Individual Reflective Essay Example

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Reflection On Cross –Cultural Management and Communication

The perceptual and sociorelational contexts

Communication is impeccably vital in ensuring effective organization or institutional management. However, effective communication and management in modern institutions is thwarted by the challenges emanating from cross-cultural differences. In determining efficacy in organizational leadership and management and understanding perceptual and socio-relational contexts. Throughout this week, I learned how the social cognitive theory works, the various perceptions placed on cultural differences globally. This Moodle also covered types of mental categories, stereotyping as well as ethnocentrism. The various individual values were also covered, stating that in most cases individuals are based on individualism or collectivism behaviours, based on the best situation that fits them. Finally the topic was instrumental in understanding the various cultural influences on leadership perceptions. It was evident that cultural has a major effect on how people lead and engage others. Through the social cognitive theory I was able to note that individualism affects how a person leads as well ethnocentrism.

My reasons for identifying this issues relies on my need to understand how people respond to a culturally diversified workplace and determining coherent issues that are undoubtedly necessary in ensuring recognition and prosperity of such diversity. Moreover most researchers have attempted to show that people’s ability to manage across cultures leans upon their cultural background as it influences their ability to work effectively based on their personal values and hence people tend to perform better either collectively or individually.

My other reason is based on my believe that materialization of ethnocentrism, culture and leadership, stereotypes and cultural differences results into the necessity to discuss into detail various topics such as the cognitive techniques on how humans process information, individual values and effect on team performance as well as influence of culture on leadership and management and the overall ability for individuals to succeed in foreign environments.

Theoretical Reflection

The social cognitive theory is one of the models that I believe is necessary understanding cultural influence on information processing. Basing it on the ideology that cultural development and cross-cultural acceptance is a continuous and consistent process marked with consistent learning, education, training and experience (Yamazaki & Kayes, 2004). During this week I was able to learn through this theory, that people are always in the dynamics of interaction, a process known as reciprocal determinism which proclaims that people are normally obsessed with their environment hence constantly seek to learn new ideologies about it and uses their senses to determine an adversary or change in the environment and respond to it effectively and conveniently (Bandura, 2005). From the theory, I have come to understand that people shall always seek to learn about other cultures in addition to their own cultures, master new languages and seek to understand norms and beliefs attached to other cultures.

From my experience however, social cognitive leads to stereotyping which is the development of a generalizing perception about a group of people. Stereotyping characterizes people with respect to their cultural beliefs, behaviors and attributes which stands appealing. I have realized that stereotyping evaluates positive and negative attributes of a particular culture and characterizes all the people from that culture on the determined attribute. For instance, it is believed that Americans are intelligent. Such a belief takes with it numerous assumptions which mostly than probably are erroneous and misleading. It might be confirmed that larger percentage of the population is bright which of course I do not intend to object but that does not bring to light the obtuse nature of the remaining population. Stereotyping in indeed the major cause of ethnocentrism and hence most MNCs have failed to adapt to foreign environments whenever they rely on home country employees instead of the locals this is because most home managers tend to believe their culture is far supreme than the others hence others should do as they say without questions (Koenig et al., 2011). Many proponents maintain that ethnocentrism is undisputedly dangerous in the workplace and should be avoided at all cost. In my view however, ethnocentrism is vital in determining people’s capability to perform. People who believe that their culture is supreme tend to believe in themselves and hence take extensive orientation to performance so as to safeguard their assertions. Ethnocentric are ‘idiocentrics’ and are more aggressive on their duties and usually develop strong arguments. On the contrary ‘Allocentrics’ lack such aggressiveness, avoid arguments and prefer working in groups.

Initially, I had no belief that culture might shape an individual’s ability to lead however, I have come to learn that people’s capability to lead is dependent on various cognitive processes such as how they gauge themselves in the scale of efficiency, their perception on other people and their approach to problems. Ability of people to lead, according to my new professional understanding is dependent on the culture-bound. Since people seeking leadership positions are numerous, assessing each and every individual might be bound to challenges thereby necessitating the need to peak leaders on the basis of prototyping (Waldman et al 2006). For instance, from this week’s reading I was able to note, if a particular cultural group is deemed to produce outstanding leaders, the next leader is probably to be prototyped or picked from the same tribe resulting in cultural determination. My new understanding leads me to the fact that leadership is shaped by willingness of people to work together. For instance, leaders who believe in group or teamwork are highly probable to prosper in Eastern countries where communism is the order of the day (Nisbett & Miyamoto,2005). I find it vital noting that in cross-cultural leadership, in addition to leaders’ orientation to performance, the leaders are expected to understand and appreciate the diverse cultures and aim towards devising a common ground of cultural management which is favorable to most of the people.

Practical Insights

Communication is impeccably vital in ensuring effective organization or institutional management. However, effective communication and management in modern institutions is thwarted by the challenges emanating from cross-cultural differences. The social cognitive theory as discussed is crucial in understanding the role of education, training and learning processes in becoming diversified to intercultural groups. However, such an attempt is affected by cultural aspects such as ethnocentrism and stereotyping. Such aspects brings with them both negative and positive effects on cross-cultural management just as discussed in the content. Leadership also leans upon such aspects. Some of the exemplar of the practicality of these ideas is explained in the theoretical section. I suppose it is crucial to note that people’s capacities to learn is necessitated and catalyzed by socio-cultural or collective norms. For instance, most students I have come across from China, Japan and India have a strong belief that learning is necessitated if the apprentice share knowledge freely and work together in finding solutions to some problems. Contrarily, students and citizens from most western countries have a strong belief that ability to learn is shaped by personal attributes and capabilities where each person has an obligation of proving personal intellectuality.

Westerners believe in individualism and solitary. Given that apprentices on both sides are given the same opportunities to learn other factors remaining constant, the learners at long run shall possess totally different approaches and views on various issues. Therefore, addressing such developing dissimilarities, as per my opinion, requires guidance from more learned, experienced and neutral sources. People’s capabilities to learn and accept changes are determined by their preferred intrinsic and extrinsic motivational choices which again are shaped by culture. Moreover, I was able to note, people from eastern countries such as China and Russia are highly intrinsically motivated by working together and sharing ideas as the direct opposite works for the U.S.A and Canada amongst other western countries (Pecher, 2013). Through my career, I have come to understand and appreciate the role of culture shaping the learning process of different people through re-directing the human senses and restricting the human thoughts and behaviors to a specific level.

Language and culture

Language is indeed the epicenter of each and every communication process and without effective communication, information conveyed turns out to be noise. This week’s Moodle was instrumental in helping me understand the link between language and culture with an emphasis on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Further it covered the various languages and perceptions and finally the various language based issues on communication. To effectively understand how cross cultural management works I sought to focus on the various issues identified in this subsections of this week’s reading.

Firstly I chose this subtopics because from the discussions, it was clear that language plays a crucial role in shaping culture including people’ s values and how people interpret what other people are saying. Further, I believe understanding other common languages begins by taking insight analysis and understanding of one’s own language, meanings of signs, symbols and expressions as a component that shall propel that to learn other necessary languages.

Addition I sought this issues as they helped me comprehend other people’s capacity to think, talk and listen and how this things shape their culture including those aspects they guard crucial in communication processes. Dialects possess different meanings and expressions hence understanding such aspects are as well vital. Having a passion for management drives me to try and examine these issues further as they will be instrumental in my understanding of the various culture and languages in case I ever get appointments that will require my skills globally.

Theoretical Reflection

Sapir and his student Whorf, in their hypothesis tried to impeccably provide clear outline on the relation of the language and culture. In their theory of ‘linguistic relativity’ they put a spirited argument that language and culture were closely related as they supplemented each other and could not be separated. Reading this I could see the several relationships between language and culture which could not be disputed as baseless. I deem Sapir and Whorf approach to understanding the correlation of culture and language as empirically vital and powerful technique to representing the contemporary communication techniques. The customs of different people are portrait through the language they use, since these languages control the thinking and behavioral coherent of these individuals (Kinloch & Metge, 2014). In one of my researches, I have come to note that the natural world is divided along assertions which are majorly coordinated through the indigenous languages. In the research, I noted that different people use different languages which are seen as part of their customs. Some of the cultural status is controlled by the language traits morphology which shall determine the entire way of the social life (Hussein,2012). From this week’s topic, I find it clear that language and culture cannot be separated because one is the inclusion of the other as they work hand in hand, such that the absence of language in the societal customs shall lead to poor cultural regulation and eventful poor organization management. The linguistic of a specific group of people is part of their cultural way of life as it provides the mode of communication of these people and every organization should seek to understand this (DeVito,2007).

As my knowledge enhances, I tend to embrace the fact that language and perception are basically cognition arrangements which closely supplement each other on the individual communication mechanisms. Most assumptions according to my findings portray language as not a demonstration tool but instead a basic tool shaping an opinion or an observation made by an individual, basically seen as a convincing tool. The cognition of the individual is generally determined by the language as addressed by Sapir and Whorf theory. The theory further generates knowledge that what one speaks of affects his or her feelings and their thinking capacity as well as the mental capacity (Richards & Schmidt, 2014). The communication mode of the individual would influence the thinking or the mind capacity. Since the presenter bases his arguments on the perceived facts of the society and so the language can be considered as the perceived facts of that particular societal norm (DeVito, 2007). The verbal communication depends on the thought of the orator and so the words are perceived as his opinions which will be in line with the societal rules and regulations while managing. Thus language according to my consideration is the perceived facts of the society which help in the development of the cultural way of life. The alignment of the thoughts and the verbal communication addresses the perceived issues in the socio-cultural management world which are regarded as the facts of a given society (Hussein, 2012). It is clear to me that a leader’s words are a reflection of his understanding of the cultural way of life of the individuals and the society at large.

Practical Insights

From this week’s topic, I appreciate that language as an aspect of culture determines how people plan their wordings, how they speak, what they say and how they say it. In ensuring effectiveness in modern communication, individuals require recognizing, their cultural determinism measures when they seek to understand deeply the meaning and interpretation of some words in their respective cultures. Such an understanding is indeed vital in ensuring universalism since people would be comparing languages and their interpretations as a virtue of increasing the understanding of other people. Language as I have come to notice plays a fundamental role in shaping people’s perception in terms of linguistic, paralinguistic, extra-linguistic and socio-linguistic aspects applied. Various language contexts devise distinct meanings to distinct cultures. For instance, silence may mean contentment in some cultures as others perceive ‘uncomfortability’ from it. A good cross cultural leader should understand the world is a collection of numerous languages hence the necessity to apprehend each and every language might be huddled by the impossibilities emanating from the voluminous number. Precisely, the current world statistics connotes that there are averagely 350,000 languages internationally each with unique dialect, interpretations and meaning of words (Bonvillain, 2013). I notice that each language is characterized by unique symbols, signs and other non-linguistic components which are explicitly differentiated amongst cultures. The contemporary language interpretations are just but an exaggeration of Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Language is indeed an explicit indicator of cultural dimensions and importance. Since culture entails the daily routine of a particular generation and their way of thinking at particular time, language plays the key role in ensuring that a particular right channel is enhanced in the society. As my learning progresses, I tend to judge that languages are associated with superiority, an indication that their customs are also advanced.

Cross Cultural Skills and Abilities

From this Moodle, it is clear that effective communication and management amongst cross-cultural dimensions begins by acquiring and equipping oneself with the relevant skills and attributes necessary for the management and communication process. This week was instrumental in understanding what skills we need to work effectively across cultures and the cultural competences needed for effective management. An insight look into cultural intelligence and what is needed to be effective across cultures i.e. the personal skills and attributions as well as the cultural knowledge emphasizing on institutional ethnocentrism and cultural distances.

Choosing this issues, I sought to understand the fact that the workplace in general is a conglomeration of individuals from diverse cultures composed of distinct languages, behaviors, attitudes and norms hence ensuring Unitarianism in the work place can only be achieved through possession of unique skills and abilities necessary to understand the different cultures and respond to them effectively and with precision. However, according to the researches I have done, the issue around the specific skills and abilities indispensable for cross cultural communication and management still remain irresolute.

Another reason for doing an in-depth analysis, is because some proponents suggest that individuals need to possess specific skills and attributes in dealing with cross-cultural management and communication issues. And I believe that ensuring effective management and communication among people of different cultures should not be bound by the necessity of specific skills but just general abilities. The week’s topic has also helped me a great deal in drawing a clear line of distinction and correspondence between the two approaches for the attainment of the actual resolution. (Resick et al., 2006).

Theoretical Reflection

According to Yamazaki and Kayes (2004) the effectiveness in cross-cultural communication and management is dependent on various pre-identified skills and attributes. According to the duo, cross-cultural management shall be impeccably achieved only if involved parties are culturally empathetic, characterized by overwhelming openness and flexibility and emotionally mature. The involved parties need to understand and appreciate the distinct and diverse cultures and be in a position to respond to the effectively. The effectiveness of cross-cultural management can only be achieved if people speak the same language (Thomas & Fitzsimmons, 2008). The contemporary workplace as I have noticed for instance is dynamic and constitutes of individuals marked with unique and non-identical languages hence unitary shall only be achieved if a common ground of interaction in achieved. From what I have learnt managing across-cultures, therefore, requires set of congruent behaviors, attitudes and policies that are necessary in creating a complete and diverse system where people can openly communicate boundlessly. Meeting workplace congruency requires language skills, open-ended tolerance, self-assertion skills, assertiveness and extroverted attitude as proposed by Yamazaki & Kayes (2004).

One of the crucial skills for cross-cultural management I have learned is cultural competence. Cultural competence as expounded on by Johnson et al (2009) is explicitly necessary in developing a strong personal identity, sensitivity to culture, and developing appropriate behavior as well as the having the right attitude in the workplace. I am now convinced that people are highly probable to enhance their participation, involvement and performance in a group or teamwork only if they can understand their personal attributes and approach to concerns as well as understanding and appreciating the people around them irrespective of their cultural backgrounds (Pecher, 2013). Unitary in cross-cultural management is undoubtedly necessary in boosting motivation levels amongst workers or parties so that they work better, efficiently in a totally favorable working environment. Acquiring, developing and putting into use the cross-cultural skills according to my understanding can only be achieved if involved parties are culturally intelligent. With respect to Yamazaki and Kayes (2004); Thomas & Fitzsimmons, (2008); Johnson et al (2009) assertions, intercultural management works better if people apply collectivism in their duties. The acclamations show that human beings are interdependent and hence cannot work in solitary. This approach gives much priority to group or team work and shuns away from individualism. It creates a belief that work is best done when different people come together and contribute effectively and completely to group activities (Kinloch & Metge, 2014). The approach has certainly worked effectively in most communist nations like China, Japan, India and Pakistan where it is believed that togetherness in key to goal achievement.

From what I have learnt, the pluralism theory however brings with it a completely different dimension on the same problem. It purports that every person is composed of unique skills, attributes dependent on the culture hence instead of devising a common ground to deal with cultural differences; management should seek providing a favorable environment for development of such skills and attributes on individualistic basis. Ang et al. (2015), maintains that each cultural group is characterized by a specific level of cultural intelligence. I was able to learn that there are a group of people who prefer working in unison and with that they shall do their best. However, there is another clique of people who perform best at their individualistic levels. The emerging difference in culture as expressed by different people in my perception persists to complicate the attempt to devise a specific solution to cross-cultural management issues. In their attempt to address the emerging difference, Thomas & Peterson (2014) suggests that understanding and developing cross-cultural management and communication leans on understanding and appreciating ethnocentrism. The duo defines ethnocentrism as the affinity of people to exalt their ethnicity, race or culture above other cultures. They explain that characterizing and categorizing different cultural with reference to their impotence and influence is strategic in cross-cultural comprehension. Hofstede, (2011) expounds further on the ethnocentrism adding that there are factors that are indeed vital in understanding ethnocentrism including masculinity and feminism as well as ‘chronemics’. The ideology is based on the norm that men have perfect skills on “masculine jobs” as females possess outstanding skills on “feminine jobs.”

Practical Insights

Modern workplace is marked by challenging tasks done by individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds irrespective of gender, age or custom unlike Hofstede (2011) attempts to express. In ensuring solidarity in the workplace, which is indeed crucial in boosting and maintaining high performance, organizations need to seek a common cultural ground known as organizational diplomacy marked by explicit interpersonal skills, information skills, analytical skills and action skills . Developing such as diplomacy begins by understanding cultural expertise, language proficiency and cross-cultural competency. Understanding the three aspects shall result into cultural intelligence which is indeed the epicenter of social diplomacy. The Unitarian approach as presented in the Moodle and in accordance to my understanding, fails to bring to light the importance of individuals in their individualistic form to an organizational or institutional performance. It dwells much it enhancing group skills and ensuring Unitarianism thereby failing to note that some people work best in solitary form (Thomas, & Peterson, 2014). I concur that it is indeed undeniable that these cross-cultural skills are tremendously necessary in enhancing cross-cultural communication and management but it is as well worth noting in my opinion that such skills require time, education, training and experience to master and practice. This week’s topic enhances my understanding on the topic and as such I tend to question some of the ideologies. Do people have to stop communicating when they lack intercultural skills? Should organizations recruit only those people who possess “coherent and perfect” cross-cultural skills to ensure effective communication and management? These questions still remain unattended to in the Unitarian theory of cross-cultural communication and management and I intend to dig deeper in them. I deem pluralism a better approach to cultural management where people are free to think, act and decide in their own individualistic categories.

Summarizing Conclusion

Cross-cultural management is undisputedly important in the modern leadership structure as well business management. The workplace society comprises of people from diverse cultural backgrounds each with a unique language, norms, attributes and beliefs. As discussed in this reflection, these various aspects of culture play a fundamental role in determining the effectiveness and performance of individuals in the workplace. To augment unitary working conditions, which indeed vital in enhancing performance, people should consider acquiring the cross-cultural skills and attributes necessary in ensuring effective communication and management. The course certainly assisted me move from naivety to a perpetual intellectuality since it recognizes numerous theories such as social cognitive theory, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and Pluralism vs. Individualism theory which are impeccably necessary in shaping cross-cultural management. Despite my assertion that pluralism is the way to go in managing multicultural aspects, it is vital noting that individualism is as well crucial. The choice should be determined by prevailing situations. Determining personal intercultural skills, developing a more diversified cultural perceptual contexts and appreciating languages are undeniably the focal points in determining effectiveness in cross-cultural management and communication.


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