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Cross Cultural Communication in Business. Program outline. Introduction to culture & cultural differences Challenges in cross cultural communication Understanding cultures – culture models. 1 - Introduction to culture & cultural differences. "Cultural differences".

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program outline
Program outline
  • Introduction to culture & cultural differences
  • Challenges in cross cultural communication
  • Understanding cultures – culture models
slide4
"Cultural differences"

"For a German and a Finn, the truth is the truth.

In Japan and Britain it is all right if it doesn't rock

the boat. In China there is no absolute truth. In

Italy it is negotiable."

Richard D. Lewis

culture human mental programming
Culture = Human mental programming

Specific to individual

Inherited & learned

Personality

Specific to group

or category

Learned

Culture

Inherited

Universal

Human Nature

Source: G. Hofstede

slide6

Nature of culture

Learned

Culture is acquired by learning and experience

Shared

People as a member of a group, organization, or society share culture

Transgenerational

Culture is cumulative, passed down from generation to generation

the iceberg of culture
The iceberg of culture

Languages

(verbal & non-verbal)

Explicit

Conscious

Explicit behaviours

Habits & traditions

(food, housing, clothing, health…)

Know-how

(communication codes, tools..)

Institutions

(collective organizations modes:

family, education

Norms

(Do’s & don'ts)

Unconscious

Values

Implicit

Mental state & cognitive processes

(perception, learning, knowledge, memory…)

manifestations of culture different levels

Symbols

Heroes

Rituals

Values

Practices

Manifestations of culture: different levels

Source: G. Hofstede

manifestations of culture
Manifestations of culture
  • Symbols: words, gestures, objects that carry a particular meaning which is only recognized by those who share the culture.
  • Heroes: persons, alive or dead, real or imaginary, who possess characteristics which are highly prized in a culture and who thus serve as models for behavior.
  • Rituals: collective activities, considered socially essential.
  • Values: basic assumptions about how things should be in society.They are convictions regarding right or wrong, good or bad, important or trivial. Learned implicitly. Cannot be discussed.
  • Practices: what is visible to an outsider.

Source: G. Hofstede

americans as other see them
Americans as other see them…
  • India:“Americans seem to be in a perpetual hurry. Just watch the way they walk down the street. They never allow themselves the leisure to enjoy life; there are too many things to do.”
  • Turkey: “Once we were out in a rural area in the middle of nowhere and saw an American come to a stop sign. Though he could see in both directions for miles and no traffic was coming, he still stopped!”
  • Colombia: “The tendency in the US to think that life is only work hits you in the face. Work seems to be the one type of motivation.”
  • Ethiopia: “The American is very explicit; he wants a “yes” or a “no”. If someone tries to speak figuratively, the American is confused.”
  • Iran: “The first time my American professor told me, “I don’t know the answer, I will have to look it up,” I was shocked. I asked myself, “Why is he teaching me? In my country a professor would give the wrong answer rather than admit ignorance.”

Source: N. Adler., 1991

stereotypes
Stereotypes…

French: logical,

cartesian,

elitist, authoritarian,

proud

Americans: superficial, ‘Frontier Spirit’,

materialistic,

over-optimistic

Italians: loud,

macho,impatient,

over-emotional, talkative,

unorganized

Chinese: quiet,

hardworking,

enigmatic,

smiling, cruel

British: imperialistic, ‘Island mentality’, principled, class-conscious, conservative

Germans: rigid,

methodical,

obsessed with order

& privacy, unemotional, territorial

first approach to culture

Culture

The way you

live

The way you

view things

The way you

communicate

Customs, habits, traditions

Food & its meaning

Music, clothing

Religious practice

Health practice

Child raising

Family structures

& relationships

Meaning of language

Interaction pattern

Communications

Verbal & non-verbal

Beliefs, values

Spirituality

Perceptions

Attitudes

Expectations

First approach to culture
diversity of values differences in ranking
Diversity of values & differences in ranking

USAJapan Arab

1. Freedom 1. Belonging 1. Family security

2. Independence 2. Group harmony 2. Family harmony

3. Self-reliance 3. Collectiveness 3. Paternalism

4. Equality 4. Age/Seniority 4. Age

5. Individualism 5. Group consensus 5. Authority

6. Competition 6. Cooperation 6. Compromise

7. Efficiency 7. Quality 7. Devotion

8. Time 8. Patience 8. Patience

9. Directness 9. Indirectness 9. Indirectness

10. Openness 10. Go-between 10. Hospitality

common problems
Common problems…
  • There are a number of problems that all cultures try to address & bring solutions to:
      • relation to nature
      • relation to others
      • relation to power
      • relation to rules
      • relation to activity
      • relation to emotions
      • relation to space
      • relation to time

Unity???

Source: N. Prime, 2001

cultural answers through different solutions
Cultural answers through different solutions…
  • “ Culture, is the mechanism that allows to select an attitude, an interpretation, a solution as the one that makes sense « de facto », when facing a situation ( decision, relationship, emotion…)”

Nathalie Prime, 2001

Diversity...

values beliefs behaviors
Values, beliefs & behaviors

Culture

Values,

Beliefs

Situations

FILTER

Perception

Behaviors

cultural conditioning 1
Cultural conditioning (1)

As a leader of of cross-cultural team, Ms. C. is having difficulties managing Mr. H., one of the foreign member of the team.

He promised to compile a report by the deadline she set, but he didn’t.

When she talks to him about it, he won't look her in the eyes.

What’s happening?

Can you identify the two cultures that Ms. C. and Mr. H. belong to?

Source: CCL, 2002

cultural conditioning 2
Cultural conditioning (2)

Ms. C. suspects that Mr. H. is either very disorganized or doesn’t respect her as a leader… His unwillingness to make eye contact looks like evasive behavior to her.

Source: CCL, 2002

questions
Questions…
  • Do you understand your own cultural background & conditioning?
  • Do you approach cross-cultural communication with an awareness of how differences may affect communication?
  • Do you have the attitude that « different » is bad, inferior, or wrong?
  • Are you aware of ways that you stereotype others?
  • Arte you willing to adjust your communication in order to be more effective?

Source: CCL, 2002

anticipate adapt to cultural differences
Anticipate & Adapt to Cultural differences
  • Examine your own cultural conditioning
  • Watch for discomfort that can signal cultural differences
  • Recognize & modify your communication

Source: CCL, 2002

what do we know about culture
What do we know about culture?

Things I do not see

Things I see

Open for discussion

Things

they

see

My blind spot

Shared blind spot

Their blind spot

Things

they

do not

see

Source: Jouard, 1964

culture
Culture?
  • "Collective Programming"
    • Starts from birth, is reinforced in school & by education
    • Relates to values & core beliefs
    • Displayed in attitudes & behavior
  • Some visible characteristics:
    • Customs, behavior
  • Some less visible ones:
    • Values, beliefs
opening a meeting
Opening a meeting

Informal intro. Cup of coffee. Jokes. Begin.

Formal intro. Cup of tea.

10 min small talk. Casual beginning.

Formal intro. 15 min small

talk. Begin.

Formal intro. Protocol seating. Green tea. 15/20 min small

talk. Signal from senior member. Begin.

20/30 min small talk while others arrive. Begin when all are there.

Number

of minutes

5

10

15

20

25

Adapted from Richard D. Lewis

behavior cultural differences 1
Behavior & cultural differences (1)

A foreign manager is conducting an annual performance review with one of his direct reports. He begins the session by discussing all the areas in which the employee’s performance meets or exceeds goals. The employee listens attentively with serious and thoughtful expression.

But when the manager begins to discuss weaknesses and problem areas, the employee starts smiling. The sterner the manager’s tone, the broader the employee grins. The employee does not comment on anything the manager says or defend or explain. The manager becomes angry because he believes the employee is mocking him and treating the evaluation as a joke.

What do you think is happening? What does the employee’s smile may mean for him/her?

Source: CCL, 2002

cultural differences j meets y 1
Cultural differences: J. meets Y. (1)

J. goes to the airport to meet Y. The two men had talked several times on the phone but had only met once before. When Y. spots J. in the baggage area, he enthusiastically embraces him and kisses him on both cheeks. J. feels uncomfortable and hopes that nobody he knows has witnessed this greeting.

Source: CCL, 2002

cultural differences ms h v 1
Cultural differences: Ms H. & V. (1)

When Ms. H presents her proposal at the meeting, V. reacts strongly. He pounds on the table and questions her in a loud voice. When Ms. H casts her eyes down in embarrassment, V. seems to get more excited. He leans across the table and jabs his hands towards her face.

Source: CCL, 2002

negotiation cultural differences 1
Negotiation & cultural differences (1)

Tom in London & Hitoshi in Tokyo both like Armani suits, football, Beethoven, & good French wines. But Tom recently spoke for days with Hitoshi, his potential business partner and yet the barriers between them were never broken. The deal did not get closed.

What is your assessment of the situation?

Source: CCL, 2002

discomfort cultural differences 1
Discomfort & cultural differences (1)
  • Why doesn’t he/she says yes or no?
    • In one culture, an indirect signal may signal indecisiveness, while in another culture it signals deference & respect.
  • Why he/she always staring at me?
    • In one culture staring can signal aggressiveness or intimidation, while in another culture direct eye contact shows attention & esteem.
  • Why does he/she have to be right in my face whenever he/she talks to me?
    • In one culture the range of personal space can be much smaller than in another culture.

Source: CCL, 2002

discomfort cultural differences 2
Discomfort & cultural differences (2)
  • Why doesn’t he/she tell me if he/she doesn’t understand something?
    • In one culture,asking questions is accepted as an effective tool for communication, while in other cultures questioning superiors may signal insolence.
  • Why doesn’t he/she sit there smiling when I am talking about his performance problems?
    • In one culture smiling during a discussion about performance problems may signal contempt and disinterest, while in another culture a smile may reflect sincerity and attention.
  • Why does he make a joke about everything?
    • In one culture, a joke can signal lack of confidence or seriousness, while in some others it's a sign of deference.

Source: CCL, 2002

cultures
Cultures
  • We think our minds are free…
  • But be careful to distinguish between appearance and reality
  • And remember that every culture is viewed by the others through their own "cultural spectacles"
edward hall s silent language
Edward Hall’s “Silent Language”
  • 5 “silent languages”:
    • Time
    • Space
    • Material goods
    • Friendship
    • Agreements

Culture as a means of communication...

time linear vision 1
Time: Linear vision (1)

Present

Future

Past

Plans for next months/years

Immediate

tasks, separated & identified

Over

time linear vision 2
Time: Linear vision (2)
  • Action oriented
  • Time dominated: "time is money" & cannot be "wasted"
  • Focus on one thing at a time… & within schedule

Anglo-Saxons, Germans,

Swiss, Scandinavians

Adapted from Richard D. Lewis

time cyclical vision
Time: Cyclical vision
  • Past provides background
  • Circling around the problems & "walk around the pool" before making decision
  • Time is precious
  • But one needs plenty of time to look at details of a deal and develop the personal side of a relationship

Far-East, Asians

Adapted from Richard D. Lewis

time vision from
Time: Vision from …
  • The more they can do at the same time, the happier they are
  • Not interested in schedule & punctuality
  • Focus on the human side of things: meeting, business & relationship are more important
  • Time is event, personality related
  • It can be "used, manipulated, stretched..."

Latins, Arabs

Adapted from Richard D. Lewis

monochronic vs polychronic behavior
Monochronic vs. Polychronic behavior

Polychronic

Monochronic

Time is crucial

Punctuality

Get to the point

A then B then C then D

Time is an asset

Time is not ours to manage

Events have their own time

A & B or C, D or B

Talk business, but also

football, food, friendship

Task, linear

Task & Relational, circular

space
Space
  • Availability of space
    • use of space: physical & personal; ex, USA – wide open space, frontier spirit & Japan – limited space, island mentality
    • readiness to make contact, nature & degree of involvement with others: keep distance, suspicion of strangers; ex, Europe vs. USA
material goods
Material goods
  • Use of material possessions
    • North America: indication of status, level of success: car, house, money…
    • Other cultures: Japan, Middle-East, not viewed as important – emphasis placed on other elements: taste, harmony, friendship…

Adapted from Richard D. Lewis

friendship
Friendship
  • Formed quickly with neighbors, coworkers
    • North America
  • Takes more time, lasts longer, goes deeper and implies obligations
    • Asia, Middle-East

Adapted from Richard D. Lewis

agreements
Agreements
  • How to view law, rules, practices & informal customs?
    • Need for a written agreement, binding – North America, Northern Europe
    • Oral, handshake, with trust sufficient - Asia, Arabs

Adapted from Richard D. Lewis

communication process
Communication process

INTENT

& MEANING

EFFECT

& INTERPRETATION

Channel

(medium)

Sender

Receiver

Encoding

Decoding

symbols

words

pictures

gestures…

Feedback

(clarify, confirm…)

Ideas, feelings...

cannot be communicated

directly...

Noise from culture...

explicit implicit communication
Explicit & implicit communication

Japanese

High

Context

Arabs

Latin Americans

Italians

British

French

North Americans

Scandinavians

Germans

Low

Context

Swiss

Implicit

Communication

Explicit

Communication

hofstede s model
Hofstede’s model
  • 5 dimensions of culture:
    • Power distance
    • Individualism vs. collectivism
    • Feminity vs. masculinity
    • Uncertainty avoidance
    • Long term orientation
power distance

Low

High

Social integration

Little concern for

hierarchical status

Social differential

Significant concern for

hierarchical status

Power distance

Defined as ”the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.”

G. Hofstede

power distance sweden
Power distance: Sweden…

Source: G. Hofstede

power distance50
Power distance

Impact on management ...

  • Type of management structure
  • Decision process
  • Flow of information
  • Inequalities/equalities
  • Formalism
  • Status
individualism vs collectivism
Individualism vs. collectivism
  • ”Individualism pertains to societies in which the ties between individuals are loose; everyone is expected to look after himself and his immediate family”
  • “Collectivism pertains to societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong cohesive ingroups, which throughout people’s lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.”

G. Hofstede

Individualism

High

Low

Self-determination

High concern for

achievement

& personal growth

Collectivity

Concern for group harmony

versus personal achievement

individualism vs collectivism52
Individualism vs. collectivism

Impact on management ...

  • Employee/employer relations
  • Decision making
  • Conflict management
feminity vs masculinity

Masculinity

Low

High

Nurturing relationships

Little concern for control,

decisiveness, assertive

behaviour or competition

Controlling relationships

Assertiveness, decisiveness

and competitive behaviour

Feminity vs. masculinity
  • Feminine:
    • focus on - work to live, quality of life, relationships…
  • Masculine:
    • focus on - live to work, material success, money…
feminity vs masculinity54
Feminity vs. masculinity

Impact on management...

  • Masculine societies will value:
    • competition, speed, strength and wealth
    • promotion
    • emphasis on individual responsibility
    • open & hard conflicts
  • Feminine societies will value:
    • equality, security, peace and nature
    • cooperation, work conditions
    • emphasis on collective responsibility
    • conflict management through discussions
uncertainty avoidance

Low

High

Informal relationships

Little regard for structure

& control

Formal relationships

High regard for

structure, rituals and

procedures

Uncertainty avoidance

Defined as ”the extent to which the members of of a culture feel threatened by uncertain or unknown situations. “

G. Hofstede

uncertainty avoidance56
LOW

few guidelines, few rules

relativist attitude

risk taking, initiative

HIGH

strict guidelines, a lot of rules, process

need for an absolute truth

employment stability

important roles for experts

Uncertainty avoidance

Impact upon management...

a synthesis of country cultures

NEAR

EASTERN

NORDIC

Finland

Turkey

Denmark

Iran

GERMANIC

ARAB

Bahrain

Sweden

Greece

Austria

Abu-Dhabi

Germany

Saudi Arabia

Oman

Switzerland

Malaysia

United States

Singapore

Hong

Kong

Canada

ANGLO

FAR

EASTERN

France

United Kingdom

Argentina

Philippines

Ireland

Chile

Indonesia

Belgium

Mexico

SouthAfrica

Taiwan

LATIN

AMERICAN

LATIN

EUROPEAN

Peru

Italy

Spain

Brazil

Israel

Japan

India

INDEPENDENT

A Synthesis of Country Cultures
managing cultural differences tips map bridge integrate
Managing cultural differences: tips Map – Bridge - Integrate

MAP

Understand the

differences

  • Cultural values
  • Leadership style
  • Personality
  • Thinking style
  • Gender

BRIDGE

Communicate

across

differences

  • Approaching

with motivation

& confidence

  • Decentering w/o

blame

  • Recentering with

commonalities

INTEGRATE

Manage the

differences

  • Building

participation

  • Resolving

conflicts

  • Building on

each other’s

ideas

communicating across cultures guidelines
Communicating across cultures: « guidelines »
  • Speak clearly & more slowly than usual
  • Pronounce your words clearly & enunciate carefully
  • Use the simplest & most common words in most cases
  • Avoid slang & colloquial expressions
  • Use visuals
  • Confirm your spoken communications by memos, e-mails, letters, faxes

Source: CCL, 2002

conclusion
Conclusion

“Culture is more often a source of conflict than

of synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best

and often a disaster. But if we really want to globalize,

there is no way around them so we better take them for

what they are.”

Geert Hofstede

bibliography
Bibliography
  • When cultures Collide – Richard Lewis – Nicholas Brealy
  • Riding the waves of cultures – Fons Trompenaars & Charles Hampden-Turner – McGraw-Hill
  • Cultures & Organizations – Geert Hofstede – McGraw-Hill
  • Managing Across Cultures – Susan Schneider & Jean-Louis Barsoux – FT Prentice Hall

The end