Pitfalls through misunderstandings or misinterpretation of intent can easily lead to the collapse of a potentially successful business partnership or cooperation – the article by Moon and Woolliams looks at how these cultural differences may be interpreted and what approach to take when working with people from different cultural backgrounds.
Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner compiled a database with 50,000 cases from 100 different countries to investigate the cultural differences in work ethics around the world and to assist managers in solving conflicts in cross-cultural business scenarios (1993 and 1998). The database was extended in 1999 in order to investigate and help solve problems arising from cross cultural misunderstandings.
One of the objectives of the database was to formulate a global theory for international business ethics but the compiled data and scenarios question whether that would be a possible achievement or whether it would even be a desirable outcome, given the vast differences in business ethics in different cultures.
For the purpose of their study Trompenaars and Woolliams selected 40,000 cases from 60 different countries and presented a questionnaire with 58 questions to managers with exposure to multi cultural scenarios at their workplace. The researchers took great care to ensure that translation of texts conveyed the same meaning in all languages used in the research and ensured that participants understood that the research was independent and that anonymity was guaranteed to all participants to promote frank and open answers to all scenarios. The reliability of the data results was tested using Cronbach’s Alpha test (a test developed to estimate the consistency reliability of psychometric tests).
It became clear that responses varied depending on the cultural background of the participants. Answers varied in particular where they were given in response to