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Global Management

Essay by   •  June 13, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  4,296 Words (18 Pages)  •  1,305 Views

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Globalization has brought on many changes in today's society; from the expansion of international trade, technological advances and the involvement of companies dealing on the international stage have brought a dramatic change in the frequency, context and means by which people from different cultural backgrounds interact. There is no doubt that Globalization has reshaped our modes of thinking and ways of behaving and more importantly supporting cultural change in our societies. One of the major areas affected by globalization is the nature of our workplace. We moved away from the monochromic make-up of the offices to one that is now colored by team members from all over the world. With this new multicultural design comes many differences in cultures which in turn bring differences in areas such as communication styles, approach to time, managerial styles and many other cross cultural differences. Throughout this paper, we will analysis the theory of cross cultural communication through a comparison of the United States and Indian culture. Furthermore, in order to fully understand and narrow down the concept of culture differences we will review them through Geert Hofstede"s Five Cultural Dimensions theory.

What is the history of Culture?

According Zimmerman, "Culture is the characteristics of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts" (Zimmerman, 2013). "The origin of the word culture comes from the Latin verb colere = "tend, guard, cultivate, till". This concept is a human construct rather than a product of nature. The use of the English word " in the sense of "cultivation through education" is first recorded in 1510" The use of the word to mean "the intellectual side of civilization" is from 1805; that of "collective customs and achievements of a people" is from 1867. The term Culture shock was first used in 1940" (Sinha, 1995).

Culture is a mixture of backgrounds which can include knowledge, belief, art, law, morality and conventions shared by nearly all the members of a specific society and separating one group member from another; other skills and habits; also common attitudes and responsibilities learned subsequently, such as original lifestyles, emotions, etc. The concept of "culture" has played an important role in human evolution, it has allowed human beings to adapt to the environment in their own way rather than depend solely on natural selection to achieve adaptive success. As a result every human society has its own particular culture, or socio-cultural system.

What is Cross Cultural Analysis?

According to Low & Shi, "All social behavior is embedded in a particular context and is connected to other deeply held values and beliefs" (Low &Shi, 2002). As such the stakes are high for understanding and managing cultural differences. In effort to understand this concept study of social behavior became known as cross cultural analysis. The first cross-cultural analyzes done in the West, were by anthropologists like Edward Burnett Tylor and Lewis H Morgan in the 19th century. Since then Social Anthropology studies have come a long way mainly due to the stages of lower savagery to civilization, epitomized by Victorian England. In more recent studies the concept of "culture" is in part a reaction against such earlier Western concepts and anthropologists argue that culture is "human nature," and that all people have a capacity to classify experiences, encode classifications symbolically and communicate such abstractions to others.

As such, anthropologists and social scientists tend to study people and human behavior among exotic tribes and cultures living in far off places rather than do field work among white-collared literate adults in modern cities. Due to advances in communication, technology and socio-political changes the modern workplace was transformed however, unfortunately there were no guidelines based on actual research to help people interact with other people from other cultures. In effort to address this gap arose the discipline of cross-cultural analysis or cross-cultural communication. The main theories of cross-cultural communication draw from the fields of anthropology, sociology, communication and psychology and are based on value differences among cultures. Edward T. Hall, Geert Hofstede, Fons Trompenaars, Shalom Schwartz and Clifford Geertz are some of the major contributors in this field. Their studies look at how people from different cultures backgrounds try to communicate. In addition, cross cultural analysis studies intends to produce some guidelines, which help people from different cultures to better communicate with each other.

What is Geert Hofstede"s Five Cultural Dimensions?

There are many models of cross-cultural analysis currently in place. The 'Iceberg' and the 'Onion' models are two of the most common models. However, there were some challenges presented with the "iceberg" theory as trying to define as complex a phenomenon as culture with just two layers; this provided quite a challenge and that is when the 'Onion' model arose. Geert Hofstede proposed a set of five layers, each of which includes the lower level or is a result of the lower level. According to this view, 'culture' is like an onion that can be peeled, layer-by layer to reveal the content. Hofstede sees culture as "the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another" ("Dimensions of Culture", 2009).

In 1980, Geert Hofstede published Culture's Consequences and established a fundamental shift in how culture would be viewed, this started an explosion of empirical investigations into cultural variation. Hofstede's impact was astonishing. He successfully narrowed the concept of culture down into simple and measurable components. He accomplished this by simply adopting nation-state/nation culture as the basic unit of analysis. Through his theory he reviewed cultural values as a central force in shaping managerial behavior. Between the years of 1967 and 1973, he carried out an international study (the "Hermes" study) in 72 countries with the help of IBM in order to measure cultural differences in business. According to his study, the following parameters have been analyzed to measure the differences:

Power Distance Index (PDI) that is the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept

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