Similarly, some people tend to search for hidden meanings in others' remarks, whereas others usually interpret remarks literally.
The opening of world markets has allowed firms to compete globally. Multinational organizations are increasingly dominating the global economy; in the past twenty years, a number of U.S., European, and East Asian firms have expanded their markets and set up foreign subsidiaries and joint ventures. This increase in the number of multinational corporations, along with the rapid advance in technology and growth in personal mobility, has resulted in greater contact and communication between members of different cultural groups. A number of researchers have identified potentially significant differences in communicative behavior across cultures; these differences in communicative behavior can result in conflict which, in turn, can decrease organizational effectiveness.
Culture refers to a system of socially created and learned standards for perception and behavior shared by members of a certain group; it is the collective programming that distinguishes one group or category of people from another. Although many subcultures may exist within a country, the term "national culture" is used to describe the values and practices of entire nations. An important aspect of culture is that it reflects shared meanings, values, and norms.
Cultural values can influence communication practices in organizations. Researchers suggest that surface-level communication differences are grounded in cognitive knowledge about factors that constrain communication, and this culturally-shared knowledge can be used to distinguish one cultural group from another. When an individual approaches a communication situation, cultural frames of reference can influence communication intentions (i.e., instructions individuals give themselves about how to communicate) and communication understanding (i.e., interpretation and explanation of communicated stimuli).
Communication problems in intercultural contexts can occur because of two types of difficulties: (1) people may use inappropriate communicative acts because norms of communication appropriate in one culture may be inappropriate in another and (2) people may negatively evaluate a communicative act that deviates from culturally acceptable norms of communication. The first problem occurs because of intercultural differences in communication intentions; the second due to differences in communication understanding. Hence, we can conclude that as the cultural distance between two individuals in a communication interaction increases (i.e., as their cultural values become more dissimilar), the use of communicative acts inappropriate to the situation and the negative evaluation of the communicative acts also increase.
THE IMPORTANCE OF POLITENESS
Imagine someone who wants to ask a favor of another (e.g., for a loan, a date, the time). To do so successfully will require tact, and most likely it will require tact regardless of whether the favor asking occurs in the United States, Mexico,