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Cross Cultural Management Issues of UK, China, Spain, and Finland - Essay Example

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Introduction A large amount of discussion has centred around whether barriers between cultures have gradually diminished (Nordstrom, 1991). Many suggest that the world, particularly the business world, has become increasingly homogenous. Despite these developments, businesses who incorporate cross-cultural elements into their activities experience difficulties as a result of differences in cultural backgrounds, languages and value systems…
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Cross Cultural Management Issues of UK, China, Spain, and Finland
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Cross Cultural Management Issues of UK, China, Spain, and Finland

This paper will assess the management issues which could arise in an international team consisting of English, Chinese, Spanish and Finnish members. It will then seek to propose methods for addressing these issues and dealing with them effectively. Cross-Cultural Concepts and Issues Which Could Arise There exist many differing theories as to the way in which cultures differ considerably on several levels. One pertinent theory put forth by Maletzke (1996) categorises cultural differences into 9 groups. Although these will be briefly stated, they are relevant in assessing which problems could arise for a manager of an international group. Maletzke states that cultural differences can consist in many different categories (1996). The national character of a culture consists in the shared basic behavioural patterns and personality traits of the people in the culture. In the business arena this can be an issue if one culture, being inherently different to another, finds it difficult to understand, or co-operate with the other. For example, the Spanish culture is open, loud and friendly whereas the Finnish culture is formal, softly spoken and favours courteousness. This may cause the Finnish person to be offended or overwhelmed by the playful, less formal characteristics of the Spanish person. The Spanish may also overwhelm the Chinese person as Chinese tend to be more softly spoken and less verbal. Another important element of culture is time concept, which has the potential to differ greatly between cultures and cause problems when co-ordinating meetings and planning schedules. Here there exists the potential for the Chinese and the English person to conflict in that the former is less prompt for meetings, and often has no fixed start or end time whereas the English person desires a more specified form of time management. This also applies to the Spanish who may stand alone in his lack of planning, relaxed perception of time and lack of willingness to restrict his day to particularly planned schedules and meeting times. The space concept of culture can cause problems in that the Finnish, English and Chinese may conflict with the Spanish concept of space. The Mediterranean culture of the Spanish places little importance on private space, and may even adopt constant forms of physical contact in order to communicate and express himself. This may cause discomfort, particularly for the Finnish culture which is likely to see physical contact between mere business associates as inappropriate and even offensive. For example, the Finnish method of greeting is a simple handshake with a smile, as is the English method. The Spanish is more likely to shake hands, yet place a hand on the back of the person he greets, or even kiss the cheek of the person he greets. The two methods are rather different and have the potential to cause issues in the business arena. Perception as a facet of culture also has the potential to be an issue, in that it could represents which each culture defines as important and non-important. Perhaps the largest potential of raising issues is the language and non-verbal communication of each culture. Of course, different languages are a major problem, though more importantly, even if ... Read More
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