Rapidly expanding global economy gives wide opportunities for companies to hire qualified specialists from all over the world as well as to establish offices in various countries. At the same time, communication is becoming one of the most important issues in global management. Imagine working in Airbus, a large international company with more than 55 thousand multicultural employees of hundred nationalities from Europe, North America, China, Japan, Russia, and India. Every day people there discuss lots of working procedures, but they all were born and brought up in different cultures. It is unlikely possible to find a common approach to everyone and to introduce a new policy in the global organization.
Edward T. Hall divided the society into low context and high context, depending on the way of presenting the information. Tradition, history and humor are very important for high context communication, while they are a hard boarder for a low context one because it is nearly impossible to translate and transfer features that were built by centuries and understandable only for native citizens. High contest culture combines fewer words, local and cultural images and demands more attention to words choice. Nevertheless, a paradox exists, according to John N. Hooker (2008) “High context society requires greater paperwork and bureaucracy even though they take written rules less seriously” (Cultural Differences in Business Communication, para. Bureaucracy).
Intercultural business communication in multinational companies requires deep understanding of chosen context, written and unwritten rules, language and policy. Evidently, it is impossible to write a one single memorandum to all the employees, especially in a multinational company. Usually the corporate culture cannot be the same in various regions. However, due to the Hall's theory (Beyond Culture, 1976), each message can be presented in both contexts and it is a hard task for a manager to choose the proper way of communicating. Individuals coming from one culture to another have to adapt. The best decision to implement a new policy into the global network is to adopt it for every part of the world - Europe, Middle East, Asia, Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) regions, accumulating employees and countries with more or less similar cultures at least from the geographical point of view. As for local changes within one region or department it would be more effective to write a detailed memorandum and for at the same time to organize a meeting concerning the new policy. This way would be suitable for both high and low context cultures, so that every member of a team could understand its key points. As it is quite complicated to adapt the complete corporate culture for every employee, the company should carry of its regional departments and work out regional ways of communicating based on appropriate context.
Hall, Edward T. (1976). Beyond Culture. Garden City, NY; Anchor Books.
John N. Hooker (2008). Cultural Differences in Business Communication. Handbook of Intercultural Discourse and Communication. Research Showcase. Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved from: http://repository.cmu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1149&context=tepper