As more and more internal business structures have been radically transformed; mainly in the communication and transportation technology. The need for global interdependency has also increased resulting in companies fighting to conquer an international market by obtaining an intercultural business.
There are many factors to be taken into account when a company wants its business to be established in foreign grounds. The main concern when doing so would be intercultural differences. Regardless of how well you manage you business there will be intercultural misunderstandings, which will spark, in a regular basis.
The smart move to do then would be to introduce intercultural education or meetings to brief the staffs of their differences. Intercultural education doesn’t mean we have to fully understand their religion or culture, but it is more like a guideline for the do’s and don’ts of a certain race or culture.
Intercultural education or training sessions focuses on helping a team to realize their differences and similarities. Such areas like status, hierarchy, decision-making, conflict resolution, showing emotion and ultimately cultural relation building. From this basis, teams are then tutored on how to recognize future communication difficulties and their cultural roots molding them into becoming more self-reliant. This would result in a more cohesive and productive team.
When a company has a majority staff or clients with the same culture, their business can carry out smoothly without touching to much sensitive issue. But problems arise when the diversity of a certain culture is being mistreated, mostly ethnic minorities. For example in Malaysia: Governmental companies have a ratio of 60%~80% Malays, 10%~20% Chinese, 5%~8% Indian and only 1% for other cultures.
Such cases would induce lack of respect for each other, alienating different ethnic groups and in the end poor work contribution. When leading an intercultural business, one needs to understand and take care of the minorities, as a company is like a clock and for a clock to work properly it needs all of the mechanical parts inside to work together not against each other. (Remember the show “The Incredible”???)
Sure it is arguable that a company with a sole or one culture would work better than an intercultural company. Trying having all your close friends to work with you together, you’d get more cooperation and understanding as you don’t have to explain much all you need is a glare.
But that would otherwise disprove the need for global interdependency. Sure, you’ll get more cooperation and understanding, but what about other markets and foreign territories? China is an exploding market and their doors are open, are you fit enough to go in as you are? Wouldn’t it be a better idea if you were to send a Chinese representative over there, you’ll make more handshakes in a day as they are local. India is also a vast market, wait, you have an Indian staff go right on in. There are endless possibilities for intercultural companies; the only thing left to do now is to have better intercultural education with one another respecting each other while joining hand in hand to a prosperous future.
Neil Payne is Managing Director at the London based consultancy Kwintessential. For more information on their services please visit Intercultural Communication or London Translations