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Intercultural Management Communication

CEMS Master course, University of St. Gallen

Sabrina Bresciani

on 6 May 2015

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Transcript of Intercultural Management Communication

Cultural Differences
Cultural Foci
Intro & Motivation
Managerial Implications
Managerial Implications
1. Color
2. Direction
3. Icons and symbols
4. Humor
5. Visual metaphors
6. Focus of attention
7. Nature of thought
7 main factors of cross-cultural differences
Visualization is a universal language.
Source: United Nations ESCWA public report
Jamae Mosque, Singapore
Conventions of pictorial representation are culture-bound (Scott, 1990)
In the United States it is typical and welcome to use humor in business conversations (Lewis, 1999),
but in many other countries it is perceived as inappropriate, offensive and might not even be understood as humor
Metaphors fulfill their function only if they can be understood cross-culturally (Hogan 2007)
Only a handful of sports are well known globally (Beamer & Varner, 2008)
Field dependence-independence (Witkin and Berry, 1975)
Change blindness (Masuda & Nisbett, 2006)
Westerners: favor abstract and analytic reasoning, rules, categorization
East Asians: holistic view of the world, focus on relationships and similarities
(Nisbett & Miyamoto, 2005)
1. Overcoming
linguistic barriers
2. Providing double
3. Seeing the
Big Picture
4. Surface
5. Prevent
personal conflict
and the relations
* Power distance
Optional reading: Bresciani S., Eppler M. (2010). Glocalizing visual communication in organizations,
In: Bertagni, B., La Rosa M., Salvetti, F., Glocal working (pp. 233-251). Milan: Franco Angeli.
Non verbal
No general approach
Consider individual differences
Vroom 1964
"Belief that effort leads to a specific level of performance"
Paid on the base of time vs. output
Number of vacation days linked to
seniority or performance?
Culturally dependent:

pay, promotion

social benefits

job security




quality of life

To strengthen the link:
provide support, coaching, self-efficacy ("Yes, you can")
Types of reward
Distribution Criteria
Desired outcomes
1. Financial/material

2. Social (extrinsic)

3. Psychic (intrinsic)
Motivate (work harder/smarter)
Retain talented people
Recognition, impact
Salary, bonuses, benefits
Self-esteem, accomplishment,
sense of competence
1. Results

2. Behaviors

3. Other
Performances: quantity/quality
Teamwork, cooperation, creativity
Type of job, tenure, level in hierarchy
Strategy communication across cultures
Communicating strategy
- with text vs. visual
- with culture-specific visuals
Does it work?
360 participants in Europe and Asia
- strategy is perceived as better

when it is visualized
- subjects are more committed to implement it!

Cultural preferences:
- Westerners prefer linear abstract diagrams
- Non-westerners prefer metaphors and story-telling
Source: Bresciani S., Eppler M., Tan, M., (2011). Communicating Strategy Across Cultures with Visualization: An Experimental Evaluation. Academy of Management annual meeting, 12-16 August 2011: San Antonio, Texas. Carolyn Dexter Award nominee.
Leadership across cultures
Required reading: Brodbeck, F., et al. (2000). Cultural variation of leadership prototypes across 22 European countries, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 73, 1–29.
The the ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members
(House & Javidan, 2004, p.15)
“It is important for a manager to always have precise answers for most of the questions followers ask.”

Different expectations on the attributes of good leadership across cultures

Understand attributes of a good leader:
GLOBE study
Model of Communication:
Face to face, telephone, e-mail, videoconference, visuals, written memos, charts, etc.
Translating thoughts into a code or language
Process of interpreting and making sense
=> Culture, language
Poor connection, illegible handwriting, poor hearing
language issues
different background
i.e., finding the right words
Body movements
and gestures
Facial expressions
Eye contact

In general: avoid gestures
West: People tend to touch those they like
Impression on warmth and caring
Arab World & Asia: no touching
Westerners: impolite not to look
at the speaker
Asian: avoid eye contact with
Judgmental heuristics
"Rules of thumb or shortcuts that people use to reduce information-processing demands"
Systematic mistakes when making decisions
Kazakhstan, a country with 17 million inhabitants and a territory of 2,727,300 square kilometers (larger than Western Europe)
1. Dimensions
2. Metaphors
3. Geography
- of Thought
- of Time
-Specific cultures
- Hofstede
- Hall
- Trompenaars
What is the purpose of life?
Money Happiness

What is the purpose of a company?
Make money Give a contribution to the society

Which nations are more developed?
The Pursuit of Gross National Happiness: the case of Bhutan

“Wangchuck still maintains that economic growth does not necessarily lead to contentment.”
Source: Time
Additional resources: http://kosmos9.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/what-is-wealth-anyway/
“Although we are the wealthiest people that ever lived, we are by no means the happiest”
 Human Development Index
«It’s not bad, it’s just different»
Stereotyping: assumption that every member of a society or subculture has the same characteristics or traits
1. Awareness of differences & avoid stereotyping
3. Use cultural differences as a resource
Source: TLC conference 2011
Sources of communication

Some (over-)generalization is necessary

Point of view: communication, specific cultural background

What this module is not: a course on theories of culture, on anthropology, on international management or international marketing
We & Them
Source: http://www.worldmapper.org/
Is the World Flat?
Nike recalls 800.000 pairs of sneakers
Source: Sen, A. (2005) The Argumentative Indian. Ch 6: Our Culture, their Culture: 121-138.
Basic ingredient of traditional Indian cooking
Brought to India by the Portuguese
From the “new world”

Noodles from China
Tomato from the “new world”

From the middle East to India
Now a staple British diet
Source: Wall Street Journal Europe, November 17, 2008: 16
may be evaluated, indeed ranked, but only
on the basis of facts and evidence according
to precise criteria and for very specific culture-related activities

is identity
is a sort of collective fingerprint

exhibits differences but may not be judged as globally superior or inferior

*The dilemma of understanding another culture is that it has to be compared to one’s own culture”
Interview: Sting
“I'm an alien I'm a legal alien
I'm an Englishman in New York”
© Holden (2002) Cross-cultural Management
Reverse cultural shock: W-curve
“I’m a stranger here myself”, Bill Bryson, 2000
Sample: 117,000 employees in 53 nations
Culture’s consequences (1997) 10.000 citations
Software of the mind (1984) 15.000 citations
(surpassed Karl Marx as most cited researcher in Social Science Citation Index)
Why Hofstede?
Noted that each culture had a dominant orientation
Optional reading: Hofstede, G. (1984) Cultural Dimensions in Management and Planning, Asia Pacific Journal of management
Individualism (and collectivism)

Power distance

Uncertainty avoidance

Masculinity (and femininity)

Time orientation
Source: http://www.geert-hofstede.com/
Degree to which individuals are integrated into groups.
Individualist: the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family.
Collectivist: 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.
Arab World
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. 'all societies are unequal, but some are more unequal than others'.
Arab World
Society's tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. It indicates to what extent a culture programs its members to feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations (novel, unknown, surprising).
Uncertainty avoiding cultures try to minimize the possibility of such situations by strict laws and rules, safety and security measures.
Uncertainty accepting cultures, are more tolerant of opinions different from what they are used to; they try to have as few rules as possible
Distribution of roles between the genders.
Women's values differ less among societies than men's values;
The assertive pole has been called 'masculine' and the modest, caring pole 'feminine'. The women in feminine countries have the same modest, caring values as the men; in the masculine countries they are somewhat assertive and competitive, but not as much as the men, so that these countries show a gap between men's values and women's values.
Dimension added by a Chinese study
Added subsequently to Hofstede Dimensions (Hofstede ’94)
Problematic measurement

Long Term Orientation: thrift and perseverance
Short Term Orientation: respect for tradition, fulfilling social obligations, and protecting one's 'face'.
Innovation and entrepreneurship:
more individualistic and less uncertainty-avoidance national cultures tend to be more innovative and entrepreneurial
(Franke, Hofstede, and Bond, 1991)

It’s answer B
Hofstede's Identification of National Cultural Differences and Their Consequences: A Triumph of Faith - A Failure of Analysis. McSweeney, B. 2002 In : Human Relations. 55, 1, p. 89-118.

How Not Do Cross Cultural Analysis: Predictive Failure and Construction Flaws in Geert Hofstede's Case Study. / McSweeney, Brendan ; Brown, D. ; Iliopoulou, S..
Problems with Hofstede study?
*Correlation between collectivism and high-context
Source: The Silent Language (1959)
The Hidden Dimension (1966)
Beyond Culture (1976)
one thing at a time
organized and methodical
a chain of isolated successive blocks
Eg. Germans
usually also low-context
Source: Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997)
Riding The Waves of Culture: Understanding Diversity in Global Business
Source: Trompenaars (1997) Riding The Waves of Culture

Trompenaars (2003) Did the Pedestrian Die
Specific - Diffuse
Source: Trompenaars (1997) Riding The Waves of Culture
Lewin’s circles of private-public relationships
So how can we describe cultural differences?!
-primacy of a culture
-Western reasoning
Problems with Dimensions
Cultural metaphor = “some unique or distinctive institution, phenomenon or activity expressive of a nation’s values”

Examples (Gannon):
American football, German symphony, Italian opera, Chinese family altar, Japanese garden, Swedish stuga, etc.
American football:
individualism and competitive specialization
complex plays (playbook)
high risk, aggressive (violent), rich rewards
people from different backgrounds and abilities come together periodically to solve short-term problems.
ceremonial celebration of perfection
United States
German symphony:
focus on enduring achievement
precision and synchronicity
Individual goals are subordinated to group goals
Italian opera:
operatic overture
exteriority. The belief that the individual cannot keep thoughts and emotions to himself/herself.
interaction between soloists and chorus, similar to the interaction between the individual and the group
Chinese Family altar:
Harmony with the family
Capacity of changing while maintaining solid traditions
Well-integrated social unit uniting generations (including the dead)

Find a metaphor for a specific culture
(your own or a culture that you know well)
Metaphors of intercultural encounters
Required reading: Fang & Faure (2011). Chinese Communication Characteristics: A Yin Yang Perspective. International Journal of Intercultural Relations.
Geographical maps are NOT objective depictions of reality
they are a product of what the author wants to emphasize

Traditional world map: product of conventions
Many types of world maps exists with different orientations
<- i.e., Japanese map of 1671
Source: Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. 2010. The WEIRDest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Cambridge University Press, 33 (2-3): 61-83.
WEIRD = Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic
Westerners East Asians
Categories vs. relationships
“perceptual processes are influenced by culture”
East Asians:
attend to the relationship between the object and the context in which the object is located

Favor reasoning that is:
-holistic view of the world
-focus on relationships
-focus on similarities
The Geography of Thought:
consequence of the influence of prominent philosophers over 2500 years ago.
Humane interactions across boundaries

Ethical behavior is different across cultures!
(politically correct)
Decision Making

Adapted from: Gannon (2001): 81

Source: Deresky (2002) Global Management, ch 4
Hall‘s Dimensions - implications for management communication
(Samovar & Porter)
Managers spend >50% of their time talking to people

Cultural variables affect the communication process
Social organization
Thought patterns
Roles (status)
Non verbal communication
Sichuan mistranslates Xiaoxin huadao 小心滑倒
Lost in Translation

You are working in Indonesia and your Chinese boss asks you to write a report by tomorrow, but you know it will take at least 2 weeks.
In this culture it is rude to say no, especially to an higher status person (face issues).
What do you do? (You can’t say no!)
Required reading: E Vaara, J Tienari, R Piekkari Language and the circuits of power in a merging multinational corporation, Journal of Management, 42 (3), 2005.
Language and Power
Chinese prefer to think about the situation for over 30 seconds before they speak
Paralanguage: styles of verbal communication
Source: Trompenaars (1997) Riding The Waves of Culture
Source: Trompenaars (1997) Riding The Waves of Culture
Paralanguage: tone of voice
feel uncomfortable with eye-to-eye posture
Bow their heads = humility
Close their eyes = listening

Source: Deresky (2002) Global Management, ch 4; Hall (1959) The Silent Language

Chinese facial expressions:
Sticking out the tongue = surprise or shame
Widening of the eyes = anger
“Oriental poker face”: displaying emotions is a weakness
Global Manager
“I always thought I was right, until I went overseas.”
Required reading: Pauleen and Murphy (2005) In praise of cultural bias, MIT Sloan Management Review (pg. 21)
Cultural bias
(Lewis, 2008)
Hispanic America
Listening habits
(Lewis, 2008)
Audience expectation during presentations
(Lewis, 2008)
Communication patterns at meetings
Arab World
Effectiveness of global teams
Required reading: Adler, N (2001) International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior, 3rd ed.; Taylor, chapter 5.
- creativity and effectiveness tend to be enhanced with diversity
- critical to address conflicting values and attitudes directly
- "trained incapacity" of functional specialists
multicultural teams have the potential to be: - the
most productive
- the
least productive
homogeneous teams tend to be of average effectiveness

Multiple perspectives and interpretations
Richer alternatives & more ideas
Increased creativity and problem solving skills
Increased flexibility
Limited groupthink: less likely to engage in
1. self-censoring
2. sharing an illusion of unanimity
3. directly pressuring
4. emergence of self-appointed mindguards
Diversity-Related Advantages
Increased ambiguity and confusion
Difficulty to converge meanings
Harder to reach agreement
Lower cohesiveness
Harder to make decisions and agree on specific actions
Diversity-Related Problems
Source: Adler, N (2001) International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior, 3rd ed.; Taylor
Effectiveness of global teams
Source: Tan et al. (1998) Reducing Status Effect with Computer Mediated communication: Evidence from Two distinct national cultures. JMIS
Bresciani S., Eppler M. (2009) The Benefits of Synchronous Collaborative Information Visualization: Evidence from an Experimental Evaluation. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics.
Computer Mediated Communication:

Can reduce status-effect during group communication

 Increases team knowledge sharing and recall
Effectiveness of virtual global teams
Source: Brodbeck et al. (2000)
Arab World
South America
Help the students to gain a better understanding, acquire some knowledge and develop skills for living, communicating and working in the Arab World.

The workshop requires participation from the students – short analysis of audio and visual material, reaction to short case studies and critical incidents
“Working in the Arab World”
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
& University of Lugano
Guest speaker: Dr. Annick Tonti
Annick Tonti, PhD in Social Anthropology and Development Economics from the University of Zürich (Switzerland). Her Ph.D. Thesis was published in 1983 under the title : “Dacca, capitale du Bangladesh - Le dualisme urbain reconsidéré”.

She carried out researches in South East Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

showing some of the facets of the Arab culture (s) which are of great relevance to work with/ in this part of the world
Diversity of the Arab world
Importance of the history
Religions in general and specifically Islam
Economic structures (Islamic banking, entrepreneurship, business structure)
New information technologies and media
Challenges of the modern Arab world (political, environmental, technology, role of women)
sensitizing the students to cross- and inter-cultural issues and behaviors, which can improve the intercultural dialogue and help them in business practices
communication - communication strategy, rituals of communication
meeting, timing, decision making, spoken world
values and attitudes (hospitality, body language, etiquette)
“redlines” in communication
Business in the Arab world:
http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/Arabic/article.cfm?articleid=2589 Family firms in the Middle East: the new rule of engagement (2010)
http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/arabic/article.cfm?articleid=2434 Making Good Governance Business in the Gulf (2010)
Islamic banking:
http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/arabic/article.cfm?articleid=2425 A woman faces the life-work balance in a man’s sector (2010)
http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/arabic/article.cfm?articleid=2445 How women Entrepreneurs are driving Business in the Middle East (2010)
http://www.ameinfo.com/128371.html The Emirati Business women of tomorrow (2007)
Dona J. Stewart, The Middle East Today, Political, geographical and cultural perspective. Routledge, 2009*Part III – Contemporary issues and challenges p.141-157 and p.177-193
Dan Smith, The State of the Middle East, An atlas of conflict and resolution, Earthscan, 2006* - a short reference book with many maps – Part 3, The State of Nation p.113-143
Dr. Jehad Al Omari, Understanding the Arab Culture, A practical cross-cultural guide to working in the Arab world. How to Books Ltd, Oxford, UK, 2008*
Source: Sen, A. (2005) The Argumentative Indian. Ch 6: Our Culture, their Culture: 121-138.
The elusive Asian values
Asia = 60% of the world population

More emphasis on group, harmony, collectivism
Less relevance of freedom and democracy
“There are no quintessential values that apply to this immensely large and heterogeneous population […]. The over-aggregated form of East-West contrasts hides more than it reveals “
Source: Mahbubani, K. (2009) Can Asians Think? pg. 46

“What makes Asia’s rise so irreversible is the simultaneous success of both China and India”

“From year 1 to the year 1820, China and India were consistently the two world’s largest economies. Goldman Sachs has predicted that we will return to this norm by 2050.”
Implications for management and communication?
Source: Mahbubani, K. (2009) Can Asians Think?


Golden rule: be patient

What if I don’t have time?!

Cc: the.boss@company.com
Bcc: important.people@company.com

Oral conversations don’t have value:
Document in written form to confirm oral conversations, i.e. email
Largest democracy on earth
>1 billion people and counting
World’s largest employer
18,000 colleges and universities
Language: Hindi (40% of the population),
+14 official languages
Major inventions: zero, decimal
system and God
Average income = 3 CHF per day
Population below poverty line: 37% (400 million!)
Companies: Tata, Infosys, Reliance, Mahindra
Religion: place of origin of Buddhism and Hinduism.
Where is the Dalai Lama living now?
How many Hindus?
How many Buddhist?
East vs. West - the myths that mystify (Devdutt Pattanaik)

Culture and Business
“Ghandi realized that trust in leaders is extremely important if the followers have to commit to sacrifices.
He unleashed the most powerful instruments for gaining trust – leadership by example”
(Murthy 2009, pg: XV)

Source: N.R. Narayana Murthy (2009) A Better India A Better World
Leadership: lessons from Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys
“I was not sure if I had sufficient experise in handling sales, people, customers and fianance. I closed Softronics and joined PCS as the head of the software group in Mumbai. The PCS experience was a godsend. I had one of the finest bosses anybody could wish for – Ashok Patni, a brilliant, gentle and compassionate person. During my four years there, I learned a lot about the software business. I met a team of wonderful youngsters, six of whom joined me in my next venture-Infosys.
I wanted the Infosys experiment to demonstrate to the Indian public and industry peers that there were virtues in compassionate capitalism.
(Murthy 2009, pg: XVII)
“I believe that good leaders integrate the fifty-thousand-feet view of the world with the ground-level worm’s eye view.”

“I am convinced that a laser focus on implementation and the ability to get into details are the most urgent needs for the development of our country”
(Murthy 2009, pg: XX)
“Communication is crucial to the success of a manager.
Given that we are to work in multicultural teams, we have to use universally understood words, simple but powerful words and metaphors to communicate with people across the globe”

“Creating a team, transcending biases of nationalities, races, religious beliefs and classes, and embracing both multiculturalism and diversity is your big challenge.”

“We will be better human beings if we are open-minded about learning from other cultures while retaining the good in our own.”
(Murthy 2009, pg: 24-25)
Most populous country >1.3 billion people
Not a democracy
Population density : 140/km2 (less than Switzerland)
Average income = 12 CHF per day
Be sure to take his/her business card with both hands. And do not put it into your back pocket.
Toast first to the highest ranking person present at the table.
Always keep your glass lower when toasting with a Chinese Manager.
Don‘t expect or express direct explicit disagreement.
Avoid politics as a topic.
Don‘t expect your chinese Colleagues to strictly adhere to pre-given procedures.
Don‘t expect „thank you“s
Social Information Process Model
Fundamental attribution bias
Self-serving bias
tendency to attribute another person behavior to his/her personal characteristics, as opposed to situational factors
attribute our success to internal factors and failures to uncontrollable external events
Miscommunication is costly!
Which is the best country on earth?
U.S.A. Switzerland Bhutan Norway ...
- ethnocentrism
- subjective truths
Are you happy?
Culture shock
"Americans were fixating focal objects at a greater proportion than backgrounds, compared with Chinese. Averaging the data from 1,100 to 3,000 ms, Chinese were fixating more often to the backgrounds and less to the objects, compared with Americans."
Source: Chua, Boland, and Nisbett (2005). Cultural variation in eye movements during scene perception. PNAS August 30, 2005 vol. 102 no. 35 12629-12633,
Almost half of expatriates leave the assignments earlier
and 25% of repatriated resign within 1 year!

Over 50% of international M&A fail after a few years
Definition of culture
GLOBE (2004): “shared motives, values, beliefs, identities, and interpretations or meanings of significant events that result from common experiences of members of collectives that are transmitted across generations”

Hofstede (1983: 89): "the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.“

Culture is learned and not inherited.
Ignoring cultural differences is costly!
Reverse culture shock
Strategies to cope
with culture shock
More dangerous than culture shock
because unexpected
1. Training to overcome prejudice
2. Exposure to people with different backgrounds (personal approach)
3. Constant mentoring/coaching

=> Mutual adaptation
Poor career planning
Unsupportive work environment
Work-life balance
due to job dissatisfaction and problems adjusting to the host country
(Source: Pricewaterhouse Coopers)
The role of gender
Only about 20% of all expatriates are female
more successful than male expatriates
(Source: Knicki and Kreitner (2011). Organizational Behavior)
High-Low context cultures

Time: monochronic-polychronic
Implications for management:
tend to do many things simultaneously
‘never-ending ocean extending in every direction’
Eg. Spanish, Arabs, South Americans
usually also high-context
and Hampden-Turner
- more context-rich approach
- leveraging the emotional appeal
- more comprehensive and holistic
Cultural Onion
or Family meal
Example: Kazakhstan
Ideated and drawn by Daniyar Davletbayev
by Tony Fang
for Chinese communication
Required reading: Nisbett, R. & Miyamoto, Y. (2005). The influence of culture: holistic versus analytic perception. TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences, 9 (10): 467-473.
Levine, R.V. (1998). A Geography of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist, Basic Books/Perseus, pages 187-206 (chapter 9).
Source: Holenstein
Further optional reading: Nisbett, R. (2003), The Geography of Thought.
Focus on a salient object independently of its context

Favor reasoning that is:
-based on rules and categorization
Ancient Greeks: emphasized freedom and individuality, viewed argumentation and criticism of others’ point of view as a way to advance knowledge

Ancient Chinese: concerned primarily with social harmony, therefore public criticism and disagreement were discouraged
East Asia
(interactive exercise)

Since 1983, she has been working for the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) where she had different assignments: Deputy Resident Representative of SDC in Bangladesh (1983 -1987); Scientific Advisor and Deputy Director of the Research and Policy division at HQ in Berne (1988- 1994);
From 1994 (June) to 2001 (December), she was the Head of the Swiss Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority and Head of the Development and Cooperation offices in Gaza From 2002 (January) to 2008 (September) she was the Head of the North Africa and Middle East Division in Berne and special advisor on Arab – Muslim affairs to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Between 1977 and 1983 she was working as Research Fellow and Assistant Professor at the University of Zürich in the Department of Social Anthropology, teaching Urban Anthropology, Rural-urban economics, Migration, and Methodology of research and fieldwork, and leading a group of Master students in fieldworks in Urban Anthropology.
Her present interests focus on Development Issues, Intercultural Communication, International Relations with the Arab “world”, Conflict resolution, Islam and Urban Anthropology.
She speaks fluently French, English, German; excellent knowledge of Arabic and Bengali (spoken and written), read and understand Spanish and Italian
Type of message
Body movements (kinesic behavior)
Actions are universal, meaning is not
Say no!
Decision making: ethics
Required reading: Adler, N (2001) International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior, 3rd ed.; Taylor, chapter 7.
Required reading: Adler, N (2001) International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior, 3rd ed.; Taylor, chapter 8.
Niclas, L., Erhardt, N.L., Werbel, J. D. & Shrader C. B. (2003). Board of Director
Diversity and Firm Financial Performance, Corporate Governance, 11 (2): 102-111.
Diversity and Financial Performance
Language pockets
"Members of one team of engineers assumed their American colleagues had more technological expertise than did their Moroccan colleagues simply because Morocco is less technologically and economically advanced"
"An Indian manager described the lack of respect granted him by many of his British colleagues who, he believed, 'assumed that I am underdeveloped simply because I come from an underdeveloped country'. "
“China now exports in a single day more than it sold abroad during the entire year of 1978” (Meredith, 2006: 16).
Cultural oxymoron
Opposite of western non contradictory principle
both-and instead of either-or
Paradoxical orientation
Yin-Yang: Center of Chinese cognitive process
change- fundamental principle of the universe
Two opposite but complementary forces
no absolute borderline between Yin and Yang
Constant dynamic balance
Weiji (crisis): wei=danger, ji=opportunity
Changing Institutional and Sociocultural Contexts

Widespread change is happening faster than ever
Transformed from a closed, isolated country to a modern, open, prospering nation
Changes include business & trade, education, management styles, media usage, political reforms, etc.
Culture & communication style are influenced by changes in society
China: context
there is no right or wrong
balance is the key
opposite feelings/ideas can take place simultaneously
Temporal illiteracy
awkward and
embarrassing situations
"Extreme present-orientedness, not the lack of income or wealth, is the principal cause of poverty"
Banfield (1968) The Unheavenly City.
In school children should behave according to
sequential directions
and temporal expectations
Temporal flexibility
Example: Mexicans commuting daily to California
can switch back and forth between the two different times
"When entering the United States, he would feel his whole being switch to rapid clock-time mode: he would walk faster, drive faster, talk faster, meet deadlines." (pg. 190)
Temporal training programs
Eight lessons:
1. Punctuality: learn how to translate appointment time
2. Understand the line between work time and social time
3. Study the rules of the waiting game
4. Learn to reinterpret 'doing nothing'
5. Ask about accepted sequences
6. Are people on clock time or event time?
7. Practice
8. Don't criticize what you don't understand
(for Westerners -time is money cultures- for surviving in slower cultures)
What is the appropriate time to arrive for an appointment?

When should you expect others to show up?

What sort of apologies/excuses are expected and acceptable?
Saudi Arabia
No apologies for not showing up. Why?
- People feelings are more important than accurate information
- Meaning of "yes" and "no problem"
How much time of the work day is spent on-task
and on socializing/chatting/being pleasant?
U.S.: 80:20
India/Nepal: 50:50
Japan: private time is not very relevant, socialization is an essential part of the job
- who is expected to wait for whom
- time is money?
- who should not wait
- what is the protocol for waiting in line?
"Is appearing chronically busy a quality to be admired or to be pitied?"
No plans, waiting for something to happen
constant activity
stops along the way are as meaningful as the eventual destination
Meaning of silence
Take coffee/tea before getting down to business?
Man+woman having lunch together (alone) = love relationship
Love is necessary for getting married
(East Asia)
US: 80%
India: 24%
Thailand: 34%
Pakistan: 39%
ridiculous to make lifelong arrangement
based on an emotional reaction
Clock time
Event time
Example HSG & Nobel laureate
understanding ≠ successful application
Training: no watch
'simulated village'
for Peace Corps volunteers
Western need to make something happen,
to control time
pg. 203
Focus: Chinese Communication
Required reading: Required reading: Fang & Faure (2011). Chinese Communication Characteristics: A Yin Yang Perspective. International Journal of Intercultural Relations.




(Gao and colleagues)
& explicit
"Chinese self is defined by relations with others"
Primary functions of Chinese communication:
maintain existing relationships among individuals,
reinforce role and status differences
preserve harmony
(Gao & Ting-Toomey 1998: 37)
"In cross-cultural management and intercultural communication literature, culture and communication are conceptualized in terms of static bipolar cultural dimensions. [...]
This dichotomist system of analysis reflects a western bias in defining the object as it sets attributes in terms of opposition.
The Chinese logic rather tends to associate them.
The non contradictory principle is a product of Western ideology."
Fang & Faure 2001: 324
Chinese people are collectivists in some situations and individualists in other situations/contexts
reserved, not plainly expressed
The implied are more privileged than the articulate
Chinese art, poetry, music and philosophy
coded symbols
expressions of emotions are limited
5 characteristics:
& speaking-centered
& impolite
& outsider-oriented
& face-undirected
Result of rapid economic development

increase in self-confidence
more assertive and direct communication
increased respect for professionalism
speaking is associated with seniority, leadership, hierarchy, and expertise

Listening is a form of communication
Economic growth => Western influence upon business and social life
Confucian influence upon the Chinese concept of politeness

Respect is meant to preserve the relationship, which includes the other's face, status, reputation, and feelings

A detailed contract or lawyer present at a business negotiation is a sign of distrust and impoliteness
"When trust between the negotiation parties is high, the Chinese negotiator would behave as a 'gentleman,' speaking in polite, respectful, and 'win-win' terms. However, when trust is low, the same Chinese negotiator would behave as a 'strategist' resorting to tough tactics and harsh communication tools to win over the counterpart" (pg. 328)
This is changing and there is growing popularity for legal practice in business and social life in China
Engage in conversations with insiders, but rarely speak with outsiders
Guanxi- network of personal connections
Most important base is family, but includes friends, school, workplace
Low trust society
Turning to professional "outsiders" in business based on merit

Impact of the Internet
turning outsiders into insiders quickly
Old Chinese values coexist with the new
(Fang & Faure)
Social harmony is achieved through controlling feelings, appearing humble, avoiding conflict, and hiding competition

Disruption of social harmony is losing face
Chinese executives have become accustomed to saying "No"

A much more open style of communicating is developing
Dressing & smoking
Personal space
Open doors
A French bank is merging with a German bank:
which corporate language should they adopt?

Which are the consequences?
Corporate case:
Finnish Merita bank merges with Swedish Nordbanken
Relevance of languages:
basic means of communication in organizations
basis for knowledge creation
for organizing
+ power!
Which language?
Power implications of language policy decisions:
1. social interaction

2. identity/subjectivity construction

3. structures of domination
language skills become empowering and disempowering
language skills associated with professional competence
creation of (new) social networks
i.e. language pockets
'circuits of power'
=> Western driven globalization hegemony
legitimate vs. illegitimate power
in organizations (Mintzberg)
(Clegg 1989)
language based networks for accessing information
=> changing specialization instead of learning the language
" Managers with the right language skills may easily occupy gate-keeping positions and channel information"
selection of a particular language creates superiority-inferiority relationships
"If we had chosen English, we would have had all the documentation in a language foreign to both sides"
Evidence from the
Merita-Nordbanken case
"Finnish managers and staff felt handicapped by their limited communication skills"
"In the beginning it was a terrible shock. It felt like... half of our professional competence had been taken away when we had to use a language that was not our own native tongue.
You felt like an idiot... The main thing was to get over the feeling of inferiority"
"With Finnish as your native tongue... you are in a weaker position... Whether or not this is the case, it feels like it when the other person speaks his native tongue... But, turning it the other way around, we have this secret language in which we can speak pretty freely to each other -in the middle of a negotiation."
"Climbing up the corporate ladder to top positions in the bank is not possible without fluency in Swedish. Skills in the Finnish language have, however, not been set as a requirement for reaching the board level"
"Many people decided to leave the bank"
"In Finland, we lost many potential future key figures because they realized that they would never be able to compete with their Swedish rivals"
“New biases generate new breakthroughs”
Knowledge is social in nature
Information and knowledge management models that exclude the influence of culture
seriously undercut their potential effectiveness
Culture affects the cognitive process
Knowledgeable person:
can understand and articulate the underlying causes of events
the tacit and the implied are held in higher esteem
events are not causally but correlatively related
no immutable laws but rely on intuition and empiricism
the highest level of innovation comes from tacit cognition and not from verbalized analytical reasoning
=> Successful innovation must come from the application of new cognitive styles
=> Any global enterprise should accommodate and exploit alternative ways of conceptualizing problems, creating strategies and making decisions
I.e., search engines, decision support systems, intranets, collaborative systems (like Lotus Notes),
collaborative spaces, rewards, recognition...
Diversity =
women and minorities
* definition specific to this study
greater demographic diversity on boards of directors has a positive impact on financial performances
112 large US companies
board diversity
financial performances
ROA 1993 and 1998
ROI 1993 and 1998
percentage of women and minorities to white Anglo-Saxons for executive board of directors
Hypothesis supported: executive board of director diversity was positively associated with both return on investment and return on asset (p<.001)
greater knowledge base
increases creativity, innovation,
quality of decision making
more effective in dealing with org. change
negatively related to consensus
more time and effort to reach decisions
reduced team performances
positive impact on the "controlling function"
minimize group think
*not required for the exam
* not required for the exam
* not required for the exam
Types of Diversity in Teams
Actual productivity=potential activity-losses
Paradox of multicultural team effectiveness
( faulty process )
A successful team should:
-recognize the differences
-Establishing a vision
-Equalizing power
-Create mutual respect
-Giving feedback
Diversity should not be ignored!
pg. 139
i.e., from family and friends
numbers, data
future oriented cultures generate more alternatives
Americans pride themselves on being quick decision makers. Being 'decisive' is a compliment.

Middle East: "Americans' unwillingness to take more time reflects the lack of importance they place on the business relationship and th particular work at hand"
Critical incident
Questions for discussion
Would you report a classmate who cheated in an exam?
Would you report to the authorities if the company you work for is conducting business unethically?
* Universal principle to the extent that it does not specify the type of rewards
high uncertainty avoidance
individualist & low uncertainty avoidance
In Africa: condemnation of self-seeking individualism!
individualist + depends on training
I.e., in India entrepreneurs trained for achievement performed better than untrained entrepreneurs
Mexico, Mediterranean countries
(Tahiti: more fun less cost)
Brazil: typical to help employees with personal financial problems
In Japan: the promotion of a manager separated him from his colleagues, embarassed him and diminished his motivation to work
"Over reliance on U.S.-based reward structures"
i.e., need for achievement, power and affiliation
or Maslow's hierarchy or needs
are not universal
Adapt to individual and cultural preferences
People commit to contribute everything they have not when they are motivate but when they are inspired
=> working for some higher purpose they believe in
brain drain, conservative social and political forces = “a great deal of Asian talent is wasted”
“Asia’s most shameful aspect: corruption”
In fact, the report needed 30 days of regular work. So the Greek worked day and night, but at the end of the 15th day, he still needed to do one more day's work
The purpose of communication is different!
Indirect ways to convey
"no" and negative feedback
Conditional "yes"
Avoiding the question/changing subject
Postponed answer
Repeating the question/ turning the question back to the speaker
I'll do my best
I will try
I think so
That should be possible
That shouldn't be a problem
source: Storti, 2007
Does that work for you?
What do you think?
Is that what you would like?
"In Germany directness is considered a positive feature of personality. "
polite/impolite vs. honest/dishonest
Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo.

"I look at the amazing diversity of our executive Committee. We have 29 people in the Executive Committee. We have a Sudanese leading Europe, a North American as vice chair, an Italian who is leading North American beverages, a Middle Easterner runs Asia, and I don't even want to talk about the CEO. That diversity is what keeps our company grounded and helps us make market-based, sensible decisions."
second largest food and beverage business in the world by net revenue
India vs. U.S.A.:
Source: The India Way: Lessons for the U.S., Academy of Management Perspectives, May 2010
"Major Indian companies are not succeeding despite the fact they are pursuing a social mission and investing in their employees. They are succeeding precisely because they do so."
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 [Iran] a professor would give the wrong answer rather than ever admitting ignorance.
Problem: "North America cultural norms encourage managers to blind themselves to gender, race, and ethnicity"
Marc Twain: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Especially for Asians compared to Americans
Excessive status effect leads to:
Cognitive inertia and conformance pressure
Full transcript