A formal Report on Cultural differences that
may influence communication
within an organization.
The need for an organization to continually survive and strive in the market is regarded as the Businesses main and important objective. Employees are thus considered to be seen as more of a resource for the company as they play a very significant role in the organization reaching its desired goals and objectives. With that being said it is thus imperative that management of the employees is first priority for the organization and that HR is able to develop an organizational culture which is peaceful and where employees work together for the establishment of the organization and that they feel apart of that specific organization and valued. The culture of an organization effects how it communicates and conducts its business. It is thus important for them to learn and understand the different cultures and customs within the places they are operating in or want to operate in.
According to Rokeach (1973: 2), ‘Beliefs are inferences made by an observer about underlying states of expectancy’, this can be said to what progresses to a cultural belief. The
Organizations HR directors need to research and understand the problems and causes of communication regarding different cultures, as by doing so it would be easier to provide solutions if issues where ever to arise. This paper will discuss what communication is within a business context, what organizational culture is and why it is important. Lastly the discussion of how culture differences that may influence communication within an organization will be addressed and recommendations for businesses.
Cultural differences that can possible influence how an organization conducts itself. The purpose of this report is to define how cultural differences come about and how they influence the manner of which an organization conducts itself. This will be discussed by using a one of the models of intercultural communication.
In a business context globalization pertains to communications, migration, tariffs and labor markets are open across borders creating free trade among countries and when national boundaries don’t hinder capital flow. Within a social context academics have found that organizations, neighborhoods etc. have been found to be increasing more multicultural as you find people from different ethnics, nationalities and also different faiths working in organizations'(Elizabeth A. Tuleja). Supporting this point of view, in 2013 the UN Global Migration Statistics found that in search of a better life almost ‘232 millions of people left their homelands their homelands’ (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs: Population Division, 2013).
Figure 1.1 Immigrant Population in the Top Ten Countries by Millions
(source: United Nations Department of Economic and social Affairs: Population Division, 2013.)
People tend to immigrate because of a desired life that they want to have, as there might be better opportunities within another country or state such as better education, work etc.
What is Organizational communication:
According to Richmond and McCroskey (2009), this term can be described as ‘the process by which individuals stimulate meaning in the minds of other individuals by means of verbal and nonverbal massages. An organization consists of a social collective of which work to either achieve individual or collective goals (Miller,2015). The organizational structure and culture should thus be created to help guide employees on how to deal with each other within the work environment. Communication channels should thus be created for the formal setting of the work environment, this could be from emails, memos, noticeboard, charts, suggestion boxes etc. For better communication it would be advised for organizations to have multidirectional communication channels as this would make employees understand better and feel a part of the decision making in the company (Clampitt,2000). Good communication is said to be transparent and honest showing all the important information relevant discussion. Bad communication on the other hand is the opposite and is dishonest, showing the incorrect information to the recipients of the massage. Baden (2016) found that health complaints, and levels of accidents were as a result of stress generated from bad communication. The illustration below shows the results of the research launched by Jiang and Probs in 2014.
Figure 1.2 Relationship of good and bad communication on job satisfaction, health complaints and accidents.
(source: Jiang and Probs, 2014, p.g.570-2)
Halls defined intercultural communication as ‘communication between persons of different cultures’.
Culture is noted to dictate the norms (rules, beliefs) of every cultural group within an environment, and also its communication patterns. According to anthropologist Edward T. Hall, ‘culture is how we communicate with each other and is governed by hidden rules that are reflected on both language and behavior’ (Hall, 1959). Strong organizations are made out of individuals that come from different backgrounds and cultures and this is what gives the organization diversity. Its diversity gives an organization the unique ability to come up with different ideas promoting the positivity and prosperity in the workplace (Matthew Hendrith, 2018). This thus results in the influence on how business is handled externally. All the communication within the organization should be aligned and reinforce the principles, culture and vision of the organization. Tsai (2011) described the Organizational culture to being ‘shared values and perceptions withheld by the employees’. It is taught by educating the employees on what the company expects from them as a whole. The best way to instill it is for directors, managers to lead by example (4, n.d.).
Example of intercultural communication model:
Communication can be conflicted between two or more parties as a result of arising core belief differences which are basically based on the individuals personal experience. This is as result of people living in different realities and therefor have to learn to be able to adapt to being able to be with other people that will not necessary have the same values and views. Culture bound values are regarded as relevant for intercultural communication. There are many academic journals of which have had different concepts as to how cultures differ. The best model yet to be recognized as the best possible attempt to measure up the nature and strength of the values and differences between cultures is the Hofstede’s model of the 5 dimensions of culture. He recognizes that individuals within cultures develop their own way and manner of interacting with each other depending on their social status within a particular culture. The dimensions of culture are identified to be significant on two grounds; firstly, verbal and non-verbal communications and secondly, systematic research on framework values. This model works on the basis of collecting data form a wide range of cultures and then compare them using a number basis to rate what type of dimension the culture would be regarded as. The 5 Dimensions consists of; a Power Distance(PDI), Uncertainty and avoidance(UAI), masculinity(MAS), individualism & collectivism (IDV) and long-term orientation(LTO).
Defined as an extent to which individuals are not seen nor considered as equal in society and individuals are expected to accept it the way it is. Within cultures that have small PDI bosses are known to be autocratic and there are more chances of the salary gap being low, large PDI culture believe in its dependence to subordinates from the bosses and their salary gap is considered to be quite wide with also superiors having privileges (Hofstede et al,2010).
Masculinity vs. femininity
Addresses the different traits according to gender stereotypes such as being aggressive/ dominant or being compassionate and having some sort of empathy. High masculinity score shows evidence of emphasis on achievement and recognition. These cultures strive on being the best in their field and are said to show less concern for individual needs and feelings like a feminine culture would. Feminine cultures look more to living a fulfilling life and showing concern for others amongst them. Managers are said to have good relationships with other employees and like to live in an environment which is desirable for their families and them (Hofstede, 2010). Humans have a tendency of creating different groups as a result of cultural diversity and the need to protect the collective knowledge and heritage of those groups.
Individualism and collective dimension
Here the interest of the of the individual either prevails over the society or not. In individualistic cultures you notice that they value self-expression, seeing it as the best practice to use to solve problems or conflicts. Collectivist cultures are completely different and its people have unquestioning loyalty and tend to avoid conflicts.
Long term orientation
Focuses on the future rewards. Planning is considered to have a longer time horizon having company’s willing to make a considerable amount of investment in the development and training of employees.
Defined as “the extent to which members of a society feel threatened by uncertain and unknown situations” (Hofstede el al, 2010). Employees tend to have anxiety and nerves when rules are broken at work, and rather prefer to have formal laws and regulations in order to feel more stable in their workplaces. Being innovative and entrepreneurial is what countries which have a weak AVI prefer to be.
Hofstede Dimensions are said to be basic frames of which are there to help you appreciate the differences between cultures. Cultures are regarded as equal and no one is better than the other nor strange. Using this model helps the business reduce misunderstanding by incorporating tolerance, respect and empathy from people of other culture groups. According to Hall (1976;79) ‘information can be either in a physical context or be internalized within a person while a little is coded, explicit, transmitted part of the massage’, this then introduces the high and low context of communication. In high context cultures they identify that the information is said to be already with the person and it doesn’t need that much coding. It relies mostly on nonverbals. It is thus imperative for companies to understand the different cultural context in order to know how to deal with its clientele
As a result of globalization making the world more borderless with the barriers that were between countries no longer strict as before, organizations’ have been strongly advised the need to know and understand the different cultures around them and how to operate effectively in certain environments. The migration of individuals has been noticeably increasing worldwide hence you find different cultures within a business which drives the need for the business to develop its own organizational culture which would strive to make the workers in sync with one another and portraying unity to customers of the company. Each culture has its advantages based upon which context you put it in, therefor management needs to know and understand how to incorporate the different cultural advantages into how the daily business is run and how employees not only communicate with each other but also the customers which also have individual cultural backgrounds.