Cultural Issues in Management: Cultural Briefing of Trading and Logistics Limited

According to many cultural theories, culture entails how human beings interact with their environment and how they view their biology (Held, 2004).  Culture has been integrated in various aspects of human existence. Cultural changes are attributed to human adaptation to the environment and historical issues. From this definition of culture, it seems plausible to postulate that culture plays a very significant role in the cross-cultural management of businesses, globally and locally. It also influences the negotiations and interaction of managers with other stakeholders such as suppliers, customers, other business organizations, partners and creditors. It is necessary to adapt cultural changes in business management to reflect the market in which the business operates. Most importantly, it is crucial to consider cultural issues and theories while adopting suitable management styles for international operations.

In this briefing, therefore, I wish to present to the human resource department various aspects regarding to cultural theories, international business ethics and the best practices of managing across cultures. Management of the company need to know a lot about international business and cultural practices so as to avoid conflict with other key players in the international markets. This will enable the organization to make rational decisions on cross cultural management issues in its pursuit of international business operations. The organizations carries out its business with the world, and it should therefore understand and acknowledge various cultures of the world.

In order for the company to attain success in its global environment, it should develop an appropriate international strategy which includes the best cross-cultural practices at the management level of the company. Generally, the company should create cross-cultural teams, train employees on the challenges of cross-cultural management and expatriate assignments, and develop appropriate international negotiating styles.

Negotiating Across Cultures

First, I would like to explain how the company management team can develop a good negotiation styles while undertaking international business deals. In such a scenario, people from different cultural backgrounds are involved (Held, 2004). While negotiating with other managers from other foreign countries, it is often the case that the understanding of various issues differs due to cultural variations. Therefore, the management should be up-to-date with the existing cultural differences and understand that they will have to face cross-cultural issues. In simple terms, the managers should be prepared for cross-cultural challenges before engaging in international negotiations.

For effective negotiations, the management should ensure that they have a good communication and interpersonal interaction strategy. This will enable them to be effective in presenting their cases in international negotiations. According to Schneider and Barsoux (2003), companies should make decisions based on processed information. However, this information is subject to cross-cultural variations and preferences. It is therefore necessary for the management to consider cultural hierarchy preferences, red tape and broader involvement (Schneider and Barsoux, 2003).

Cross-cultural negotiations are also barred to a large extend by differences in language. According to Banton & Hirsch (2000), communication barriers in international negotiations are partly due to language differences and partly due to living styles of different ethnic communities occasioned by cross-cultural differences. To deal with this problem, it is advisable for the company management to supply leaflets in different languages to aid the participants of international negotiations in understanding the languages of their foreign business counterparts. The use of interpreters may also be considered appropriate in some other occasions. Furthermore, employees may be provided with training on various languages.

This problem may also be reduced through adequate participation. For instance, the treatment of the disabled varies across cultures but the resultant implications may be handled through the involvement of the disabled people in these undertakings (Jones, Atkin & Ahmad, 2001). The company, therefore, should include all parties in international negotiations and provide them with appropriate training on the same. Service users should also participate in planning and policy issues as well as the whole process of developing an inclusive international communication strategy. Service users are ought to participate in decision making process because it is only through this practice that services can respond to the service users’ needs.

Discrimination in the Workplace

In order to develop appropriate international business strategies, the organization should also seek to manage anti-discriminatory practice. Anti-discriminatory practice is a good strategy used to deal with cross-cultural challenges in management (Thompson, 2001). Therefore, in order to manage cross-cultural issues adequately, the company should also be able to manage anti-discriminatory practices within and outside the organization. Managing diversity or anti-discriminatory practices should focus on all employees; current and potential. It should also focus on the culture and objectives of the organization. Moreover, the company should also develop an equality strategy with which the employees can provide individual contribution to the company through personal development (Thompson, 2001). More specifically, the company may opt to use such anti-discriminatory strategies as: equality in the access to services, culture sensitive services and services consultations. Discrimination issues based on gender, ethnic groups and cultural backgrounds need to be addressed in cross-cultural management of the company so as to foster equality in international business operations.

In pursuit of gender equality, the company should engage women in cross-cultural management. This will enable the women to be empowered and also contribute to the growth of the company in global markets through participation in decision making, policy formulation and implementation. Different cultures across the world treat gender issues differently. Therefore, the company should train its staff on the best gender practices that are non-discriminatory and in line with international business and gender practices.

Regarding to differences on cultural practices and backgrounds, the company should provide proper guidelines on how to handle the inherent differences in cultural practices across nations. Since the company engages in international operations, it is inevitable to interact with people who hold different cultural practices, stereotypes and beliefs. If the company staff is not taught on how to deal with people of such a diverse cultural setting, then it will be difficult to engage in any business activity with them. Therefore, the organization should make the staff to be knowledgeable of cultural diversity and encourage them to appreciate different cultural practices across the world (Held, 2004). The management should develop strategies that can be used to address the challenges faced by cross-cultural management team. The most important way of addressing these cross-cultural challenges is by preparing the employees adequately for them. This can be done through cultural training, cross-cultural team building, expatriate training and involvement in ethical international business practices.

Cross-Cultural Training

The most important tool used to address cross-cultural challenges is training of employees. It is exceptionally necessary for the organization’s management to train its employees on various aspects of cross-cultural management (Connelly & Seden, 2003). Both new and existing staff should be provided with equality training and training on cultural issues and procedures. This will enable them to understand the challenges facing the company’s management as pertaining to cross-cultural issues. As a result, they can be able to play a part in the company’s formulation of strategic options and implementation of the best strategies. The staff should also be trained on the languages of foreign countries with which the organization undertakes business. Employees may also be trained to handle conflicting business issues related to cultural differences across different ethnic groups or countries. Training equips the company’s staff with appropriate cross-cultural management techniques that are applicable in the global environment.

Training of employees focusing on expatriate involvements in international assignments should also be provided to all employees. This will prepare them adequately for expatriate exercises of the company. Since Trading and Logistics Limited Company engages in international business operations, it is often required to participate in expatriate exercises in foreign lands. This will require the company to prepare its expatriates early so as to avoid expatriate failure. Expatriate failure is a situation in which an expatriate may be sent back home from an international expatriate assignment due to underperformance in the exercise. This situation often occurs due to the expatriate’s inability to cope with international environments and foreign cultures. If the employee selected to represent the organization in an expatriate exercise has no prior orientation or training on the cross-cultural management challenges, then he/she may not perform well in the assignment, and can therefore be sent back to the home country. As a result, this will be a big blow to the organization especially in international involvements. The company’s image may be ruined and international partners and businesses may lose their trust on the company.

Therefore, the management should provide training on various issues on cross-cultural management to reduce instances of expatriate failure. For instance, training may be provided on various languages across the world so as to reduce communication barriers occasioned by cross-cultural differences (Pound & Hewitt, 2004). Expatriates need to understand foreign languages so that they can be able to communicate with other participants in an expatriate exercise. This will also enable them to give their opinions during the exercise in such a way that the company’s views may be represented appropriately. It may also be necessary to train the company’s staff on the cultural practices of foreign countries and how to handle issues regarding to such cultural practices. They should be taught on how to relate with people who hold different cultural positions, views and practices. They should also be given appropriate orientation to the cultural practices of the foreign countries prior to the expatriate exercise.

Ethical Issues

Trading and Logistics Limited should also include business ethics in its cross-cultural management (Held, 2004). Ethical issues and standards vary across countries and ethnic groups due to differences in culture. It is therefore prudent to engage in the best universal ethical business practices so as to avoid conflicts in culture with global communities or businesses. The staff should be made aware of ethical practices that are good for the company’s international strategy and those that are not. In this case, it is also necessary for the management to establish corporate social responsibility policies. This should be the case because corporate social responsibility enhances improved living standards and welfare of the global society within which the business operates (Moon et al, 2001). However, there are different views on CSR depending on individual or community’s beliefs. While pursuing corporate Social Responsibility, therefore, the company is ought to appreciate the views of other international organizations so as to avoid cross-cultural conflicts which may impact negatively on the company’s cross-cultural management and performance.

Bribery and corruption can also be categorized as one of the most serious challenge to cross cultural management. It is an ethical practice of great concern for global businesses. The vice is viewed from different perspectives by different individuals and communities. This will depend on the cultural orientation or background of the individual or community in question. To some organizations, bribery and corruption is part of a business culture (Moon et al, 2001). However, most business organizations are encouraged to discourage the practice. It is therefore necessary for the organization to avoid such kind of business practices so as to maintain good business relationships with other organizations across the world. The company management should avoid cultural practices that encourage unethical practices. It should also encourage its staff to abandon cultural practices that are not ethical in the international business community. In fact, a culture should be developed and encouraged within the business which allows all employees and management to engage in internationally ethical business practices.

When engaging in international business activities, the company should familiarize itself with various business practices and ethical beliefs of business organizations in the global market. The company should create awareness among all new and old employees concerning these practices and ethical concerns. From these varying ethical positions and beliefs, the company can decide on the best business practice and ethical standpoint. However, it should also acknowledge the ethical business practices and expectations of other business organizations. What other business organizations consider as ethically right may be considered as a vice by other organizations. Therefore, the company should try to consider the reasons for each company to consider its ethical standpoints in international business as being justifiable. This will enable the company to appreciate various cultural beliefs on international business ethics. As a result, it will be able to integrate its own business practices with those of other international business organizations so as to produce the best results in international business operations.

Building Teams Across Cultures

Finally, building teams across cultures is a very vital element which needs to be embraced within the organization at all levels (Held, 2004). It is a necessary tool in planning, evaluation and process. This is more prominent in international undertakings because international operations involve people from different backgrounds and cultural diversity. As the organization engages in international businesses, it is often obliged to transfer its staff to various destinations across the world during the course of their business operations. This brings about the novelty of team building across diverse cultures. The organization should therefore engage its staff in team building with the staff of other international organizations.

The use of team building is one of the most successful cross-cultural management techniques. It is therefore important to throw a heavy weight on this practice. Through team building, the company’s staff is able to interact with clients from multiple nations. These clients are often in search of solutions to their global problems and the team can therefore understand the needs of the company’s clients even better. One of the objectives of the company is to grow. Innovation is one of the ways in which it can achieve such an objective. This innovation can be generated more successfully though diverse teams (Held, 2004). The members of cross cultural teams bring into the team wide varieties of cross-cultural experiences which tend to result in more superior innovative and creative ideas. I therefore advise the company to participate in cross-cultural team building regularly.

However, cross cultural teams have their own problems which the company needs to consider during their participation in those teams. For instance, the team members are likely to face communication barriers (Pound & Hewitt, 2004). This may be due to language variations and/or difficulties in fluency and accents. There may also emerge instances and cases of conflict due to differences in attitudes towards authority and hierarchy. Different cultures view authority from different points of view. Rules of decision making may also differ due to differences in cultures. This also yields conflicts which tend to threaten the effectiveness of the team.

Recommendations

The above challenges may be addressed through specific measures. First, adaptation may be used by the members of the team to find solutions to the challenges they face (Held, 2004). The team members may opt to adapt practices and expectations without making any significant alterations to their team membership. This is possible if the team can acknowledge the variations prevalent in their cultures. The team may also realign their teams if substantial interpersonal conflicts occur. The teams may also seek managerial interventions from their organizations if the teams don’t seem to materialize. Finally, as a solution of last resort, the team may force an exit of one or more members either voluntarily or through consultations with the management.

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