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The world is undergoing massive globalization; international trade has facilitated the exchange of goods and services across borders. To produce products that meet people’s needs, it is important to understand cultural factors likely to influence business in international markets. The article, “Cultural Intelligence in Organizations. Group and Organization Management, 31, by Triandis, H.C., 2006, from pages 20-26 and “Cultural Intelligence: Is Such a Capacity Credible? Group & Organization Management. Hampden – Turner, C & Trompenaars, F.,2006, from pages 56-63, shed some light on the need of international businesses and multinationals to understand cultural differences among various trading countries; the articles are centered on two main areas: cultural intelligence and cultural competence. This paper analyzes the two articles mentioned above and gives a final summary that can be used to develop staff across different cultures; it will focus on the effect of culture on the performance of expatriates working in countries different from their country of socialization.
Cultural intelligence is a management tool within organizational psychology, that emphasizes that understanding the individual, group, communal and national culture enhances strategic management; it influences the capacity of a business to engage successfully in a certain environment. According to the managerial tool, human behavior is to a large extent an element of their culture, consumer behavior, attitude, beliefs, suppliers and country of origin perception that has an influence on business. Cultural intelligence thus emphasizes the need to understand the psychodynamics in a certain target market; the understanding will assist in decision-making for a successful business.
Triandis mentions that a cultural intelligent person should have five main elements or characteristics to portray when dealing with different situations, these attributes are:
A culturally intelligent person should not jump to conclusions about the beliefs, attributes and behavior that a member of a certain community will have; the fact that certain community culture seems to be looking in a certain direction should not be the only parameter to determine the culture of an individual. To know whether a person is idiocentric or allocentric should not be a decision made in a rush but an intelligent person should suspend his judgment on the decision until he has such relevant information to qualify him to take that stand. Other than studying the external environment that affects human behavior and culture, culturally intelligent people should also focus on individual personality and inborn attributes that affects their behavior. It is only by doing this that proper understanding can be derived.
For example in the Muslim religion, women who are not married or are not engaged are not supposed to expose their bodies: they are supposed to wear loose clothes to hind their identity. A marketer targeting this kind of market to sell tight women’s jeans is likely to shy off from the market if he is not culturally wise. The truth of the matter is that some Muslim sisters wear those clothes whether they wear them inside the loose-fitting attires. Understanding the real behavior of an individual is thus crucial.
Importance of situations
As much as culture affects the behavior of individuals, social forces and groups, psychology has a major role to play in spontaneous cultural development. A culturally intelligent person should appreciate that people act differently when they are alone and when they are in groups of others. They are more likely to act in the interest of the group in the short run. When making decisions targeting a group that is together, then such dynamics should be considered.
For example, the Chinese have held their culture high; generally, they have a negative perception regarding American-made products now that the two economies seem to be having economic fights. However, take the case of a football match, fans are likely to forget their cultural differences shortly and buy T-shirts printed names of the team they support whether they were made in the United States or elsewhere. At this moment, what is more, important is group conformity and not individual feelings. Understanding such dynamics can assist a company put on policies to take advantage of opportunities brought about by the prevailing market conditions (Triandis, 2006).
Undergo training to overcome ethnocentrism
Human beings are socialized to believe that their culture is superior to others; they feel that their way of doing things is the best and given a chance, they would like everybody to see things from their angle. A cultural intelligence person should rise above this belief and learn to respect other people’s cultures; when making decisions in a company he should base them on the culture of the majority as he recognizes that there are differences in community perspectives and views. Undergoing a training program that will help him at least understand a few elements of the community he is serving will assist in making informed and applicable business decisions.
For example, there are some strong cultural beliefs held by Chinese people on the kind of attire the youth should be wearing when they are meeting older people like their parents; the clothing is different from what an American could consider just and okay. In a situation where a young expatriate has been posted in China to market some products made in America, when talking to the old people should consider such issues.
According to the hypothesis, culture exists and prevails in a community because of the values that the people practicing the culture hold for it; it is subjective to a person’s belief thus there is no one culture that can be defined as superior than another. Different communities have mechanisms to run down culture from one generation to another; when culture is transferred, it undergoes an evolutionary fit to address the need of a certain generation that may be different from the needs of the past generation.
Postmodern theories: complementary Hypotheses add value to earlier Synergy Hypothesis theories by bringing the concept of diversity and culture diffusion into the picture; the hypothesis is of the opinion that people have learned to live together although they still preserve their cultural identity. The theory takes note of the emergence of a culture-mixed population where generations who have highly interacted with each other cannot really recognize the culture they subscribe to.
A day-to-day example in the United States is the struggle for superiority between Muslims and Christians; either party believes that their religious belief (an element of culture) is superior and should be the religion to follow. With massive campaigns and interaction of people in schools, social places, and support of globalization, people have learned to respect and live together despite their cultural differences.
According to Turner, C & Trompenaars, latent value means the perceived and respected mode of operation that certain culture may embrace which take the form of a stereotype but there is an underlying subculture that supports the culture. Different cultures have different values and beliefs of what is morally good; there is also a picture that they want to portray; despite the fact that what they are showing to the pay not be the real case, there are some elements of truth that the case exists.
Turner, C & Trompenaars give the Example of the Chinese; they are seen to have a communitarian culture despite that they may deny; the culture some out when they are evaluated for their innovativeness, which calls for such, attributes (Hampden – Turner and Trompenaars, 2006).
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Comparison of both articles
Both articles address the issue of the effect of culture on business; they are emphasising the need to understand the culture of the market that a company targets. According to the articles, a company should aim at developing culturally intelligent teams to analyze market situations. Despite the two articles talking about the same topic and having the same views; I feel that the article Cultural Intelligence in Organizations. Group and Organization Management, 31, by Triandis, is more relevant to the modern business lifestyle. The article is portrayed in simple language elaborating on different cultural issues. Other than focusing on theory, the article is more focused on the current situation in the market; it offers solutions applicable in modern lifestyles.
After reading the articles, I have appreciated the role that culture play in business, I have realized it is a hidden force that affects the performance of a business. In the case of expatriates, their performance in a foreign market is likely to be affected by the culture of the country of operation: adjustment and diffusion in foreign branches are affected by how well they have been prepared for the cultural adjustment. Understanding culture should be after analyzing both personal and societal perceptions and attitudes.
The role of mentorship and culture shock preparedness for expatriates has become clear.
Whether the management of an MNC is multi-domestic, global, transnational, or international, when deploying expatriates to countries different from their country of socialization, they should ensure that they train the expatriates on cultural issues likely to affect their operation in the foreign market. Culture affects decisions and management styles adopted in a company; decisions should be sensitive to the culture of the target market; to make the right decision, culturally intelligent teams should be developed for foreign missions.
Expatriates’ adjustment in foreign countries is influenced by three main factors: individual adjustment factors, environmental issues factors, and position-related issues. All the areas need to be addressed early enough before the expert has messed up with the assignment given. Expatriates leaders should be prepared to be culturally intelligent and respect the culture of people in the foreign country, by doing so, they will not only offer good leadership to internal customers, but they will make decisions responsive to customers’ needs.
Hampden–Turner, C. and Trompenaars, F.,2006.Cultural Intelligence: Is Such a Capacity Credible? Group & Organization Management, 31, PP. 56-63.
Triandis, H.C.,2006. Cultural Intelligence in Organizations. Group and Organization Management, 31, PP. 20-26.
Cultural Intelligence: Is Such a Capacity Credible? Group & Organization Management by Hampden – Turner, C & Trompenaars, F. ,2006,