Intercultural Awareness And Skills

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Intercultural Awareness and Skills

Intercultural Awareness and Skills


This paper is based on the topic of intercultural awareness and skills. This paper is divided into two parts. In Part I, the paper reflects on the importance of national culture based on the theories presented by Hofstede and Trompenaars. In Part II, the discussion on the importance of training and orientation for employees is presented.

Part 1: National Culture

National culture comes into play when attempts are made to apply management practices that have been conceived somewhere else into another country (Geertz, 1973). It makes it so that adaptations, which are sometimes minor but sometimes quite substantial, are necessary. Furthermore, cultural differences are often the source of misunderstandings when companies or individuals coming from different countries work together. A better understanding of the cultures concerned is necessary to reduce these misunderstandings and to allow for better cooperation.

A decisive milestone was reached with Hofstede's monumental research. Appearing initially in 1980 and completed later, this research remains at the heart of the mainstream in this domain. Initially focusing on 39 countries, it led to the characterization of each culture with the scores obtained from four attitude scales: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism, and masculinity (Hofstede, 2001). Thus the individualism score made it possible to contrast societies whose proclaimed values brought individual autonomy to the fore with those whose proclaimed values push the preeminence of the group to the front. It reveals first and foremost the unequal rate of the progress over the planet of the movements of individual emancipation that were born in European societies. The power distance score corresponds to the degree of power that is concentrated at the top of the hierarchy. More thorough research has led to the addition of a fifth dimension (long-term versus short-term orientation) and increased the number of countries studied (Hofstede, 2001). This research confirmed that all aspects of management and the functioning of organizations are affected by the diversity of national cultures: planning, control and accounting, motivation and compensation, leadership and empowerment, performance appraisal and management by objectives, and so forth.

Hundreds of studies by numerous authors have been conducted since that time seeking to establish correlations between various aspects of the functioning of companies and Hofstede's scores. Thus, for example, a study realized by (Schwartz, 1994) has compared the metaphors used in a group of countries to evoke the notion of teamwork and sought to compare the relative frequency of military, sports, familial, and other forms of metaphors with the scores obtained in the countries under consideration. Moreover, other authors, among whom we can mention Schwartz, have conducted new research based on the same approach by constructing other attitude scales, with other questionnaires, other population samplings, and different means of processing statistics (Hofstede, 1984).

While the mainstream has been thus employing an approach borrowed from social psychology, a more recent current has inherited the linguistic turn that has marked anthropology since the 1950s. The culture is conceived as a realm of meaning that orients the meanings that ...
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