With an ongoing globalization of activities and companies, heterogeneity in companies' workforce has become a reality. Managing diversity has turned into a major challenge for companies' survival. As a matter of fact, large companies can no longer boast their national affiliation as the workplace is gradually turning into a general melting pot of people as well as work practices on a daily basis.
The impact of multiculturalism has evolved through time depending on the type of competitive environment and the firm's overall strategy. Today, no major firm operates in purely domestic environments.
Intercultural management is based on the analysis of cultural differences. These terms can only make sense once the concept of culture has been defined and cultural areas are set up, so as to allow comparison. Nevertheless, the word culture in itself refers to a lot of different meanings, hundreds as a matter of fact. However, the anthropologists Kroeber and Kluckohn offered one of the most comprehensive and generally accepted definition:
Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups, including their embodiment in artefacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, on the other, as conditioning elements of future action.
Moreover the concept of cross-cultural management is another core concept because it not only explains how culture affects people's behaviors around the world (especially in business), but also explains how these differences can be dealt with. It has developed useful tools for entreprises which wish to prepare themselves adequately to the challenges of the 21st century.
[...] Conclusion Over the past decades, international business structures have radically transformed. Companies have become more and more multicultural and multilingual, with different social and cultural characteristics. Companies tend to hire employees from various countries and backgrounds. That is why firms have to cope with those differences in as much as employees have to work together within the same group, collaborate, and follow the same objectives. Thereby, companies now concentrate on intercultural management and it has become an essential strategy in business interactions. [...]
[...] The Four Phases: In context of globalization and building more international teams, one important issue has appeared - the fact that teams have to take up new diverse challenges. There is no sole factor that influences group behaviors and the accrual of a group cohesion. Among other factors, teams can have trouble with languages, or have problems relative to the integration of different nationalities. Moreover, employees have to consider sensibility to historical profiles of the countries people come from. One has to regard the process of phases allowing a group developing a real team. [...]
[...] Alder's book International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior (pp 140) , multicultural teams can be divided into three types: Token teams, having a single member from another culture. For example, in a team of Austrian lawyers and one French attorney, the attorney would be the token member and would probably see and understand situations somewhat differently from his Austrian colleagues. Female members are also token members in predominantly male management teams. But more attention is paid to them as well as for token ethnic members. [...]
[...] Intercultural management was established in the United States in the 1970s on the basis of international and compared management (Harris & Moran, 1993). A study made by Geert Hofstede about national culture and corporate culture has contributed to the expansion of the discipline in the field of applied management. Contrarily to international management, intercultural management lays the focus on human resources. It emphasizes culture influences on people's perceptions, interpretations and actions. Considering these facts, major questions can be raised, such as how to manage people who are different in their communication and working habits. [...]
[...] Challenges to intercultural teamwork International teams face challenges for which their members are often unprepared: not only do they have to cope with linguistic barriers, which may lead to mistranslations and subsequent misunderstandings, but they also face cultural barriers, which often go unnoticed by the participants and yet have a strong impact on the overall performance of the group. Cultural differences can result in communication problems, unpredictability, low team cohesion, mistrust as well as stress, all of which act more as signs of a collective malaise than as problems per se. [...]
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