BUS 5211: Managing in the Global Economy, University of the People
Unit 5 Written Assignment
People have the tendency to see other cultures from their own point of view. They acknowledge their own culture and its behaviors as the norm—all other cultures are seen as foreign, or even secretive. In ther unit's reading, we look at critical incident analysis (CIA) that helps support an unbiased response to cultural variances by allowing managers to demonstrate empathy related to other points of view. Using the CIA method, describe a situation that you or someone you know has experienced where a cross-cultural misunderstanding took place. A work situation is best, but if you don't have that kind of an example you can look broadly at other situations.
- Describe what essentially occurred, and how a culturally sensitive reaction could have been achievable if you or someone you know had used CIA. Look at the theories and suggestions in the readings regarding having success in cross-cultural settings and within your response, explain in detail what can specifically be done to ensure that these behaviors do not take place in the future.
- Use one of the theoretical frameworks of cultural interpretation (Hofstede, Hall, etc.) presented in our readings and apply their approach to the situation.
- As a manager, how would you have handled that situation differently? What could you do as a manager to ensure that you are able to adapt to multiple cultures?
Grade: 80.25/90 (652 words)
Yuna is Korean, born and raised in Japan. Her parents are Korean, so she has a Korean cultural background even though she lives in Japan. For example, in general, Japanese people are shy and fear making mistakes, and few people participate in discussions or express their opinions. Yuna, on the other hand, is an open-minded person who is not afraid to make mistakes, tells her own opinions, and listens to others' views.
She went to Singapore on an exchange program when she was a student. At the university in Singapore, her open-mindedness increased as she was valued for her willingness to speak up. Later, she worked for foreign-affiliated companies in Singapore and Japan, where she was in an environment that loved her for expressing her own will and thinking for herself. However, after she graduated from college, she found employment in a workplace where colleagues valued Japanese culture. There are about 300 employees. However, she was the only foreigner; the others were Japanese. Most of them were unfamiliar with foreign culture, and some of them indicated that Yuna's open-mindedness was disrespectful behavior.
For example, at a meeting, a director asked Yuna for her opinion on a proposal by him. His proposal "to merge departments A and B" did not seem to be a proposal that would objectively benefit the organization. Since her seniors and colleagues around her also reacted that the suggestion was too subtle, Yuna honestly expressed her opinion. She said, "I don't understand the director's proposal. Would you explain the values of your proposal in more detail?" In response to their opinion, the department head could not explain anything and remained silent. After that, he and Yuna did not speak for about two months, and an awkward mood continued.
The case analysis with Hofstede's framework and Critical Incident Analysis (CIA)
I will analyze the case based on Hofstede's framework and the questions introduced by Serrat (2010). Hofstede found that managers and employees vary on five value dimensions of national culture: power distance, individualism versus collectivism, masculinity versus femininity, and uncertainty avoidance. (Breward et al.,2016) Masculinity and uncertainty avoidance are observed in this case.
- What were the events or circumstances that led to the critical incident?
Yuna's honest statement of what she thought caused a situation that put the department head in a bad mood. In Japan, masculinity is high. It is common to follow the opinion of one's elders, and no opinion, objective or otherwise, is expected. Her director asked her opinion. However, he didn't want an idea but an agreement.
- What were the outcomes of the critical incident?
The supervisor misinterpreted Yuna was not polite. Yuna has always valued expressing her opinions, and she said her opinion for better decision-making for the director and the organization.
- What are the possible future outcomes if behaviors remain unchanged?
By working with other supervisors and seniors and giving her opinions, Yuna may be misunderstood by others.
- What are the possible future outcomes if behaviors change based on lessons
If Yuna would respect Japanese culture and not speak her mind, Yuna would no longer be misunderstood by her supervisors and seniors, and they could trust each other.
Solution for this case
As a manager, I would handle this situation differently. In this case, the director got angry because of his less cultural understanding. His reaction was based on masculinity and uncertainty avoidance, a typical Japanese response. However, in this actual case, the department was no longer integrated a few months later. In other words, Yuna's opinion was not wrong. Based on this result, it would have been better if the supervisor had been more understanding of the different cultures. He listens to Yuna's opinion instead of being in a bad mood, and if he had had the calmness to think more logically instead of avoiding uncertainty. The director can change his act by improving his CQ.
Breward, K. E., Judge, T., & Robbins, S., (2016). Essentials of Organizational Behavior, 13e, 2016, Ontario: Pearson Canada
Serrat. O. (2010, May). The critical incident technique. Washington, DC: Asian Development Bank.