Following the end of WWII (1945), and the US’s extended influence on the Western world, English became the international language of reference Following the end of the cold war (1989), economies have rapidly moved from in-country/local capitalism or communism to global capitalism Businesses (especially American corporations) increased their global operations assuming that – because everyone used English – what was good at home was good everywhere else THEY WERE WRONG
Cultures are shared systems of symbols, beliefs, attitudes, values, expectations and behaviours Intercultural communication serves the purpose of exchanging meaningful and unambiguous information across cultural boundaries
Communication for a globalised society Describes a wide range of communication problems appearing in organizations made of different educational, social, ethnic, religious backgrounds Also defined as cross-cultural communication, it focuses on how different cultures perceive each other and the world around them Language is key A common language is a strong link but can also divide, as it tends to flatten other cultural differences
Improvements in technology (Web 2.0; mobility) and travel (lower costs) have created the possibilities for different cultures to meet in unstructured situations This is positive but can lead to misunderstanding, distrust, defensiveness, but also patronising, excessive fear of causing offence Globalisation has not reduced cultural diversity: it has highlighted it People cannot be classed as a homogeneous market One product/brand can only appeal to the aspirations of one group of buyers
Different cultures encode and decode messages differently The first step is to recognise this and assume that others’ thoughts and actions are not like ours Not doing so, inevitably leads to MISUNDERSTANDING
Rights, values, needs Some cultural traits are easily identified, other are assumed, implied, unspoken Assumptions People can misinterpret each other’s motives – e.g. companies need to protect their IP and may not be open about motives in an interaction Situations Excessive pressure leading to emotion Prejudice Fear, anger For example, issues of personal security, dignity, and control will be very different as between an abled and a disabled person. Similarly, there may be problems of respect when a person from a rigidly class-based culture meets a meritocrat, or where there is racism, sexism or religious intolerance in play. In such situations, identity is fundamental when disputing the proper role or &quot;place&quot; of the other, about who is in control of their lives, and how they present themselves to the outside world. But the reality is more deeply rooted in power relationships: about who is on top of the social, economic, and/or political hierarchy. Family members or long term rivals may be obsessed with their mutual competition. The relationships between racial or ethnic groups may be affected by economic jealousy. Nations may assert that their political systems are superior. Such conflicts are difficult to resolve because no-one wants to be the loser, and few are willing to share the winnings. Stereotyping can aggravate these problems and prevent people from realising that there is another way to interpret a situation, or that other groups may define their rights in a different way. Hence, what may appear just or fair to one group can often seem unjust to an opposing group.
The ability to communicate successfully with people from other cultures A combination of three basic components Knowledge – information needed to interact effectively Motivation – positive attitude towards other cultures Skills – the correct behaviour necessary to interact effectively Intercultural communication is relevant in many fields Business Healthcare Government NGOs Academic institutions
Cultures differ between nations or continents, but also within the same company or even family Culture is multi-layered and multi-faceted The same individual can participate in many cultures Cultural identity is based on a number of factors Geography Ethnicity Morals Ethics Religion Politics History
Cultures can be broadly divided in two categories: high and low context High context: Strong interpersonal bonds; Extensive networks with group members Low context: Compartmentalized relationships; Need lots of background information High context: Japan; China; Korea; Latin/hispanic cultures; African cultures Low context: Germany; Scandinavian cultures; US; UK In high context cultures , information is either in the physical context or internalized in the person. Behavioral rules are implicit; in other words, the context is supposed to give you the cues you need to behave appropriately. In these cultures, members tend to use a more indirect style of communication. Examples of societies that value this communication style include Japan, Korea, China, and many of the Latin American countries. In low context cultures , information is part of and conveyed through the verbal content of the communication. The rules and expectations are explained and discussed; individuals tend to prefer a more direct communication style. Examples of countries that would prefer this communication style include the United States and most European countries. In the U.S., for example, it is very common for college students to receive a course syllabus at the beginning of the semester. In it, students find detailed information such as the course description and learning objectives. It is not uncommon for the syllabus to also provide the instructor’s policies regarding attendance, course assignments, course preparation, how grades will be determined, and even a tentative course schedule. That is because, in a low context culture such as the U.S., expectations are often communicated directly to the individual. In a high context culture, students may not be given all this information directly. As a student, it is your job to find out what the rules and expectations are.
Cultural differences were studied extensively by Dutch sociologist Geert Hofstede starting from a research of cultural differences across IBM subsidiaries in 64 countries The research was further extended to include students, elites, airline pilots, upmarket consumers and civil service managers Four indicators were considered, plus a supplementary one Power distance Individualism Masculinity Uncertainty avoidance (Long term orientation) Detailed info on http://www.geert-hofstede.com/ National cultures can be described according to the analysis of Geert Hofstede. These ideas were first based on a large research project into national culture differences across subsidiaries of a multinational corporation (IBM) in 64 countries. Subsequent studies by others covered students in 23 countries, elites in 19 countries, commercial airline pilots in 23 countries, up-market consumers in 15 countries, and civil service managers in 14 countries. Together these studies identified and validated four independent dimensions of national culture differences, with a fifth dimension added later. Hofstede's conceptualization of culture as static and essential has attracted some criticism. In a recent article in the Academy of Management 's flagship journal, The Academy of Management Review , Galit Ailon deconstructs Hofstede's book Culture's Consequences by mirroring it against its own assumptions and logic  . Ailon finds several inconsistencies at the level of both theory and methodology and cautions against an uncritical reading of Hofstede's cultural dimensions. Hofstede's work has also been criticized by researchers who think that he identifies cultures with nations based on the supposition that within each nation there is a uniform national culture, a suggestion explicitly denied by Hofstede himself in chapter 1 of 'Cultures and Organizations'. According to Hofstede, the point about culture is precisely its resilience to change in spite of all this flux. 
Hofstede’s Power distance Index measures the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. This represents inequality (more versus less), but defined from below, not from above. It suggests that a society’s level of inequality is endorsed by the followers as much as by the leaders. For example, Germany has a 35 on the cultural scale of Hofstede’s analysis. Compared to Arab countries where the power distance is very high (80) and Austria where it very low (11), Germany is somewhat in the middle. Germany does not have a large gap between the wealthy and the poor, but have a strong belief in equality for each citizen. Germans have the opportunity to rise in society. On the other hand, the power distance in the United States scores a 40 on the cultural scale. The United States exhibits a more unequal distribution of wealth compared to German society. As the years go by it seems that the distance between the ‘have’ and ‘have-nots’ grows larger and larger. A measure of how less powerful members of society accept the fact that power is unequally distributed It measures how much inequality is endorsed by the followers It represents social inequality as measured from the bottom up It is also an indicator of social mobility (low ranking = high social mobility)
Individualism is the one side versus its opposite, collectivism, that is the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. On the individualist side we find societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. On the collectivist side, we find societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty. For example, Germany can be considered as individualistic with a relatively high score (67) on the scale of Hofstede compared to a country like Guatemala where they have strong collectivism (6 on the scale). In Germany people stress on personal achievements and individual rights. Germans expect from each other to fulfil their own needs. Group work is important, but everybody has the right of his own opinion an is expected to reflect those. In an individual country like Germany people tend to have more loose relationships than countries where there is a collectivism where people have large extended families. The United States can clearly been seen as individualistic (scoring a 91). The “American dream” is clearly a representation of this. This is the Americans’ hope for a better quality of life and a higher standard of living than their parents’. This belief is that anyone, regardless of their status can ‘pull up their boot straps’ and raise themselves from poverty. It is typical of societies where each one is expected to decide for himself and is opposed to collectivism Collectivist societies are characterised by people integrated into strong, cohesive groups (e.g. families), usually throughout their lives In individualistic societies team work is considered important, but each has a right to their own opinion and are expected to contribute it Personal ties are looser in individualistic societies
Masculinity versus its opposite, femininity refers to the distribution of roles between the genders which is another fundamental issue for any society to which a range of solutions are found. The IBM studies revealed that (a) women’s values differ less among societies than men’s values; (b) men’s values from one country to another contain a dimension from very assertive and competitive and maximally different from women’s values on the one side, to modest and caring and similar to women’s values on the other. The assertive pole has been called ‘masculine’ and the modest, caring pole ‘feminine’. For example, Germany has a masculine culture with a 66 on the scale of Hofstede (Netherlands 14). Masculine traits include assertiveness, materialism/material success, self-centeredness, power, strength, and individual achievements. The United States scored a 62 on Hofstede’s scale. So these two cultures share, in terms of masculinity, similar values. It refers to the distribution of roles between genders Women’s values appear to be more constant across cultures Men’s values vary widely across cultures from assertive and competitive (farthest from women’s values) to caring and modest (nearest) Masculine traits Assertiveness, materialism, self-centredness, power, individual achievement
Uncertainty avoidance deals with a society’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity; it ultimately refers to man’s search for Truth. It indicates to what extent a culture programs its members to feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations. Unstructured situations are novel, unknown, surprising, and different from usual. Uncertainty avoiding cultures try to minimize the possibility of such situations by strict laws and rules, safety and security measures, and on the philosophical and religious level by a belief in absolute Truth; ‘there can only be one Truth and we have it’. For example, in Germany there is a reasonable high uncertainty avoidance (65) compared to countries as Singapore (8) and neighbouring country Denmark (23). Germans are not to keen on uncertainty, by planning everything carefully they try to avoid the uncertainty. In Germany there is a society that relies on rules, laws and regulations. Germany wants to reduce its risks to the minimum and proceed with changes step by step. The United States scores a 46 compared to the 65 of the German culture. Uncertainty avoidance in the US is relatively low, which can clearly be viewed through the national cultures. It measures a society’s degree of tolerance towards uncertainty and ambiguity It indicates degrees of comfort or discomfort in unstructured situations, it is also a measure of flexibility Uncertainty avoidance sees societies try to minimise unstructured situations through strict regulation and enforcement and – on an ethic and religious level – through the belief in absolute truth
Long-Term Orientation is the fifth dimension of Hofstede which was added after the original four to try to distinguish the difference in thinking between the East and West. From the original IBM studies, this difference was something that could not be deduced. Therefore, Hofstede created a Chinese value survey which was distributed across 23 countries. From these results, and with an understanding of the influence of the teaching of Confucius on the East, long term vs. short term orientation became the fifth cultural dimension. Below are some characteristics of the two opposing sides of this dimension: Long term orientation -persistence -ordering relationships by status and observing this order -thrift -having a sense of shame Short term orientation -personal steadiness and stability -protecting your ‘face’ -respect or tradition -reciprocation of greetings, favors, and gifts This is a supplementary indicator, added in an attempt to classify cultural differences between the East and the West, it indicates the importance attached to the future versus the past and present In long term oriented societies, people value actions and attitudes that affect the future. In short term oriented societies, people value actions and attitudes that are affected by the past or the present.
Fashions and fashion design are trademarks of Italy. Therefore, in the business world, good clothes are a signature of success Men should wear fashionable, high quality suits Shirts may be colored or pin-striped, and they should be paired with an Italian designer tie Women dress in quiet, expensive elegance Slacks are generally not worn by either sex Quality accessories such as watches, shoes and leather goods will make a good impression with the Italians Italian history has played a crucial role in the modern business world. Some of their contributions include banking, insurance, and double-entry bookkeeping &quot;Time is money&quot; is not a common phrase in Italy Foreign businessmen/women should be punctual for business appointments, although the Italian executive may not be Handshakes are common for both sexes, and may include grasping the arm with the other hand Do not expect quick decisions or actions to take place, as the Italian bureaucracy and legal systems are rather slow Italian companies often have a rigid hierarchy, with little visible association between the ranks It is common for everyone to speak simultaneously at Italian gatherings. This applies to business meetings as well as social events Do not exchange business cards at social occasions; but it is the norm at business functions and meetings When entering a business function, the most senior or eldest person present should always be given special treatment When invited to someone's home, bring gift-wrapped chocolates, pastries, or flowers. Flowers must be given in odd numbers, except for a dozen (12) or half-dozen (6), especially if roses If you bring wine as a gift, make sure that it is of excellent vintage, as many Italians are wine connoisseurs Avoid giving anything in a quantity of 17, as 17 is considered to be bad luck, or a doomed number Avoid talking about religion, politics, and World War II At social gatherings, it is considered bad manners to ask someone you have just met about their profession Good conversational topics include Italian culture, art, food, wine, family, and films
Cultural diversity in an organisation is a challenge, but can also become a competitive advantage This requires a conscious effort in identifying the advantages… … and applying the levers that are required to achieve them Building awareness Of own culture Of cultural differences Developing knowledge of the relative strengths and weaknesses of different cultures Building skills Adapt behaviours to achieve effective results in different cultural settings
Americans and Europeans (except Scandinavians) are embarrassed by long pauses in conversation; Asians are comforatble with pauses and consider it rude to talk too much Punctuality is religiously observed in Germany, Switzerland, UK, US, Japan; flexible in Italy and Mediterranean countries In Africa and Arabic countries it is not insulting to tell a woman she has put on weight In many cultures not looking a person in the eyes is a sign of respect or deference; in the Western world it is a sign of boredom, shame or even deception
In many Asian and Arabic cultures it is considered inappropriate to pay the asking price immediately without haggling Similarly, in some Asian countries it is considered rude to accept a drink immediately In Latin and African cultures it is acceptable to talk loudly in public places, while it is inappropriate in Northern European countries and rude in many Asian cultures Kissing in public is considered obscene in African and Asian countries In Christian and Islamic cultures white is the colour of purity; in Hindu culture it is the colour of mourning
Understand different cultural values Bear in mind that values are guidelines, they vary among individuals Listen and repeat/paraphrase Ambiguity should be eliminated by re-phrasing what you heard Delivering the message Intonation, body language, words should be as neutral as possible Asking “did you understand?” will always get a “yes”, even if no one has really understood Develop empathy Your vision of the world may only be “normal” to your own cultural group
Face Primary indicator of emotion Hands Primary means of showing intensity Touch The most fundamental part of human experience Space It is one of the most commonly misunderstood elements of intercultural communication High context cultures prefer close contact; low context cultures prefer distance
Avoid slang and idioms, use unequivocable words Native-english speakers tend not to realise that English is probably a second language to the majority of people sitting in the room Be aware of local communication formalities and watch body language Body language is not “natural”, it is “cultural” Some “innocent” gestures can be insulting in other cultures, others are meaningless Understand how your culture is perceived by others Acknowledge perception of your culture to lower barriers
When Dell Inc. moved into Asia, people told them that their Western concept wouldn't work there. &quot;But rather than tailoring the strategy to fit the culture, we said, &quot; We think our direct model will work cross-culturally. And we're willing to take the risk,&quot; writes Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of the Dell Computer Corporation. &quot;To be sure we do some localization,&quot; he continues. “You obviously can't sell English-language computers in China. And from a cultural perspective, customers in other countries are different. We learned, for example, that some Germans aren't comfortable telephoning in a response to an advertisement; they find it too forward. They will, however, respond to an ad that features a fax number. They'll send in a fax, asking for more information, and will provide their name and phone number so that a Dell representative can call them. The conversation that ensues is almost exactly the same as that which would have occurred if the German customer had made the call himself. It was a slight modification that allowed us to adapt to cultural differences without altering our business strategies.&quot;
Credit Suisse Private Banking (CSPB) Copernicus project team developed the Global Private Banking Centre (GPBC), Singapore. The project team comprised 130 individuals with 20 different nationalities. Generally, the multicultural mix of the project was not an issue, because all members were professionals who fit into the culture of the project. However, cultural differences were visible when differences of opinion manifested themselves. For instance, members were expected to be forthright in giving their views on projects and to speak their minds. However, a newly joined IT expert who was Chinese never expressed a candid opinion that a concept was not worth pursuing at the team meetings, but he would unilaterally decide not to work on the concept if he was convinced that it was not going to work. Initially his behavior was seen as disloyal, almost hostile. He was asked why he didn't publicly voice his aversions to specific concepts when they came up for discussion at the team meetings. After he explained his rationale, it became apparent that his behavior was influenced by traditional Chinese values. Traditionally, the Chinese do not like to publicly criticize a colleague. They want to ensure that the person being criticized does not lose face.
The other language visual
The other language Communicating across cultural differences Allen Montrasio – PR and Communications consultant [email_address]
Long term orientation <ul><li>Long term orientation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Persistence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Observance of status </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thrift </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sense of honour </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Short term orientation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal stability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Protecting your “face” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Respect for tradition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reciprocation of favours </li></ul></ul>
Cultural difference in an organisation Power distance Low = higher acceptance of responsibility High = Discipline Individualism High = management mobility Low = Employee commitment Masculinity High = efficiency, mass production Low = Personal service, custom building Uncertainty avoidance Low = innovation High = Precision
A framework for developing multi-cultural teams What How Strategic business imperatives Specific team goals and objectives Critical areas for action <ul><li>Understanding differences </li></ul><ul><li>culture </li></ul><ul><li>personal styles </li></ul>Strategy for managing diversity in the team <ul><li>Implication </li></ul><ul><li>of differences </li></ul><ul><li>strenghts </li></ul><ul><li>weaknesses </li></ul><ul><li>Purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Values </li></ul><ul><li>Roles </li></ul><ul><li>Processes </li></ul>Potential team contribution
Managing change in multi-cultural teams Unfreezing Moving Refreezing <ul><li>Communication of issues </li></ul><ul><li>Development of awareness and understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Top leadership commitment and example </li></ul><ul><li>Action learning by solving real business problems in multinational teams </li></ul><ul><li>Review and sharing of learning </li></ul><ul><li>Design team selection process </li></ul><ul><li>Building teamworking processes </li></ul><ul><li>International teamworking at many levels </li></ul><ul><li>Recognition and reward </li></ul>
Cultural differences Western culture: Good! France: One India: All the best Arabic countries: [# @µ£ò Western culture: OK! Korea/Japan: Money France: Worthless Greece/Turkey: µ §µ£ò
Other cultural differences Affectionate or inappropriate? Intimidating or benevolent?
Managing cultural differences <ul><li>You cannot treat everybody the same regardless of culture without adverse consequences. </li></ul>
Managing cultural differences <ul><li>Different cultures have different ways of dealing with criticism or divergence of opinion </li></ul>
Rules and precious metals <ul><li>The golden rule </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do unto others what you would like done to yourself </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The platinum rule </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do unto others what they would like done to them </li></ul></ul>
References <ul><li>C. Boleman, Communicating Across Cultures </li></ul><ul><li>M. Higgs, Overcoming the problems of cultural differences to establish success for international management teams </li></ul><ul><li>G. Hofstede, Cultural dimensions </li></ul><ul><li>K. Margolies, Communicating Across Cultures </li></ul><ul><li>C. Williams, Communication across Cultures </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia </li></ul>