Cross cultural communication analysis

  • Category:
    Business
  • Document type:
    Assignment
  • Level:
    Masters
  • Page:
    6
  • Words:
    4431

20(Last_Name)

Executive summary

Effective cross-cultural communication is a prerequisite for international business success and managers of multinational corporations should focus on strengthening existing strategies that contribute to effective communication amongst employees (Chiu et al., 2010, p. 484). GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is a multinational corporation with a global presence and draws its employees from diverse backgrounds including Australians, Asians, and Russians. The diversity of GSK’s workforce creates a precursor for cross-cultural miscommunication due to the cultural differences existing amongst its employees. The significance of cross-cultural communication became more pronounced following market’s globalization and advances in the technological platforms upon which businesses operate (Guang and Trotter, 2012, p. 6456).

Similarly, the importance of the cultural quotient has been pegged upon the cultural dynamics around the work environment globally (French, 2010, p. 13). GSK managers should be keen on ensuring their employees give the best of their skills to the success of the pharmaceutical giant. Immigrants constitute a significant proportion of GSK’s workforce with a growing contribution across the continents. This group of employees brings diverse knowledge as well as expertise which are crucial for the success of GSK. The programs established by this multinational should focus on helping its employees in adapting to and dealing with the culture shock that potentially arises in the event they are posted to work in non-native countries. This review evaluates the various strategies that GSK can adopt to improve its cross-cultural communication.

Introduction

The significance of cross-cultural communication became more pronounced following market’s globalization and advances in the technological platforms upon which businesses operate. Similarly, the importance of the cultural quotient has been pegged upon the cultural dynamics around the work environment globally (Harlow and Harp, 2012, p. 199). Globalization of businesses has created an opportunity for companies to recruit their workforce from diverse backgrounds as they seek to meet the skills requirements for various technical roles in the company. This has lead to employees being deployed in duty stations located in regions with people of diverse cultures (Kawar, 2012).

GlaxoSmithKline is a British company that ranks amongst the leading pharmaceutical companies worldwide. The company has specialized in the manufacture of medicines and vaccines against infections, conditions of the central nervous system, metabolic conditions, and gastrointestinal conditions. In addition, the company also produces anti-cancer medications, drugs against migraines, allergic conditions, and anti-retroviral drugs. Moreover, the company also manufactures food products, energy drinks and other healthy products with an established market across North America, Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia (Carbaugh, 2013, p. 8).

Due to its global presence, GSK’s workforce has a global outlook with employees drawn from various parts of the world including Australia and India. Consequently, such a multinational corporation ought to adopt universal communication strategies that are cognizant of the cultures and traditions of its diverse workforce in order to ensure effective passage of information. GSK has an established code of ethics that governs employees on various aspects including the manner in which they communicate amongst themselves (Chiu et al., 2010, p. 487).

Similarly, the company should employ various communication strategies while leveraging on technology to realize effective communication. Some of these strategies include the creation of a conducive environment that allows employees to respect the culture and traditions of fellow employees, promoting ethnorelativism while addressing ethnocentricism amongst employees, and improving the ability of employees to establish communication with non-native speakers (Chiu et al., 2010, p. 487).

Strategies for improving cross-cultural communication in GSK

Cultural exposures for prospective employees

GSK should establish various forums through which new employees of non-native origin get exposed to the culture of the local employees. The management should facilitate the attachment of new employees in some stations on a temporary basis so that they learn the meaning of various cultural interactions of the locals before they are deployed fully to work in those stations. In addition, the employees can get exposed to the cultures of the locals through the various corporate social responsibility activities that GSK engages in. This is useful in helping the employees to understand the values of the native Indians, as well as Australians and such interactions strengthen the understanding of communication cues that are consistent with the local practices (Martin and Nakayama, 2010, p. 357).

Conducting training programs for international employees

seeks to avoid the potential pitfalls associated with cultural confusion and misunderstanding through continuous training of its international employees. This is realized through orientation forums and training programs on different cultures focusing on the regions where GSK works. In addition, the company should effectively enforce the rules and regulations that govern the conduct of employees, which should be applicable at all times including during the interviewing and selection process. The company should enforce its established code of conduct so that the employees understand it in order to minimize miscommunication across the different cultures (Matthews and Thakkar, 2012, p. 326). GSK

GSK should also conduct training programs for employees of foreign origin selected to work in either Asia or Australia thus ensuring they understand the company’s mission, guiding principles, and the importance of a diverse working environment. This will enable the new employees to look at issues from the point of view of the native Indians and Australians. In addition, the new employees will gain new perspectives that will allow them to make effective decisions based on their understanding of the cultural implications (Ochieng and Price, 2010, p. 455).

The programs are useful in ensuring non-native employees get to understand the differences existing in regard to their cultures and embrace them in a professional approach that contributes to the success of the company. Such programs will also help managers in understanding the acculturation process that employees go through including the culture shock that non-natives may be confronted with. Consequently, they will be able to support the employees to embrace these cultural perspectives and function optimally in the new environment. Eventually, necessary support structures for non-native employees will be enhanced to ensure they are able to deal with the reality of culture shock (Ochieng and Price, 2010, p. 455).

Mentorship programs for employees

The mentor should provide guidance to the new employees and ensure that they understand the business processes including the communication strategies. Mentorship programs will enable the new employees to find the right bearing in GSK’s diverse multi-paced workforce environment and harness their skills for better performance. GSK should assign an adequate number of mentors to new employees for effective guidance to ensure they understand the organization’s culture and realize professional growth. The mentorship will also enhance the satisfaction of new employees and ensure their growth as they establish professional relationships through coaching, counseling, and networking (Carbaugh, 2013, p. 12). . The mentorship programs conducted by GSK should be reinforced to ensure that new employees are able to contribute optimally to the realization of the company’s set objectives

Rules and regulations

.The multinational company GSK should enforce the established rules and regulations that govern the conduct of business. This will provide a framework for communication amongst employees and establish clear lines of communication. The role of managers involves enforcing the adherence to rules and regulations so that employee practices conform to the established business standards. In this way, the company is able to regulate and minimize cross-cultural miscommunication by ensuring everybody in the organization sticks to the core business of GSK

The managers should ensure that the employees understand the goals and the mission of the company which guides their actions including their communication approach. Hence, the business requirements will eventually supersede the personal traditions, conveniences, feelings, preferences and emotions (Neuliep, 2014, p. 16).

Team building activities

Team building is very useful in promoting cross-cultural understanding amongst employees. Through such activities, employees will be able to know their colleagues very well and understand their values and beliefs thus becoming aware of some actions that are likely to be negatively interpreted by their colleagues. This promotes cross-cultural harmony and creates confidence amongst employees as they relate with each other in the course of their duties. Team building activities help to demystify biases, beliefs, and perceptions that employees hold against each other as they try to rationalize every encounter and experience with their colleagues (Kuehster and Hall, 2010, p. 124).

GSK should take advantage of its diverse workforce by minimizing the misconceptions and false beliefs held by employees against each other through team building activities. This will ensure employees consider each other as a valuable member of a diverse team that is out to realize tremendous through collaboration and consultation with each other (Kuehster and Hall, 2010, p. 124).

Cross-cultural practices model

Multi-cultural work environments are prone to tension, friction and anxiety that arises primarily due to cross-cultural differences. The cross-cultural practices model provides dynamic and practical strategies that streamline cross-cultural communication. These strategies include reflective practice, critical practice, and socio-cultural practice. The model is useful in conceptualizing cross-cultural engagement by providing avenues through which the latter can be realized. Consequently, managers of multinational corporations are able to overcome cross-cultural miscommunication through the application of these strategies (Lawrence, 2007).

Strengthening reflective practice

Reflective practice provides employees with an opportunity to listen and watch cultural practices of other people as they reflect upon them before, during, and after they occur. Reflection during a culturally inclined incident occurs concurrently with the incident thus building the capacity of an employee to learn and grow as they apply their experiences to the new events. Reflection following an incident allows the employee to lack back at a situation, evaluate the root cause, analyze the appropriateness of the actions taken, and predict the potential implications of such situations in the event they ever recur in the future (French, 201, p. 11).

Reflection grows the capacity of employees and equips them with knowledge and skills that enable them to effectively handle cross-cultural communication challenges. Through reflection, the employees of GSK will gain understanding of the best possible approaches for handling cross-cultural communication. It is therefore incumbent upon the management of GSK to create a conducive environment that allows employees to reflect upon their actions prior to an incident, during an incident and equally after an incident occurs (Okoro, 2012, p. 129).

Reflection will help the employees of GSK to identify their weaknesses in regards to cross-cultural communication and subsequently identify best approaches for dealing with such weaknesses. Management should dedicate its efforts in ensuring the employees master the art of reflection and utilize it to better their cross-cultural communication practices (Okoro, 2012, p. 130).

Socio-cultural practice

Socio-cultural practices emerged from the cross-cultural theory of communication and provide priorities for gaining socio-cultural competencies useful in feedback, expression of disagreement, and refusal to grant a particular request. These competencies must be acceptable and appropriate for a given discourse, sub-culture or culture that is to be engaged, in this case the Australians and Indians. Verbalized language, non-verbal cues, the value basis of socio-cultural competencies vary from one culture to another. For instance, some cultures do not value an individual who seeks for information or any kind of help and consider it as an indication of weakness. Consequently, such employees may find it difficult to ask for help because they do not want to be perceived as being weak or lacking confidence. This in turn may lead to serious errors for the company that fails to pay attention to such minute cross-cultural differences (Neuliep, 2014, p. 9).

In addition, some employees do not know where to ask for support or the manner in which one should request for help in diverse cultural setups. It is therefore incumbent upon the management of GSK to ensure that these cross-cultural differences are addressed so that they don’t jeopardize the realization of the company’s set objectives. Orientation of the new employees is very instrumental to ensure that they understand the business processes, the lines of communication, and the chains of command thus minimizing their doubts especially when they need assistance. The socio-cultural practices for feedback, expression of disagreement, and denying requests are useful in strengthening cultural diversity, fostering the sustainability of a company, bridging the cultural diversity differences, encouraging self determination and overcoming barriers related to cross-cultural differences at the workplace (Lawrence, 2007, p. 126).

Critical practice

Critical practice includes once capacity to be self-aware of his/her beliefs and culture as well as language capacity or criticisms and reflexive analysis. Critical self-awareness entails paying constant attention to your point of view before speaking on a certain issue. In addition, one should visualize themselves and the implications of their actions before making any statement. Moreover, critical self-awareness enables one to unpack his/her perspectives about culture and beliefs with the purpose of challenging them as need arise. Managers of GSK should support the employees of Asian and Australian origin as well as other employees to effectively apply critical practice during cross-cultural communication. This will be useful in promoting the realization of the set goals and objectives of GSK as a multinational corporation (Lawrence, 2007, p. 127).

Rationale

Increased understanding of other people’s cultures is useful in reducing misinterpretations relating to language as well as culture. Cross-cultural communication strategies are useful in ensuring meaningful interactions between people of diverse culture and origin. Cross-cultural communication is based on the fact that human beings communicate through their cultural practices. Cultural differences show wide variations in the manner and extent to which individuals can express their emotions. For instance, American Indians are imperturbable in their communication, oriental individuals are inscrutable, English men are reserved while Africans and Sicilians are very expressive in their interactions. Variations in the cultures of employees create communication barriers that may otherwise jeopardize the success of a business enterprise (Harlow and Harp, 2012, p. 202).

The patterns of communication including non-verbal cues are greatly influenced by one’s culture. GSK should harness a platform that helps employees to recognize and appreciate the cultural differences that can potentially create communication barriers through various programs run by the company. For employees to understand messages from each other, they must have common experiences that enable them to perceive particular stimuli in a similar manner. This is because of the close association that exists between culture and communication which involves sharing meaning between individuals of diverse cultures. In the event the communicators have diverse origins and cultures, then they are able to appreciate the cultural differences and accommodate each other. There is a cultural meaning attached to every action, mannerism or word hence making it inseparable from communication (Okoro, 2012, p. 130).

As such, the multinational corporation should create a conducive platform for its employees to appreciate the reciprocity that exists between cultural practices and effective communication. Consequently, the degree of misunderstanding of communication cues will be greatly minimized amongst the employees working in non-native countries. The employees gain an understanding of the impact of certain communication cues to their objectives as professionals as well as those of the organization by managing objective relationships with consumers and other stakeholders involved in the organization’s line of work (French, 2010).

It is not uncommon for business organizations to hire employees from different cultural backgrounds to work in a diverse environment. Such employees usually have the right qualifications in reference to the skills but challenges set in when they get confronted with the cultural realities of the environment in which they work in. Consequently, management has the responsibility to support these new employees and ensure that they perfectly fit in their new work place and deliver to the full extent of their potential. GSK should thus provide a perfect platform that facilitates its new employees based on its global presence and leading role in the pharmaceuticals industry. This should include strategies to bridge the gap between cultural differences of the non-native employees and those of the natives to ensure effective communication takes place (Pieterse, 2015, p. 16). Cultural variations are potential sources of conflict at the workplace when employees are given sales targets with set deadlines in an environment of limited resources. Consequently, misunderstanding amongst employees may arise due to these cultural differences since they differ in backgrounds, beliefs, and values. It is therefore incumbent upon the managers to ensure that employees from diverse cultural backgrounds receive the necessary support so that they optimally contribute to the realization of the organization’s set goals (Kawar, 2012).

Reflection

This review has greatly enhanced my understanding of dealing with the potential culture shock that I may be confronted with in the course of my practice. I was raised in an environment with strong cultural values regarding communication cues with a strong emphasis on body language. The process of evaluating the cross-cultural communication strategies has equipped me with skills to deal with my own biases and prejudices in the event I interact with people from other cultures. As a masters graduate, I will be able to apply these strategies in practice especially while dealing with employees of diverse origin.

Recommendations

The management of GSK should harness the existing programs such as mentorship and preceptorship which have the potential to rapidly bridge the cross-cultural communication gaps existing amongst its employees of Australian, Indian, and Russian Origin. Moreover, sporting activities improve the existing interactions amongst the employees as they get exposed to each other’s culture. There are some sports which are also popular amongst certain ethnic groups hence the employees partaking in such activities get to appreciate the values of their colleagues. Consequently, there is a need for GSK to create more forums for sporting and other recreational activities that help to promote understanding amongst its employees. Finally, GSK should invest in team building activities which also provide a platform for strengthening cross-cultural understanding.

Conclusion

GSK managers should be keen on ensuring their employees give the best of their skills to the success of the pharmaceutical giant. Immigrants constitute a significant proportion of GSK’s workforce with a growing contribution across the continents. This group of employees brings diverse knowledge as well as expertise which are crucial for the success of GSK. However, challenges associated with communication across different cultures remain a threat to the potential benefits that these employees can bring on board in the GSK workforce. GSK’s cross-cultural communication strategy should seek to foster employees’ understanding of different cultures and using this understanding to promote the success of the organization. In addition, the company should install various strategies that improve effective communication across different cultures in a sensitive way. Such strategies will also be useful in the identification of any communication barriers that hamper a positive interaction between employees originating from Australia, India, and Russia. The programs established by this multinational should focus on helping its employees in adapting to and dealing with the culture shock that potentially arises in the event they are posted to work in non-native countries.

References

Carbaugh, D., 2013. Cultural communication and intercultural contact. Routledge.

Chiu, C.-Y., Gelfand, M.J., Yamagishi, T., Shteynberg, G., Wan, C., 2010. Intersubjective culture the role of intersubjective perceptions in cross-cultural research. Perspect. Psychol. Sci. 5, 482–493.

French, R., 2010. Cross-cultural management in work organisations. CIPD Publications.

Guang, T., Trotter, D., 2012. Key issues in cross-cultural business communication: Anthropological approaches to international business. Afr. J. Bus. Manag. 6, 6456.

Harlow, S., Harp, D., 2012. Collective action on the Web: A cross-cultural study of social networking sites and online and offline activism in the United States and Latin America. Inf. Commun. Soc. 15, 196–216.

Kawar, I.T., 2012. Cross-cultural differences in management. Int. J. Bus.

Kuehster, C.R., Hall, C.D., 2010. Simulation: Learning from mistakes while building communication and teamwork. J. Nurses Prof. Dev. 26, 123–127.

Lawrence, J., 2007. Two models for facilitating cross-cultural communication and engagement. Int. J. Divers. Organ. Communities Nations 6, 73–82.

Martin, J.N., Nakayama, T.K., 2010. Intercultural communication in contexts.

Matthews, L.C., Thakkar, B., 2012. The impact of globalization on cross-cultural communication. Glob.-Educ. Manag. Agendas 325–340.

Neuliep, J.W., 2014. Intercultural communication: A contextual approach. Sage Publications.

Ochieng, E.G., Price, A.D.F., 2010. Managing cross-cultural communication in multicultural construction project teams: The case of Kenya and UK. Int. J. Proj. Manag. 28, 449–460.

Okoro, E., 2012. Cross-cultural etiquette and communication in global business: Toward a strategic framework for managing corporate expansion. Int. J. Bus. Manag. 7, 130.

Pieterse, J.N., 2015. Globalization and culture: Global mélange. Rowman & Littlefield.

Appendix: Annotated bibliography

Kawar, I.T., 2012. Cross-cultural differences in management. Int. J. Bus.

recognizes that the different backgrounds that individuals come from are responsible for the differences observed in cultural practices. The author further noted that due to the diverse nature of the workplaces, it is common to witness cultural variation. Globalization of businesses creates an opportunity for companies to recruit their workforce from diverse backgrounds as they seek to meet the skills requirements for various technical roles in the company. This leads to employees being deployed in duty stations located in regions whose people have a different culture. Moreover, Tagreed cautions managers that these variations may introduce conflict at the workplace when employees are given sales targets with set deadlines and limited resources. The author observes that these cultural differences create misunderstanding amongst employees since they differ in backgrounds, beliefs, and values. The author views the role of managers to include ensuring that employees from diverse cultural backgrounds receive the necessary support so that they optimally contribute to the realization of the organization’s set goals. Tagreed Issa Kawar

Tagreed postulates that the acquisition of culture stems from experiences during childhood as well as puberty. Notably, Tagreed postulates that culture comes following learning experiences that depend on communication through language, gestures, facial expressions, and other cues. The cross-cultural differences have direct implications on the effectiveness of communication amongst people of diverse origin. Globalization leads to exposure of employees to new cultures hence they may be confronted with culture shock. In addition, the management should put measures in place to ensure there is effective communication amongst employees from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Okoro, E., 2012. Cross-cultural etiquette and communication in global business: Toward a strategic framework for managing the corporate expansion. Int. J. Bus. Manag. 7, 130.

Ephraim Okoro observed the rapid expansion of business corporations in the global market as an inevitable trend that organizations ought to adopt to based on the technological advances realized in the 21st Century. The author affirms that globalization has set new standards for business practice, increased consumer awareness and created the need for independence of corporate entities. As multinational corporations explore global market opportunities, they must be sensitive to the existing cultural differences across various parts of the world. The author established that adequate acculturation of business entities and dealing with cultural imperialistic perspectives are prerequisites for success in the global market arena. The author argues that the success of global businesses depends on the efficacy of inter-cultural etiquette as well as the management of the diverse global workforce. Ephraim Okoro’s study emphasizes on equipping managers with interpersonal skills, communication competencies, and negotiation skills across different cultures, which are useful in strengthening the organization’s competitive advantage.

The author insists on the need for multinational corporations to recognize the importance of ensuring their managers are well prepared to ensure cross-cultural efficiencies. Ephraim Okoro notes that the managers’ cross-communication ability greatly influences on how they manage a multicultural and diverse workforce. He further emphasizes that global business success will remain elusive for managers who fail to utilize cross-cultural communication strategies and understand the values as well as customs essential for global business conduct. Communication is specific and bound to a given culture hence the need for global businesses to assist their employees to learn and appreciate different cultural, ethical as well as etiquette for conducting international business.

Matthews, L.C., Thakkar, B., 2012. The impact of globalization on cross-cultural communication. Glob.-Educ. Manag. Agendas 325–340.

The authors recognize the fact effective communication remains a great challenge in the global business environment and miscommunication is very common even amongst native employees. Matthews and Thakkar attribute poor performance of global businesses to ineffective communication across different cultures. Like Tagreed Issa Kawar, Matthews and Thakkar caution managers of global businesses on the implications of globalization on business enterprises and the need to capitalize on cross-cultural communication as a tool for competition. Moreover, the authors postulate strengthening cross-cultural business communication enhances the internal capacity of multinational corporations to effectively address emerging and re-emerging external threats. The global connectivity of the modern society requires that businesses gain the capacity to effectively communicate with employees as well as customers drawn from different cultural backgrounds. This is useful in ensuring that they realize the set goals as well as the mission of the organization. Technological advances further reinforce the need for equipping business managers with the capacity to communicate across different cultures.

The success of multinational corporations depends on the efficacy of interactions between managers and their subordinates who originate from diverse backgrounds hence the need for integrating cross-cultural communication strategies. Matthews and Thakkar’s views are antagonistic to the perception that there is a need for employees from different cultures to behave in a similar manner. They consider this approach to be ineffective in strengthening cross-cultural interactions. Instead, they challenged managers to capitalize on cultural diversity as an avenue for innovation within the business enterprises. The authors advise managers to orient the intercultural training programs towards enhancing adaptation to a given culture. With effective inter-cultural communication, the authors posit that multinational corporations pay attention to edging their competitors since they do not utilize their resources on solving miscommunication issues

Guang, T., Trotter, D., 2012. Key issues in cross-cultural business communication: Anthropological approaches to international business. Afr. J. Bus. Manag. 6, 6456.

Tian Guang and Dan Trotter considered communication as an essential function that confers business success in the competitive global markets. The authors argued that the profitability of a firm depends on the strategies employed during communication with internal and external stakeholders of the business. Furthermore, Guang and Trotter consider cultural differences as barriers to effective business communication. Similarly, the authors consider effective cross-cultural communication as a prerequisite for the success of multinational corporations and a reliable approach for enhancing the competitiveness of businesses. Consequently, they considered managers of multinational corporations as being pivotal in ensuring a harmonized cross-cultural communication strategy that is in tandem with the set goals and objectives of the organization.

Culture has a multifaceted effect on the communication strategies of international businesses and directly influences trade policies, strategic decisions on localization as well as standardization, advertisement, international marketing, consumer behavior and international negotiations. All forms of business communication are prone to misunderstanding regardless of whether they are inter-cultural or cross-cultural. The authors recommended the utilization of anthropological strategies in ensuring cross-cultural communication harmony hence the need for in-depth research activities on business anthropology.