The concept of globalization has become central in recent pats. There is shift in the manner in which business, commerce, human relation and culture is currently presented to the world. Improvement and innovation in technology in transport and communication has allowed both human and commerce to go beyond national, continental and cultural boundaries. For this particular reason, multinational businesses have emerged and are doing business at nearly every corner of the world. Numerous businesses involved in consumer products and services in, particular financial and management services, have taken advantage of globalization to build huge business empires. China and the other emerging Asian ‘tiger’ economies present a good business location for manufacturing based. The Middle East is taking the bunch of financial services multinational companies to facilitate trade between the East and the West (Hitt, Ireland, & Hoskisson, 2010). Oil firms are investing in remote locations in the world as oil exploration leads the oil industry. This massive globalization is not without its share of hurdles. Several factors such as political influences, government regulation, stiff competition, incoherent consumer behavior, different marketing strategies, differentiated human resource management strategies and culture are examples of few factors affected by globalization. Culture is perhaps the most influential aspect that is affected by the said globalization. Exchanges in commerce and the relation of humans from different corners of the world have a profound effect on the culture of the people. Impacts on the culture also tend to spill over and impact communication. This research evaluates the impacts of impacts of globalization on culture and how this affects communication especially in business. The first part of the paper provides a theoretical review on culture and a brief analysis on how globalization affects the same. The second part evaluates the manner in which different cultures provides the foundation for human resource management strategies. Thirdly the research will examine the impact of multicultural communities on communication as presented by globalization.
Theoretical Review of Culture
The term culture is somewhat a multifaceted characteristic of a people that is somewhat difficult to define in simple terms. Social scientists have developed several definitions of the term culture however, the simplest definition terms culture as a combination of accepted character among the people living within a community (Aycan, Mendonca, Yu, Deller, Stahl, & Kurshid, 2000). In general, every community has an accepted character defined by personal perceptions, attitudes, motivation, background, social class and personality. All these factors affect the behavior of an individual. Aycan, et al, (2000,) argues that such factors tend to be similar in cases where a community shares similar traditions, religion, perceptions, heritage and motivation. The result is a sought of collective programming of the minds of the people within the community and thus a shared tradition. This collective perspective on several aspects of life may be defined as the culture of a community.
However, geographical location seems to have a greater influence in religion and thus definiting the culture of the people. For instance, the Middle East is predominantly a Muslim territory and thus teachings in Islam tend to define most of the social structure in the region. In the United States, there is a general perception of liberty to do and believe in anything of interest, thus the ‘American culture’ is one of social liberty .
However, there are simple tests that have been developed to understand the manner in which these cultures differ. For instance, the manner in which people relate to each other has been carefully studied and two theories have since emerged. These theories are social individualism versus collectivism. The two social theories try to determine the degree to which individuals feel a belonging to a social stratification or groups such as families . This characteristic also extends to work places in determining the nature of working protocols. It determines whether group psychology would yield more results or individual performance will work best.
Researchers and sociologists have developed an index matrix called the Individualism Index (IDV). This is a good tool used in determining whether a population prefers individual independence over group performance (Panayotopoulou, Bourantas, & Papalexandris, 2003). Highest independence indices were found in the United States, Australia, and Great Britain. Here most of the population preferred a more secluded lifestyle and individual business performance is preferred. On the other hand, lowest IDV scores were found in Ecuador, Guatemala, India and East Africa. Asia was also found to have low individualism indices and this implies that team and a collective responsibility is important and vital. These differences continually play out in the society.
There are other theories that have been developed to explain the existence of different cultures. One theory that has been developed explains a motivation within a community. Each culture has a different way of viewing aspect regarding motivation based on what leads a community to seek improvement. Singh (2003) asserts that social motivation can either be masculinity, femininity or the degree of uncertainty avoidance.
Masculinity and feminism can be viewed as directly opposing theories. By definition, these two theories attempt to define the distribution of emotional roles between genders in the society. Masculinity defines the nature in which each gender has a stratified role in the society while feminism allows non-defined roles for each gender . Duality of the sexes is one of the most fundamental aspects that define cultures and respecting this definition is fundamental.
In the same respect, several scholars and social theorists have undertaken research on the issue of masculinity vs. Feminism. It was found that both men and women are supposed to be modest and value the quality of life (Aycan, et al, 2000). A similar index that evaluates the definition of gender roles at the work place was used. This index is referred to as Masculinity Index (MAS). Sonja & Phillips (2004) state that Japan was found to be the country with the highest MAS score, implying that the Japanese population has distinct definition of the role of each gender within an organization. German speaking nation such as Germany, Switzerland and Austria also reported similarly high MAS scores. Anglo nations such as the United Kingdom, United States, South Africa and Canada had fairly average MAS score. At the lower end of MAS index scores Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have less definitions of the role of each gender (Budhwar & Katou, 2005). This implies that these nations with lower MAS score have no problem with women at leadership positions as compared to countries with high score such as Japan.
With regard to uncertainty avoidance, Freitag (2005) illustrates that this is the manner in which a society react and deals with unstructured situations. Such situations are unknown and surprising and thus different cultures have different methods of attempting to bring the situations under control. Each region has different methods of dealing with uncertainty. While this research may not have yielded conclusive results, there is evidence of high uncertainty avoidance index in Asian communities as compared to western societies.
Globalization has since thrown these perceptions of culture into much confusion. The movement of humans and commerce to other location of the world has created challenges to different communities. While commerce has allowed shifting and relocation and expatriates to different locations in the world, such relocation has allowed the absorption of different cultures. Today the world is continually adopting new cultures. The west and the ‘American lifestyle’ are continually adopted around the globe . A very good example that can illustrate this is the penetration of the pop music now associated with the youth around the world. Several societies are shifting for cultural music to more lavish and stylish kind of music. China has also shifted its cultural trend. The traditional mode of dressing has been dropped and new western firms such as Dolce & Gabbana are now doing big business in China and this can only be attributed to cultural changes. Globalization has also significantly affected the methods and techniques of communication.
Impacts of Culture on Communication
Culture has been said to have a great impact on communication and this is also affected by the extent of globalization. Adoption of different cultures is continually changing the method and level of communication. Each culture tends to provide to the society with express knowledge on how to behave on different situation. It also directs how someone should react in some situations. International businesses, as fostered by the extensive globalization efforts, have the challenge of understanding how different cultures define acceptable communication protocols .
Social theorists have identified two theories that affect communication in the society. These are individualism and collectivism. As earlier discussed each of these tendencies defines how individuals view themselves in the precepts of the society. While individualism allows one to be self-expressive and articulate matters of concern at any level, collectivism calls for a consensus on matters before passing a communication of agreed result. Collectivism simply stratifies the employees into one unit and articulate matters as a unit. Thus, it would difficult for a junior employee to talk to the director in nations such as China and Japan, while in the United States individuals may be advised to express personal opinion.
Different cultures prescribe different behaviors for males and females. Such differentiated character is instilled from a young age and continue to direct behavior throughout the lives of a particular cultural group. In general however, males are expected to be assertive and aggressive while females are expected to be more sensitive and nurturing. In most cultures, these issues affect the manner in which communication may be carried in an organization. In some cultures, women may not be able to articulate their issues even though they have issues.
On the other hand, globalization has presented new socio-economic relations between men and women in the society. The effect is a more assertive women-folk and thus organization must provide room for women to express themselves. For instance, in India the communication mechanism of both sexes is quite different. While men were given priority in articulating issues, cultural changes have now provided women with ability to speak out.
The most important aspect about globalization and communication is the issue of language. Each culture has different language and each culture has a very unique way of expressing as shown different languages . This has been problem since no two languages are exactly similar. Additionally, an expression in one language may have a totally different meaning in another language. Thus communication that is intended to pass a similar message is completely distorted.
Societies are further stratified by biases of social, political or spiritual issues inherent in different cultures. Finding a common ground for communication between these diverse cultures is a major challenge posed by globalization. For instance in Japan disagreement and argument is seen as deeply offensive and disrespectful towards seniors and is highly discouraged. On the other, in the Netherlands, people see arguments as a very important tool in arriving at constructive solutions. Such communication difference in culture means that a Japanese multinational organization may have difficulties operating in the Netherlands and vice versa.
The twenty first century has seen massive improvement in information and technology making the world such a small ‘village’. Big multinational corporations have expanded their businesses to diverse geographical locations to improve their balance sheet assets and profits as well. However, such massive expansion and global reach of different societies has its challenges. Businesses have to put cultural difference into consideration. Globalization has a great impact on the different cultures that existed in the society. While the impact on the culture, be it positive or negative impacts, may be argued, the impacts on communication surely abounds. This differentiation in culture has been found to greatly impact communication in my aspects.
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