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Cultural sensitivity in the globalized workplace Research Paper


Introduction

Cultural sensitivity is important in today’s global business because it incorporates diverse definitions of appropriate business practices by individuals from different backgrounds. It is incumbent for any business that aims at globalizing its practice, to be aware of the cultural orientation of its employees, clientele, and its partners globally.

If a business organization becomes more sensitive to its diverse employees’ backgrounds, it will decrease the chances of missing the opportunities and disrupting projects. Thus, cultural sensitivity helps in creating effective teams that will collaborate well in the business environment.

There are many factors that are involved in creating a good working environment for individuals from different backgrounds. The structures of a globalized workplace must be set in such a way that they can accommodate diverse views, opinions or methods of conducting business.

The degree of cultural sensitivity should be optimum so that every employee feels free to express their views and define the business environment according to their own ways. It is also important to note that diversity of such elements as culture and income should have a definition different from inequity in the workplace. This will create a good atmosphere for effective business operations.

Other factors to consider include the interrelationship between effects of globalization of a business and cultural sensitivity in a business setting. Leadership, communication, and business education should also be given an upper hand when globalizing a business.

This is because cultural sensitivity is a two way process whereby foreigners will have to embrace the American culture of doing things as Americans embrace the cultural diversities of the foreign employees. This paper discusses some of the above factors in detailed.

Role of cultural sensitivity in globalization of business

Different countries have different ways of conducting businesses depending on their cultural affiliations. A business organization must have the knowledge of cultural sensitivity of its partners and employees who come from different countries. For instance, some countries are said to have the culture of bonding before any business deals are sealed.

There are also many other factors that have to be considered when conducting business in different countries. The party that sets the subject of conversation in any business transaction is a factor sensitive enough for consideration before starting any business activity in a foreign country.

Some cultures go so deep that they can affect a business transaction just by using the wrong hand to offer something. Social interactions between the management and employees also include things such as refusing to take alcohol, refusing to sing and refusing an invitation to a meal (World- Traveler 3).

The role of leadership

Responsible leadership and governance is quite essential in global business. It is important to note that leadership should be taught in business schools broadly and in depth in terms of their ethics and social and environmental responsibility (Doh and Stumpf 390).

Effective global business leaders must therefore be responsible for the social and environmental welfare of the diverse cultures represented by different individuals in a business organization.

In order for leaders to develop cultural sensitivity, there needs to be a global meeting place in business programs, where students who have leadership qualities can come to work with colleagues who have different methods and experiences in order to sharpen their international business skills.

A multicultural environment is therefore of paramount importance because the diversity of cultures, languages and experiences can be shared among the students who are participating in the programs (Doh and Stumpf 394).

Such programs can work extremely well in business schools because the schools can also have subsidiary programs which can increase the proportion of international students and incorporate exchange programs. Business organizations can also structure partnership with schools in other countries in order for students to do projects in a multicultural environment.

The entire leadership of a business organization should be well versed with multicultural environment. This will make them develop a global mind-set whereby they will possess the ability to develop new perspectives and to hold multiple and competing perspectives.

A leadership that has its members fluent in at least two languages and the experience of living and working in multiple cultures is therefore competent enough to handle a multicultural workforce (Doh and Stumpf 394). There are various methods which can be used to develop such kinds of leaders.

They include; undertaking courses that incorporate foreign travel and company visits, undergoing through courses that are offered on campus that are team taught by faculty from business schools in different countries using videoconferencing or on-line technologies, study or consulting projects that bring students from other schools in other countries such as India and China together with American students, overseas work programs, and the development of multicultural environments at home.

This way, the success of future leadership in a global business is almost certain.

The role of business education

Business education plays a vital role in the process of globalization of business. Currently, there are many programs that require courses across a broad range of business functions such as marketing and strategy.

The development of responsible global business leaders requires significant amount of the course content in the core courses or in elective address international business, leadership and social and environmental responsibility issues. This will create a strong foundation of global knowledge (Doh and Stumpf 393).

It is worth noting that unskilled and semiskilled workers are increasingly becoming less and less needed. This implies that countries must put more and more effort into developing high-quality education systems in order to prepare students for more skilled jobs in the future (Marquardt, M. et al 164).

Education and vocational training is important especially in contemporary world where there are changes in global market dynamics, technology, and the structure of labor. This has created a much complex work environment that has increased the number of jobs that need high level skills like problem solving, interpersonal, and other work place skills.

It is therefore very important for leaders to utilize organizational development skills to sustain an environment in which professional education can work effectively and students can learn successfully in order to become effective global leaders (Marquardt et al 164).

Therefore, knowledge, rather than physical assets should define competitive advantage. This will make the administrative and managing process an easier task to undertake in a business environment that has diverse culture.

Since societies are transitioning from the industrial era to the global knowledge era, job requirements are becoming more challenging.

It is also not surprising to see the importation or exportation of knowledge through hiring of expatriates in a globalized business environment. It is therefore the duty of the management to come up with an administrative framework that will assimilate the diverse cultures arising from hiring of foreign employees.

Cultural interests and sensitivity, self awareness, and global mind-set act as solid foundations of international business skills. This is a set of competence that leaders ought to develop in order to accommodate diverse cultures and remain competitive in the global market.

The development of these competencies can be initiated through foundation courses that focus on cross cultural management issues and skills (Doh and Stumpf 393). In addition to the above, leaders need to be exposed to a variety of experiential assignments, that address not only cross cultural sensitivity but also self awareness.

For instance, some business schools like Wharton School require some of their students to participate in out-of-class experiences such as treks in the Himalayas or Patagonia. The reason behind this is to develop decision making skills under stressful conditions.

It also serves to expose the students to different countries and cultures at the same time (Doh and Stumpf 393). Other universities are known to offer in-class simulations to practice leadership skills, and also assign leadership autobiography to develop self awareness.

Global leadership skills can also be obtained through learning from other people’s experiences and reading comprehensive surveys. Some books are known to provide diagnostic surveys, learning objectives, cases, practice exercises and experiential activities to enhance self awareness. The books are also good especially because they give important ideas and opinions that are important for global business leaders.

Thus, leaders can find ways of managing personal stress, problem solving, coaching and counseling, motivating, managing conflict, empowering and delegating, and building effective teams with diverse cultures (Doh and Stumpf 394).

In addition to the preceding methods, business schools can benefit from the inclusion of specific country or area studies and diverse out-of-class activities like speakers, events, and competitions that address culture and leadership. Honesty, integrity, ethics and social and environmental stewardship is also an important factor that leaders should have.

Some countries such as Philippines offer good courses that are designed to produce social responsible leaders who are experts in Asian culture and management styles. The contents of the courses in the curriculum reflect these underlying values (Doh and Stumpf 394).

Cultural changes that Americans and foreign employees face

The contemporary American work place has changed in terms of culture, race, religion, age and gender. This is because many business organizations have realized that their long term success depends on a diverse body of talent. Diversity brings about new ideas and can also change the perspective and views in the organization.

It is worth noting that once in a multicultural organization, American employees’ experience a dramatic shift from their original culture to the culture in which they have been introduced to.

There are however several problems that accompany the cultural changes. For instance, people will become paranoid when in a multilingual working environment or be filled with assumptions. This can lead to them being estranged thus plummeting their productivity and morale.

A particular study was done in an American subsidiary of a global bank based in Japan. It was found out that the Japanese female workers complained to the management that their older Japanese male bosses did not respect them. When the human resource manager questioned all of the women in the office, all Japanese ladies complained about the Japanese men.

However, the American female employees said that there was no problem at all. The human resource manager was left in a confused state and he had to consult with the Japanese male managers. To this, the Japanese men asserted their comprehension of American expectations related to sexual harassment against women. So they were more careful when they spoke to the American female employees.

Thus, it was found out that the Japanese men didn’t mean anything and that any Japanese person would understand that. This implies that communication is turning out to be more complicated even as business organizations interact with their international partners (Zeromillion.com 5). This situation implies that cultural sensitivity is an important element in any global business activity.

One very important thing to note is that in today’s business world, diversity no longer applies to color, race, gender or age. It is the relatedness, connectedness and interactions of employees within a business organization.

Diversity also acts as a bridge between the organization’s life and the reality of employees lives. It builds corporate capability and is also the framework on which the interpersonal relations of employees are built.

In order for American international companies to remain competent, they have outsourced work force from other countries. India, the Philippines, Malaysia, and other countries have seen some functions of many American companies being shifted to these countries. Thus it is unsurprising to find that some business organizations hire more employees outside of their head quarters countries than within their native countries.

Effects of the need for cultural sensitivity

Just a few years ago, people used to say that the world is getting smaller. However, it is quite clearer now, that the world is already small. This is because of the advances in technology related to transport and communication. The development of a world economy has also made the world to get smaller than before.

These two factors combined have caused people from different cultures, languages, and nations all over the world to meet and do business in a nutshell. For this reason, some people feel that the new found closeness has resulted into a better understanding of people all around the world thereby leading to a decline in cultural diversity.

People who do business find out that their cultural differences intensify once they realize that the rest of the world does not think like they do. The need to incorporate foreign colleagues in a business organization comes about because business is an international operation. Thus, for a business to grow, it has to occupy the space offered by an international opportunity.

Western organizations have continued to face stiff competition from emerging economies. This is why these organizations are shifting from doing things their way to trying to do things the way they are done in the country they invest.

Thus they are feeling the negative effects of emanating from their lack of cultural sensitivity on business performance. It is becoming a norm that many organizations are investing heavily in providing their staff members with diverse language lessons. This is because the organizations want to find their way into foreign markets.

Globalization has enhanced grater mobility in international capital and labor markets which creates a global marketplace that offers more opportunities due to the availability of more customers. However, globalization is known to cause conflict between the nations involved.

This scenario is exhibited when technology for manufactured goods becomes synchronized internationally. Thus, nations with different sets of norms and other characteristics compete in the markets for goods that are similar. This creates tension in trade especially when it releases forces which tend to overshadow those policies that are set in place in local workplace operations.

Business leaders of a globalizing business organization should bend on recruiting only those professionals who can cooperate effectively. The professionals should also be able to interact with each other with minimum amount of risk. It is quite natural that the situation where a leader hires employees who share the same set of values, rules and cultural norms is ideal.

However, this situation is not ideal in the modern business environment. Since the modern workplace environment is multicultural, the leader must work to enhance the smooth operations of the business with employees from India, China, Germany, Poland and Philippines working together with minimum conflicts.

Thus, the organizational culture should be neutral and without any bias to any set of cultural norms and values (Custom Essay 4). This is why emphasis must be placed on recruiting employees who can easily adapt to the multicultural business environment.

As a result, many prudent leaders usually recruit employees who have had some level of experience of working with culture of the country they are working in. These employees must be familiar with another culture different from their own and hence should be accustomed to the difference of other cultures from that of their own.

The employees should be familiarized with the organizational culture and the orientation of the employees to these cultures need not be complex. The multicultural environment should be based on principles that are of universal humanistic values and those values that can accommodate all people regardless of their origin and their cultural background. A good example of a universally agreeable value is the mutual respect of employees.

Conclusion

Cultural sensitivity is important in today’s global business because it incorporates diverse definitions of appropriate business practice by individuals from different backgrounds. Different countries have different ways of conducting businesses according to their cultural affiliations.

A business organization must have the knowledge of cultural sensitivity of its partners and employees who come from different countries. The contemporary American work place has changed in terms of culture, race, religion, age and gender. This is because many business organizations have realized that their long term success depends on a diverse body of talent.

Diversity brings about new ideas and can also change the perspective and views in the organization. It is worth noting that once in a multicultural organization, American employees’ experience a dramatic shift from their original culture to the culture in which they have been introduced to.

The multicultural environment should be based on principles that are of universal humanistic values and those values that can accommodate all people regardless of their origin and their cultural background.

Works Cited

Custom Essay. Cultural sensitivity. 2011. Web.

Doh, Jonathan and Stumpf, Stephen. Handbook on responsible leadership and governance in global business. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 2005. Print.

Marquardt, Michel, et al. HRD in the age of globalization: a practical guide to workplace learning in the third millennium. New York: Basic books, 2004. Print.

World- Traveler. Cultural sensitivity training for international business success in Japan, China, with up to the minute news. 2011. Web.

Zeromillion.com. . 2011. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2019, May 3). Cultural sensitivity in the globalized workplace. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-sensitivity-in-the-globalized-workplace-research-paper/

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"Cultural sensitivity in the globalized workplace." IvyPanda, 3 May 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-sensitivity-in-the-globalized-workplace-research-paper/.

1. IvyPanda. "Cultural sensitivity in the globalized workplace." May 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-sensitivity-in-the-globalized-workplace-research-paper/.


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IvyPanda. "Cultural sensitivity in the globalized workplace." May 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-sensitivity-in-the-globalized-workplace-research-paper/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Cultural sensitivity in the globalized workplace." May 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-sensitivity-in-the-globalized-workplace-research-paper/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'Cultural sensitivity in the globalized workplace'. 3 May.

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