Each action that a person does is linked to a profitable outcome for them either directly or indirectly, with the person’s set of values defining their motivation. This concept may thus be described as “the reasons that people take or persist in a particular action,” outlining the moving forces behind a person’s actions (Thomas & Peterson, 2018, p. 80). Understanding the value of motivation in cross-cultural communication, and identifying for whom it carries more advantage, the employer or the employee, is possible through delineating the various reasons behind employees’ motivations.
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Cross-culturally, motivation is dependent on the understanding between the giver and receiver regarding the work that must be finalised. The concept of universal motivation requires the existence of “universal needs,” to fulfil which an employee must go through steps, common for all people, making its existence implausible (French, 2015, p. 164). Instead, depending on people’s culture and socioeconomic standing, their needs, expectations, and a variety of extrinsic and intrinsic factors it becomes possible to motivate them (Thomas & Peterson, 2018). In volunteering, for example, self-ascribed “prosocial motives” are the driving factor behind the number of volunteers from various cultures, allowing identifying them as more socially oriented and less individualistic (Aydinli et al., 2016, p. 89). Another example of cultural variety in motivation is the communicational concepts of individualism versus interdependence, which is evident even between seemingly close US and European cultures (Markus, 2016). Specific expectations form the individual’s motivation, making understanding cultural backgrounds professedly the only necessary factor that carries weight within a business setting.
For managers, this approach may mean reducing staff to just their cultural stereotype, expecting nothing different from the office’s cultural formation. However, motivation is also the result of economic affluence, with Zhao and Pan (2017) stating that people from the “Far East and the Middle East countries have the highest sense of work ethic” (p. 217). This statement makes not only culture but also background and current situation an important factor in deciding a person’s motivation, creating a disparity between the person and their culture (French, 2015). Other factors, such as “patterns of interactions, social networks, institutional practices, and pervasive ideas” may also play a role when deciding a person’s motivation (Markus, 2016, p. 164). For a manager, understanding the complexity of their staff’s personality is imperative to maintain organisational success, expanding, therefore, beyond the basic cultural outline (French, 2015). Recognising the varieties of employees’ self-identification, which range from a scale that may be far wider than Hofstede’s zero to one hundred, creates a unique approach to each staff member.
Undertaking the effort to understand one’s employees, even those coming from a similar culture, maybe the difference between procuring a profit and sustaining its loss. A well-motivated workforce, who feels that their employer understands their goals for this job, may feel more productive. Thus, the benefit of strong staff motivation, when done appropriately and in congruence with the core values and beliefs of both parties, may benefit both, the employer and the employee.
Aydinli, A., Bender, M., Chasiotis, A., van de Vijver, F. J., Cemalcilar, Z., Chong, A., & Yue, X. (2016). A cross-cultural study of explicit and implicit motivation for long-term volunteering. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 45(2), 375-396. Web.
French, R. (2015). Cross-cultural management in work organisations (3rd ed.). London, UK: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Markus, H. R. (2016). What moves people to action? Culture and motivation. Current Opinion in Psychology, 8, 161-166. Web.
Thomas, D. C., & Peterson, M. F. (2018). Cross-cultural management: Essential concepts (4th ed.). London, UK: SAGE.
Zhao, B., & Pan, Y. (2017). Cross-cultural employee motivation in international companies. Journal of Human Resource and Sustainability Studies, 5(4), 215-222. Web.