The globalization of markets, the internationalization of companies through operations of mergers, acquisitions, partnerships or alliances have created an economic landscape where the intercultural aspect has became a daily reality for many persons in charge. Companies are increasingly working with individuals coming from different cultures. Therefore, they can no longer ignore the impact of cultural differences on their activities on an international scale. The intercultural situations in a company do not constitute a new phenomenon but the concern of understanding them is recent. In order to better understand the concept of cultural diversity, it is first necessary to determine what culture is. There are many definitions. For certain authors, culture is "a lifestyle which draws its roots from History"; others speak about a "collective mental programming". One generally perceives culture as "a collection of values, attitudes and behaviors shared by individuals and groups and based on deep sub-conscious perceptions". These perceptions are "cultural" because they are acquired (and not innate) and create models that they are shared and transmitted from generation to generation.
[...] II/ Intercultural management : a solution to manage cultural diversity ? Different approaches of intercultural management according to the company culture In multinational corporations, one can distinguish various practices of intercultural management. Thus, Schreyogg distinguishes between cultures of global companies (or ethnocentric) from cultures of polycentric companies. The culture of global companies aim at working out a common identity, extolled by the parent company whereas the culture of polycentric companies take into account the cultural differences of their subsidiaries and give them more autonomy. [...]
[...] During the process of negotiation, the negotiators have to make several decisions. However the decision-making processes varies considerably from one country to another, including between neighbouring countries, which can prove to be problematic during international negotiations. The process of negotiation, which is often very complex, becomes even more complicated when the negotiators are from different nationalities. Impact of cultures on the functions of the company Marketing The underestimation of the cultural aspect also has effects on marketing and with regard to the price, promotion, distribution, packaging, or the product. [...]
[...] The practices of intercultural management Many companies did not take specific measures in order to face the cultural differences which they encounter. When questions of culture are not purely and simply answered, they are the responsibility of individuals involved in the cultural interfaces. Intercultural coordination then concerns mutual adjustment. Thus, the expatriate, the negotiator of a contract abroad or the member of an intercultural project team must manage the cultural differences. There are also other practices of intercultural management, like training. [...]
[...] It is what intercultural management claims to do. However, it is an emergent concept and is still little developed within the companies. For example, the engineers in charge of the execution of international projects are not very interested in intercultural managements. They have to solve the technical and financial problems as a priority and think that, in international teams, knowledge of the other language is enough to ensure a reasonable co-operation. The cultural aspect thus does not form part of their priorities. [...]
[...] Indeed a bad management of the cultural shock can lead to serious upheavals and negative reactions such as internal conflicts between the two personnel, the departure of the best employees, a fall in productivity and a loss of confidence in the managers. The cultural shock can cause other problems such as the feeling of failure, the conqueror/conquered syndrome, the feeling of anguish and difficulties of communication. The cultural change brought about by the merger then becomes a source of destabilization which can harm the correct operation of the company and its performance. [...]
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