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Organizational Behavior

2.7 Cultural Differences

Organizational Behavior2.7 Cultural Differences
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  1. Preface
  2. 1 Management and Organizational Behavior
    1. Introduction
    2. 1.1 The Nature of Work
    3. 1.2 The Changing Workplace
    4. 1.3 The Nature of Management
    5. 1.4 A Model of Organizational Behavior and Management
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    8. Chapter Review Questions
    9. Critical Thinking Case
  3. 2 Individual and Cultural Differences
    1. Introduction
    2. 2.1 Individual and Cultural Factors in Employee Performance
    3. 2.2 Employee Abilities and Skills
    4. 2.3 Personality: An Introduction
    5. 2.4 Personality and Work Behavior
    6. 2.5 Personality and Organization: A Basic Conflict?
    7. 2.6 Personal Values and Ethics
    8. 2.7 Cultural Differences
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    11. Chapter Review Questions
    12. Management Skills Application Exercises
    13. Managerial Decision Exercises
    14. Critical Thinking Case
  4. 3 Perception and Job Attitudes
    1. Introduction
    2. 3.1 The Perceptual Process
    3. 3.2 Barriers to Accurate Social Perception
    4. 3.3 Attributions: Interpreting the Causes of Behavior
    5. 3.4 Attitudes and Behavior
    6. 3.5 Work-Related Attitudes
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    9. Chapter Review Questions
    10. Management Skills Application Exercises
    11. Managerial Decision Exercises
    12. Critical Thinking Case
  5. 4 Learning and Reinforcement
    1. Introduction
    2. 4.1 Basic Models of Learning
    3. 4.2 Reinforcement and Behavioral Change
    4. 4.3 Behavior Modification in Organizations
    5. 4.4 Behavioral Self-Management
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    8. Chapter Review Questions
    9. Management Skills Application Exercises
    10. Managerial Decision Exercises
    11. Critical Thinking Case
  6. 5 Diversity in Organizations
    1. Introduction
    2. 5.1 An Introduction to Workplace Diversity
    3. 5.2 Diversity and the Workforce
    4. 5.3 Diversity and Its Impact on Companies
    5. 5.4 Challenges of Diversity
    6. 5.5 Key Diversity Theories
    7. 5.6 Benefits and Challenges of Workplace Diversity
    8. 5.7 Recommendations for Managing Diversity
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    11. Chapter Review Questions
    12. Management Skills Application Exercises
    13. Managerial Decision Exercises
    14. Critical Thinking Case
  7. 6 Perception and Managerial Decision Making
    1. Introduction
    2. 6.1 Overview of Managerial Decision-Making
    3. 6.2 How the Brain Processes Information to Make Decisions: Reflective and Reactive Systems
    4. 6.3 Programmed and Nonprogrammed Decisions
    5. 6.4 Barriers to Effective Decision-Making
    6. 6.5 Improving the Quality of Decision-Making
    7. 6.6 Group Decision-Making
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Chapter Review Questions
    11. Management Skills Application Exercises
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
    13. Critical Thinking Case
  8. 7 Work Motivation for Performance
    1. Introduction
    2. 7.1 Motivation: Direction and Intensity
    3. 7.2 Content Theories of Motivation
    4. 7.3 Process Theories of Motivation
    5. 7.4 Recent Research on Motivation Theories
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    8. Chapter Review Questions
    9. Management Skills Application Exercises
    10. Managerial Decision Exercises
    11. Critical Thinking Case
  9. 8 Performance Appraisal and Rewards
    1. Introduction
    2. 8.1 Performance Appraisal Systems
    3. 8.2 Techniques of Performance Appraisal
    4. 8.3 Feedback
    5. 8.4 Reward Systems in Organizations
    6. 8.5 Individual and Group Incentive Plans
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    9. Chapter Review Questions
    10. Management Skills Application Exercises
    11. Managerial Decision Exercises
    12. Critical Thinking Case
  10. 9 Group and Intergroup Relations
    1. Introduction
    2. 9.1 Work Groups: Basic Considerations
    3. 9.2 Work Group Structure
    4. 9.3 Managing Effective Work Groups
    5. 9.4 Intergroup Behavior and Performance
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    8. Chapter Review Questions
    9. Management Skills Application Exercises
    10. Managerial Decision Exercises
    11. Critical Thinking Case
  11. 10 Understanding and Managing Work Teams
    1. Introduction
    2. 10.1 Teamwork in the Workplace
    3. 10.2 Team Development Over Time
    4. 10.3 Things to Consider When Managing Teams
    5. 10.4 Opportunities and Challenges to Team Building
    6. 10.5 Team Diversity
    7. 10.6 Multicultural Teams
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Chapter Review Questions
    11. Management Skills Application Exercises
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
    13. Critical Thinking Case
  12. 11 Communication
    1. Introduction
    2. 11.1 The Process of Managerial Communication
    3. 11.2 Types of Communications in Organizations
    4. 11.3 Factors Affecting Communications and the Roles of Managers
    5. 11.4 Managerial Communication and Corporate Reputation
    6. 11.5 The Major Channels of Management Communication Are Talking, Listening, Reading, and Writing
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    9. Chapter Review Questions
    10. Management Skills Application Exercises
    11. Managerial Decision Exercises
    12. Critical Thinking Case
  13. 12 Leadership
    1. Introduction
    2. 12.1 The Nature of Leadership
    3. 12.2 The Leadership Process
    4. 12.3 Leader Emergence
    5. 12.4 The Trait Approach to Leadership
    6. 12.5 Behavioral Approaches to Leadership
    7. 12.6 Situational (Contingency) Approaches to Leadership
    8. 12.7 Substitutes for and Neutralizers of Leadership
    9. 12.8 Transformational, Visionary, and Charismatic Leadership
    10. 12.9 Leadership Needs in the 21st Century
    11. Key Terms
    12. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    13. Chapter Review Questions
    14. Management Skills Application Exercises
    15. Managerial Decision Exercises
    16. Critical Thinking Case
  14. 13 Organizational Power and Politics
    1. Introduction
    2. 13.1 Power in Interpersonal Relations
    3. 13.2 Uses of Power
    4. 13.3 Political Behavior in Organizations
    5. 13.4 Limiting the Influence of Political Behavior
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    8. Chapter Review Questions
    9. Management Skills Application Exercises
    10. Managerial Decision Exercises
    11. Critical Thinking Case
  15. 14 Conflict and Negotiations
    1. Introduction
    2. 14.1 Conflict in Organizations: Basic Considerations
    3. 14.2 Causes of Conflict in Organizations
    4. 14.3 Resolving Conflict in Organizations
    5. 14.4 Negotiation Behavior
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    8. Chapter Review Questions
    9. Management Skills Application Exercises
    10. Managerial Decision Exercises
    11. Critical Thinking Case
  16. 15 External and Internal Organizational Environments and Corporate Culture
    1. Introduction
    2. 15.1 The Organization's External Environment
    3. 15.2 External Environments and Industries
    4. 15.3 Organizational Designs and Structures
    5. 15.4 The Internal Organization and External Environments
    6. 15.5 Corporate Cultures
    7. 15.6 Organizing for Change in the 21st Century
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Chapter Review Questions
    11. Management Skills Application Exercises
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
    13. Critical Thinking Case
  17. 16 Organizational Structure and Change
    1. Introduction
    2. 16.1 Organizational Structures and Design
    3. 16.2 Organizational Change
    4. 16.3 Managing Change
    5. Key Terms
    6. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    7. Chapter Review Questions
    8. Management Skills Application Exercises
    9. Managerial Decision Exercises
    10. Critical Thinking Case
  18. 17 Human Resource Management
    1. Introduction
    2. 17.1 An Introduction to Human Resource Management
    3. 17.2 Human Resource Management and Compliance
    4. 17.3 Performance Management
    5. 17.4 Influencing Employee Performance and Motivation
    6. 17.5 Building an Organization for the Future
    7. 17.6 Talent Development and Succession Planning
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Chapter Review Questions
    11. Management Skills Application Exercises
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
    13. Critical Thinking Case
  19. 18 Stress and Well Being
    1. Introduction
    2. 18.1 Problems of Work Adjustment
    3. 18.2 Organizational Influences on Stress
    4. 18.3 Buffering Effects of Work related Stress
    5. 18.4 Coping with Work related Stress
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    8. Chapter Review Questions
    9. Management Skills Application Exercises
    10. Critical Thinking Case
  20. 19 Entrepreneurship
    1. Introduction
    2. 19.1 Overview of Entrepreneurship
    3. 19.2 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs
    4. 19.3 Business Model Canvas
    5. 19.4 New Venture Financing
    6. 19.5 Design Thinking
    7. 19.6 Optimal Support for Entrepreneurship
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary of Learning Outcomes
    10. Chapter Review Questions
    11. Management Skills Application Exercises
    12. Managerial Decision Exercises
    13. Critical Thinking Case
  21. A | Scientific Method in Organizational Research
  22. B | Scoring Keys for Self-Assessment Exercises
  23. References
  24. Index
  1. How do you manage and do business with people from different cultures?

The final topic we will discuss in this chapter is the role of culture and cultural diversity in organizational behavior. Cultural diversity can be analyzed in many ways. For instance, we can compare cultural diversity within one country or company, or we can compare cultures across units. That is, we can look inside a particular North American firm and see employees who are Asian, black, Latino, American Indian, white, and so forth. Clearly, these individuals have different cultural backgrounds, frames of reference, traditions, and so forth. Or we can look more globally and compare a typical American firm with a typical Mexican, Italian, or Chinese firm and again see significant differences in culture.

We can also analyze cultural diversity by looking at different patterns of behavior. For instance, Americans often wonder why Japanese or Korean businesspeople always bow when they meet; this seems strange to some. Likewise, many Asians wonder why Americans always shake hands, a similarly strange behavior. Americans often complain that Japanese executives say “yes” when they actually mean something else, while Japanese executives claim many Americans promise things they know they cannot deliver. Many of these differences result from a lack of understanding concerning the various cultures and how they affect behavior both inside and outside the workplace. As the marketplace and economies of the world merge ever closer, it is increasingly important that we come to understand more about cultural variations as they affect our world.

What Is Culture?

Simply put, culture may be defined as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from another; the interactive aggregate of common characteristics that influences a human group’s response to its environment.”28 More to the point, culture is the “collective mental programming of a people.”29 It is the unique characteristics of a people. As such, culture is:

  • Something that is shared by all or most of the members of a society
  • Something that older members of a society attempt to pass along to younger members
  • Something that shapes our view of the world

The concept of culture represents an easy way to understand a people, albeit on a superficial level. Thus, we refer to the Chinese culture or the American culture. This is not to say that every member within a culture behaves in exactly the same way. On the contrary, every culture has diversity, but members of a certain culture tend to exhibit similar behavioral patterns that reflect where and how they grew up. A knowledge of a culture’s patterns should help us deal with its members.

Culture affects the workplace because it affects what we do and how we behave. As shown in Exhibit 2.4, cultural variations influence our values, which in turn affect attitudes and, ultimately, behaviors. For instance, a culture that is characterized by hard work (e.g., the Korean culture discussed above) would exhibit a value or ethic of hard work. This work ethic would be reflected in positive attitudes toward work and the workplace; people would feel that hard work is satisfying and beneficial—they might feel committed to their employer and they might feel shame if they do not work long hours. This, in turn, would lead to actual high levels of work. This behavior, then, would serve to reinforce the culture and its value, and so on.

A circular diagram illustrates the relationship between “culture,” “values,” “attitudes,” and “behavior” moving in the clockwise direction.
Exhibit 2.4 Relationship of Culture to Values, Attitudes, and Behavior (Attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license)

To see how this works, consider the results of a survey of managerial behavior by French researcher Andre Laurent.30 He asked managers how important it was for managers to have precise answers when asked a question by subordinates. The results, shown in Exhibit 2.5, clearly show how culture can influence very specific managerial behavior. In some countries, it is imperative for the manager to “know” the answer (even when she really doesn’t), whereas in other countries it made little difference. Thus, if we want to understand why someone does something in the workplace, at least part of the behavior may be influenced by her cultural background.

A horizontal bar graph plots the percentage of people who agree to change in managerial behavior across twelve different countries.
Exhibit 2.5 Appropriate Managerial Behavior in Different Countries (Attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license)

Dimensions of Culture

There are several ways to distinguish different cultures from one another. Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck have identified six dimensions that are helpful in understanding such differences.31 These are as follows:

  1. How people view humanity. Are people basically good, or are they evil? Can most people be trusted or not? Are most people honest? What is the true nature of humankind?
  2. How people see nature. What is the proper relationship between people and the environment? Should people be in harmony with nature, or should they attempt to control or harness nature?
  3. How people approach interpersonal relationships. Should one stress individualism or membership in a group? Is the person more or less important than the group? What is the “pecking order” in a society? Is it based on seniority or on wealth and power?
  4. How people view activity and achievement. Which is a more worthy goal: activity (getting somewhere) or simply being (staying where one is)?
  5. How people view time. Should one focus on the past, the present, or the future? Some cultures are said to be living in the past, whereas others are looking to the future.
  6. How people view space. How should physical space be used in our lives? Should we live communally or separately? Should important people be physically separated from others? Should important meetings be held privately or in public?

To see how this works, examine Exhibit 2.7, which differentiates four countries (Mexico, Germany, Japan, and the United States) along these six dimensions. Although the actual place of each country on these scales may be argued, the exhibit does serve to highlight several trends that managers should be aware of as they approach their work. For example, although managers in all four countries may share similar views on the nature of people (good versus bad), significant differences are noted on such dimensions as people’s relation to nature and interpersonal relations. This, in turn, can affect how managers in these countries approach contract negotiations, the acquisition of new technologies, and the management of employees.

A photo shows passengers waiting while a train enters the platform at a railway station in Japan.
Exhibit 2.6 Japanese train station Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck identified six dimensions that are helpful in understanding such differences. Japan is a populous country that requires workers to take public transportation to and from work. How does the Japanese geography affect Japanese culture? (Credit: elminium/ flickr/ Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))

Dimensions such as these help us frame any discussion about how people differ. We can say, for example, that most Americans are individualistic, activity-oriented, and present/future-oriented. We can further say that they value privacy and want to control their environment. In another culture, perhaps the mode is past-oriented, reflective, group-oriented, and unconcerned with achievement. In Japan we hear that “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down”—a comment reflecting a belief in homogeneity within the culture and the importance of the group. In the United States, by contrast, we hear “Look out for Number One” and “A man’s home is his castle”—comments reflecting a belief in the supremacy of the individual over the group. Neither culture is “right” or “better.” Instead, each culture must be recognized as a force within individuals that motivates their behaviors within the workplace. However, even within the U.S. workforce, we must keep in mind that there are subcultures that can influence behavior. For example, recent work has shown that the Hispanic culture within the United States places a high value on groups compared to individuals and as a consequence takes a more collective approach to decision-making.32 As we progress through this discussion, we shall continually build upon these differences as we attempt to understand behavior in the workplace.

A multiple line graph plots the cultural differences among managers in four countries, United States, Japan, Germany, and Mexico.
Exhibit 2.7 Cultural Differences among Managers in Four Countries (Attribution: Copyright Rice University, OpenStax, under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license)

Concept Check

  1. What role do managers play to ensure that the culture of individuals are valued and appreciated and contribute to a successful work environment?
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