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This time, the manager from Uzbekistan is heading to Malaysia, to the beautiful country of forests and mountains, located in southeast Asia. Malaysia is a very interesting country that combines the features of the West and East cultures, it uses the development system of the Western culture, but at the same time, remains the traditions of the East. The people, who live there, Malaysians, are really proud of their country, their history and their culture. The formation of the Malay culture was influenced by many nations in the past, including local inhabitants, Malays who moved there, Chinese and Indian traders and, of course, the British colonizers. Even now the Malaysia is a multicultural country, where people of different nations live and cooperate together, especially Malays, Chinese, Indians and Eurasians. The unity is also supported in Malaysia’s motto, which is directly translated as “Unity is Strength”. The Malaysian constitution proposes the freedom of religion, nevertheless, it has clearly stated that the Islam is the main state religion and Malay is the main language. British influence can be observed in Malaysia’s governance as Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with a king as a head of state, the Malay constitution is also based on English Law.
Let’s look at the Malaysia in the framework of the Hofstede’s model, which measures such cultural dimensions as the power distance, individualism and collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity and femininity, long-term and short-term orientations.
According to Hofstede G.(n.d.), power distance is the degree, by which the society tolerates the inequality of power and authority and the division on social stratas. The statistics from Hofstede G.[n.d.] show that Malaysia has a very high score of 104 in power distance index, which means that inequality of people is encouraged in this country, there is a strong hierarchy and every person has his own place. In the organizations, boss or manager is the source of power and his decisions are right like the law, so they must be performed by lower ranking employees without any challenges. Anyway, lower ranking employees always expect to be told what they should do. In addition, it means that contact with the boss can be achieved only through the command line. Referring to Ismail Z.(n.d) , survey showed that 69,4% of Malaysian managers use the “sensing-judging” style or “tell” style of communication with their subordinates, they always control and tell employees what to do.
Individualism and collectivism Further dimension, individualism and collectivism, as it can be understood, refers to how people are treated in the culture – as an individual person or they tend to belong to a certain groups, in other words, do people say “I” or “we” about themselves. The statistics from Hofstede G.(n.d) show 26 – low score in individualism, which means that collectivism is more developed in Malaysia. People belong to a certain groups and there is a strong relationship between the group members, so that the group members take care of each other. Success is considered to be the result of the group work performance. The individual person who doesn’t belong to any group isn’t respected. Oluwabusuyi I.(2011) notes that there are lots of Malay proverbs promoting collectivism and here are few: “A heavy load should be borne together as well as a light load “,”As a bamboo conduit makes a round jet of water, so taking counsel together rounds men to one mind”.
Uncertainty avoidance The third dimension is uncertainty avoidance referring to White J.(2012), which shows the degree by which cultures are afraid of uncertainty and try to avoid it. Again the statistics from Hofstede G.(n.d) shows 36 index, meaning that Malay culture is more tolerate towards uncertainty. While USA tries to control the uncertainty by rules or actions to minimize it, the Malay culture don’t have rules against uncertainty and they just let it be the way it is.
Masculinity and femininity The next dimension is masculinity and femininity, which describes the main cultural traits of society. This time, referring to Hofstede G.(n.d) Malaysia has 50, which means that it has features of both masculine and feminine cultures. Masculinity can be seen in placing male traits such as competitiveness, power and success as the main cultural values, whereas, for feminine cultures the important values are the life quality and relationships. Most Malaysians work very hard in order to be successful, and, as a collectivistic culture, they also don’t forget about importance of maintaining good relationship within the group, consequently, Malays combine both in the workplace.
Long-term and short-time orientation Finally, I am pretty sure that Malays as a people, who tend to have relaxed time nature and who value the strong relationships and success, would prefer long-term orientations as only long period of time can help to achieve success and strong relationships. In addition, White J.(2012) states that “Malaysians do not rely on the short term goals but rather they focus on long term goals to be achieved which make them one of the developing nations of the world.”
Now we will find out the communication style of Malays using the Hall’s framework, which proposes that there are high-context and low-context communication cultures. I would surely state that Malays are the high-context communication culture. This decision is right with accordance to Salleh L.(2005), which clarifies that high-context communication cultures build close relationships, they use indirect messages and analogous language, and they widely use non-verbal messages in the communication.
Malays tend to build close relationships during communication. Malays are very hospitable, they always welcome their guests serving them with their traditional food and drinks. This tradition has been also used now in business meetings. The main intention here is to create a comfortable atmosphere for communication. Salleh L.(2005) notes that even during meetings, Malays firstly try to build the relationship with his partner asking him a lot of personal questions. Only after that, the partners get to the business.
Further, Malays are comfortable to use indirect messages. They talk around things and leave the message to be understood by the interpreter. For example, instead of telling the friend directly: “I need the ride to home”, they say: “Oh I am so tired and I need to go home on bus”, expecting the message to be interpreted as a desire to get a ride. Salleh L.(2005) describes that in Malay culture, due to the mutual respect, it is impolite to tell straightly the desire as it sounds demanding, moreover, it is impolite to express negative feelings directly or to say no.
Thirdly, Malays use the non-verbal messages more in their communication, because their language contains less verbal information, as a result, the Malay interpreter is more sensitive to non-verbal language. For example, Sellah L.(2005) illustrates that in Malay culture, if the boy acts impolitely by interrupting elders, the long-lasting look of parents is understood by the boy as a sign that he was rude, whereas in USA culture, the boy may just think that parents are listening attentively.
According to Sellah L.(2005), Malay language is more analogous. One word in Malay language has several meanings at the same time. For example, Sellah L.(2005) indicates that the word “beri” that is translated as “give” has 12 meanings in the English language. These 4 factors surely demonstrate that Malays belong to high-context communication culture.
Laurent has conducted a global research in order to compare the managerial styles in different countries.
The first interested question was to know the spread of the manager’s authority outside of the organization in different countries. In my opinion, as Malaysia has a very high power distance, I am pretty sure that Malay managers are autocrats within the organization as well as in the society. Due to the collectivistic culture, either manager is an autocrat in the group of company employees or more likely he belongs to the higher ranking group of managers.
Secondly, Laurent was interested in finding whether the employees are able to bypass the hierarchy for a benefit of effective work or not. Weir D.(n.d.) reports that one of the Asian countries, China, has 66% of disagreement in bypassing the hierarchy. Ismail Z.(n.d.) found that the Malay managers are the same as Chinese managers in their value systems. In Malaysia, the power distance is very high, so the bypassing is not appreciated, moreover, it is the sign of disrespect of authority.
Manager is an expert
Thirdly, Laurent wanted to know is it important for managers to know answers on all work-related questions. Weir D.(n.d.) asserts that Asian countries show the highest scores for this statement, agreeing that the manager should be an expert in the organization. I think it happens because mostly, in Asian companies, people begin their career from the very beginning, getting promotion with time and expertise. So, as a manager who has experienced everything in the organization, it is important to know answers on all work-related questions. Therefore, the employees there can’t become managers until they improve their knowledge to perfect. The manager who doesn’t know the answer loses his face.
Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck culture
Now it is time to focus on Kluckhohn and Stodtbeck’s cultural theories which will help us to determine the value orientations of Malays. There are six values to identify, they are the relationship with nature, time orientation, human nature, behavior, relationship with others and spatial usage.
Harmony with nature
According to Ismail Z.(n.d.), Malays live in harmony with nature. It means that Malays coexist with the nature in balance like it is proposed in Feng Shui. That is why there are still lots of forests in the Malaysia, indexMundi(2011) reports that 62,3 % of Malaysian area is still covered by forest. However, harmony also implies the partial usage of nature resources, otherwise, the furniture company couldn’t operate without the supply of woods.
Secondly, Ismail Z.(n.d.) states that the Malay culture focuses mostly on future in time orientation. This implies focusing on long-term goals and planning strategies to accomplish the future achievements. However, Malays also believe that changes in present leads to the success in future.
Thirdly, Ismail Z.(n.d.) determines that Malays view their people’s nature as neutral – they think there are good people as well as bad people with reference to ying-yang . Malays trust each other, but they also don’t forget about being careful. For example, according to Bosrock M.(2012), for Malays, the trust in partner is more important than the written contract, that is why the Malay may ask to repeat spoken business terms, but anyway signs contract for safety.
Further, Ismael Z.(n.d.) informs us that Malay’s behavior style is being. Being is all about our internal motives to do something that we value or enjoying our lives.
Relationship with others
Then, due to the combination of the high power index and collectivism, the Malays are subject to hierarchical relation to others in society. In other words, people belong to groups, but depending on his social status. For example, higher ranking executives would belong to elite group of high ranking employees.
Finally, of course as a collectivistic culture, Malays prefer public spatial usage over private. Malays as a collective workers are used to public spaces. In my opinion, it would be the big room with the big table, where everybody could sit face-to-face in order to work together.
Finally, we got to the Trompenaar’s model of cultural analysis, where we will distinguish between universalism and particularism, neutral and affective relationships, specific and diffuse relationships, achievement and ascription, sequential and synchronous time approaches, internal and external controls.
Particularism vs Universalism
According to via-web.de(2012), Asian countries have particularism tendencies, therefore, the relationship is the determinant of what practices should be applied. For example, before thinking of business, Malays firstly build the relationship with their partner. Depending on level of trust and relationship gained, the terms of agreements may change several times. For Malays even the spoken contract terms are more crucial than those of written.
Neutral vs Affective
White J.(2012) writes that Malaysian culture is very neutral, which means that people there control their emotions. They don’t show their thoughts and feelings. They try to orient more on reasons than on emotions to act upon. This happened due to the impact of the Asian culture, where respect to other people is emphasized through being neutral in feelings and calm.
Diffuse vs Special
Thirdly, with reference to SCIE(1999) , it is clear that most East Asian cultures tend to have diffuse relationships, where their relationship also spreads beyond the workplace. As a collectivism is developed in Malay, the new employees who enters the organization, also belongs to the company team, which means that he is interdependent on the group even beyond the office.
Achievement vs Ascription
The ascription is more practiced in Malaysia, because of the hierarchy and respect to elders. The statuses are given depending on the age and authority. The following words from Bosrock M.(2012) surely prove my words: “Malays judge people by who they are rather than what they do”.
Sequential vs Synchronous
Malay attitude towards time is synchronous, according to MindTools,(2012), they “see past, present and future as interwoven”, and therefore their view of time is flexible. For example, Salleh L.(2005) illustrates that even on Malay weddings flexible time scheduling can be observed, even if the wedding was announced to be held at afternoon, the guests were coming after twelve and even few in the evenings.
Internal vs External
Malays as people, who are Muslims, believe in external locus of control or or in fatalism with reference to White J.(2012). Fatalism is the strong believe that everything happening – good as well as bad is happening by the will of the God, as a result, religious believers are driven by feelings combined with their religious faith.
For Uzbek manager, high hierarchy situation would be beneficial because the employees would perform everything told without a doubt, although manager should be active and thoughtful as he is the only decision maker, excluding the boss. Also, if the manager would have a boss, he is strongly recommended not to challenge his decisions.
The manager should keep in mind that, in Malaysia, where the collectivism is high, he is going to manage not individuals, but the groups. The performance of the groups is more effective than of individuals, if managed well. As the collectivism is encouraged, also it is advisable for manager to head to Malaysia in groups beforehand or to enter the company group in order to be respected.
Uzbek manager should be careful with decisions, because it is risky and difficult to make right decisions in such uncertainty atmosphere as it is found in Malaysia, especially if he hadn’t lived there before.
The combination of masculinity and femininity allows male as well as female manager to be sent there. Also, it means that manager should not only focus on succeeding on masculine values, but also he should make relationships with other managers, as in such culture belonging to group plays an important role.
Due to the long-term orientation, manager should be focused on improving performance and planning strategies in the long-run.
According to Salleh L.(2005), Malays have strong feelings of hospitality, therefore they serve their guests with snacks and drinks. Moreover, this tradition is now being used in business meetings. In that case, our manager should at least try the servings to show respect against the partner. However, It’s only the beginning, as this process creates an atmosphere for communication. According to Bosrock M.(2012), before getting down to business, Malays tend to involve the partner into a very long conversation with a lot of personal questions in order to build a trust and relationship, so, I would advise our manager to be patient.
Bosrock M.(2012) claims that Malay businessmen may try to renegotiate even after drafted written contract is concluded, it happens because spoken contract terms are more important for Malays than written ones, therefore as a manager, be ready for it. In addition, Malay businessmen will insist on concessions, but won’t give up something in exchange, therefore plan several meetings beforehand.
Salleh L.(2005) states that expressing the desire and negative feelings is impolite for Malays, therefore as a high-context communication culture, they will be sending indirect messages and using non-verbal signals a lot. For our manager, it means that he should be more sensitive towards the expressed words searching for their hidden context and pay more attention to the non-verbal signals as they will help to decode the context more accurately.
Don’t bypass the hierarchy in Malaysia, you will lose your face.
According to Weir D.(n.d.), in Asian countries, the manager should be able to answer to any work-related question of the employee. If he couldn’t answer, he loses his face, therefore, I advise our manager to be experienced, knowledgeable and to research on everything about company’s operations.
My personal suggestion is to be ready to the change in the work atmosphere, as I am pretty sure that the group work of Malays will be conducted in one room, where it would be noisy and all people would be sitting face-to face and discussing everything together.
White J.(2012) claims that Malays judge person by who he is, therefore, the manager should be chosen appropriately by age, gender, background, family, previous status and so on. I would suggest that he should be a very experienced and knowledgeable senior manager, preferably male, with a diploma from a famous university and with work experience in most powerful companies, in addition he should be from well-bred family, and also the important thing is that he should be powerful and from the high social strata.
Keep in mind that Malays have flexible time nature, so don’t be angry if he comes late, however, according to Wikia(2012), if you are hosting an event you should be punctual.
With regard to Wikia (2012), left hands and feet is considered as dirty, therefore never use your left hand or legs to do something. However, business cards taken with both hands are the sign of respect. In addition, carefully examine the taken card as it is very respectful.
Backpacking-tips-asia (2012),Malays are so polite that they can’t say “no” , so don’t be too trustful with “yes” answers.
Avoid making meetings on Friday as it is the religious day and Muslims go to the mosque.
If you want to invite to a dinner, keep in mind that they don’t eat pork and don’t drink alcohol; in addition they eat Halal food.
If someone gives you a gift, you should give something of the same value in exchange or invite somewhere, in addition, I would advise not to open the gift in the presence of gift presenter.
Remove the shoes before entering someone’s house
Backpacking-tips-asia(2012) notes that, if someone invites you, bring a gift but avoid wrapping it in white, blue or black as they symbolize death, also yellow too as it is a royal color.
If you want to visit mosque, wear long clothing and cover your head.
According to Bosrock M.(2012), pointing with a finger is insult, keeping the hands in pocket is anger and hitting fist into cupped hand is obscene, in addition, it is not allowed to touch someone’s head as head is considered as the “home of the soul”, so don’t do all this.
Kwintessential(2012) states the “the family is considered as the centre of the social structure”, that is why elders should be always respected, and it is not allowed to smoke near to them.
When introducing, you should first introduce senior or higher-ranking executives and women first
According to Kwistessentials(2012), the concept of face is different in Malaysia as it is the indicative of good name, characters and reputation of the generations. And you can easily lose your face if you criticize, disagree or insult someone; if you earn shame to your group; if you challenge an authority; if you deny a request or don’t keep your promise. It is also told that, face can be saved by keeping yourself calm.
Don’t smile as it has several good as well as bad meanings.
There are lots of rooms for prayers in the streets, so don’t mess them up with restrooms.
To greet a person you should lightly touch someone’s both hands and then bring your right hand to your chest and say Salam. Handshake with women is not allowed, until she offers it first. Just in case, simple smile and nodding is enough as a greeting.
Thorough analytical research of Malaysia has showed that Malaysia has a very unique culture. Before this research, I was thinking that all Asian cultures are similar, but now I have seen a lot cultural values and customs that differ from ours. Many traditions and customs were so entertaining and interesting to observe. Anyway, in my opinion, there are things that cannot be illustrated by any paper and one of such thing is culture, which can be observed only practically through living side-by-side with the culture representatives. I wish good luck and success to our manager in Malaysia.
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