Human Resource Management Predicament in Multicultural Organization in China
The current business trends towards globalization require that organizations manage their human resources in a manner that enhances communication and integration of employees to increase productivity. The increasing globalization also implies that people can work in organizations in different localities from their origin, and thus, this has seen increment of intergroup differences within organizations. As companies seek to employ the best performing employees, cultural differences increase within these organizations because talented employees cannot theoretically and practically originate solely from the same culture or locality. The role of human resource management in such organizations is therefore quite challenging. Managing the diverse culture in these organizations requires application of numerous resources in the long run, and such organizations must undergo adaptation and transformation processes similar to those seen during a major change in technology. To improve their performance, most organizations have realized that the cultural diversity of the employees must be considered when developing organizational culture. They strive to address and pay attention to the needs of each and every group of diverse employees in the organization. Most organization managers and business leaders are actually grappling with how to develop corporate cultures in line with the issues brought about by the current trends in the multicultural human resource pool.
Studies have postulated that effective management of cultural diversity in organizations can produce better results even for those organizations with low degree of cultural diversity. Despite the positive effects realized from such organizations, and the practical aspects of such studies, the benefits of the trend towards globalization are still debatable.
Ethnicity has been the major source of cultural diversity in most countries, and the best example today could be China. As the nation advances towards becoming one of the major economic powers, business in China has been the major source of economic boost for the last few decades. The economy has gained much from the business sector, and the nation is trending towards the American way (Liu 2004). Business managers in china have realized the need to increase productivity, and thus, human resource has become a major issue in organizations. There has been a new trend of hiring employees, where organization managers go for the best. The consequences have been increased multicultural diversity in such organizations (UNESCO 2003).
A major problem in China has been the diverse culture of the people. China is among the nations in Asia with the highest population and which is divided along ethnic, religious and cultural lines. Moreover, there are a large number of foreign employees in China, especially in multinational corporations (Liu 2004). Owing to the large size of the republic, cultural diversity cannot be ignored, despite the government efforts to reduce the line between different cultures and to increase integration. Business organizations in China have therefore been very cautious in dealing with employees, especially in terms of originality, ethnicity and religion.
Predicament in Performance in Cultural Diversity: The Case of Haier Group (China)
Haier International is a Chinese owned multinational corporation that specializes in manufacturing and marketing electronic goods. It was incorporated in 1984 in Quindao, China (Yi &Ye 2003). Today, it is among the leading multinational corporations in terms of volume of goods produced, with market all over the world, and particularly inclusive of third world countries. The corporation went global in the 1990s and 2000s with opening several manufacturing branches and sale outlets in the USA, Europe, India, Hong Kong and other nations mainly in Asia and Middle East (Yi &Ye 2003). By 2005, the company had already begun its globalization process, in a strategy aimed at increasing the number of market outlets, the values, variety and models of products. By 2009, the company was recognized as the leading global maker and manufacturer of white products in the world, with a market share of about 10.4%.
The success of the Haier group can be attributed to the well developed management strategies, and particularly human resource management strategies (Yi &Ye 2003). During its initial years as a small company in Quindao, China, the company was a mere regional organization. Its management had a vision of going global, in line with the prevailing trend followed by other companies at the time. Several strategies were employed in order to propel the company towards the global arena. Among the most significant strategy adopted was the diversification of employees to improve its international image.
In 1990s, the company started targeting the world market. However, the language differences between the Chinese and the international community proved to be a barrier (Yi &Ye 2003). The corporation resolved by hiring employees from English and French speaking nations and regions, mainly Hong Kong, Thailand (Yi &Ye 2003), European nations, America and some persons from other third world nations in addition to the people from the mainland China. These strategies improved not only the international understanding and awareness through advertisement, but also the technology and the branding system of production. In particular, English words were widely used for branding (Yi &Ye 2003), while advertisement has been done in multiple languages, English being among the most widely used. These strategies were also in line with the government’s initiatives of including English as a second and academic language in Chinese schools in preparation for a globalized economy (Mei and Zhenzhi 2009). The company gained more from these strategies than what had been predicted, and in particular because the foreigners were also included in major decision making, and even appointed managers for corporation chains in their own nations.
Despite the many benefits of this strategy, the company experienced several problems, especially in the China. Cultural diversity was and has been among the main hotspots of managerial challenges facing the company (Mei and Zhenzhi 2009). China, as aforementioned, is a country with a very large population and which is divided along tribal and ethnic lines. There are groups described as the minority and others as the majorities, and inequalities have been the major source of conflicts, especially on social and economic grounds. Negative ethnicity has been occupying the political life of the Chinese since early times, and has found roots in the economy (Mei and Zhenzhi 2009). The people of China have different culture based on their origin, ethnicity, traditions and even religion.
The management of Haier international was determined to ensure that effective communication and information flow was a part and parcel of the corporation (Yi &Ye 2003). As such, the strategy was to ensure that the human resource management was effective enough and steer the human resources towards global levels of production (Mei and Zhenzhi 2009).
In China, the trend was that the people from the mainland china, particularly the Hans, were not comfortable working with other groups, especially those from eastern China (the Muslim Chinese), the people from Hong Kong and those from other nation at large. On the other hand, persons from other regions of China could not feel comfortable working with the Hans groups (Yi &Ye 2003). There was fear that these differences could have found d their way into the corporations, and Haier being among g the most affected. The company was committed to ensure that its organizational culture was not affected with these traditional trends and thus code of conduct and other regulations were to be enhanced.
Another major problem was language difference. The nation was at the point of turning from its traditions, where Chinese language was the only available language in learning, and thus most of the available employees in the population pool could not communicate fluently in other international languages. This was seen as a hindrance for globalization strategies adopted by the company and the entire Chinese economy in general. There were fears that the corporation could not go global if the problems were not addressed fully. Although the government was in full commitment to globalization in all aspects of the economy, the traditions held by the people may have been delaying the process.
Reactions to globalization
While the government, the elite and the corporations such as Haier saw the new trend towards globalization as an opportunity to increase profitability and diversify their business operations to the international platform, several cultural factors posed some problems in the process. For instance, the Chinese with quality education were being absorbed into the company, leaving out those with poor educational backgrounds jobless. Companies had to hire employees from areas such as Hong Kong, where people had enjoyed a long time of quality education, and were not affected with communist unlike the mainland China. The employees from the mainland China perceived this trend as a threat to their system especially that the jobs meant for them were being taken by foreigners and other second class citizens.
On the other hand, the competition for jobs during the current period of globalization has changed the previous discrepancy on the Chinese, and most people from all regions of China can actively work in any place in the world. Specifically, the American and European markets were once characterized with reluctance and detest of the Chinese made products, and in some places with dislike of the Chinese workers (Yi &Ye 2003). The company had to create awareness thorough advertisement aimed at displaying the quality and esteem of its products, qualified workers and international operations.
In modern times, the corporation is also faced with the intercultural problems. While it is a fact that the company has utilized the chance brought in by the acceptance of intercultural integration among most Chinese people, the company has been spending a lot of resources towards supporting every individual in an effort to develop an attitude of reacceptance of intercultural exchanges especially in foreign nations. Moreover, the corporation has been using resources towards increasing cultural diversity in both China and any other nation where it is in operation.
The Problem of Cultural Absolutism
The hierarchy of cultures within the corporation is quite undefined, with minority cultures feeling alienated in company leadership in favor of the majority of indigenous Chinese. The employees from the minority cultures, comprising of the persons from Hong Kong, Thailand and other nations, are expected to subordinate to the dominant culture. The company has been spending a lot of resources towards developing a culture of equality in the management and the workplace. It also attempts to develop a culture where all the cultural groups fit and work towards achieving the goals of the company. The corporation has been making efforts to ensure that no cultural barriers exist between the cultural groups of the employees.
Problem of Cultural Pluralism
The company has been faced with the problem of acceptance of diversified cultural identities and expressions while simultaneously recognizing commonalities among the different cultures of the employees (Mullins 2008). The process of building commonalities within the organization has been successful to an extent, but which has costs the company a lot of resources. Moreover, it the human resource management has been striving to achieve a situation where the capacities of each and very individual is re4cognized, and that priority is given to qualities relating to qualifications rather than cultural backgrounds. It has also been trying to allow individuals to decide their own cultural values to base their lives on, but at the same time fit in the established organization culture (Mullins 2008). All these initiatives are based on quality training of the employees, which also cost the company quite a large amount of resources.
The problems associated with workplace diversity
Haier Corporation relies mostly on the ability of its human resource management to handle a diverse organization of talents available to accrue innovation and innovative ideas, views and perspectives into the organization. The mixture of talents within the company’s diverse pool of employees gives it an opportunity to build an asset capable for developing the corporation. However, in China, this is results into the problems associated with mixed culture, especially due to the aforementioned problems of ethnicity and racism among the Chinese population. The company has utilized resources to ensure that the diverse culture within its employees act as an asset rather than an economic time bomb. The corporation emphasizes on intensive Human Resource Management training in order to increase the abilities of the personnel to motivate professional that are highly qualified and at the same time have different cultural backgrounds (Mullins 2008). In addition, the corporation has been using large amounts of resources towards achieving a situation where local professionals in China are assured that the foreign professionals are not a threat to their profession within their own country rather that they are there to share ideas and increase productivity.
Another major problem facing Haier Corporation in China is the ineffective workplace diversity management brought in by the act of placing employees in areas they are not comfortable with. The company aims to diversify its operations into various locations in the world, and most employees are hired to serve in foreign nations, but may not be comfortable with the cultures on the destinations. These persons, even though they might be qualified, may develop negative attitudes, thus making the work less efficient. This has been the problem facing employees hired from other r nations to work in or head corporation branches in China.
Strategies Used To Solve the Problems
Management of the workplace diversity is the most important initiatives that the corporation can utilize to achieve a situation where the diversity of the culture benefits the company. The human resource management should be focused towards improving and enhancing the managerial framework so that planning, leading and organization strategies are enhanced.
Planning and mentoring
Initiating a diversity mentoring program is a very crucial way of handling cultural diversity issues in an organization. it entails a process of involving managers of different departments within the organization in order to train and receive feedbacks from employees who are culturally diverse (Carter 2000). Mangers should receive practical training through consultation of professional firms, field trips and the use of real life case situations that have worked in the past. Through these efforts, managers are trained how to resolve cases of conflicts among the employees, and how to encourage them to work in unity towards achieving their own goals and the goals of the company in the long run (Carter 2000). It helps the managers to learn techniques aimed at encouraging and training employees to look beyond their own cultures, and reap the benefits of intercultural integration and diversity of profession in cultures (Fine 1995).
Strategic Organization of talents
Since the company is focused in its global position, it is important that it employs more and more of the foreign as well as the local professional in the areas where it is in operation, whether in the market place or during the manufacturing process (Carter 2000). Although the company employed large numbers of persons from Singapore in the late 1980s and 1990s, there is still room fro increasing its number of employees in the global market in order to increase acceptance of the products in new areas (Fine 1995). For instance, the company relies largely on the African market for its goods targeting low income people. An example is the electronic products sold in large amounts into Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Angola. The company should realize that the African culture is quite deep rooted, while in other areas like Kenya and Nigeria, the people are very dynamic to change. Local languages such as Swahili and Hausa should be used in advertisement, and as such local people should be employed in large numbers.
Distribution of cultural diversity
The company should ensure that cultural diversity is well distributed in all levels of managem4t and production. All departments should have employees from diverse cultural backgrounds in order to increase integration, sharing of ideas and acceptance of the corporation in international standards (Carter 2000).
The outcome of the above suggestions is expected to be positive towards globalization of the corporation. The company will be at a better position to compete with competitors, especially those targeting both large income and low income markets. For instance, the company could be compete effectively with European and American corporations if it utilizes local language such as English and French, as well as customizing its products in order to fit in the cultures in these nations. On the other hand, it could emerge the leading marketer in Africa and Asia, where there are upcoming and very potential markets and which other competitors are not willing to or have not considered entering.
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