TITTLE; Deep insights into how managers deal with cross cultural issues in a multinational company. DHL being the multinational company focused on.
- Importance of considweragtion of culture
- Issues in organizations due to cultural differences
- Cultural practices in other multinational organizations:
- Cultural discrimination in organizations:
- Measures taken by managers to solve cultural issues:
- Methods used for employees:
- DHL cultural strategy:
Multinational organizations often employ people from various countries across the globe and are often in search of top talents regardless of which country the individual belongs to. Moreover, as multinationals are located in more than one country, their workforce is often diverse and contains individuals from the home country, host country, and third countries (Mead, 1990). Hence, the working environment of a multinational organization is often dynamic and complex as there is a mixture of various cultures in the workforce. While this was previously regarded as unimportant and all employees were treated in the same manner, this is perhaps, not one of the best management practices used in the contemporary business environment. Cultural differences are highly accounted for and considered by managers today and cultural differences are also the root cause of issues arising in organizations (Soderburg & Holden, 2002, pp. 110-112).
Employees differ in terms of personality, work ethics, traditions, and other aspects when working and communicating in a professional environment. Thus, it is highly important for managers of multinational organizations to be aware of these and train to handle cultural issues and enable smooth communication between the employees of an organization and the communication between managers and employees in an organization (Adler, 1983, pp. 20-22).
The aims is to orient employees to work anywhere in the global setting having leant all aspects of cross cultural interaction and the basics of service delivery. This will orientate the employees to work in any environment. The aim is also to improve communication between the employees and the customers and work mates through an accepted code of conduct. For effective intercultural social exchange DHL should consider motivating its employees of even learning the basic of the native countries communication and language in a situation where employees are foreign and work in another country. The head of personnel administration should consider orienting his team of workers into efficient cross cultural administration and address cultural differences in a professional manner to enhance productivity and minimise conflicts. This will effectively increase the concept of appreciating others cultures all round in the global view. Consequently, the view of appreciating others will help solve the various phenomenons that arise as a result of conflicts within the organization setup. Hence these aims will be achieved effectively in the context that, measures will be taken by managers to train employees to manage cultural differences.
Culture is a highly important aspect of a person’s personality and is a strong determinant of a person’s behaviour. Culture is also considered an essential part of a person’s identity and thus it is highly important for organizations to consider the effects of culture upon an individual’s professional behaviour. Moreover, cultural differences affect the way an individual communicates, levels of motivation, interpretation of instructions, and the manner in which a person demands respect. Culture also affects a person’s values, the manner in which they perceive others, and the manner in which they project their own image (Harrison, 1992, pp. 955). Thus, it is highly important to consider the differences between human beings and give consideration to the effects of culture upon an individual’s behaviour. In multi-cultural organizations, it is more important to consider the effects of culture in order to avoid particular groups of employees from feeling left out or discriminated against and avoid the occurrence of issues between employees (Gesteland, 2002, pp. 365).
Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory
In this model with regards to the cultural views, the theory describes the view of social view in the societal set up. In this view it illustrates the individuals’ behaviour with regards to the factor analysis of the society. In this view, the aspects of the societal paradigms are illustrates in the context that will help to elevate and appreciate the differences between cultures in the daily activities. In this context, the company will be in the view of elevating the cultural perceptions in the running process.
Power distance theory- in this theory, helps in the organizational setup of making power equally distributed among the general members within the organization. This will help distribute power within the organization.
The social cultural theory
The theory is an up-and-coming theory in psychology that deeply examines the imperative contributions that society makes to individual development. This theory certainly stresses the interface flanked by developing people and the culture in which they live. Hence in the organizational setup, this will help focus on development with the view that will elevate the performance of all the members concerned.
In the light of all this managers should be well aware that such does not pertain to individual level behaviours. Some individuals eating and say drinking habits may be disgusting to others. This does not extend to employees personal behaviours and as such should be restricted to the work area. This will help in the uncertainty avoidance where say an individual may not be barred from say eating pork in a non pork eating community since only the cross cultural activities are only restricted to the working area and should not extend to private life in the case that the business company is located in an Islamic state. (Hosie, P,et al 2012 vol. 13:3 pg300) this helps reduce personal conflicts and enhance good professional intercultural exchanges.
Working in a multi-cultural environment can be highly stressful for employees as well as managers. If managers are unable to communicate with and understand employees and employees are unable to understand and communicate with one another and/or managers, such communication barriers or cultural differences can lead to an increase in problems for the organization and may hinder its performance.
These issues will be highlighted in the next section (Rashid et al, 2011, pp. 100).
Issues in Organizations Due to Cultural Differences:
As mentioned before, the prevalence of multi-cultural employees in an organization results in a complex and dynamic environment. While this situation has its benefits such as a variety of skills and ideas from employees of various nations, it also has consequences if cultural considerations are not properly accounted for.
The cross cultural knowledge also enhances productivity actually if well managed. This happens when individual’s weaknesses which may arise as a result of cultural inheritance the DHL Company should consider tapping the individual cultural endowment and strengths for effective productivity. Individuals who for instance comes from cultural backgrounds where they are associated with faster completion of assigned activity should be tapped to carry out urgent tasks while their slow counterparts should be assigned to carry out tasks that needs to be thorough and effective hence the cultural differences are tapped for enhanced productivity.
Cultural differences can also be used as motivational tool in production. An employee from say America may be motivated to learn some aspects of Chinese culture and hence may be motivated to work closely with the employee. This minimises the costs to be incurred in orienting the employees in cultural set up as they themselves have been motivated to take that initiative. (Rashid, M et al 2011 pg 44)
Employees should then be informed that respect to other peoples cultural orientation is a legal obligation and as such should be accorded to the individuals without further obligation. They should be informed that all employees should be accorded respect despite of their cultural or racial dispositions. (Rashid, M et al 2011 pg 44)
Cultural Practices in Other Multinational Organizations:
Multinational organizations must be highly considerate of cultural practices in the countries they operate in as they employ staff originating from their home country, host country, and from third countries as well. Accordingly, they must ensure that they respect cultural differences between workers and the organizational culture differences existing within countries. Nestle is very particular about recognizing and respecting the individual and cultural differences of its employees.
Multinational Corporation always tries as much as possible to conform their business to the local culture of the host country by acknowledging their culture in their production and service delivery. They try in as much as possible to give their product a taste of the local culture dominant in the host country. A multinational clothes manufacturing firm would conform their line of production to the dressing code of the cultural community and feature the same even in their advertisement. This local cultural embracement by firms brings a sense of ownership by the locals. It’s in this light that the company always tries to address the issue of cultural conformity by engaging the top management of the branch of the organisation to address representation of the locals. In case of mergence with another corporation or transfer of an employee overseas this inequality gap is felt especially by the subordinate and junior employees who may feel substituted.
Cultural Discrimination in Organizations:
One of the most prevalent and disturbing issues in multinational organizations is the allegation of discrimination amongst employees based on culture, race, or religion. When employees of various countries work together in a professional environment, they are likely to compete with one another based on opportunities, appraisal, promotion, and other benefits (Shenkar, 2012B, pp. 10-11). However, in such situations employees may feel the pangs of racism or discrimination in which they may feel that they are being disfavoured because they belong to a different culture than the manager or the owner of the company
This perception is dominant especially in a firm where only people of one race are religious affiliation are appraised or promoted leaving the other employees to feel left out. This is against the international labour organisation rules which states that promotion should be strictly based on performance, educational merit and experience. A person who has demonstrated knowledge in said field should have added advantage over their colleagues. Thus cultural or racial endowment should never be the tools for promotion. (Napir, N. & Taylor, S. 2011 pg 145.)
This situation can lead to immense turmoil in the company and can also lead to legal action against the company as discriminating against someone on the basis of culture, race, age, ethnicity, or other grounds is considered illegal (Napir & Taylor, 2011, pp. 150-152).
Employees may also feel threatened or out casted by their colleagues based on their culture, religion, or race. Employees may often feel victimized to taunts, rude behaviour, and not considered a part of informal groups formed in the organization because he/she belongs to a different culture. There may also be situations in which employees belonging to rival cultures or countries may bring their rivalry into their professional behaviour (Madduz et al, 2011, pp. 415-416). In other situations, some employees may feel that they are superior to others because they belong to a stronger country or a more recognized culture and hence may bully other employees belonging to Third World countries or poorer nations.
Measures Taken by Managers to Solve Cultural Issues:
Managers should consider how their management skills would conform to other cultures in the organisation without causing a feeling of inequality among employees or without promoting the feeling of spoiling individuals from certain cultures. This should be done in the context Hofsted (Shenkar, O. 2012 vol.43 p.167) where the appraisal should not be used to against the principles overlaid.
Managers may also introduce a neutral organizational culture in the organization so as to not promote any specific cultural group. Promotions and appraisal processes can be transparent and given with full information regarding performance etc.; in order to avoid allegations of discrimination. All of these measures and additional measures are often seen in implementation in organizations (Ravesteen & Batenbrug, 2010, pp. 100-101).
Methods Used for Employees:
As emphasized before, it is also highly important for employees to understand and accept their colleagues in order to promote an efficient working environment. If colleagues discriminate against others or treat their colleagues with disrespect, it may lead to severe problems in the organization. Thus, it is important for managers to implement cultural understanding techniques in employees in order for them to work efficiently together. Such methods may include providing training and occasional workshops to employees in order to help them cope with cultural issues and familiarize themselves with different cultural practices. Employees may be required to participate in cultural events and festivals in order to bridge the gap or misunderstandings existing within cultures regarding the values, beliefs, and customs of others (Tsai, 2011, pp. 1200-1212).
Mediation may be provided to employees who have an issue with others in the work environment to help them understand the issues that exist and bridge the differences. Employees may also be given incentives and appreciation for appreciating the values and strengths of others and working cooperatively with them. Moreover, employees may be encouraged to implement an organizational culture, which promotes maximum interaction, getting the opinion of all employees, and working in teams in order to help employees from different cultures interact with one another and learn how to work together for the benefit of the organization. While negative reinforcement is not a highly popular way of encouraging people to do the right thing, some organizations may use this to punish employees who fail to cooperate with colleagues of different cultures or who do not exert enough effort into it. Punishments may include withdrawal of bonuses, warnings, loss of opportunities for promotion, and even dismissal if the employee’s attitude becomes unbearable (Hosie e al, 2012, pp. 300-305).
Hence, there are plenty methods employed by organizations to encourage employees to work efficiently in a multi-cultural setting and the methods employed by a specific organization may vary. The next section will focus upon DHL’s human resource strategy.
DHL Cultural Strategy:
DHL has slowly evolved into one of the biggest worldwide logistics and international express delivery company. Headquartered in San Francisco, the company operates all over the world and requires a lot of interaction amongst employees based in different parts of the world. However, because of the differences in organizational culture, communication barriers, and lack of common goals, interaction between two different subsidiaries of the company becomes difficult.
DHL aims to tackle the problem of cross cultural management by increasing communication through informal channels and aiming to divert the energy of employees from competing with or against one another to competing as a team (Dixon et al, 2010, p. 20). There is a strong emphasis upon team building and informal events such as the football tournament, which is hosted yearly by the company and enables employees from all over the world to work together as a team in order to compete. Moreover, it provides an opportunity for employees from various parts of the world to interact with one another and exchange information. Hence, this event is designed to eliminate barriers of status, country, and reduce the stress of work in order to enable employees to engage in extracurricular activities. DHL’s main strategy focuses upon the emphasis of non- formal events in order to promote levels of comfort across borders and between employees working in the same office (Solomon & Schell, 2009, pp. 120-122).
It’s now clear that cross cultural appraisal in a firm is an in important tool towards promoting DHL into a global business icon through conforming to the locals. This approach will help reduce conflicts and negative feelings among employees in the organisation. This will lead to transparent appraisal and promotions in a firm where one may not feel left out because of their religious or cultural differences. Culture is a part of the individual where without culture there are no individuals. These norms lead to social justice and ensure communal harmony. It’s as a result of intercultural appraisal among employees that makes DHL outstanding among all other international firms hence giving them a competitive advantage in the global market.
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