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Mgmt 2102 Cross Cultural Analysis

By:   •  August 12, 2018  •  Research Paper  •  1,348 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,222 Views

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This paper provides a broad, comparative analysis between Saudi Arabia and Germany. It will address the managerial and organisational implications arising in a cross-cultural context through various models, and subsequently, propose solutions to manage the situation.

Hofstede’s model of cultural dimensions articulates cultural disparities between Germany and Saudi Arabia (2010). Appendix 1 contrasts 3 dimensions; power distance, individualism and long term orientation. Namely, Saudi Arabia accepts an unequal distribution of power, advocates collectivism, and orients in short-term objectives to a higher degree than Germany.

This have various implications to managers and the organisation. High power distance contexts are characterised by employee submissiveness, vertical communication, and consequently demands directive leadership (Khatri, 2009). However, German managers advocate consensual leadership, and employees celebrate autonomy in decision-making (Deresky, 2016), as exemplified by their high level of individualism. Therefore, in a collaborative context, roles and goals can become ambiguous. Saudi Arabians celebrate team achievements as collectivists and Germans value personal breakthrough. Whereas Germans emphasise persistence, perseverance in the quest for long-term objectives, Saudi Arabians seek to dynamically and polychronically accomplish tasks. Ambiguous goals, mismatch between leadership and employee expectations can catalyse a lack of organisational commitment and failure to leverage individual abilities (Robbins et al, 2015). Albeit a popular model, Hofstede’s cultural dimensions contains biases, such that its research is gathered from only one institution; IBM (Robbins et al, 2015). Therefore, managers should always employ a variety of models to analyse culturally, diverse contexts.

Germany and Saudi Arabia also display a polarity in context cultures. Germany’s low context culture is characterised by explicit communication, task orientation, internal locus of control and monochronic time orientation, this is vice versa for Saudi Arabia (Steers et al, 2017).

The polarity of context cultures may impede on communication and mutual respect. Germany’s explicit communication aims to deliver messages in the most efficient and interpretable way, contrasting implicit communication which may emphasise kinesics and oculesics (Deresky, 2016). For instance, showing the sole of the shoes is considered a great insult in Saudi Arabia (Steers et al, 2017). Proponents of low context culture allegedly, oversee subtle cues of expressions (Deresky, 2016). The emphasis of “face” and nepotism in high context cultures are typically neglected by Germans as they overtly convey intentions through verbal messages. What Germans perceive as efficient and interpretable can be insulting to Saudi Arabians. Whilst Arabians value harmony and patience in expression, Germans may denigrate this as they fail to comprehend with ambiguity. Germans are also more punctual and monochronic in contrast to the polychronic Saudi Arabians. This can be attributed to their respectively, internal and external locus of controls (Steers et al, 2017). Saudi Arabians perceive life as uncontrollable and time as flexible. Their typical digression between topics and lack of punctuality may be perceived respectively, as inefficient and disrespectful by Germans. It is natural for individuals to omit contextual information when communicating (Deresky, 2016). If employees from Germany and Saudi Arabia are to collaborate without prior education, cultural noise will hinder communication and prompt misunderstandings.

Comparative analysis on ethics, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and legal systems have important implications in a global management context as it governs the behaviour of employees (Robbins et al, 2015). Germany displays a high CPI (corruption perception index) value of 89, in contrast to Saudi Arabia’s lower value of 49, namely Germans are statistically more ethical in business practices (Transparency International, 2009).

Germany has a long history of companies practicing social responsibilities, it is customary for Germans to assume responsibility for decisions and stakeholders (Berthoin et al, 2009). Consequently, formulating decisions with Saudi Arabians, who are empirically less dedicated to CSR may confront cultural frictions due to differing perspectives on the need to satisfy stakeholders. However, the above premise on Saudi Arabians is rectified by Khan et al, as a phenomenon of inexperience, namely that they are still new to the concept of CSR (2013). This is affirmed by their strict adherence to Islamic values and theocratic law, which avowedly advocates social and ethical responsibility (Khan et al, 2013). The Arabian’s low CPI, high ethics dichotomy implies that as a solution, it is perhaps optimal to assign Germans, as veterans of CSR, to guide and leverage the potential of Arabians in practising social responsibility. However, a ramification of Islamic beliefs is strong particularism (Najm, 2015). Because Quran emphasises forgiveness, sensitivity, and because of an external locus of control, right and wrong are often situational in the Arabian context (Steers et al, 2017). As universalists who abide strictly by civil law, Germans celebrate a demarcation of rules (Deresky, 2016). The differing predisposition to rules and practice of CSR may raise concerns in the decision-making process and managerial systems such as rewards and punishments, hiring and dismissals.

Cultural disparities between Saudi Arabia and Germany have many ramifications, consequently this paper shall briefly outline some resolutions. To insulate employees from shocks and conflicts and to improve efficiency, I recommend familiarising and elaborating on the aforementioned models to expand understanding and common ground. It is also important to prevent biases such as halo effect, and stereotyping to leverage individuals’ differences and prevent the isolation of members (Deresky, 2016). Communication is the core to a business, employees should be aware that their responsibility as a communicator, extends beyond encoding a message, to ensuring that the receiver have decoded the message through the use of feedback and a medium that minimises cultural noise (Robbins et al, 2015). Reliance on technological communication should also be minimised to foster relationships and encourage interaction with contextual, subtle cues of communication. For mutual, long-term benefit and harmony of both parties, a problem-solving, negotiation approach can be adopted (Steers et al, 2017). However it is worth noting that conflicts can generate efficiency as long as it is task and not personal oriented (Robbins et al, 2015). A successful manager should encourage beneficial, task conflicts and employ problem solving negotiations to eliminate cultural denigration. Hopefully, by becoming more culturally empathetic, more attentive to communication, biases and conflict management, employees can foster cultural sensitivity and intelligence in the quest for collaboration.


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