The objective of this project is to throw light on an important aspect of business communication i.e. cross-cultural communication and skills. This word file will cover almost the topics and issues related to cross-cultural learning. As we are given a situation in which we have to apply this concept, so the introductory part of this article will start with a brief background behind the cross-cultural communication.
As the business is going global these days, the organizations also need to go global. In this fully competitive world, if an organization needs to succeed, they have to capture market base as much as possible. To make a product succeed Internationally, the organizations need to market the product to almost every country. In order to launch their products or services in foreign countries, they need to understand the culture of that country and need to convince about the product by clearly communicating with the people out there.
So in order to tell about the marketing strategy, the organizations send their employees to the places where they want to establish their business. Now from a national organization, after expanding their businesses to other countries, the organization turns into Multinational Company. Once an organization becomes multinational, they employee work force increase and the organization also needs to teach their employees to work for the company’s vision, no matter where they are delegated. That is the reason that companies are going for recruiting and selecting people with diversified skills.
Now after telling about the need for an organization to go global, an important issue comes into play. The issue is that how are the local employees going to communicate in foreign countries, about which they don’t know much? How are employees going to adapt the culture of that country? And most important how are employees going to communicate with the people of the country, as they don’t know about the language spoken there? All these issues lead to the learning and adapting the culture of that particular country and teaching the cross-cultural skills to the employees.
Now the scenario that is given to us is that there is an American lady, named Laura, who is senior manager in a company called e-Stream. This company is basically a rapidly growing Silicon Valley software house that is looking to expanding its business into other countries so that they could sell their softwares to other countries and expand their market share. The e-stream has decided to send Laura to a country, where she would gave the proposal of establishing an office there.
But the problem is that Laura does not know much about the culture, religion, language and ethics of that country. Now e-stream has consulted a Human Resource company, called Communiquette that is famous for training the people about different cross-cultures. The communiquette has to train and teach Laura about the culture of that country.
Now a question arises that why did e-Stream decided to outsource their HR related issues to Communiquette? Now most of the organizations are outsourcing to specialist HR consultancy firms, because managing their employees is a costly and a difficult task, if done by the organization itself. What these firms do is, they manage of issues related to employees such as recruiting, training, staffing etc on behalf of the company, and later on paid for such services.
As these HR firms have good public relationships, so company prefer them more rather than going to its own Human Resource Department. The companies by outsourcing can concentrate more on their core business activities. Such type of outsourcing is beneficial both for Short-term and Long-term period, as it reduces companies labor managing cost, reduces companies burden in managing employee related issues etc.
One may ask that why a female officer is send to a job outside America? Well, recent studies have shown that the success rates of American women are more than men. Although, the ratio of women expatriate are quite few as compared to those of men, but now there has a been a growth in their numbers and recently in surveys conducted, their have reached till 20%. Previously, the reason behind the low rate of female of expatriates because the biasness towards females that they are not as capable as men. There has always a glass ceiling attitude against the women and the minorities that acts as a barrier in the promotion of the two. But now, this attitude has changed, and the other countries because of their competencies welcome American women.
The country that has been chosen for Laura, is Pakistan. The e-stream had decided to open new software house in Karachi, the business hub of Pakistan. She is going to Pakistan for first time, and her job assigned is to supervise after all the activities that are going to take place in Karachi’s software house.
The reason for selecting is Pakistan as the country, is because first of all, the IT sector in Pakistan is growing quite rapidly. There has been a huge investment in this sector, mainly because of five mobile phones subscribing companies. There are some software houses already working in Pakistan that are working on good projects. Although, the software industry has not fully matured yet, the e-Stream finds it as an opportunity to establish here and capture market share.
There are many colleges that are teaching courses related software management, which means that e-Stream would not find it much difficulty in recruiting local software developers and analysts. These are all the reasons that e-Stream has considered while investing in Pakistan. But it won’t to be easy for Laura at all to adjust in Pakistan. This is because the social cultures and norms practiced in Pakistan are much more different to those that are of America.
The American usually find it difficult to adjust in continents such as Asia, Africa or South America. The reason behind this is that most of the countries in these continents have their own languages, regions and norms. Secondly, most of the Asian countries were previously colonial states, so most of the basic way of performing things is similar to British way. The British drive right hand cars and their flow of traffic is also from right side of the road, where as American drive Left hand cars. Similarly, there are many such type of issues that are opposite in British and American ways.
Pakistan has also been a colonial state and is a member of Common wealth. On the other hand, American are much comfortable in adjusting to countries such as Canada, Australia, England etc, because the language and religion is same as that of America. Similarly, there are some European countries whose culture is somewhat similar to America, so the American does not find much difficulty in living there.
Now, before leaving for Pakistan, Communiquette needs to train Laura about the Pakistani culture. There are few employees of Communiquette, who are assigned the job of helping the people, those who go in South Asia, specially places like India and Pakistan. The feedbacks about these trainers are also positive. The culture of both the neighboring countries is almost the same culture, and language spoken is almost similar, but the religions practiced are different.
Problems faced by Expatriates:
Before discussing about the training, which Communiquette will give to Laura, it is important to find out the difficulties usually Americans face in adjusting to the conditions of foreign countries. The researches have revealed that among the difficulties faced by the American expatriates, the top reason is that they are unable to adjust to the surrounding and cultures of that place.
The Americans are by-nature less competent in adjusting with new surroundings. They have a feeling that other cultures are less social and are more conservative. So they are mentally not ready the change. If any American family shifts to such places like Pakistan, their children would not get settled, thus personal and family issues, both create hurdle in adapting to the new cultures.
The Communiquette by understanding the psyche of Americans, have developed cross-cultural training programs, workshops, seminars for those who are go on foreign assignment. The cross-cultural trainings are basically programs that guide the people about the cultures of other countries. Most organizations send their employees for cross-cultural trainings because they think its better to invest such activities rather than employees failing on foreign tasks. The Communiquette have a training program that is divided into three stages. The period of such trainings demands on the requirements of the employee i.e. is the employee going to settle in that country for long term or not. Generally, these trainings take place from three to six weeks.
The first stage is the easiest one. In this stage, a generic idea about the culture is given to the employee. The employees are given limited amount of information, and are given books, articles etc to create a simple idea about the culture of country. The Communiquette have planned to tell Laura about the Pakistan, its history, the significant events and personalities of Pakistan and other general information about Pakistan.
After clearing the first, then comes the second stage. From this stage, the training starts getting tougher. The employees are given the case study, real-time situations, and the basics of language lessons are taught. In this stage, Laura is would be taught how to dress up like Pakistanis, the way Pakistanis live etc. Then, Communiquette has planned to give her daily lesson on the mother tongue of Pakistan i.e. Urdu. The alphabets of Urdu and there pronunciations would be taught in stage.
The third and the last stage is the most difficult one. Once this stage is cleared by the employee, the Communiquette forwards and recommends to the organization of the cross-cultural learning skills of the employee. What happens in this stage is that, the employee after learning basics of language in stage two, are given more comprehensive lessons on language. They are asked to read the complete sentences, and are taught how to write the basics words. Then they are given more extensive real-time scenarios, in which they are expected to perform, as normal native of the country will do.
The Laura will be taught more about Urdu. Then she would be given lessons to speak the words that are exchanged in daily walk of life, such as how usually the Pakistanis greet each other, what words do they use instead of thank you etc. After this, the Communiquette will arrange her meetings with few Pakistani in America and she will talk and dress as the other Pakistanis. This will test her that whether or not she has learned and adapted the lessons taught to her during the cross-cultural training or not.
Most people say that learning till second stage is enough, but in case of Laura, it would be preferred if she is taught the complete three stages because she would stay in Pakistan more at least an year, and she would be regularly visiting Pakistan.
The Cycle of Foreign Jobs:
There is a cycle of four stages that occur when an employee is posted to any other foreign country. In the first stage, the employee is told about the unrealistic situations, for which employee is not mentally ready. The Communiquette provides the employees with Realistic Job Previews (RJP). With the help of RJP, the Communiquette would be able to find that what type of environment does the employee thinks about that place, and the Communiquette will tell about the actual situation of that country. The Communiquette has kept RJP as a necessary exercise for the employees because this helps in giving them a general picture of the culture of other countries.
Once an employee goes for a foreign assignment, the employee usually faces with Cultural Shock. The Cultural Shock is feeling that a person gets after the real environment of that country. Although, through cross-cultural training, the employees is given a perception about the culture, but when they really gets into the environment, they could not understand the basic surroundings and get confused, such as unable to read road signs, the weather conditions are different etc. However, Communiquette during Laura’s cross-cultural training, has made a detail course of basics of Urdu language, which would definitely help her in Pakistan and she would not face any serious Cultural Shock.
One problem that most of the expatriate face is that once they go to foreign countries, they feel as if they are kept isolated. If they don’t get to meet with their own countrymen their, they usually feel unsecured and are less motivated. But Communiquette has a solution to this problem.
The Communiquette has adviced to e-stream to provide Laura accommodation in a guesthouse, own by the American assembly. The e-stream has approved this offer and it would be most feasible for Laura, as she would live with her fellow American. In this way, she would be able quickly adjust to the surroundings and would get support from the others.
The last stage of the cycle is when the people are returning back to its native lands. After adjusting to the cultural environment of other country, the employee faces with Reentry Shock. In this shock, needs some time to adjust back to way the usually countrymen live. But this is a very problem. The Communiquette in their contract have mentioned that, if an employee would need to adjust back in his/her country, the Communiquette will give them a brief training for that as well.
Communiquette’ Legal Responsibilities:
There are certain agreed conditions under which Communiquette has to perform and give the Laura the minimum training required. She must be well aware and educated about the social culture, norms and values of Pakistani culture. The Communiquette professionals should have extensive experience and are fully are of Pakistani culture. She must be taught important things such as reading the traffic rules, sign boards etc. during her training, if any Pakistani cultural show or festival occur, then Communiquette must send Laura to attend that show.
The Communiquette must give her the idea of understanding both the verbal and non-verbal key points. She must know about the basic gestures used in Pakistan. Similarly, there are some words that have different meanings, such the word Paki is used in America to refer to the Pakistani, but in Pakistan it is considered as abusive word for embarrass the Pakistanis. So it is the duty of Communiquette to teach Laura with best communication skills.
The ethics of Pakistani culture must be taught to her. One of the most common complaints the American expatriate do is that the cultural program centers do not give emphasis on the Health related issues. So Communiquette has decided to give Laura about a brief idea about the health related conditions of Pakistani and also give her precautionary measures to take.
Adapting to the Culture:
Besides all the training, Laura needs to understand the important cultural issues in Pakistan such as social issues, religious issues etc. First of all, Pakistan is an Islamic state, so religion is strictly followed there. Laura needs to understand the psyche of religious people of Pakistan. In Pakistan, the ladies are not very encouraged to go for jobs. The people usually prefer females to work as housewives or maximum become teachers. The population of office workingwomen is very low in Pakistan. So Laura needs to be bold and confident when she is on job. Similarly, dressing of women is very important in Pakistan. The traditional dress of Pakistani women is to wear Shalwar Kameez.
Shalwars are basically long and fluffy trousers that are covered till toes and Kameez are long shirts till thighs or knees with Islamic scarf. Laura would have to adjust according to Pakistan wardrobe, and would find it quite difficult in wearing of the traditional American workingwomen. Habits such as smoking is considered bad in Pakistan, and there is a given perception that smoking ladies are usually of bad character. Similarly, drinking is prohibited in Pakistan. So if Laura smokes or drinks, she would have to quit it or restrict it to her guesthouse only. In most of the Islamic States, right hand is used for eating purpose and left hand for toilet use. She also have to adjust according to the traffic flow and driving. So Laura has to keep in mind such common issues in Pakistan.
In order to succeed in foreign assignments, the American expatriates need to inherit diversified skills in them. The Americans need to take the culture of other countries seriously and show respect to them. They should develop the cross-cultural skills. It is the duty of these cultural centers to train the people effectively and teach them the best communications skills so that they may be able to deliver their message properly. Adapting to other countries culture helps in better job performance. By building cross-cultural teams, the organizations gets new ideas and help them coordinating with people with different cultures.
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