Cross-cultural competence: definitions and challenges- University of Liverpool

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By Kaye

According to Goodman (2012) cross-cultural competence is defined as cultural intelligence (CQ) which is strongly linked to cultural self-awareness. Being aware of other cultures and ways of doing business, comprehending the effects of cultural stereotypes and ethnocentrism and fostering flexibility among work relations are common features of individuals who possess strong cross cultural skills. Considering that one the focuses in this regard is efficient communication, The US Department of Health (2013) brings the linguistic factor to their definition, elucidating that cross cultural competence is a set of linguistic and congruent behaviors, policies and acts that form a system, agency or among individuals making it feasible and effective to work in cross-cultural environments. Therefore, one can infer that cross cultural competence is aimed at promoting mutual understanding among culturally different team members in order to achieve the company’s objectives. More than just efficiently communicate and develop tasks, I strongly believe that an innovative organizational environment can be fostered by taking advantage of diverse cultural elements.

Instilling cultural intelligence comes with its challenges and I would dare to say that the main challenge is the generation of self-awareness in individuals. As Goodman (2010, pp. 48) said the key factor in the process of instilling cultural intelligence is that individuals should become conscious of their own world view, rectifying their misconceptions and anticipating mistakes. However, it requires paradigm breaking and this can’t be done unless the individual is entirely involved and ready to plunge into the process. In addition to that, bring about changes through paradigms breaking might take long to happen and in most of the cases it goes against the urgent features of the business world. Therefore, selecting and recruiting the right people is of fundamental importance in order to accelerate the training and educational process mentioned by the author.

Another challenge that cross-cultural competence programs face is with regards to virtual teams. Besides dealing with diverse cultural elements, factors such as time difference and lack of face to face interaction might cause misunderstandings and sense of isolation which can lead to employees’ work dissatisfaction. When trying to build up strong international teams, problems may arise through the different ways individuals realize the importance of decision making processes and hierarchy levels. The way team members’ deal with cultural misunderstandings might put the team’s effectiveness at risk.

Last but not least, Goodman (2010, pp. 49) exposes the difficulty of measuring results of cross-cultural training and how it may impact the decision of corporations to invest in those training programs. In order to mitigate the challenges when instilling cultural intelligence Goodman (2010, pp.49) explains that it’s   important to establish the link between cross-cultural competence and business performance; configure programs with clear and focused structure; make the courses to obey a continue order so that they’ll make sense to the attendees; make information accessible; make each course customized to the groups’ needs. Nonetheless, I strongly believe that in order to create deep self-awareness simplistic cultural training is not enough. It is essential to promote critical thinking in order to have old paradigms broken.

 

 

References:

 Goodman, N. (2012) ‘Training for cultural competence’, Industrial and Commercial Training, 44 (1), pp.47 – 50.

US Department of Health (2013) ‘What’s cultural competency’ [Online] Available: http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlID=11 (Accessed: February 5 2014)

Human Resources Strategy Approaches – Reality or Utopia ?

It is very interesting the discussion on the different approaches to HRS and why they might or might not be feasible in different organizational environments. The theories and how they consider the human element vary significantly from mechanistic- Cartesian  to holistic – contingent.

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Important elements such as strategic integration, commitment, flexibility and quality are linked to factors such as the organization’s social role and the impact it has on society.

Unfortunately, most of businesses still treat the human and intellectual elements of an organization as exploitable resources; when in reality the ideal scenario would be  the exchange of knowledge and resources resulting in something tangible that would benefit society somehow and then generate profits.

Some companies such as Whole Foods Market have demonstrated excellence through higher purposes than just profits. According to McKey and Sisodia it is fundamental that employees are aware of the importance of their work for the others. Social responsibility should not be a separate program within a company, it should be the company itself represented by its employees.

References:

Pilbeam, S. Corbridge, M. (2010) People resourcing and talent planning: HRM in practice. 4th ed. London: Prentice Hall International.

McKey, J. Sisodia, R. (2013) Conscious Capitalism: liberating the heroic spirit. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.

HR Management- University of Liverpool

The Multifaceted Role of HR Professional and Line Managers

It would be interesting to start this discussion with a couple of definitions on some key concepts that make part of HR management context. According to Pilbeam and Corbridge (2010, pp. 7) organizational transience refers to what is passive of change inside and outside the organizational environment. Besides facing technological disruptions, organizations also face the mutability among employment relations. Combined variables such as technology, globalization, micro and macro-economic scenarios result in a dynamic market place where the notions of job for life and stability have been disrupted. On the other side, there is the generation Y that responds to such changes in an adaptive manner. The Millennial Generation has a commitment to self-improvement and inner satisfaction rather than loyalty to the organization they work for. With that said, one can connect employability and technological improvements. It is of fundamental importance that employees take responsibility for their careers proactively, other than that they will become obsolete. Another interesting point is the link of transactional psychological contract with the X and Y generations. The negotiation aspect involved in the transactional psychological contract showed by Pilbeam and Corbridge (2010, pp. 6)   is very much featured in the X and Y Generations’ profile. On the other hand, the relational psychological contract could be associated with the Baby Boomers generation.

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There are a range of organizational modifications that impact HR professionals and line managers such as the nature of jobs; downsizing and delayering; markets, disruptive technology, consumer behavior; human capital; knowledge based economy, etc. As the economy goes from industrial based to knowledge based, visible changes on the way of doing business emerge. The workforce is characterized by being computer savvy and innovative. As a consequence of technological advancement and financial crises, the nature of job has also gone through changes. Many employees are working as part-timers or contractors, outsourcing is frequent practiced among multinationals and the concept of cross training is being implemented in several industries such as financial institutions. In the bank where I work for instance, Tellers are no longer just Tellers. The new title is Customer Associate/ Teller. The employees are being cross trained in order to open and close accounts, transfer money, print debit cards, act as loan originators, notaries, solve problems that before were solved by managers, etc. In that way the bank will cut costs and stimulate the development of new skills in its employees.

How should HR professionals and managers address the variables discussed above in order to promote value creation? According to CIPD Surveys (2005, pp. 2) it is of fundamental importance that HR professionals and managers know how to extract the most out of human capital. The survey also demonstrates that psychological contract and change are indelibly linked and in order to manage change successfully, it’s necessary that businesses work to keep a positive psychological contract. Actions such as reward packages including financial and non-financial compensations should be carefully planned according to the employees’ profile. Elements that compose employability such as career advancement, personal development and sense of making part of an organization that has a bigger purpose than just profits are also primordial in order to foster employees’ motivation. According to Mckey and Sisodia (2013, pp. 78) employees want to work for a company in which they feel proud of. There is this intrinsic need of doing something valuable for society which would result in elevated self-esteem and consequently work-place motivation.

In summary, the business environment has been going through technological and ethical changes. HR professionals and line managers are urged to understand and implement those changes into the organizational environment. They need to reconcile organizational and employees goals in order to achieve optimal results.

References:

Pilbeam, S. Corbridge, M. (2010) People resourcing and talent planning: HRM in practice. 4th ed. London: Prentice Hall International.

CIPD (2005) ‘Managing change: the role of psychological contract.’ [Online] Available: http://www.cipd.co.uk/nr/rdonlyres/06b92739-19f8-4bb4-ae47-796ea5f5cb15/0/manachang1105.pdf(Accessed: 17 January 2014)

McKey, J. Sisodia, R. (2013) Conscious Capitalism: liberating the heroic spirit. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.

International Branding: Oosthuizen’s “ The Core Value Model”

I’m going to analyse some examples of  international branding using Oosthuizen’s “ The Core Value Model”.

An example of successful international branding is  McDonald’s and its “ Golden Arches”; one immediately pictures fast food and American culture.According to the psychologist Louis Cheskin, the round M represents a mother’s breasts.

Breasts can be seen as a symbol of nourishment  that connect the individual with his mother at an unconscious level.  According to Oosthuizen’s Core Value Model,  core values are composed by universal symbols that can be understood by everyone.

Those symbols represent innate values and one of them is the procreation factor. Virtually anywhere in the world an individual regardless of language, sex, age, culture, will be able to identify the female breasts as a source of food, universal belonging and family.

When it comes to the other levels of communication presented by Oosthuizen, McDonald’s demonstrates efficient marketing since it localizes its strategies respecting and answering to religious demands such as the vegetarian burgers in India, the non pork menu in the Middle East and offering espresso coffee in Argentina and Portugal.

 McDonald’s, built up a global message and it is being localizing it throughout the years.

Heineken is an example of international branding that failed one of its projects, due to lack of attention to learned values.  Heineken’s logos carry universal symbols such as the star and  the smile in its 3 Es and those can  communicate globally.

However, according to  Williamson ( 2013) it failed when trying to launch a featured bottle with the world cup finalists. Heineken designed featured bottles of beer containing the flags of the countries that were in the world cup .  Saudi Arabia was featured and the country’s flag contains a verse from the Koran.

After the bottles were released, not only Saudi Arabia but all the Arab world were outraged because  their religious verse was linked to alcohol. Long story short, Heineken had to recall all the bottles and create a new design.

Although Heineken was not trying to market alcohol to the Arab countries it created social commotion by not paying attention on local religious values.

In conclusion, it is fundamental to align universal elements that can effectively communicate a company’s brand and local adaptation of services and products.

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By A. Kaye – Contributor

References:

Zara, T. Cenedella P. (2013) ‘ Citizens all: the rules of corporate citizenship’ Interbrand: creating and managing brand value [Online] Available at : http://www.interbrand.com/en/best-global-brands/2012/articles-and-interviews/citizens-all-the-new-rules-of-corporate-citizen.aspx ( Accessed: August 28 2013)

Williamson, A. (2013) ‘ Four international branding design failures’  Adhere  [online] Available at: http://blog.theadhereagency.com/2013/4-international-branding-design-failures/(Accessed: August 28 2013)

E3 Marketing Agency (2009) Defining Cross Cultural Marketing [Online] Available at: http://e3network.wordpress.com/2009/03/03/defining-cross-cultural-marketing/ (Accessed: August 27 2013)

Oosthuizen, T. (2004) ‘In marketing across cultures: are you enlightening the world or are you speaking in tongues?’, Design Issues, 20 (2), 61–72, MIT Press Journals [Online]..http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hlh&AN=13269965&site=ehost-live&scope=site (Accessed: 21 August 2013).

International Management MSc – University of Liverpool

After reading the article ‘ E-ethical leadership for virtual project teams’ I could connect the principles of Kantian ethics, motivation and trust and the Stakeholder Theory to the principles of conscious capitalism preached by MacKey and Sisodia (2013, pp. 56) in which a company should create value to all its stakeholders impacting positively on society through ethical behavior and sense of justice.
Linking ethical behavior and culture can be paradoxical and we can clearly find companies that through unethical attitudes take advantage of collectivist countries such as India in which according to Hofstede one would be dependent on the boss in order to obtain power direction and would accept unequal rights due to power privilege. Examples of lack of business ethics are the sweatshops in India, in which companies such as Nike uses the term outsourcing to cover a real situation of exploitation. I’m not saying that being a collectivist society is the only reason for the existence of sweatshops but I’m saying that it could be one favorable factor since the population would act passively facing the situation as if it was their destiny.