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Personal Cultural Awareness in Management Self Evaluation Essay

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Updated: May 19th, 2022

I have taken the “Working Globally Across Cultures” (Commisceo Global, n.d. a) and “Sweden” (Commisceo Global, n.d. b) quizzes, and I was surprised by both scores. For the former, I have six correct answers out of ten, which was categorized as “has not passed the quiz,” and for the latter, I scored nine out of ten, which was labeled as “has passed the quiz.” It makes me think that while you can have grounded knowledge or good intuition about how culture manifests itself in business affairs in a particular country, it is undoubtedly not enough to understand how cultural awareness operates globally.

When talking about my strengths, I think it is important to mention my ability to build my decisions on the given context. Although some reactions or activities during business meetings can seem strange or inappropriate, I can try to complete a picture using a culturally non-specific way to justify them. For example, when making a proposal and noticing a few Japanese executives being sat with their arms folded and eyes closed, I think it is their way of listening intently and not being rude.

There is another related attitude of mine that I consider an advantage. When noticing some actions which would be considered rude or inappropriate in my culture, I never assume that it was the intention of a person from another culture. Although such an approach can be regarded as overly optimistic, I consider this framework of attitude as a chance of staying open to other interpretations.

However, I think I have a general weakness with some specific cultural manifestations in non-Western countries. Some of my answers, albeit being correct, were based on stereotypes or intuition, and it is never a good ground on which to base business practices and decisions. Another important issue here is that although Japanese, Chinese, South Korean, and other cultures can be labeled more generally as “Asian,” such an approach leads to a whole variety of confusions and mistakes. These countries differ a lot in their history, attitudes, and traditions. Thus, what can be considered appropriate in South Korea, can be regarded as unacceptable or weird in China or Japan, and vice versa.

There is a gap between my expectations and the results of the “Sweden” quiz. I supposed that the outcomes would be less successful since I have never been to the country and did not spend much time studying its specific frameworks. I was relying on general logic rather than on my knowledge. It makes me think that I succeeded in this quiz mostly for the reason that, although this country is particular in terms of its culture and values, it is still framed in Western tradition more generally.

As for a plan of specific actions to improve my cultural awareness, it will be developed in reference to my strengths and weaknesses. The best advice is given in a precise manner by O’Reilly (2013): “Commit to increasing your knowledge of facts about different people and places, their political and economic systems, their traditions, diet, fashion and the like” (para. 15). Following her suggestions, I will divide my efforts into two groups: active learning and determined observation.

The former will include increasing my cultural awareness by engaging in reading foreign and international websites and media as well as communicating more with people who can share the first-hand experience. The latter will presuppose observation of different cultures with the aim to learn, identify, and understand different attitudes and practices that form daily cultural preferences.

Managers should increase not only their professional skills but also their levels of cultural awareness. International business is carried out at the intersection of different cultural environments. Many difficulties in international business are caused not by bad economic decisions but by cross-cultural contradictions. Conflicts occur due to the difference in mentality and, accordingly, approaches to management, organization, negotiating, and doing business in general.

References

Commisceo Global, (n.d. a). Working globally across cultures. Web.

Commisceo Global, (n.d. b). Sweden Quiz. Web.

O’Reilly, C. (2013). Trainingzone. Web.

Appendix 1

Quiz Title: Working Globally Across Cultures

User Login: anonymous

User Name:

User E-mail:

User Score: 6

Total Score: 10

Passing Score %: 85

The user spent 01:24 on this quiz has not passed the quiz

  • You are making a proposal to a group of Japanese executives when you notice a few of them sat with their arms folded and eyes closed. They are:
    • A. Listening intently
    • B. Tired and catching up on some sleep
    • C. Pretending to be asleep to show you that they think your presentation is poo
  • Answer: A
  • A potential Mexican client arrives 45 minutes late for a business meeting. He/she:
    • A. Has arrived late on purpose to show that they are the party in the driving seat
    • B. Has simply arrived late as punctuality is taken lightly in Mexico
    • C. Has arrived late to let you enjoy your surroundings before discussing business
  • Answer: C
  • Your German colleague says about a proposal you have put together, “no offense but this idea is ridiculous”. He/she :
    • A. is merely expressing their opinion and means no harm
    • B. is being blunt and has no etiquette
    • C. is being rude to undermine your position
  • Answer: A
  • You are asking a question of a junior Japanese colleague and he/she looks down and answers you. He/she :
    • A. Has something to hide and is looking for answer to cover their back
    • B. Is paying your respect
  • Answer: B
  • You are the new manager in an Indian office. You ask one of your supervisors to move a desk and place it in another corner of the office. The next day you notice it has not yet been done. Why?
    • A. The supervisor was offended you asked him/her and refused to do anything about it
    • B. The supervisor could not find a labourer to move it and would not do so him/herself
    • C. Because things get done slowly in India
  • Answer: A
  • While in South Korea, you present a gift to a new client to thank him for his hospitality and to cement your business relationship. He/she refuses to accept the gift. You should:
    • A. Apologise for offending him/her
    • B. Insist he/she takes it until it is accepted
    • C. Offer it to someone else from his/her company
  • Answer: A
  • In Spain, the main purpose of a business meeting would be to:
    • A. Make decisions by discussing in the length the pro’s and con’s of an issue
    • B. Reach agreements by consensus
    • C. Brief the team on a decision already taken
  • Answer: C
  • You are beginning negotiations with a Chinese company. From the start of the meeting the Chinese team show great humility and deference. You should think:
    • A. Such behaviour is a ploy designed to gain concessions
    • B. Such behaviour is just the way Chinese people are
    • C. Such behaviour shows these negotiations will be easy
  • Answer: B
  • During a break for a meeting between you and a group of Saudis, you walk into the men’s room to find a few of them washing their feet in the sink. You think:
    • A. They must have had smelly feet
    • B. They are simply freshening themselves up
    • C. Are preparing to read their prayers
  • Answer: C
  • There are three of you interviewing an Afghani man for a position in your company. Of the interviewers, two of you are women. The interviewee only ever gives eye contact to the man and never to the women. This is because:
    • A. He is nervous around women
    • B. He is showing respect
    • C. He sees women as second class citizens
  • Answer: B.

Appendix 2

Quiz Title: Sweden Quiz

User Login: anonymous

User Name:

User E-mail:

User Score: 9

Total Score: 10

Passing Score %: 85

The user spent 01:44 on this quiz

has passed the quiz

  • Outward signs of status are and hierarchy are frowned upon in Sweden.
    • A. TRUE
    • B. FALSE
  • Answer: A
  • Which of these should you be during negotiations?
    • A. informal and humorous
    • B. precise and factual
    • C. quiet and reserved
  • Answer: B
  • A toss of the head means…
    • A. Come here
    • B. No
    • C. Go away
  • Answer: A
  • When shaking hands, which of these is true?
    • A. gloves must be removed
    • B. women do not shake hands with men
    • C. hand shakes are long affairs
  • Answer: A
  • Swedes make business decisions based on…
    • A. hierarchy
    • B. consensus
    • C. intuition
  • Answer: B
  • The majority of Swedes are…
    • A. Baptist
    • B. Catholicism
    • C. Lutheran
  • Answer: C
  • When involved in a group conversation which of these is poor etiquette?
    • A. having hands in pockets
    • B. openly disagreeing
    • C. interrupting
  • Answer: A
  • When negotiating with Swedes, which of these should you avoid?
    • A. showing emotion
    • B. offering concessions
  • Answer: A
  • Which of these is the most dominant social value in Sweden?
    • A. Communalism
    • B. Egalitarianism
    • C. Materialism
  • Answer: B
  • When negotiating pressure tactics are a requisite.
    • A. TRUE
    • B. FALSE
  • Answer: B.
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