture is limited to a process within people in one society. (Helen, 2002) An interactive process is the result of a combination of the person's personality, values and the context. For example, English person that he or she must eat with the mouth closed, quietly, while an Indian knows that the mouth should be open while a person is chewing and an African knows that to show appreciation it is important to make noises with gusto.
Hofstede claims to have identified the four (later five) ‘main dimensions' of national culture along which countries can be hierarchically ordered. By 1998 he could confidently claim that the scale of acceptance of his notion of distinctive-identifiable-influential national cultures was such that ‘a true paradigm shift' had occurred. (McSweeney, 2002) Hofstede's theory of culture dimensions including power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism and collectivism, masculinity and femininity. A fifth, ‘Confucian' dimension of long-term versus short-term orientation was later added. They generate a certain extent effective of analysis of cultural conflict. There are some problems with the Hofstede's theory. The dimensions developed were artifacts of the period of analysis; that the research population was uniquely from one company, IBM, and therefore of questionable generalizability; that values had been inferred from an attitudes-only survey; that culture is equated by Hofstede with national boundaries.
As a result of the cultural differences between a number of different national cultures and the high speed developing of the globalization, there are more and more cultural shocks in the corporations beyond the limits of their nations. It becomes more and more challenging for the managers who want to manage the staff from different cultures. The managers must figure out how to overcome the conflict in different cultures to carry out efficient and effective management in a cross-culture condition.
With the intensification of international culture, there are more and more complexities and challenges faced by the international manager in the global environment. These can be summarized as following:
A. The quantity of national cultures.
There are hundreds of countries in the world, so there probably have hundreds of different cultures too as a result of different countries have different cultures. The world is getting smaller and smaller, this means that there will be more and more cross-border, cross-cultural business activities appear. There will be more and more cultural shocks whatever in quantity or in variety. For the managers who are in charge of a group which involve several kinds of cultures, the most difficult problem is that the staffs they managed are uncertain in quantity and variety; there are no fixed management modes. They need to search for the appropriate ways for their own group.
B. Culture is always changing.
A national culture can be impact by another culture or other cultures. With the more and more communications between different cultures, people will understand other cultures well, resulting in new values which shape their own culture. Social conflict and the development of technologies can produce changes. As a result of culture is always changing, the managers should keep their ideas updating to get used to the culture changes. And they should adjust their management tools with the culture changes.
C. Values of different cultures.
Different cultures may have totally different values; sometimes they can be completely opposite. (Hofstede, 2002) When a group happens to have employees from these kind of opposite cultures, it will be a big challenge for the managers to manager. Culture gap is the most difficult for a cross culture team to work together.
To reduce the implications of the culture differences to the lowest level in a hospitality management, there are some suggested ways as follows:
1. Choose the staff from the different culture backgrounds for the suitable position.
Hofstede uses organizational culture questionnaires to measure the average level of a group of people who have the same culture background. They are Power Distance (PDI), Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI), Individualism-Collectivism (IDV), and Masculinity-Femininity (MAS), long-term versus short-term (LTI). It also can be used to describe the individual particularity of the employee of a hotel. (Xinhuang, Zhe, 2006) The human resources department of the hotel can use the same organizational culture questionnaires to make a preliminary judgment that which positions might be probably suitable for the employees.
Firstly, based on these five indexes mentioned above, the hotel's various departments can be classified according to their requirement to the quality of the different culture employees. Generally speaking, there are five important departments which are conventionally employed staff from different cultures in a hotel: Food and Beverage Department, Housekeeping Department, Front Office, Human Resources Department and Sales and Marketing Department. Table 1 displays an example for classifying of the employees requirement of the five departments, it is a general categorization. To specific positions, the hotel should have a more detailed consideration.
Power distance is the extent to which less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. (Hofstede, 1998) Food and Beverage Department, Front Office Department and Human Resources Department are to be marked as ‘Low' in the table 1; it means that these three departments in the hotel probably need the employee who has low PDI culture background. (Ayoun and Moreo, 2008) Food and Beverage Department and Front Office Department are the tow department that will face the customers directly; low PDI staff will have less focus on the power, and also will be more willing to treat their customers equally. This will be very helpful for give the customers a better consumer experience. The entire employees may suitable for Housekeeping and Sales and Marketing Department in the angle of power distance.
Though according to Baker M.Ayoun and Patrick J.Moreo (2008), the cultural dimension of uncertainty avoidance had minimal influences on the approach managers might adopt toward developing their business strategies. The employee who have low UCI are likely to be more patience to the unknown factor and different culture, this is another important element to the good customer service. In the table 1 present the F&B department and Front Office department need this kind of employees to improve the service rather than the other three departments have no special equipment in this factor.
In the table 1, all the departments marked as “High” in this factor except the food and beverage department. The employees who have high score in IDV mean they are more willing to demonstrate their personal ability in their work. They can complete their work excellently and fully demonstrate their potential. Most of the positions in the four departments marked as ‘high' in the table 1, are expected their staffs to be more activity and more creative. The food and beverage department is a very important division of a hotel. In most of the positions of this department, staffs are more expectable to be worked together as a team.
Front office department and the sales and marketing department and sales and marketing department are marked as ‘Low'. Because most of the positions in these two departments require their staffs to be more patient and more peaceful; also the staffs are more expectable to take reconciliation, negotiation to solve the conflict in the organization and the problems in their jobs. Food and beverage department is marked as ‘High' in this issue. High level of MDI means the employees are more effectively, they are more focus on the competition and the result of the result of the work. These will help the F&B department, which likely to be the busiest part in a hotel, to provide more effectively and better quality service to the customers.
This factor seems to be no outstanding in the positions in any part of a hotel. Staffs that have both high LTI scores and low LTI scores are indifferent to all positions.
When the HR department is staffing jobs to their employees, besides the considerations of their expertise and personal wishes, this model can provide another line of thought to manage the employees from different cultures. This is a suggested way to enhance the fit of cultural characteristics and work properties.
2. Built an appropriate diverse corporate culture.
Culture refers to an organization's values, beliefs, and behaviors. In general, it is concerned with beliefs and values on the basis of which people interpret experiences and behave, individually and in groups. To manage the employees from various different cultures, an international hotel should build their own corporate culture. This is an effective way to solve the culture difference problem. Once an enterprise has its own corporate culture, all the stuffs will active into its corporate culture, this way can minimize the influences of culture shocks. (Chaoju, 2009)
For a multi-cultural integration of the hotel, cultural conflict and cultural integration are through an international hotel in cross-cultural management activities from beginning to end. (Mingjing, 2004) Relatively speaking, the process of cultural integration is more important because although the cultural conflict is a necessary process of building its own corporate culture but it is only a transitional phase. Cultural integration is the key for an international hotel to develop its corporate culture.
In the process of cultural integration, there is always a dominant culture. It is generally the local culture from where the international hotel located. The reason of this situation is firstly the main target consumer exists in the domestic market, the hotel's corporate culture must adapt to the needs of the target consumer market, and otherwise it will affect the hotel's performance and profits. Secondly, considering the operating costs, the largest share of a hotel's employees constitute must be the local staffs. The dominant culture should be the national culture which has the most people.
Based on the dominant culture, enterprises need to absorb a variety of cultures to build their own corporate culture. This will firstly give all the employees from different cultures a cultural similarity. Secondly it also helps the hotel to reduce cultural conflicts, enhance cohesion and appeal of the hotel, and improve interpersonal relationships. Last but not least, it combines the employees' own thoughts and behaviors with the hotel's operating performance and purpose.
Kempinski Hotel Beijing is a five-star rate hotel which made from four investors, seven companies from Germany, China and Korea three countries. It managed by the Germany Kempinkli Hotel Management Group Which is register in Geneva, Switerland. Although the hotel has also experienced the impact and friction from western culture and eastern culture; struggled in the integration of different management concepts, however with the senior managers' in-depth understanding of German culture and Chinese culture, this hotel successfully combined the German scientific and strict managing style with the China's human interest organically, and build a brand new corporate culture integrated Chinese and Western cultures. Employees in this hotel have a great sense of cultural belonging because of the excellent corporate culture.
3. Develop the cultural intelligence (CQ) of the employees.
The basic definition of CQ adopted here is, consistent with Earley and Ang (2003), the ability to interact effectively with people who are culturally different. It is the ability to generate appropriate behavior in a new cultural setting that makes CQ unique (Earley, 2002). In an increasingly diverse business environment, managers must be able to navigate through the thicket of habits, gestures, and assumptions that define their coworkers' differences. Foreign cultures are everywhere. To shape the context of a cross-cultural interaction an individual first has to have the ability to adapt. Then, individuals can decide on or construct appropriate behavior. (Thomas, 2006) The higher CQ level the employees have, the easier for them to get through the cultural shocks. Earley and Mosakowski conclude that anyone who is reasonably alert, motivated and poised, can attain an acceptable CQ. They recommend a 6-step approach to cultivating personal cultural intelligence which is a much more general proposal. In an international hotel, there are some specific suggested operations which may help the manager to reduce the cultural implications.
A. Add the cultural content in the staff training courses.
Most of the big international hospitality groups have their own rules and regulations of management; also they have a system of staff training. Such as the Crown Plaza which belongs to IHG (Intercontinental Hotels Group). Every staff every week can get a training opportunity in Human Resource Department. The training is generally about the operation skills, teamwork skills and position responsibilities. Adding the cultural content in the staff training courses is a proactive approach to let the staffs have a general idea of different cultures. It is the head and cognitive sources of cultural intelligence, employees can learn about the beliefs, habits and taboos of foreign cultures. (Kerri, 2008) Through this way, employees can not only work better with colleagues of different cultural backgrounds, but also help them to provide a more friendly service to the various customers which from diversity countries.
B. Build up a cross-training system.
In an international hotel which has staffs with diversity cultures, provide a suitable position to a right employee is very important. When a staff has outstanding performance at their position, he or she should have the opportunity to do some cross-training in other department. In one hand this is an encouragement to the employees so that they can learn more skills from different department. It is a good chance to get a greater space for personal development. In the other hand, this is a body and physical sources of cultural intelligence for the employees. By working with colleagues from different cultures together, they can get the ability involves choosing the appropriate behavior from a well-developed repertoire of behaviors that are correct for different intercultural situations and also extrapolating to generate new behavior. (Thomas, 2008)
C. Organize cultural exchange activities between employees.
To adjust to a new culture involves overcoming obstacles and setbacks. People can do that only if they believe in their own efficacy. Organize cultural exchange activities between employees can help them to get the emotional understanding of different cultures. It is the emotional and motivational resource of cultural intelligence. This kind of activities can be a cultural theme party, singing competition or any other activities which can improve the communication of the different cultures in the international hotel.
In this paper, firstly introduce ‘what culture is' and some ideas of national culture. Then give some personal evaluations about the challenges and complexities faced by the international manager in the global environment. Thirdly, based on some theories of cross culture management, provide some personal suggestions about how to reduce the implications in the globalized cultural shocks.
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