Intercultural Communication Case Study on BeautyPro
Task description: In this assessment, you will both write a report based on the following case study or tutorial. You will be assigned into a group of three by the lecturer/tutor. Each member of your group will focus upon and write on one of the issues. Do not simply cut and paste each persons’ contribution. The group needs to make sure that all of the parts fit cohesively together and read as one document. You will present the information that you developed and wrote in the report. The flex students will present using Zoom
Case study: BeautyPro i1s an Australian multinational company that makes and distributes organic cosmetics both within Australia and overseas. The head office is based in Brisbane, Australia. You have recently been appointed as the country manager for China. Upon your arrival in China, you have noticed that the organisation is facing several intercultural communication challenges.
Problems: The three intercultural challenges are based upon:
- Different cultural values and etiquette
- Direct versus indirect styles of communication
- Different cultural norms of decision making
In conjunction with two other China-based Australian managers, you conduct academic research in order to understand these problems and come up with logical and practical recommendations. You and your team are tasked with writing a report to the CEO and executive group which discusses these problems and provides recommendations to solve these problems.
Executive summary : This intercultural communication case study is based on various communication challenges that BeautyPro, which is an Australian company is facing after the business expansion in China. The purpose of this intercultural communication case study is to identify major challenges which organisations can come across while expanding their business in new geographical location, due to cultural differences and recommend suitable solution for each of these intercultural communication challenges. This intercultural communication case study provides in-depth understand of various challenges which can be the major causes of intercultural communication challenges. First section of this intercultural communication case study discuss over three major problems which Australia based multinational company is facing at the moment while expanding their business in China. Further this report shed light on these three problems and how these challenges are impacting communication and decision making process of the business. This intercultural communication case study discussed about different cultural aspects that included communication process, conflict management process and decision making process. From this discussion it can be concluded that these three processes varies across different culture. Finally, Hofstede's six dimension model have been used as the tool to identify how national culture impact the decision making process of people.
A. Significant of effective intercultural communication: Every organisation is a part of the society, and therefore, organisation culture is also influenced by the culture of the society. Intercultural communication is the biggest challenge that most of the organisations facing in this era of globalisation (Dang, 2016).
Most of the organisations are expanding their business in a global market or new geographical locations by conduction market research. However, in those market research reports, the significance of culture or cultural differences among both the countries is highly ignored. Therefore, organisations often fail to identify major cultural differences between organisational culture and the culture of the new business location. It is increasing the number of challenges due to intercultural communication. According to Dang (2016), intercultural communication refers to a discipline that discusses communication across two different culture or how culture affects communication. While discussing the effectiveness of intercultural communication, many scholars stated that for business expansion and sustainability in a new geographical location effective intercultural communication is extremely significant.
B. Purpose of the report: This intercultural communication case study is based on intercultural communication challenges that BeautyPro which in an Australian company is facing after the business expansion in China. The purpose of this intercultural communication case study is to identify major challenges which organisations can come across while expanding their business in a new geographical location, due to cultural differences and recommend a suitable solution for each of these intercultural communication challenges.
C. Discussion on the purpose of the report: Intercultural communication is one of the major issues for most of the multinational organisation. The multinational organisation works with employees with different cultural belief and thus making a uniformed organisation policy cannot meet the need of employees. Communication is the only way to manage and run organisations in a structured way; however intercultural communication is the biggest barrier to such uniformity among different unit or business location of the multinational organisation. According to Warren (2017) communication gap in the multicultural business environment can lead to business failure. This report provides a critical overview of three different reasons for intercultural communication challenges, along with recommendations of how an organisation can dissolve intercultural communication challenges.
2 Literature review
A. Challenges due to differences in cultural values and etiquettes: Cultural differences are the major reason for organisational conflicts. According to Brett (2018), one of the major reasons for organisational conflicts in the multicultural organisation is a communication error. Often team members within the organisation find it difficult to communicate with each other due to language differences. Atay & González, (2018) opined that while some culture majorly uses verbal language for communication, others emphasise on non-verbal communication. It leads to a communication gap among people from different culture. Most of the multinational organisations tend to hire their employees from the same society where the organisation runs their business. One of the biggest reasons is- local employees are more capable of predicting the market condition and identify potential buyers. Hence they help with business growth. However, the conflict arises because of the fact that organisation fail to understand the cultural values of the local employees and impose policies which are majorly influenced by some other culture (native culture of organisation). In many cases, organisations fail to develop communication with new employees due to various reasons, such as language barrier, differences in values and differences in etiquettes. The fundamental reason for intercultural communication challenge is ignoring the signs of culture while running a business in a global context.
One of the perfect examples of such business fail due to intercultural communication issues can be found in Nike Case of China. Nike has designed a pair of shoe for China market. Those white sneakers, produced exclusively for the upcoming year of the monkey, had special Chinese character printed on it. One of the characters symbolises good fortune and another symbolised wealth. However the challenge was when both character combines, it symbolised altogether a different meaning, which is "to become fat". This message became the reason of laugh among the Chinese community. Later Nike lost many of their customers, and other international competitors gain competitive advantages over Nike.
Culture is the main idea of what people see and how people understand what they see (Turner, Fiske & Hodge, 2016). There are six fundamental patterns of cultural differences which organisation must identify and evaluate before a different location with a different culture. These six basic patterns of cultural differences are closely associated with intercultural communication challenges.
Differences in communication style refer to the way communication varies across culture when individuals communicate with each other across culture. The fundamental aspects of any communication are the language used during the communication. In each culture, some specific words are used in different ways. According to Neuliep (2017), the second important degree of communication is the significance of verbal and non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication is highly effective during any communication; however, some culture does not support the use of non-verbal communication process. Facial expression and gesture are some significant gesture which individual uses during non-verbal communication. Along with that degree of assertiveness in communication can lead to cultural misinterpretation.
Conflict and managing conflicts are two major challenges for any organisation irrespective of its size. However, the attitude what people possess towards conflict is different in nature across different culture. While some culture considers conflict as positive aspect for organisation other culture considers it to be destructive in nature (Abney, Dale, Kello & Louwerse, 2017). While some culture encourages people to deal with conflict directly, other cultures consider that as demeaning. For some cultures, exchange of written paper is the best way of dealing with conflicts. Hence, people from different culture have their own attitude toward conflict and conflict management.
Not all the people from various cultures follow the same process or mechanism to complete a task (Stahl, Miska, Lee & De Luque, 2017). Some major reasons behind different approaches towards completing any task are -different rewards judgement process, different usage of resources or availability of resources, differences in the idea, various notions about task time. During a group task, individual members of the team generate different ideas about culture, when some concentrate on building relationship among teams, other try to finish the task by individual effort.
The role played by individual during the decision-making process is different for each culture. Individual from some particular culture rely more on higher authority during decision-making process, and they do not incorporate their own value in the decision-making process. On the other hand in some culture, higher authority encourages their subordinates to participation in the decision-making process. Triandis (2018) arguably stated that, in a global culture, organisations encourage their employee to participate in the decision-making process.
Expression of emotion is different for everyone and it would be imperfect to states that it is completely driven by culture; however, culture plays certain part in how people express their emotion (Mesman, van IJzendoorn & Sagi-Schwarz 2016). Some culture does not support people to be frank about emotions, while others do. Variation can be found towards the attitude of discloser across different culture.
The last and the final difference are the different approaches to knowing. People across culture use a different way to know about things. Some culture emphasises on knowing through cognitive means while other uses symbolic imaginary.
B. Direct versus indirect style of communication: According to Joyce (2012), direct communication happened when the true intention of the speaker is communicated through words. Mehrabian (2017) arguably stated that the fundamental idea of direct communication is to convey a message or information to the audiences.
On the contrary, in indirect communication, communicators believe, being polite is more important than being responsive. According to Ngai & Singh (2017), the indirect communicator is more concerned about hurting the emotion of other. Therefore, the significance of non-verbal language is more in indirect communication. The biggest challenge with indirect communication is the underlying meaning of the response that depends on the ability of person who receives the message. According to research, most Western countries use the direct communication style for their conversation, while in Africa and some part of Asian use the indirect style of communication.
Direct communication is a straightforward way of communication. Since direct communication is very straightforward, it tends to be developing less miscommunication while decoding the message. The basic idea behind direct communication is to be clear and precise with the information.
Indirect communication is exactly the opposite of the direct communication style. Indirect communication is more about communicating in a silent way which does not hurt the sentiment of other who are involved in the conversation. In many cultures, people communicate in an indirect style in order to avoid conflicts. Direct communication, however, does not hide the sentiment of the communicator. Considering the nature of direct communication which is straightforward, direct communicators are often considered as 'rude speaker'.
The popular linguist Deborah Tannen stated that "indirectness is the basic element of human communication." At some point in time or under certain circumstances, people tend to use indirect communication style' (Thomas & Peterson, 2017). She further stated through her writing that indirectness is one of the basic elements that varies among culture and causes confusion and misunderstanding. The degree and directness are also different between cultures. Henceforth, understanding the differences between direct and indirect communication style is necessary for organisations, in order to reduce chances of miscommunication among employees.
Before expanding the business into any new geographical location, organisations must identify the communication style of the population in that culture. Based on the existing communication style organisation must develop new policies for the employees or for employees of new location with a different culture (Beauregard, Basile & Thompson, 2018). For instance, if the people from that particular culture use direct communication style in that case, the organisation must develop their internal policies which are more direct and easy to understand. In case of indirect communication style, an organisation can develop business policies with some hidden messages.
Now it is important to understand why both the communication is such a big issue for intercultural communication. Intercultural communication itself is challenging for most of the multinational companies. Direct and indirect communication style adds complexities to it.
A campaign of Starbucks (2015), which talked about racism, was one of the examples of such intercultural communication issue. Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks was a direct communicator and never felt hesitate to express his opinion. He thought that coffee chains have a responsibility towards American society and must address American's vexed race relationship. After a conversation with the internal employees, he finally decided to launch a campaign called "Race Together" which was a co-venture of USA today (an American newspaper). The campaign aimed to "stimulate conversation, compassion and action around race in America". However, this campaign was a major failure for Starbucks as American felt this campaign is just a marketing trick nothing more than that. According to many people, a coffee shop has nothing to do with race discussion and directly talking about race culture can hurt the sentiment of many people. Finally, he decided to call off the campaign after huge criticism over the different social platform (The Economist, 2018). One of the major issues that can be identified from this campaign is- CEO of Starbucks failed to understand the cultural aspects of communication. Like many other people, he thought that the people of America are direct communicator, where only people from East and West coast tend to be a direct communicator.
C. Challenges due to cultural norms of decision making: A recent study has revealed how social norms affect the way people take their decision. This study further developed a conceptual model which supports the fact that the concept of the social norms influences the decision-making process of people more than their desire for fairness (Chang & Sanfey, 2013). It suggests when an individual collapse in a situation where he or she must take an ethical decision, then people tend to choose what their culture allow them to do rather what is morally right.
Hofstede's definition of culture is one universally accepted definition of culture. According to him, culture is "the collective programming of the mind distinguishes the member of one group or category of people from others." According to Hofstede, culture is a program of mind that helps to differentiate among people or group of people. Hofstede conducted research on six dimensions of national culture which identify the differences of national culture. Hofstede's model of national culture describes how culture varies from nation to nation. He talked about the six different dimensions which are Power Distance Index, Individualism Versus Collectivism, and Masculinity versus Feminity, Uncertainty Avoidance Index, Long-term orientation versus short-term normative orientation, indulgence versus restraints (Minkov, 2018).
Power distance Index: This dimension refers to what extent individual from one culture accepts support the uneven distribution of power. People from a culture with large power distance have a habit of taking orders from higher authority. Most of the power remains in the hand of higher Authority. On the other hand, in small power distance culture, individual always look for equal power and always demand justice in case of power inequalities (Hofstede Insights, 2018). It is a clear indication that countries with large power distance do not allow their subordinates in the decision-making process where a nation with low power distance do allow their employees to take active participation in the decision-making process. In this PDI (Power Distance Index) Australia Scored 36 which suggests, Australian allows their subordinates to participate in decision-making program. On the other hand, China scores 80 in PDI index this score signify China as a country with large power distance. Subordinates have no right to participate in the decision-making process, and they accept the power of hierarchy.
Individualism versus Collectivism: People from individualism culture tend to express care for them or their immediate family. On contrary people from collectivism, culture expresses their concern more than oneself or their immediate family, such as relative or other groups. The score of Australia in this index is 90 while China scored just 20 in this index. This score indicates that Australian society is more self-oriented and people tend to look after themselves and their immediate family rather than others. An important decision such as hiring or promotion is entirely made upon how an individual has done or is capable of.
Masculinity or femininity: A high score on the masculinity dimension suggest society is highly driven by achievement and competition. On contrary, low score in the same society signify femininity and suggest the social culture is highly dominated by care for other and quality of life. Australia scored 61 in this dimension which suggest Australian society is highly dominated by achievement, competition and success.
Uncertainty avoidance: This dimension of uncertainty is driven by how society deals with uncertainty. This score reflects how society is afraid of an unknown situation. Australia scores a very intermediate score in this dimension. It symbolised, Australian tends to avoid uncertainty, but that is based on the situation.
Long-term orientation: This dimension address to what extent society can maintain a link with their past while combating present challenges. This dimension was majorly influenced by the people of China. China is one such nation which is slow with their cultural transformation process. Further, their decision making is highly influenced by their historical values and customs.
Indulgence: This dimension address to what extent people try and control their desires and impulse, based on the way they have been grown up. Weak control referred as "Indulgence" and strong control called "Restraint". People with high indulgence tend to decide results with positive outcomes.
This intercultural communication case study provides an in-depth understanding of various challenges which can be the major causes of intercultural communication. The first section of this report discussed three major problems which Australia based multinational company is facing at the moment while expanding their business in China. Further, this intercultural communication case study shed light on these three problems and how these challenges are impacting communication and decision-making process of the business. Moving further, this intercultural communication case study discussed different cultural aspects that included communication process, conflict management process and decision-making process. From this intercultural communication case study, it can be concluded that these three processes differ across different culture. Finally, Hofstede's six dimension models have been used as the tool to identify how national culture impacts the decision-making process of people.
Developing an intercultural working environment (Recommendation one)
Developing a working environment which works in multicultural environment is the best way to resolve intercultural communication issues. The first attempt which should be made by the organisation to reduce the intercultural communication concern is -to motivate employees to work in a multicultural group. Though, some of the scholars expressed their concern regarding the multicultural group, as they found working in a multicultural team can increase the amount of conflict within the organisation. However, getting involved with people who have different cultural value help to understand the culture of each other.
While working in a group, individual will get the opportunity for face-to-face interaction with each other, which can help to resolve various issues such as the language barrier. As language is the most fundamental reason for intercultural communication issue, so working in a team can help people to understand each other language.
Management further need to consider the fact, that each employee should get equal treatment while working in a team irrespective of their cultural background. Any sign of discrimination in management attitude of policymaking may lead to conflict within the team. One of the easiest ways of promoting multicultural working environment is to organise monthly or yearly summit for employees.
Providing Cultural training (Recommendation Two)
Globalization of business requires setting up multiple operational units in various geographical region of the world. It leads to the hiring of employees from the local geographies where each of the operational units resides. It ultimately creates an employee pool within the organisation that includes employees from various cultural and social backgrounds. To ensure improved communication and interaction between employees of different culture, the organisation must opt for suitable policies to improve its acceptance of diversity. One such policy can be applied to the team leaders and managers who will take an active role in ensuring smooth cross-cultural communication and interaction among employees from different social and cultural backgrounds. The team leaders and managers must encourage their team members of different cultures to minimise their cultural and behavioural gaps and strive to obtain the common goal to achieve business productivity and profitability. It is evident that increased productivity can be achieved through cohesive and collaborative work culture, where all the employees interact and work together as a team under same roof, setting aside their behavioural and cultural differences. It has also been proved by various researches that employees who accept the ideas of their co-workers and work cohesively by modifying their behavioural patterns to communicate and collaborate with co-workers of different cultures tend to be more productive and efficient in accomplishing their goals. To make the employees aware of the ways to communicate with other employees from different cultures the organisation must provide frequent training sessions on acceptance so as to improve the intercultural communication and acceptance among the employees. Employees must carefully use their selective word for communication and try not to hurt any one’s cultural sentiments and emotions. The work output is improved as a whole when employees are trained with the proper knowledge to accept diversity. Proper communication and understanding between employees of different cultures resulting in reduced confusions at the workplace and also the employees become more willing and capable to solve the problem of other team members. The quality of the work environment is significantly improved with constant interaction between employees of different cultures and reduces the possibility of any unwanted clashes and conflicts between them. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the designated managers or leads to implement proper policies to enhance cross-cultural interaction between various cultural groups.
One possible way to motivate employees is to improve their effective communication skills and organise a group discussion huddles, where more than one cultural group interact with one another by exchanging their thoughts and ideas. It improves adaptability and intuitive reasoning skills of the employees as they remain constantly exposed to the ideas and behaviours of different cultural groups. These team huddles can also be a quick chat session which may not even include any work-related agenda. However, its prime objective is to improve employee interaction and create a friendly work culture. Constant intercultural interaction also eliminates the possibility of any employee feeling left out or underrated and makes him/her readily available to help co-workers with any work-related issue.
Employee empowerment (Recommendations Three)
Hofstede's six-dimensional models successfully identified how the decision-making process is influenced by culture. People across the globe have their own notion of decision making; however, the organisation should consider bringing uniformity in this process. It is highly recommended for the organisation to empower their employees, so that employee's develop skill to take their own decision. It has been believed that empowered employees learn to cope with work challenges faster than employees who are dependent on higher authority. Henceforth by empowering employee of China Unit BeautyPro will be able to gain the trust of new employees and they will feel enthusiastic to work under the new work culture. This intercultural communication case study are being prepared by our business experts from top universities which let us to provide you a reliable business assignment help service.