Contemporary approaches to management —-culture Essay Example

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Cultural diversity management


The aim of this essay is to explore cultural diversity in the workplace and appreciate the role of a manager in building culturally diverse teams. In today’s competitive marketplace, cultural diversity within a team is essential for competitive advantage. A unifying environment according to Boukhali (2013) is where cultural diversity management is based on mutual respect and an environment where employees are effective, creative and profitable to the business. Kanungo (2014) argues that most managers often find employee management an onerous and difficult task despite extreme competence in their functional specialty such as accounting, finance and marketing. This is because, by its very nature, employee behavior is unpredictable and complex with any sensible degree of certainty. All types of organizations have developed a managerial agenda to handle cross-cultural differences.

Cultural diversity management

Domestic and international organizations in context face similar challenges of handling culturally diverse workforce (Avery, 2011). Although employees do not work in isolation, the manager needs manage the behavior of individual employee given that the forces driving such behavior are vaguely understood (Kanungo, 2014). This means that in dealing with business partners they have to understand cross-cultural issues with outsourced service providers, vendors and suppliers globally.For example, workplace employee behavior result from the desire to achieve objectives and satisfy a variety of needs which are incongruent with those of the organization. Hofstede (1993, p. 21) observed that there is a tendency to exaggerate differences and overlook cross-cultural similarities. According to the author, cultural groups are different from one another in that they are collectively programmed to distinguish the members of human groups. Conversely, they show similarily in essence of common knowledge (Tata, 2004). Therefore, while being cognizant of differences, managers are advised to unite people by looking for similarities. For example, multinational organizations are managing culturally diverse workforce by working on their opportunities and challenges head-on.

While Trompenaar reiterates actions and relationships that influence business situations internationally, Hofstede in his dimensions, focus strongly on structural aspects (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 2010). For example, when people are clustered based on country origin, it leads to stereotyping of religious and ethnic groups considered as ‘outsiders’ in the country. Trompenaars dimensions also focus on countries despite a major focus on diverse functional responsibilities or organizational difference within a company. Nonetheless, it seems more appropriate to evaluate similarities and differences on an organizational level or team level rather than on a country level (Tata, 2004).

contemporary approaches to management ----culture

(Source: Hofstede, 2005, p.25)

Figure 1: Hofstede’s cultural triangle

In the organization of the project greater consideration is given to Power Distance as suggested by Hofstede in figure 1 above. Strictly hierarchical structures tend to have high Power Distance (Claire, 2008). Similarly, Uncertainty Avoidance dimension affect project organization (Hofstede et al. 2010). For example, a German team member’s roles are clearly defined and each knows their expectations while South Korean team member prefer clearly defined team structures. On the other hand, South Koreans prefer more testing for project quality while German team members favor quicker and higher risk implementation.

Hofstede and Trompenaar share similar views on a person’s belonging to a group or individual perception as a unique person. Moreover, Trompenaar suggests that there is a connection between individualism/collectivism and religion (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 2010). According to Hampden-Turner and Trompenaar, Dilemma theory states that when there are cultural values clash, dilemma or conflict occurs (Jeanne et al. 2006). For example, a multi-cultural project manager on an international team may have to confront multiple cultural backgrounds. A multicultural approach will focus is on learning about a specific culture than exploiting the traditional expatriate style of training (Hofstede, 2001). A manager needs to know each of his/her team members through the specifics of their individual culture. On the contrary, Berry (2002) notes that some managers refer to the professional culture when confronted by multicultural issue of federating their teams. By creating references to a common profession, these managers argue that it is one of the ways of overcoming cultural differences (Tata, 2004). For example, American managers when compared with managers from other countries prefer to make rapid decisions with little analysis.


Cultural diversity is a necessity in today’s competitive organizational environment. As observed by Hofstede, it is important to reduce power distance between the manager and employees. Similarly, Trompenaar emphasizes on inclusion and diversity between nations in which the organizations exist to reduce cultural clash. An effective manager in a domestic or international organization has an obligation to build culturally diverse teams that extends to suppliers and customers. This is because a manager has strong advantage and solutions to resolve challenges easily if aware of the team’s cultural diversity. When it comes to decision making processes that need to be quick or intensive, then culture plays a huge role.

Reference list

Avery, D.R. (2011) Support for diversity in organizations: a theoretical exploration of its origins and offshoots, Organization Psychology Review. 1(3) 239–256.

Berry, J. W. (2002) Cross-cultural psychology: Research and applications. Cambridge University Press.

Boukhali, S. (2013) The impact of cultural diversity on team management: empirical evidence from US multinationals in Ireland, School of Business, National College of Ireland.

Claire, H.T. (2008) Effective Multicultural Teams: Theory and Practice (Vol. III). Springer Science + Business Media.

Hofstede, G. (1993) The cultural relativity of organizational practices and theories. pp.75-76

Hofstede, G. (2001) Culture’s Consequences, 2 nd Edition: Comparing Values, Behaviours, Institutions, and Organizations across Nations. Sage Publications, England.

Hofstede, G. (2005) In G. Hofstede, Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. (3rd ed., p. 4).

Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G.J. & Minkov, M. (2010) Cultures and organizations: software of the mind— intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival, 3rd revised and expanded edition, McGraw-Hill, New York.

Jeanne, B., Behfar, K. & Kern, M. (2006) Managing Multicultural Teams. Harvard Business Review. 84(11) 69-87.

Trompenaars, F. & Hampden-Turner, C. (2010) Riding the waves of culture: understanding cultural diversity in business, 2nd Ed, London: Brealley.

Kanungo, L. (2014) Organizations and management in cross-cultural context. Routledge.

Tata, J. P. (2004) Team self-management, organizational structure, and judgments of team effectiveness. Journal of Managerial Issues, 2(3)248-266.