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International Intercultural Management: Saudi Arabia and Spain Report


Introduction

The inter-cultural dinner involved Saudi Arabia and Spain. The two countries had cultural exchange through sharing in the intercultural dinner. Through this, taste and the types of food available for each country show their cultural interest in addition to reflecting their characteristics based on hospitality and specifically their generosity. In this perspective, the dishes and diet availed for the two countries were the Spanish Omelets made up of potatoes, eggs, and onions, sunflower oil, salt, and red wine. Spain imported potatoes, tomatoes, and other fruits from the European market.

The cultural preference dishes also reflected that they were producing grapes in their country, which justify the presence of wine in their meals. Saudi Arabia, in their preferred dish, availed Arabic coffee with dates, which included cardamom, saffron, and Saudi’s dates. Interaction with one another was very crucial because, through this, they could identify the similarities and differences in the way of talking generally, and this could also enhance cultural sharing and self-evaluation of cultural practices.

This approach of intercultural dinner contributes greatly to the epistemology of culture through the creation of a room to express each country’s cultural knowledge in all perspectives (Hofstede, 2001, p. 49). This evaluates the cultural background of both Saudi Arabia and Spain, and they would be able to realize both their common and different cultural characteristics and beliefs. Intercultural dinner reflects their cultural preferences in terms of food, taste, method of eating among the rest. From this experience, I am able to learn that culture can be practiced in various ways. And that through what we prefer as our normal daily foods, understanding of one’s culture is most possible because their view on certain foods as cultured or uncultured could be realized; hence more knowledge generally is gained in the process.

Culture

Key information

Saudi Arabia is a Middle East country located at the tropic of Cancer and is found in the Northern and eastern hemispheres. The country is bordering Iraq, Jordan, Qata, Kuwait, Yemen, United Arab Emirates and the Gulf of Aden and the red sea. The area coverage of the land is approximately 756, 985 square kilometers. The map showing the country is shown in the diagram below.

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia

The capital city is situated in Riyadh where it has got various cultural integrations. The total population of the country is 27, 019, 731 people. This figure is including the non nationals of Saudi Arabia, but they form part of the greater population. The official language of these people is Arabic, which is used mostly in their daily communication process even in business activities. The religion is Muslim, which is used by almost all the population.

The country has got Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with purchasing power parity of $ 434.666 billion. It has the GDP per capita with purchasing power parity of $ 15, 836. This economic status empowers them to do business effectively across the border and enhance their cultural integration (United States Department of State, 2002, p 2). The currency used in this country is in Saudi Riyal (SAR).

The Main Cultural Aspects Based On Hofstede Framework

The main cultural aspects of Saudi Arabian people are discussed based on Hofstede’s framework. The framework contains four dimensions of cultural ranking. The four dimensions include: power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and long term orientation.

The power distance: In Saudi Arabia, there is a large power distance due to the nature of the kingdom. The monarchy is in power, and the citizens culturally have no strong political voice. All the powers rest with both the queen and the king, who decides the governing rules of the kingdom (Hofstede, 2005, p. 76). This culture had spread up to the places of work where the Saudi people expect the manager or the boss to make all the respective decisions while they play a role in the implementation process in order to achieve the results.

Cultural diagram of Saudi Arabia and Spain
Cultural diagram of Saudi Arabia and Spain

Individualism: The view on this is that Saudi Arabia is seen as a collectivist culture. Individualism is only approximately 38% of the whole population (McSweeney, 2002, p. 67). There is an extended family culture in Saudi Arabia because people belong to groups responsible for their care. The basic unit of society is family and clans, which is the major source of identity. The communal responsibility is greatly very crucial, and most people would yield to their personal desires for the community’s sake.

Masculinity: This is approximately 52 %. It is a masculine culture; hence there is strict adherence to the gender roles and this reflects that men are dominant in this culture. This would mean that performance, achievements and success are important in this society. In addition, both men and women have got various family roles to play.

Uncertainty avoidance at 68 %: The Saudi people have got high uncertainty avoidance where by the unknown is avoided by all means. This implies that the employees in the company are always resistant to any changes in the procedural matters in the company. The people of Saudi Arabia work best under many rules that guide their operations. Due to this employers usually put many rules in order to actualize the expected work output.

Long term orientation: they normally emphasis on the social order hence this ranks at 80%. They have very strong respect for the elders and mostly lay more emphasis on long term goals than short term goals. Age is valuable and the elders must be shown respect at all the times. When they are told to do any activity by an older person, the task must just be done effectively.

The Key aspects for Management

The managerial aspects of businesses are based on policy issues and structural reforms that ensure that business in Saudi Arabia performs effectively. The management strategy involves creating a brand name for the business more often and new reforms enable good business environment with aim of obtaining profit. Management style had seen various companies organized in business groups hence this boost their performance. There are also certain marketing strategies that ensure the proper sales are made in the Saudi Arabia at large.

The strategies ensure sustainable business relationship and are achieved through these procedures: the market is reviewed constantly to ensure product adaptation and any change. Secondly, there is regular supply for the products with regulate prices hence enhances business performance by elimination of supply fluctuation and lastly the products to be exported are branded properly and labeled in both English and Arabic languages. As part of cultural influence, business appointments are scheduled according to the five daily times of prayers and religious Ramadan (David, 2004, p.76). The human resources management is linked with religion and the working timetable for the employees starts on Saturday and ends on Wednesday which influences the mode of business operations and managerial system.

Comparing Saudi Arabia and Spain and the Implications for Managers

In comparing Saudi Arabia with Spain, businesses are conducted depending on their respective cultural practices and this determines a lot in furthering good business performance (Schneider, and Louis, 2003, p. 56). In both cases, there is trust in business management system. In Spain, effective business arrangements are based on trust, concrete evidence and personal feeling. It is also very practical that in Saudi Arabia establishment of such trust in a business is one of the supported practices in their Culture.

While business negotiations in Spain are characterized by chaotic incidences because many people would speak at the same time that of Saudi Arabia is only based on non direct communications. There is a given tonal variations when speaking depending on a given issue at hand (Nina, 2003, p. 78). Communications mostly are also in terms of body language, eye contact and using silence language to pass information. The usage may depend on the gravity of the matter which is under discussion. The implication for the managers based on this issue is that more skills on communication should be achieved because it becomes more difficult especially when passing information to employees. The managers in Spain can apply the same preferred method of communication to his people while those in Saudi Arabia must be advanced with the required mode of non verbal communication by the employees.

On business appointments, in Spain it is done in advanced and punctuality is crucial and expected from this. While in Saudi Arabia, the appointments are based on religious practices in that they are scheduled depending with prayer times and during the holidays of Ramadan. This reminds managers in both cases that management issues and programs must be done based on cultural values of the communities and this will enable more blessings for the business (Hofstede & Pedersen, 2002, p. 70). It is also practice that competency and control are very instrumental elements that are used in order to enhance the business performance in Spain. This is in their culture that people must be competent at all cost (Misak, 2008, p.56). On the other hand, people in Saudi Arabia, value gifts and they mostly appreciate them more often. This forms part of motivational activity for the employees. This implies managers should therefore adopt such values in their human resource management system most of the times in order to succeed more in management.

Comparing of the uncertainty avoidance level, both the countries always try to avoid any unknown. The company employers in both cases will resist any change and these calls for tactical approach in implementation of any changing business dynamics. The implication for managers in both cases is that proper employee training on the need for the modern training techniques is required in order to win the support of the employees for better management and enhancement of business output (Gerhart & Fang, 2005, p. 67). More resistance for change is experienced in Spain at almost 80 % while in Saudi Arabia it is at 68 %. This is a significant percentage which require good policies and strategies for managing the business and the business bodies must consider the concerns in order to make good profit because reputation of a business is mostly is useful in marketing of its products.

In further discussion on business environment between the two countries, In Spain, they consider hierarchy and position as important business culture. They would rather operate their businesses with people of equal ranks than with individuals whose business status is low. In relation to this, In Saudi Arabia, the employees do not always have strong influencing voice and the boss is expected to make all the business decisions alone (Clinton, 2002, p. 39). This implies for the business investors and managers that it is very necessary to evaluate issues before making a specific implementation of any given policy (Ting, 2001, p.98). The business marketing, financial, and management strategies should just conform with the provisions of the

Critical Evaluation on the Usefulness of the Comments to the Framework

The critical evaluation on the role of Hofstede framework used is that through this evaluation, the national cultural analysis is effectively undertaken and this ensures that the possibilities of cultural integration are assessed. In uncertainty avoidance, it considers the tolerance by the society and general non acceptance of any managerial changes. This helps in the indication of how best a given culture can be used to obtain the required or designed projects. Uncertainties will always try to minimize any possibility of that situation through strict laws and security measures on both philosophical and religious level (Christopher, 2002, p. 63). This therefore enables the business management to introduce changes gradually until full implementation is achieved. The rules and policies that guide business operation should be drafted in advanced and the management sets the target to be met by both parties.

On the perspective of long term orientation, since Saudi Arabia emphasizes on social order, the cultural take is that instructions given by the elderly are more likely to be followed than ones given by the young. This recognizes the fact that in any business activity, appointments on the managerial positions should be intentionally made in favor of the old people because efficient business delivery will be achieved automatically. Some of the characteristics of this dimension include persistence, thrift, relationships ordered based on status, sense of shame of the people. This shows that persistency in the cultural custom is reflected through the analysis of the whole system in order to achieve the best business outcome. The sense of shame comes as a result of disrespecting the elderly as the cultural customary practice require that these elders must be given maximum standard respect and following their orders effectively.

Masculinity versus femininity is the distribution of gender roles to both sides and this is culturally brought out in Saudi Arabia. This is one of the greatest fundamental issues in any given society where range of solutions is found. Previous studies have shown that Values of women is less among the societies than men’s values. In Saudi Arabia, masculinity was favored more than femininity. The rating was at 52 % and this shows that men were dominant group between the sexes. The societal achievements, performances and success are very crucial issues that play a role in such considerations. I would take it that even in the business fields, men are considered aggressive than women and this is a common idea in most cultures. Self-centeredness, strength and power are some more validation measurements on most cultures on the gender roles.

Individualism or the opposite, collectivism is the measurement level to which individuals are integrated in a given societal groups. The fact that Saudi Arabia people share responsibilities and their individualism measure is about 38 %, this shows that they have collectivism culture (Rourke & Tuleta, 2008, p. 65). Their responsibilities and belonging are based on group influence but not individual perspective. The basic culture that the Hofstede framework is reflecting shows that people regard clans and families as their fundamental roots that they must always respect at all the times. This measurement on Saudi Arabia can be taken to be accurate because these people value culture and collective responsibility very much. Hofstede scale in Saudi Arabia is a good reflection of cultural collective grouping that must be enhanced by the community around.

The Hofstede framework on the power distance index is measuring extent to which less powerful organization members and family institutions accept and expect how power is to be distributed unequally. The inequality index is obtained here where we have more compared to less. The inequality level is mostly endorsed by leaders and its followers. This is the case in Saudi Arabia Culture where the society favours this imbalance power culture due to the assumption of powers by the kingdom leaders (David, 2008, p. 98). The leaders and the locals only believe that there must be some gap between them and the power index has risen up to around 80%.

Synthesis and Conclusions

International intercultural management is based on the societal cultural believes and this is the basic factor that determines the relations and the management of such cultural differences (Hofstede & Gert, 2005, p.38). Various frameworks can be used in the study of the cultural management in a particular country and we have seen that based on Hofstede framework as one of the cultural analysis tool, the culture of Saudi Arabia and Spain have certain variations based on power distance, long term orientation, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and individualism.

In addition, foods can be basically used in determining the background of any country specifically on cultural believes. Understanding ones culture creates strong connection to the parties involved. Furthermore, businesses conducted in an environment where there is culture understanding are successful most of the times. Due to this, countries and societies have different cultural believes that are used as benchmark in steering their operations and daily conduct. Finally, it would be the best interest of the people in understanding other cultures for knowledge expansion so that decisions are made that can strategically for the success of individuals.

References

Ailon, G., 2008. Mirror on the Wall: Culture’s Consequences in a Value Test Of Its Own Design. The Academy of Management Review, 33(4):885–904. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Christopher, P.,2002. Multinational Work Teams. London: Routledge Publishers.

Clinton, D., 2002. Essential Of International Management: Cross Culture Perspective. London: Sage publications.

David, C., 2004. Cultural Intelligence. California: Berrett- Koehler Publishers.

David, C., 2008. Cross- cultural Management: Essential concepts. London: Sage Publications.

Gerhart, B. and Fang, M., 2005. National Culture and Human Resource Management: Assumptions and Evidence. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 16.6, 971–986. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hofstede, G. & Gert, J., 2005. Cultures and Organizations: Software Of The Mind. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Hofstede, G. 2001. “Culture’s Consequences”: comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McSweeney, B. 2002. Hofstede’s Identification of National Cultural Differences: A Triumph of Faith a Failure of Analysis, Human Relations, 55.1 (2002) 89–118. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Misak, C., 2008. A Journal of Social Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nina, J., 2003. Intercultural Management. London: Kogan Page Publishers.

Rourke, J. & Tuleta E., 2008. Intercultural Communication For Business: Managerial Communication. London: South-Western College.

Schneider, S. & Louis, J., 2003. Managing Across Culture (2nd Ed.). New Jersey, NJ: Financial Times/ Prentice Hall Publishers.

Hofstede, G. & Pedersen, P., 2002. Exploring Culture: Exercises, Stories and Synthetic Cultures. Boston: Intercultural Press Inc.

Ting, S., 2001. Managing Intercultural Conflict Effectively. London: Sage Publications.

United States Department of State, 2002. Saudi Arabia Country Commercial Guide.FY.2002. Saudi Arabia: Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "International Intercultural Management: Saudi Arabia and Spain." May 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/international-intercultural-management-saudi-arabia-and-spain/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'International Intercultural Management: Saudi Arabia and Spain'. 26 May.

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