Cross Cultural Management
The purpose of this essay to demonstrate the cultural differences between the UK manager going to work as an expatriate manager in Colombia.By taking into consideration Hofstede, Bond, Trompenaars and other cross cultural management researchers to advise the UK manager about the Colombian culture, taking into consideration the differences between leadership styles, decision making, recruitment and selection, motivation, planning and team versus individual working.The reason for selecting Colombia was that according to the results by Geert Hofstede, these two countries are very opposite to one another.
Therefore it will be good to compare the differences and the similarities between the countries’ culture.
According to Adler (1983) Cross Cultural Management is defined as the study of the behavior of people in the organizations located in cultures and nations around the world. It focuses on the description of organizational behaviour within countries and cultures, on the comparison of organizational behaviour across countries and cultures, and perhaps most importantly on the interactional of people from different countries working within the same organization or within the same work environment.
As an advisor to a UK company opening a subsidiary and to send an expatriate Manager to work in Colombia, the best way is to enter the country with an acceptance to what is the culture of Colombia, as it is always better to accept and then expect. Hofstede defines culture as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from another Culture, in this sense, includes values; systems of values are a core element of culture. (Mead et al, 2009) From further research on Hofstede’s culture dimension, we can state that there is a huge different between the UK and Colombian culture. (Hofstede, 2009) Power Distance is the extent to which members of a society accept the unequal distribution of power among individuals. (Ball et al 2004) On the Power Distance dimension (PDI) Colombia scored a comparatively high score of (67). Hofstede, (2011) the score reveal that Colombians are reliant on authority and have leadership that is regularly in a paternalistic approach.
This is predictable by workers, they are often loyal and the assumption is that all authority and accountability is at a higher level. Here subordinates are to treat those in positions of authority with particular respect, meaning it is a society that has a very low level of tolerance for uncertainty. The manager knows everything and is all powerful. Harris et al (2004) Management here is seen as being authoritarian, the theory X managers as defined by McGregor. Netmba, (2011) In Colombia the lines of communication in organisation is vertical, subordinates will normally know whom to report to.
Companies here are characterised by a less formal controls and fewer layers of management. (Mead et al, 2004) According to Geert Hofstede’s culture dimensions scores, UK has the score of (35) This shows that the UK has a very low power distance, which means that it society de-emphasises the differences between citizen’s power and wealth. It places more emphasis on opportunity and equality for everyone. Managers and subordinates are treated equally. Hodgetts et al, (2003). Here the management style as more of the theory Y manager, as managers are more flexible. (Netmba, 2011)
Trompenaars views Individualism and Collectivism dimension as the conflict between groups and individual interest. Triandis, (1994) this reflects the underlying arrangement of society integrated, tight social arrangement involving collective responsibility. (Jhon Martin, 2005) UK has a score of (89) on the Hofstede’s finding, this score indicate that UK has a high score on individualism and a high gross national product and also a free political structure. Here the society are more individuals and are expected to look after themselves and their immediate families only. Mcfarlin et al, 2011) On the other hand Colombia has a score of (13), this indicates the opposite of UK, meaning that Colombia is a collective society, where a favourite for a strongly tie social framework in which citizens are integrated in groups, they expect their clan, families, or other in-group to look after them in exchange for unquestioning reliability.
Colombian’s societies are strongly from birth onwards integrated into strong groups, this is often extended family. (Hofstede and Bond, 1988) Colombian people would openly express emotions even in business circumstances, whereas the British would consider such display nprofessional. (Helen Deresky, 2003) UK managers separates work, relationships and personal issues, they compartmentalise their private lives and work, they are more direct and open, whereas in an diffused oriented cultures, such as Colombia, there is spill over from work into personal relationships. (Helen Deresky, 2003) According to Edward Hall Britain is a monochronic time society. To British citizens time is precious and limited resource, it is to be scheduled, saved, and also spent with precision, for the British time is money, and the clock is at all times running.
Therefore, schedules and deadlines must to be met, and when others are not on time for meetings, British may feel insulted, when meetings digress from their purpose, British tend to become impatient. (Mcfarlin et al, 2011) However in Colombia attitude toward time is “manana” meaning tomorrow. From Edward Hall research, Colombian is a polychonic time society. Despite the fact that the British frequently regards a deadline as a firm commitment, Colombians often regards deadline imposed on them as an insult. They feel that important things take long time and therefore cannot be rushed.
Colombians are not known for punctuality. They may arrive at a business meeting 15 or 20 minutes late, since this is considered the norm. (Mcfarlin et al, 2011) The UK manager going to Colombia must be careful not to offend Colombians as they misunderstand the local language of time. Polychronic cultures take a more flexible view of time and this may be hard for British to understand. The procedure of relationship building is regarded with much more importance in most part of the globe. It is important for a cross culture manager to be aware of the influence of culture on decision making styles and process.Deresky, 2003) According to Harris et al, (2004) British negotiators are in general speaking objective regarding the precise issue at hand and usually would like to waste no time in getting down to business and making progress. They understand the other’s position, and are marked by tolerance and compromise. Managers here are seen as being one dimensional, mechanistic and caught in a short term transitional approach. They focus more on formal rules than relationships. According to trompenaars’ dimensions UK is seen as being a high universalism society, However Colombia is seen high on particularism.
Hodgetts et al, (2003) Colombian managers would like to take sufficient time to build trust and respect as a basis for negotiating contract. In Colombia personal commitment to individuals, rather than the legal system, form the basis for the enforcement of contracts. UK manager must be aware that relationship building is in fact, the first phase of negotiations with the Colombian. Looking at Trompennars dimension of diffuse vs specific, Colombians are known to have an indirect communication style and they rely on facial expression. With the Colombians it is considered polite to keep close eye contact during conversations.
With close friends, women could kiss each other on one cheek or clasp forearms. Men often hug and hit each other’s back. This particular hug is known as the “abrazo. ” (Cultural taboos, 2010) Colombians will also ask numerous polite questions and go through other pleasantries; UK managers should expect inquiries as to your trip, family, friend and health, when greeting Colombians you don’t not rush them, as it is considered callous and disrespect to rush greeting. The standard greeting is the handshake upon introduction and departure. Cultural taboos, 2010) In the other hand communication in the UK will be more direct and reserved; they avoid high pressure tactics and confrontational behaviour. (Harris et al, 2004) Language can also be a pitfall for a British expatriate manger going to work in Colombia. Inability to speak local language can be a challenge; therefore the British manager must learn Spanish when going to work in Colombia as this will help. In Colombia selecting a leader or a manager from a company is the most crucial decision, as they will normally want to know them personally and probably establish friendship.
They make decisions on the basis of feelings, rather than experience or empirical evidence of other facts. Cultural taboos (2010) In Colombia before starting a meeting, there will always be a small talk, this is necessary in as its gives manager and subordinate the time to get to know each other personally. It is seen as a good way to establish relationship this is seen as a high priority than just doing business. Most time other cultures doing business with Colombian should wait for them to initiate the business discussion. (Charles, Trompenaars, 2004)
At the end of the meeting, do not hurry off; wait a little longer to continue talking with the work colleague or business partners, Colombians will find it impolite and disrespectful to leave immediately following a meeting, this to them suggest that you have better things to do. Therefore a British expatriate manager should take this into consideration as mentioned above, time is not an issue for Colombians, and Meetings will last as long as they need to last, and establishing trust is very important first. (Charles, Trompenaars, 2004)
Management nowadays must make sure that they are understanding and being understood across cultural borders. As a UK manager working as an expatriate in Colombia, there are many things to take into account as the two countries are very different when it comes to cross cultural differences and in cross cultural management. Dealing with different culturally teams can be a challenge. The expatriate UK manager going to Colombia must consider and respect that Colombian’s management is totally different from the one from UK; therefore the expatriate manager must show appreciation and consideration of Colombian culture.
Uk manager should show tolerance, in respecting Colombian’s cultural views, beliefs and have tolerance for their difference working practices, as mentioned above in the views from Trompenaar, Colombia is seen as a high particularism society, they focus is more on relationship than formal roles, in Colombia the business set is very formal and the expatriate manager from UK will be more successful if he bears in mind the importance of being polite at all times. And treat people in positions of authority with respect.
It is better to make an error on the side of being excessively formal rather than to jeopardize a business relationship by being too informal and appearing flippant. Cultural taboos (2010) whereas in the UK this is not the case. British society is seen as high universalism, they focus is more on formal rules than relationships, here business contract are adhered to very closely, and they believe that “a deal is a deal”. (Hodgetts et al 2003) The UK expatriate manager must also have the knowledge of the Colombian organisational culture and history, as this will help him know exactly what to expect from the Colombian working trategy, and learn who has the authority to decide on settlement and on the decision making. He must also take whatever step that is necessary to gain an in depth understanding of Colombians, and how they negotiating styles, views of process, and cultural values may come to play. Another important issue that the UK expatriate manager should consider is language, the lack of foreign language skills will put the British manager at a disadvantage, as verbal communication is important.
In Colombia business is done in English and in Spanish, therefore the British manager should consider learning Spanish before taking the challenge of working in Colombia. In Conclusion a manger moving to work from one country to another, must know that it is not an easy issue but a challenging one. Cross cultural manager must learn the differences management styles between the host country and the visiting country. Taking into consideration their cultures differences, value, beliefs and norms.
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