Many people think that English Premier League consists of nothing, but players, clubs and supervisory authorities. In reality, the Football Association Premier League (also known as FAPL) is registered as a corporation in the United Kingdom. Legally, each club, which participates in the tournament, is registered as a shareholder with one vote (The FAPL, 2014). In order to oversee daily operations of the league, the clubs elect the chief executive, chairperson and board of directors (Singh, 2015). Despite the fact that the Football Association does not directly participate in the daily operations of the League, it has special veto powers as a specialized shareholder, which may be enforced during the elections of a chairperson and chief executives, as well as when the League changes the rules (The FAPL< 2014).
Therefore, it is important to underscore that the English Premier League is simply a union of football clubs, but a real corporation, ramified into several departments with multiple staff and operations. Thus, it has the same corporate problems as the majority of other corporations have.
One of the most serious concerns in this regard is growing cultural discrepancies of the corporation staff, key partners and stakeholders (Chaney & Martin, 2011). It is therefore natural that the company is susceptible to many cultural vulnerabilities, while the principles of traditional cross-cultural management frequently used in the United Kingdom, do not meet all necessities of the organization (Reynolds & Valentine, 2011).
This research aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the interpersonal cultural differences in the UK, and their influence on the Football Association Premier League as a corporate entity. Specifically, it focuses on fasting, as an intrinsic feature of Orthodox and Islamic cultures during the fasting period, and the main managerial approaches to this issue.
Identification of the Key Stakeholders
Despite the fact that the corporate work of the Football Association Premier League is mostly invisible to the commoners, the successfulness of its football tournament strongly depends on cooperation of several groups of stakeholders. The primary ones include:
Employees – the FAPL currently employs more than 500 people in the UK.
Partners – the corporation closely cooperates with many advertising, telecommunications, media, catering and other companies.
Agents, footballers, coaches, umpires and managers – one of the main activities of the organization is to supervise and enforce the rules. Fulfilling this mission without interacting with the main figures on the football field is hardly possible.
Cooperating and interacting with these groups is necessary for the FAPL (The FAPL, 2014). Thus, it has to take into consideration their cultural preferences.
Managing Players During Fasting Period and Other Cultural Differences
The FAPL operates in the territories of the United Kingdom only, yet its business is international – the corporation sells the broadcasting rights to the Americas, Oriental countries, as well as to Africa. The majority (roughly 75%) of the stakeholders outlined in the previous are of non-English and non-European origin (The FAPL, 2014). Therefore, the FAPL should be adapt its practices to the growing needs of its cross-cultural community. Among the main distinctive features observable in the different cultures are the following:
The Players and Fasting Period
During the fasting period, many Muslim and Orthodox players experience extreme difficulties in gaining stamina, sufficient concentration and strength. As a result, their professional productivity may seriously deteriorate, and their coaches make severe reprimands for this poor professional performance. Yet, the players find it extremely difficult to reconcile their spiritual ego and professional obligations, which they owe to the club.
Thus, the managers of FAPL-registered clubs should become attentive when signing players, from the Islamic countries. To avoid misunderstandings in the future, their performance and compensation during the yearly fasting period should be subjected to serious prior discussions. However, if the club insists on keeping a complete, healthy and nutritional diet, the player should decide whether his religious preconceptions should prevail over his professional commitments.
The Goal of Negotiations
Different negotiations constitute the major part of the strategic and operational activities of the FAPL. It is important to underscore that various cultures perceive the goal of negotiations in a different way (Adler, 2008). Thus, for the westernized culture the purpose of a negotiation is to sign a deal, while in the oriental world the parties prioritize developing a long-term relationship (Early 2006; Adler 2008).
Building this relationship is always much easier, if the negotiators are from the same cultural and ethnic background. For instance, two Muslims during the Ramadan will easily develop rapport, than a fasting Muslim and an Englishman with full stomach (Hall & Hall 1990).
The Personal Styles of Negotiators
The employees of FAPL have many communicational tasks (Singh 2015). As discussed above, they often have to interact with people of other cultural backgrounds. The style of communication is one of the central determinants of culture. It purports the way a negotiator speaks to his interlocutors, the choice of clothing for a meeting, physical contact etc. Typically, there are two forms of personal style of negotiators: formal and informal. The Western cultures are more prone to formal style, while their Eastern counterparts are eminently personal, expressive and affective. During fasting periods both Orthodox and Muslims become even more open to their interlocutors (Peterson 2004). Thus, a manager of the FAPL should be especially attentive in choosing a communication style. In a perfect scenario, the management should assign a negotiator of the same cultural or ethnic background.
Many commentator emphasize that the Easterners are more emotional than the Westerners are . The managers of FAPL constantly scrutinize the policies of emotional communication used by the firm’s negotiators. Thus, the company rigorously instructs its negotiators be make a thorough preparation before the meeting is scheduled (The FAPL, 2014). In particular, the negotiators have to determine the degree of permissible emotional expression, before entering into a conversation with a speaker from a foreign country (Adler 2008).
Failure to respect this principle may result in catastrophic repercussions for a business deal. To illustrate, in 2010 the agents of Exxon Mobil were negotiating the construction of an oil refinery station in India. Although the agreement was a win-win solution to the both parties, the American negotiators were pushing the deal too aggressively. Instead of making a close emotional contact with their prospective partners, they insisted on negotiating the details of their deal. As a result, a highly lucrative proposal was denied by the Indians (Chaney & Martin 2011).
Individual vs. Collective Culture
One of the most important cross-cultural indexes developed by professor Hofstede is individualist vs. collectivist understanding of culture (Reynolds & Valentine 2011). Thus, the Eastern societies are more collectivist, i.e. the members of their communities are more deeply integrated into the communities. Singh articulatd that “We” is emphasized over “I” in those cultures (Singh, 2015). The opposite situation is seen in the Western business communities, which are more associated with individual decision-making. Therefore, while negotiating with the partners from the East, the employees of FAPL should constantly realize the fact that the decision is not necessarily will be taken by the negotiator or his superiors. Family members and the community members may be implicated in the discussions as well.
Several major theses are inferable from this overview of cross-cultural variances. Firstly, the FAPL should prioritize the fact that the professional sport community has become immensely multinational. The business success in this segment of commerce no longer depends on dealings with the European or American parties. Many players, coaches and investors are of Asian and African origin. Secondly, the importance of cross-cultural management and communication should not be underestimated in the light of these realities. Not only the organization has to organize adequate training of its staff, but also it has to set up a special research unit. Each negotiation with the foreign partners should be preceded by thorough preparation and analysis. Thirdly, the FAPL should re-consider its employment policies. Thus, because people of the same origin easily are more agreeable with each other, the company should start hiring foreigners for these purposes.
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