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Cross Culture Assignmnt


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Cross Culture Assignmnt

  1. 1. 1 What problems of inter-cultural communications are highlighted in the Kodak case study and what are their implications for the effective transfer of knowledge in international joint venture? Introduction: - This paper intends to reveal the hindrances of inter-cultural communication during the transfer of international joint venture of Kodak in china. Understanding between members of different cultures was always important but it is so much essential in the matter of Ivan communication has primary focus in every international joint venture. “joint ventures are broadly International defined as joint ventures that involve firms from different countries cooperating across national and cultural boundaries. (Yen Aimin Lousy; 2001). So it is quite challenging for the international firms to establish a successful JV in totally different culture than its own one. Language is the first barrier in IJV (International joint ventures), in other words we can say the inter- cultural communications plays major role behind the success and failure of the IJV.Same like in Kodak case it was the biggest hurdle which faced by the Americans. Communication problem always caused misunderstanding mistrust between culturally two different people. The language was the biggest hurdle in transferring the knowledge in Kodak case. Inter-cultural issue was the challenging task for the Americans, but they accepted it whole-heartedly and take it as quite interesting and challenging task. Inter-Cultural Communication: - Traditionally, cultural study always focused on differences in values and relations between different goups. The assumption is that people have different cultures
  2. 2. 2 because their values are different, (Rodrigue F 2007) But culture is not simply the total collection of assumptions, values or arifacts shared by people, it also consist of set of common assumptions and values that consistently influences people’s behaviour, and that is passed on from older to younger. (J Stewart, Hall B, 1999; P 34) Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997) define culture as’ the way in which a group of people solve problems and reconciles dilemmas’. Cited in, (S. Perkins, M, Shortland 2006 P, 55), In inter-cultural communication we are concerned with the “characteristics of culturally two different groups, relationship among them, their encoding and decoding behaviour, the channels by which they rely symbols to one another, the social and physical context within which they operate and their intentions in the communicative act”. (L.E Sarbaugh 1988 P 5) So when two different groups from different cultures lives together, they must have to face some kind of cross cultural problems, and this situation becomes more challenging when one group are international assignees like Americans in china. Americans started their JV in china in 1998 and recruited local people in the company. So by the combination of two cultural groups it created so many barriers to transfer the knowledge. The main barrier was the linguistic differences within the plant, chines were not good in analysing the situation exactly, and it’s because of their cultural habit. To communicate cheines had to learn English and they enrolled for English and some kind of training courses. Expatriates followed the procedure to solve the problems, while chines were simple undertaking. Expatriates and chines had different kinds of attitudes towards work, and it was because of the fact that they both were from two different cultures.
  3. 3. 3 Cultural problems in Kodak case according to theoretical Framework There is considerable literature in the field of inter cultural communication through which we can be able to relate the inter cultural communication problems regarding to the theories. Hall (1990) consider communication in term of high-context and low-context Cultures. According to his theory the language of high-context culture are direct and to the point, while the language of low context culture is indirect. Americans are the example of low-context cultures, they communicate directly and to the point with communication placing value on straight-line logic, and it is explict. On the other hand the chines are High-context communicators, they believe on indirect approach with emphasising on saving face. Means communication is dependent on the person and the situation where it is taking place Cited By: -. (S.perkins, S.M. shortland, 2006, P, 61) In the case study Kodak expatriates were not able to convey meaning directly to the chines that have indirect approach, because they feel great trouble to deal in a new situation, they believe more on gestures and body language than verbal communication. This cultural conflict caused great trouble to transfer knowledge to them. As Chines do not like that someone criticised them, they believe more on face saving, but expatriates had direct point of view, so chines had to accept their western ideas of no value of personal relationship and face. Expatriates always handled the situation with a smooth procedure and in calm way, but chines consider it over complicated. Hofstede’s constructed different scales according to them inter-cultural communication could be measured. Individualism/Collectivism and power
  4. 4. 4 distance. Individualism refers to a loose social framework (people look after themselves’) while collectivism refers to a tight social framework (people look after their group and show loyality to it. Cited by:- (S.perkins, S.M shortland 2006, P 56). Americans are individualistic oriented, they only think for themselves and more use term “I”, while chines are collectivists, they put great emphasize on group and think more in term of “we”. In Kodak JV chines preferred to do team work, because of their collectivist behaviour. Even though Americans are individualistic but still they decided to do team work and they emphasized on collective performance. The power distance dimensions have to do with inequality in a society. America is a small power distance society where power doesn’t play much role, while China is large power distance society where prestige, wealth and power have great value. As chines emphasized on face saving that’s why they were not initiative, and didn’t like to participate in discussion, they never asked any kind of questions during presentations. There was the reason behind it that china has large power distance where power has much more importance. Americans were very soft and linear to them, because of their attitude of small power distance cultural behaviour. It was the reason behind chines was reluctant to be initiative. Hofstede focuses on uncertainty at the organisational level looking at the use of rules and strategies to reduce exposure to an unsure future. China is the country of high uncertainty avoidance where they emphasised on laws, rules and regulations, while Americans has low uncertainty avoidance where they intend to take risks. If we look this dimension in with respect to Kodak case stuy, expatriates established some rules and regulations regarding to the safty problems. But Americans were so linear toward them to even in rule and regulation matters.
  5. 5. 5 The success of cross-cultural international project depends upon the skills of the team members, to handle it in effective way. Competence model identify the four dimensions of this competence, team effectiveness, cultural uncertainty, interpersonal skills, and cultural empathy (Alexei V. Mated and Paul E. Nelson, 2004). Interpersonal skill present the flexibility in solving communicative problem with foreigners and team effectiveness requires people to communicate the team goals, roles with the other member of the company, but in Kodak case, both of the dimensions couldn’t be helpful because of the lack of communication of chines towards expatriates. And the big hurdle behind it was the language. In cultural uncertainty people must have to be patience while working with cross-cultural team. American expatriates were so patience and helpful towards chines and they always wanted them to come ahead and learn things. In cultural empathy members must have the spirit to explore the cultures and communication patterns among them. In Kodak case study expatriates worked hard and respect the cultural difference of the chines. But the contribution from chines was not very much in the beginning, but after passing some time they were interested in learning the expert’s language. In a multicultural environment the ability of the person depends on his skill to complete a task and competence of cross-cultural communication. (Mated & Nelson 2004). Evaluation: - From the above theoretical framework we are able to understand that cross-cultural problems were the obstacle in effective transferring of knowledge in IJV.If we have a look on case study the main barrier was the lack of communication between them, we can look it in high power distance context as well. The reason behind it was the language. Because cultural and linguistic differences create great trouble in
  6. 6. 6 understanding technical issues (Keith, warner, 2003 P 290). Majority of the chines could not communicate in English well. During discussion and representation they didn’t like to ask questions and get involved in discussion. Chines themselves confess the fact that sometime expatriates throw the old cables, but they couldn’t ask this to them because of the lack of the language barrier, and sometime experts wanted to take advice in technicians matters, but still due to the same obstacle they could not communicate with them. One expatriate mentioned it that sometime workers hesitate to come to them even if they have big problem, they wanted them to discuss their problems with them without any hesitation (Keith, Warner, 2003 P 290)). But they were interested in learning English; so 700 people got enrolled in English courses out of 1100. Cultural difference was one more problem in dealing effectively with chines. In very little and minor matters of life both are different. We can understand the difference with this incident, when a group of people were repairing a machine, during their work dinner time had passed, expatriates didn’t bother it but after some time chines wanted to eat something, than the expatriate stopped him by saying that he should eat after the work will be finished. (Keith, Warner, 2003 P 289). This incident reflects the cultural conflicts between two nations. One more problem was the lack of understanding; chines were not good in understanding the situation and analysing it. It was a big hurdle to let them know each and every thing, the fact was not that they were not intelligent but because of the different cultures. When members of two cultures come to interact with each other, their only difference is their respective cultural and linguistic knowledge, and it is that, that give rise to problems.
  7. 7. 7 Chines are collectivists, so it was quite hard for individualists to be a part of such society without changing it, or force them to act as an individual. That’s why expatriates had to accept the fact and exist the phenomenon of “eating from big pot” in the company. Although expatriates were very polite towards employees but still sometime their was a little bit difference in their attitude, for example sometime expatriates spoke in commanding tone, and chines managers listened to them, even if the manager have higher position than the expatriates. (Keith, Warner, 2003 P 292). So we can say that the attitude of the expats was very good but still they should have become more polite to the chines employee. Conclusion: Understanding of intercultural communication is very much essential International joint venture, ain thing, which must be faced in International joint venture, is the culture. It is difficult to overcome all of the problems of IJV but it can be solved to make the project successful with full understanding of the knowledge of the local culture. Americans started their JV in china in 1998. During their project they faced a lot of inter-cultural communication problems Different kind of literature has given different theories related to culture and communication. The above theories reflect the behaviour of different nations according to their cultures. So in the light of these dimensions we are now able to understand the biggest barriers in the effective transfer of knowledge to IJV. The main hurdle was the language, because chines and expatriates were not able to communicate with each other effectively to discuss different kind of matters. Hines couldn’t even share minor problems to the expatriates. Further more due to the cross cultures their behaviour were totally different to each other. Both teams had to sacrifice little bit, fore example, being individualistic,
  8. 8. 8 Americans accept their collectivism, and chines have high level context and they intends on face saving, but they had to sacrifice it in IJV. Expatriates gave them training to accept the western ideas that put stress on performance not on personal relationship and face. In the nutshell we can say that language and cultural gap was the biggest hurdle in useful transfer of international joint venture but still Americans tried to their extent to solve them. References: - Aimin Yan, Yadong Luo. 2001, International joint Ventures Black, S, Gregersen.H. Mendenhall.M, Stroh.L 1999, Globalizing People Through International Assignments. Defraud C, Robert, Lwrance 2006, and Case Studies in US, Trade Negotiation: Making the rules L.E Sarbough 1988, Inter Cultural Communication. Perkins J Stephen, Shortland S., 2006, Strategic International Human Resource Management, Choices and consequences in multinational people Management. Robert.E.Yaung 1996 Intercultural Communication, Pragmatics, Genealogy Deconstruction. K, S, Michael, H, Prosser 1999, Civic Discourse, Multiculturalism, Cultural Diversity and Global Communication. Warner M. Joynt .Pat, 2002. Managing Across Cultures Issue and perspectives
  9. 9. 9 Bibliography: - Andrian Holiday John, 2004, International communication Alexei V.Matveev and Paul E. Nelson (2004) “Cross Cultural Communication competence and multicultural Team performance” International journal of cross Cultural management.2004 vol4 (2) Fred E. Jandt (2007) “International Communication” 5th edition. Harzing,Ruysseveldt, v. 2004, International Human Resource Management. Nancy J. Adler (2000) 4th Ed “International dimensions of Organizational Behaviour”. Newell S. 1995The Healthy Organisation Sadler T.1995, HRM, Developing a Strategic Approach Sadler T.1995, HRM, Developing a Strategic Approach