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This report gives an insight on the topic Managing Across Cultures, and also on the following issues, it tackles the meaning of Culture, its importance and relevance, It also looks at how people from different cultures come together to share the same work values, The importance of culture in work environments and what are the various management procedures to be adopted when dealing with people from across cultures.Culture, simply put can be seen as the way of life of certain people and Managing across cultures can be seen as a way of bringing people from different cultures together using quality management, and in order do that, culture is a very important tool.Three approaches have been adopted in quality management research by Form, 1979, which is known as the ‘Convergence approach’, Child and Kieser 1979, ‘Divergence approach’ and Hofstede 1980, ‘Culture specific’. All these approaches shall also be looked into and see how it relates to culture.
For this report, six links were provided by Mr. Peter Godwin and on careful evaluation on all the links, two seem most appropriate for the report and they are:
1. Quality management: a cross cultural perspective by Alessandra Vecchi and Louis Brennan. School of business, Trinity college, Dublin, Ireland.
2. Handbook of cross-cultural psychology: social behavior and applications by By John W. Berry, Ype H. Poortinga, Marshall H. Segall, Janak Pandey, ÇiÄŸdem KâÄŸitçibaÅŸi
The term culture has been found to mean different things to different people, for some, it is dynamic and passed down from generations to generations, it has also been described as the Eye of the world. Cultures differ all around the world and for this people view it differently just as they view work values.
Work values can been seen as one’s performance worth, the way culture affects these values is very important if we intend to work and coexist together. Two very important standards have been set aside on how work is viewed: The entitlement standard, which states that people who work should be rewarded in return while the other one, the obligation standard is of the opinion that everyone’s obligation concerning work is to the society. All these can be viewed as difference of opinions on how work values are measured. International Research Team (1987) Cross cultural psychology. Handbook pg 373.
Some countries debase work, for instance India, they tend to give priority to family values rather than work values. J. B. P Sinha, (1994) Cross cultural psychology. Handbook pg 373. Culture can never be over emphasized in work environments as the way people work is like their very way of life.
In managing across countries, Quality management’s theories have been developed to note how different managers deal with managerial polices within different cultures. Three main theories have been used to espouse quality management research and they are the Convergence, Form 1979, the Divergence, Child and Kieser 1979 and Culture specific, Hofstede 1980. Quality management. An international journal 16(2), 149.
According to Form, Better management practices from managers coming from different cultures can be traced to effective learning, Form (1979) Quality management. International Journal pg 149, that is to say, once different people from different cultures are brought together to learn, they actually stand a better chance at being better managers, because they are all exposed to the same managerial practices in the long run, not at all minding where they are from, so learning helps to bridge culture barriers.
The Divergence theory on the other hand is of the notion that in order to reduce performance, organizational practices must be adapted to the national context. Top managerial support turned to be a significant factor affecting quality practices. They must account for regional differences like Human resource development, customer focus and satisfaction. Child and Kieser, (1979) Quality management. An international journal pg 162.
In the culture specific theory, it was viewed that if managers from different societies were faced with change, there will still be some cultural factors, like the way they think or behave that will cause them to react to change. Hofstede (1980) Quality management. An international journal pg 151.
All these theories on quality management have been seen to affect culture in the sense that it shows how managers can transfer quality management practices between countries that differ in cultures and backgrounds, putting into consideration, the cultures that are most approbate to change and those that are not, thereby adopting the following management procedures or techniques in dealing with people from across cultures;
- Participative procedures
- Team work arrangement
- Reward schemes; thereby promoting job satisfaction among people.
In the same wise, all these managerial procedures can be detrimental if not carefully looked into for not all countries view participative management in the same way, some might actually see it as a sign of weakness on the part of the managers, also in team work arrangement, not all cultures believe in team work, some believe that working alone enhances performance. An experiment was conducted by Earley (1993) cited in Cross cultural psychology pg 388, which involved using the Chinese, Israeli and Americans as subjects, During the experiment it was observed that the Israeli and Chinese teams worked together to work collectively while the Americans worked on their own individually, these shows another manner in which various cultures react to team work. And finally, the reward scheme, it was found out that the way managers from different countries view reward is totally different, for example, the Japanese managers tend to reward team work as against the Americans who believed that individual work is best and reward is based on individual effort. Suzuki and Kondo(1986) cited in cross cultural psychology handbook pg 389.
In summary, Culture’s importance in work related issues and how these can be managed can not be overemphasized because different people work in the way that they perceive is best and that why it is important to introduce quality management techniques in order to foster better management procedures being carried out in order to bridge any gaps in cultural barriers.
In managing across cultures, managers must put into consideration that they are dealing with different people from diverse cultures and backgrounds and before adopting any form of managerial procedures which involves, Participative management, team work arrangement and reward schemes, their cultural views and values taking into consideration , Form’s theory of Convergence, Child and Kieser’s theory of Divergence and Hofstede’s theory of Culture specific, before knowing how well they would fit into any work environment either to work individually or as a team.
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