Intercultural Communication, Essay Example

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Words: 1842

Essay

What are stereotypes and why can they be dangerous if taken to extremes?  How are stereotypes related to ethnocentrism, and clearly define what ethnocentrism is.

Stereotypes are set of attitudes that cause us to attribute qualities or characteristics to a person on the basis of a group to which the person may belong. The group membership may be racial, ethnic, political, religious, or cultural in nature among many possibilities. Stereotypes may help us form quick judgment or reduce uncertainty but they also hinder our ability to understand others or be more flexible in our thinking. An example of a stereotype may be the belief that African Americans are underachievers because they are lazy. Stereotypes may lead to ethnocentrism if taken to the extreme. Ethnocentrism refers to judging others by using one’s own personal or cultural standards. Ethnocentrism causes feeling of superiority and builds unfavorable impression of people and cultures different from own groups. An example would be a belief that Americans are the smartest and most creative people in the world.

What are some of the business and cultural differences one might expect in top business managers in Japan, the United States, and Germany? In other words, how does each culture impact the way these managers do business?

In Japan, business managers may emphasize group achievement and teamwork over individual achievements. If an individual tries to highlight his achievements, he may be seen as selfish in Japan rather than being praised. Similarly, Germans also avoid bragging about personal achievements. In the U.S., individual achievements are celebrated and compensation awards often take into account individual performance. Americans place greater focus on performance than group harmony while Japanese place a huge emphasis on group harmony and relationships. Japanese and Germans also have higher preference for risk avoidance as compared to Americans. But Germans share small power distance between leaders and followers as opposed to Japan where large power distance exists. Germans and Americans can be quite direct with words which is why they are low-context culture while Japan is a high-context culture where verbal words may not be sufficient to properly communicate the message.  While American business people may be aggressive at times, Germans do not like pushy people. Germans are also more formal than Americans in addressing others and include formal titles before names.

Why is knowledge of effective intercultural communications so important for the international manager? Why is listening so important in intercultural communication?

Knowledge of effective intercultural communications is important for the international manager because different cultures often have different values and communication styles. They may also assign different meanings to hand gestures. For example, the V-sign means victory in the U.S. but considered rude in Italy. Both verbal and nonverbal communication styles sometimes vary significantly across cultures, thus, effective intercultural communication skills reduce the potential of miscommunication. Listening is also an important intercultural communication skill because listening is not only about hearing but giving attention to nonverbal cues as well. An effective listener also takes the effort to think about the message being communicated and is able to put himself/herself in the other person’s place. Effective listening skills also help international managers observe the audience carefully and take hints from nonverbal cues to shape their message. An effective American listener may be able to better understand his Japanese counterpart if he also observes Japanese negotiator’s body language and face expressions which may be sending a different message than the actual words being spoken.

What are the differences between high and low context cultures? Is it easier for a person from a low-context culture to understand a person from a high-context culture? How about the reverse situation? Why? Provide examples of each.

High context cultures are those in which there is an emphasis on interpersonal relationships and people are less governed by reason than by intuition and feelings. When communicating with others, words do not convey the whole meaning but instead other things such as the context, voice tone, facial expressions, gestures, and the person’s family history and status also influence the message. Examples of high context cultures include Saudi Arab, Japan, and China. Low context cultures are logical, linear, and action oriented. Communicators are straight forward and their words express their thoughts quite efficiently. Examples of low context cultures include the U.S., U.K., and Germany. It is easier for a person from high context culture to understand a person from low context culture. This is because low context culture say exactly what they mean and do not worry about being blunt or hurting others’ sentiments. But it is difficult from low context culture to understand a person from high context culture because communicators from high context cultures expect others to be familiar with background and, thus, do not give out all the required information. In addition, they are also careful with words so as not to hurt relationship which may be misunderstood by someone from the low context culture. For example, an American negotiator may state clearly if they do not want to proceed with a certain deal but a Japanese negotiator may say they will think about it when they may really mean ‘no’. An American may believe that Japanese have not yet made their decision when. In fact, Japanese really meant ‘no.

Why is the role of an interpreter or a mediator in a global business negotiation important?  What skills must this person have? Be specific and provide an example.

An interpreter is one who uses the knowledge of a culture in translating the message from one language to another. Interpreters are aware of the cultural context and cultural values and can help the client understand the message as intended by the speaker and not as it was spoken. Similarly, mediators are those who help the parties to a negotiation sort out differences and reach a mutually acceptable solution. Both interpreters and mediators need to have good cross-cultural knowledge, language skills, and the ability to think logically and stay impartial. An example of a mediator would be village elders in many Middle East countries who are respected due to their age and experience and often consulted to act as a mediator in a conflict. An example of an interpreter may be a Japanese-American who has lived in U.S. for quite a long time and may help an American company negotiate with a Japanese company because he understands Japanese culture, values, and nonverbal communication elements.

What is the difference between an aggressive negotiator and an assertive negotiator? Please be specific and provide at least one example of each style.

An aggressive negotiator is one who pushes people around in order to get exactly what he wants. An aggressive negotiator is selfish and only cares about his own objectives. An assertive negotiator is one who is not afraid to stand up for his rights and express his legitimate needs but he also takes into account others’ needs and makes sure that their legitimate needs are respected. Warren Buffet could be considered an assertive negotiator because even though he likes to get good deals, he is also willing to pay fair price for the acquisitions that impress him. Steven Jobs could be considered an aggressive negotiator who used Apple’s market power to get better terms for business partners.

What are perceptions and how are they formed, especially as regards intercultural communications? What is bias and how can it affect your ability to form completely objective conclusions about people from another culture ? Please provide a specific example to help illustrate your point. 

Perceptions are the interpretation of sensory information. Perceptions are influenced by personal experiences, values, ethics, and personal biases. A bias is a prejudice for or against a person or a group as compared to other people or groups. Biases hinder our ability to form completely objective conclusions about people from other another culture as well as misunderstand the meanings and logic behind the behaviors witnessed in other cultures. We measure other cultures according to our own standards and criteria and ignore their unique nature or what makes them different from us. An example would be to consider American management practices as the best in the world and analyze the effectiveness of French management practices according to American criteria.

Why are team management and team building significant developments in the new organizational work culture?

Team building and team management are significant developments in the new organizational work culture because workplaces are becoming increasingly diverse in terms of cultural and ethnic representations. This means people often have different values, communications styles, and working styles which make it more challenging to form effective teams where members enjoy strong working relationship with each other. Similarly, globalization has resulted in factors of production including human capital becoming more mobile. This again presents challenges often association with diverse work teams. Team management and team building educate employees on cultural differences and convince them to appreciate differences rather than perceive them as threats.

In the context of today’s global business world, what does the term “knowledge culture” mean?  In this new knowledge culture, what is the difference between a leader and leadership? Please be sure to provide specific examples for each term.

Knowledge culture means organizations that encourage their members to continuously learn and improve themselves. The difference between leader and leadership in this new knowledge culture is that a leader is simply one who leads the organization while leadership is the ability to influence and leads others as well as effectively manages change and differences in a global environment. An example of a leader may be Dell’s Michael Dell as he guides and directs his company while an example of a leadership may be Apple’s Tim Cook who has effectively filled Steve Jobs’ shoes and has the ability to inspire Apple employees to continue to innovate and stay at the leading edge of the industry. Leadership is not limited to an individual anymore but instead leadership roles are also being assumed by employees and teams and more and more companies are involving subordinates in setting the strategic direction of their respective companies.

What are some cultural stereotypes regarding women in the workplace? What is the glass ceiling and how to the stereotypes keep women from attaining similar success when compared to their male counterparts in many business organizations? Name one successful female businessperson and speculate as to why she has broken the glass ceiling.

Some of the stereotypes regarding women in the workplace are that women are too soft to make tough business decisions. In addition, women lack quantitative skills and are better at soft skills such as communication and team building. Moreover, women have low commitment to their careers because they expect to assume family responsibilities sooner or later. Similarly, women have weak cross-cultural skills and not suitable for international assignments. Glass ceilings are barriers that prevent women from joining the ranks of senior management. One successful female businessperson is Indra Nooyi of Pepsi Corporation. She succeeded in breaking the glass ceiling because she took the initiative to take challenging tasks and proved herself through performance. In addition, she had high self-confidence and showed that she could take bold moves.

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