Intercultural Competence in Organizations_ A Guide for Leaders, Educators and Team Players ( PDFDriv

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Unformatted text preview: Management for Professionals Alex Matveev Intercultural Competence in Organizations A Guide for Leaders, Educators and Team Players Management for Professionals More information about this series at Alex Matveev Intercultural Competence in Organizations A Guide for Leaders, Educators and Team Players Alex Matveev New York, USA ISSN 2192-8096 ISSN 2192-810X (electronic) Management for Professionals ISBN 978-3-319-45700-0 ISBN 978-3-319-45701-7 (eBook) DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-45701-7 Library of Congress Control Number: 2016950585 © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are reserved by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. Printed on acid-free paper This Springer imprint is published by Springer Nature The registered company is Springer International Publishing AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland To my parents who taught me to live and love the world we live in. To people who will have to live and work in the world I am describing. Foreword Dr. Alex Matveev challenges his readers to develop their intercultural competence so as to make themselves more effective, more humane, and more socially skilled in a world that increasingly involves extensive contact across various groups of people. These diverse people bring cultural assumptions, beliefs, and behaviors based on their nationality, ethnicity, sexual identity, gender, age, social class background, possible physical challenges, and other factors that lead individuals to complain about “all these different people and their expectations.” The thoughtful perspectives that Dr. Matveev provides will not be easy to put into everyday practice. Since cultural differences are the major focus of this book, differences brought on by cultural diversity will be emphasized here. A major reason for the difficulties of developing intercultural competence is that adults anywhere in the world have invested great amounts of time and energy into becoming well-functioning members of their own culture. They have learned about status markers, the relative importance of family connections, what social norms are more and less important, what importance should be given to gender, what powerful people are expected to do and what level of deference they expect to receive, and a host of other concepts whose acceptance marks cultural membership (Hofstede, 2001; House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004). The acceptance of these cultural beliefs and values becomes part of people’s worldview, that is, people’s views about correct and incorrect ways of living. When intercultural practitioners and scholars ask people to be tolerant of others with very different world views and to be respectful during interactions with them, they are asking a great deal. The reluctance of people to enthusiastically study, understand, and consider the viewpoints of culturally diverse people has received attention in the scholarly literature. An intriguing set of arguments surrounds the fact that people know they are going to die and are terrified of this certainty (Greenberg, Solomon, & Pyszczynski, 1997). One way to deal with this terror is to accept a culture’s view of how best to understand death; and this often involves accepting the tenets of a religion, a secular view about living a productive life or both. Religious views often involve visions of an afterlife, and these visions reduce the terror of constantly contemplating death. Secular views keep attention away from the terror of death by encouraging people to accept cultural views of what a good person does. Accepting a set of cultural values, then, becomes a buffer between people and their contemplation of death. These views can include a work ethic, a concern for taking care of one’s extended vii viii Foreword family; the acceptance of roles dictated one’s birth, the acquisition of visible signs of wealth, the desire to create a legacy, and various culturally influenced behaviors that lead others to hold a person in high regard. But if people take on the task of becoming more interculturally competent, this quest will involve considering diverse views that may lead them to think in uncomfortable ways. If they understand the reasons why people in other cultures behave as they do, they may have to consider the possibility that their own culturally influenced views may be wrong or at least incomplete. As a result, they will not have the cultural protection of certainty about life that ameliorates the constant dread of thinking about death. Another reason for the difficulty of developing intercultural competence is that it is a time-consuming task that has to compete with other challenges in people’s busy lives. Consider a couple in their early 40s. The partners have to deal with these and other life challenges, many of which are influenced by the guidelines of their own culture. They have to earn enough money to house and to feed themselves. They may have children and so will have major responsibilities for socializing the youngsters into productive citizens. They may have elderly parents who look forward to significant care-giving efforts. The partners may have jobs that demand extensive amounts of time. They may be expected to engage in afterhours socializing with coworkers and may decide to take night courses to keep current in the technological demands of their jobs. They have to spend time dealing with the preferences of their bosses and various stakeholders associated with their organizations. They may be expected to take roles in supportive tasks that are expected given their religious affiliations. These and other time demands make the additional expectations surrounding intercultural competency to be a challenge for people’s limited time and energy. The fact that people are extremely busy in their family, work, and community lives leads to a discussion of heuristics (Kahneman, 2011). People have to make many decisions, and they may do so in calm, deliberate, and careful manner—sometimes called “System Two thinking.” Or, they may make their decisions based on quick reactions to social situations that are familiar from the many years spent in their own culture which is sometimes called “System One thinking.” Put another way, System Two thinking is careful, time-consuming, and is marked by efforts such as web searches on a topic, visits to a library, consultations with experts, and checklists of plusses and minuses associated with various decision options. System One thinking, often the more common approach, involves fast decisions based on memories of what seems to have been effective recently, what is highly familiar, and quick analyses of what others are likely to do given social norms. Heuristics are common in System One thinking. Heuristics refer to rules of thumb that people have learned during their socialization into their culture. For instance, decision making often involves assessment of expert credibility. Heuristics take people away from careful consideration of what recommendation the would-be experts make and instead involve a focus on quick markers of credibility. Such markers can include diplomas hung on office walls, manner of dress, communication styles, and namedropping of high status individuals. These heuristics often have a strong cultural component. The dress of high status people in one culture is different from that in Foreword ix other cultures. Titles that convey expertise are different across cultures. I remember receiving a letter from a person in South Asia who had the title of “Assistant Expert” of a division within his organization. Apparently, that title communicated a certain amount of clout in his culture. I have also received letters with the phrase “MS, failed” under people’s signatures. Individuals reading the letter are supposed to know that graduate school admittance in certain countries is highly selective and so people who failed degree requirements still have a status worth communicating. System One thinking is often based on emotional reactions to social situations rather than on long and involved cognitive activity. Culture provides the background for people’s emotional reactions. What makes people happy or sad? What makes them angry or disgusted? What makes them fearful or surprised? For many years I have tried to address such questions through the analysis of critical incidents that capture the experiences of people as they try to understand puzzling intercultural interactions (Brislin, 2008). An experience early in my career is based on System One and System Two thinking. I was living in a collectivist society and the editor of the local newspaper came to a nearby college and gave a lecture on the responsibilities of the press. He argued that reporters had a responsibility to discover the truth and that they should not fear censorship if they pursued stories on controversial issues that would bring embarrassment to powerful figures. The next week, a reporter from an individualistic culture found evidence that the editor’s niece had embezzled money from a company. The reporter wrote the story but the editor chose to ignore it and would not publish information that would bring shame to his niece. A key to understanding this incident is that the editor and reporter were working from different System Two heuristics. The editor had in mind that “influential people take care of their relatives,” a common guideline for behavior in collectivist cultures (Winter, 2016). The reporter had in mind that “members of the media should pursue the truth no matter who will face public ridicule,” a value common in his individualistic background. The outcome was that the story never was printed. The reporter was not fired but was given unchallenging challenges, such as to report on the orchid society’s monthly meeting, that he quit his job and returned to the city where he was born. Such incidents are difficult to deal with, but they exemplify the sorts of experiences that people who pursue intercultural competence will have to face (Brislin, 2008). Various guidelines provided by Dr. Matveev will be helpful and will encourage the careful study that is central to System Two thinking. For example, he discusses cultural differences brought on by socialization into individualistic and collectivist cultures (Hofstede, 2001; House et al., 2004). As people learn about such concepts, they can apply them to a more nuanced understanding of their own cultures and thus have the opportunity of gaining increased self-insight. Another concept discussed by Dr. Matveev—power distance, deals with distinctions between high and low status people in a culture. In some cultures, powerful and high status people are not accustomed to criticism from those of lower status. Rather, they expect deference and they expect to have their opinions listened to carefully. In low power distance cultures, people are more comfortable criticizing powerholders. They organize meetings to voice their opinions on various matters. They make jokes x Foreword about high status people. They write letters to newspaper editors and complain about the behavior of powerholders. I am from a low power distance culture and will admit that I have difficulty interacting with self-styled high status individuals just because of their impressive titles, status given by birth into a prominent family, and number of assistants in their entourages. I am interested in what they have actually accomplished and am not comfortable being deferent solely because of titles. This means, however, that I must monitor myself carefully during certain intercultural encounters. While recognizing the difficulties, I hope that more people will accept the challenges of increasing their intercultural competence. The need for such competent people is increasing as cultures come into contact through expansions of international businesses, opportunities for overseas study as part of students’ education, increased interest in international tourist experiences that go beyond views of wellknown landmarks, migration, and other life-changing experiences. I’d like to make some suggestions. The difficulties I have discussed for developing intercultural competence means that there will be large differences between cultural specialists and the general public. Members of the general public are not ignorant. Rather, they are extremely busy given the myriad demands on their time and energy. My recommendation is that intercultural specialists communicate with each other and decide on a basic set of concepts that they would like the general public to know. This task would be similar to efforts that try to identify concepts in literature, history, and the sciences that everyone should understand. The concepts presented in this volume provide a good smorgasbord from which to choose. Such concepts can be presented in a jargon-free manner, with attention to information about why the concepts will be useful for people. This will take the identification of intercultural concepts away from being simply an academic exercise into helpful communications about usefulness in people’s everyday lives. I hope that this effort does not shy away from controversial topics. People need to know about possible cultural influences in such conflict-ridden areas as the Middle East, Africa, the two Koreas, South Asia as well as difficult intercultural interactions among ethnic groups within the same country. Intercultural specialists who can communicate effectively with the general public should be lauded with as much enthusiasm as researchers who identify core concepts and theories. The frameworks presented in this book will be of great assistance in the efforts to address controversy and to nurture both researchers and practitioners who can contribute to a greater understanding of intercultural effectiveness. Distinguished Professor and Professor Emeritus, Shidler College of Business, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii Richard W. Brislin Preface Why did I write this book? This book is a result of a journey that began 25 years ago. Then an engineering student from Russia, I came to the United States to learn the rules of communicating in English and the basics of business and management. This journey would not have started if not for the academics from the United States and Russia who interviewed me and stated “He will do well in America.” I am not sure what criteria they used, but I was very happy to become one of many intercultural sojourners, the term that I had no idea about at that time. Now, thinking back I realized that during that interview I was able to exhibit an interculturally competent behavior that made the interviewers believe that I am well suited for an academic study abroad. I thank them for their choice as I do many people in my life and the powers above for presenting me with a gift of experience living and working in another culture. This book is not about me, however, but about the ways people communicate with each other at work and relate to other people who are not from their culture. Three individuals who have to do this every day come to mind whom I believe are worth mentioning here. They are Ed, Irina, and George. First is Ed Richards, Vice President of Business Development for The Lubrizol Corporation. After completing his degree in chemistry in Cleveland, Ohio, Ed mastered a variety of skills working in different professions—analytical chemistry, technical services, and industrial sales and marketing. Ed started his sales and marketing career with Lubrizol in 1985 in a quest to help the company diversify into new, global specialty chemical markets. It was at that time when Lubrizol, a company with a 60-year history in manufacturing lubricants for the transportation and industrial markets, began a concerted effort of diversification by leveraging their chemical and problem-solving expertise into new markets. Now after 30 years, Ed is the Vice President of Business Development and is responsible for the company’s business development activities, including mergers and acquisitions, strategic alliances, and commercial development, all of which can be very delicate and interculturally sensitive processes. In the early 2000s Lubrizol completed the acquisition of Noveon International, a specialty chemical company from Ohio, the USA, with a strong product portfolio in advanced materials for the coatings, engineered polymers, life sciences, and personal and home care markets. In 2010 Lubrizol opened a world-class additives manufacturing facility and an R&D Center in Zhuhai, Guangdong, China. xi xii Preface A usual day for Ed often starts at 06:00 h in the morning as he obtains updates on activities with his colleague working in Tokyo, Japan, where it is 19:00 h in the evening. Ed also communicates with key managers, companies, and investment banking contacts throughout Europe and Asia regions. Ed has to manage the time differences, location challenges, and attenuate to cultural differences among the various cultures. This is very demanding, isn’t it? In spite of his busy schedule, Ed is “always on” and reachable via electronic mail and phone. In his moments of free time Ed takes short break holidays with his grandson and avidly researches new opportunities for his investment portfolio. Irina Astrakhan is the second individual of this kind, now a Practice Manager of Finance and Markets Global Practice at the World Bank. Irina started her career in Russia helping small businesses to grow. After mastering Economics and Sciences at Moscow State University, she pioneered the International Center for Development of Small Enterprises and the first consulting and training institution for Small and Medium Enterprises in Russia, then the Soviet Union. Irina managed training programs in entrepreneurship and exchanges with many Centers of Excellence for the SME training—in Finland, Italy, and the UK. A highlight of Irina’s career in Russia was leading the Business Development Program and building eight business support centers across Russia. In 1998 Irina joined the Small and Medium Enterprise Unit of the World Bank. She worked extensively on privatization and enterprise restructuring projects in transition economies, including Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia, and Albania. During the financial crisis of 2008–2009, Irina led the delivery of three financial crisis response operations in Western Balkans on two policy loans and the line of credit and participated in the negotiations of the Vienna Initiative with the IMF and EBRD for Balkan countries. Now after 25 years in international business, Irina manages the Finance and Markets Global Practice of Africa Region, overseeing 47 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa with a population of 1.1 billion and the territory of 11 million square miles. A challenging task for one person indeed, isn’t it? In the morning Irina talks to colleagues...
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