Contrasting China And Germany Cultural Differences Management Essay
In a country, the behaviour of the individuals and their work ethic value is determined by the national culture. It also varies from country to country. Academic such as Suku et al (2007), stated that, managers who interferes should not label peoples value, orientation and attitudes of others based on the values of their local cultures. It is important to understand that cultures differs from one place to another, Chinese culture differs from Europeans cultures. In China, they attached importance on hierarchy in an organization. hofstede study is one of the widely recognized cultural identification and measurement which have also received wide criticism. As regards to China, they have strong ethic and clan attachment, because Chinese managers are educated locally. Most often it is easy to find Chinese managers generally middle age and family business owners ranging from small to medium size. Suku (2007:p5). Similarly, Chinese’s governments are seeking to build Chinese brand, and products that will compete globally with the aim of becoming global champion. They seek to adapt the image of chine in business and protect indigenous companies from foreign competition.
Consequently, Germany is an already established economy being the third richest country in the world and the richest in Europe. Management style in western European is also different from the Chinese management style. Germany for instance have so much bureaucracy and hidden group of advisors which makes decision making process slow unlike China where decisions are taken by powerful individuals discussed in power distance in this assignment. However, the management style in western culture appears more transparent and reliable than in China and some Asian cultures. This assignment will discuss the cultural differences in China and Germany using , Hofstede and schwartz theories, monochronic-pluralistic, compare high and low context culture, Trompenaar`s framework and other concepts. The assignment will also discussed the impact of adapting good cross cultural practices by local managers across borders. The answer to the assignment question will be provided based on some changes with relation to the discussions in this assignment.
2. Comparing and Contrasting China and Germany Cultural Differences using Hofstede and Schwartz Cultural Framework
Individuals are inclined by cultural norms, tradition, religions and local belief which are unlikely to be affected by changes. However, as civilization reaches different part of the world, individual are learning to adapt to their new environment in doing business. Some of the hofsteded studies and concepts are discussed below.
A .Power distance
There is no doubts that some societies are unequal than others but some are more unequal than others. Power distance describes the relationship which exists between the less powerful and the more powerful people in the community. According to Hofstede (1983b), power distance also refers to the hierarchy and the extent employees feel to be dependent on their managers at work.
Human life is associated with hierarchy, China culture have comparative wider gap between the high and low, which leads to the rich feeling powerful and respected by the people, there is also lower prospect of movement between different classes, or levels.
High power cultures like China expects supervisors to be the decision makers, and be the problem solvers, people are scare of disagreeing with the supervisors. Members of high power distance accept inequality as part of the culture. However, in low power distance such as Germany, people can disagree with their supervisors and feel confident to disagree with supervisors and as a means of defense members will often express an upward aggression although secretly and does not fear for confrontation with their boss. Hofstede (1983a). Members earn their respect and power can only be gained by the best and the best earns it, people do not gain power by merely influencing others by their position or money. There is low significant gap between the boss and the employees and the inequality among the people are minimal. Members require independent from their boss and do not require central authority and autonomy. People are not afraid to fight for their rights which make inequality unacceptable.
According to Hofatede (1983a), individualism collectivism is the degree identity is based on the individual and the extent the individual is incorporated in the group rather than the group or system. In other words, this distinguishes between the individual and individual collectivity. Gibson et al (1998). Individualism collectivism is also the reflection of one’s ethic and way of life. According to Hofstede research, Germany are included in the high individualism places which places high value on one’s willpower and individual initiatives. Individual self justification is based on personal achievements and self evaluation. Individual’s judgment comes from both their personal achievement and the values place on the recognition by the society. Early et al (1999). In such culture, members pay more attention in themselves and their immediate family than the group.
There is freedom of expression and right to owns opinion. Members of high individualistic cultures show more acceptance to aggressive behaviour than members of low individualistic culture. Therefore in Germany national culture, people will not be afraid to express their opinion or defend themselves and would sometimes go any length to accelerate their success. Whereas, in a collectivism or low individualism culture such as China, members show more attention to group identity, strong ties rather than one’s self. Members are born in these societies and include extended families. According to Markus and Kitayama (1991), collectivists are satisfied when the group succeeds and judges their own success and failure on the activities of their association. Group needs take preference over the needs of the individual, and members frown at aggressive behaviour since disagreement will disrupt the group harmony and collective state objectives. Bergeron and Schneider (2005).
c. Masculinity/ femininity
As Hofstede (1980, 1983b) stated, masculinity/femininity can be distinguished by the level of roles distributions between the genders in the societies and the true biological difference being procreation. Similarly, these roles have being identified across the world as a social sex role division. National cultures which has masculinity shows the same values, however, under the same conditions, men`s show different value. Men values are different from women because men are competitive while women are modest and caring. According to Hofstede (1980), aggressive pole are label masculinity and self-effacing pole as feminine. Hofstede identified the national business culture of Germany and China as masculinity. Masculine expression is seen as aggressive, sound, cogent, and not personalized, while feminine expression is judged as cautious, welcoming, indirect, emotional, prejudiced and polite. Pearson (1981). In both Germany and China cultures, they show masculine characters, emotions are not expressed, men dominates discussions, and ineffective listeners, members of masculine cultures are more likely to exhibits aggression. Borisoff and Merrill (1985). In summary, According to the authors, femininity has been identified as being polite, humbly behaved, obedient and emotional, members does not support aggression and pay more attention on interpersonal relationship.
3. Reviewing countries against Trompenaar`s framework
Universalism v Particularism
Universalism and particularism refers to the way societies apply the law of morality and ethics. In a universalism culture, people believe they can learn all that is true and good and always determined to defend the truth. The rule of particularism is based on human judgment and friendship. Germany is an example of a universalism culture, where rules and contract are made and applied in all circumstances. Due to the universalistic approach In Germany, contract are interpreted and communicated based on the terms of the agreement which also define the relationship that exist between the parties in business. However, in a particularistic culture such as China, deciding what is right or wrong depends on the exact situation and relationships of the people involved.
For the Chinese, relationship is defined based on the individual involved and the circumstances. In China, legal contract only emphasizes the beginning of a contract terms of agreement which often changes with the circumstances. International business culture tends toward the universalistic idea. In universalistic culture such as Germany, there is greater competition among employees for better job and higher earning without regarding relationship whereas in China, employee focus solely on relationship. There is always room for change in a particuistic culture, rules and regulations are flexible. Finally, these differences in culture are a huge challenges for international companies wishing to enter global market in this countries, although sometimes, these changes may prove to be an advantage.
4. High context versus low context
It is essential to consider the cultural differences and the most common communication process in individualistic and collectivistic cultures to communicate effectively. This difference is best explained using low and high context communication. The context depends on the extent you know before you can communicate successfully. Problem often arise due to information sharing when workers from low and high context have to work together. This is sometimes grouped as differences in direction, quality and quantity. High context refers to societies or group where people have close connection and relationship over a long period of time. As a result of many years of interaction with each other, majority of the people know what to do and what to expect from members therefore cultural behaviour are not clearly laid out.
Workers from High context cultures such as China adapt to their friends and stays very close to their families and colleagues. Workers also want to share information about various other topics among themselves. These keep every member of the group up to date with current events around the community and business.
Whereas, Low context refers to societies or group appears to have many connections for a short period of time or for a purpose. Since members have shorter connections, cultural behaviours are clearly laid out in order to enable people entering the environment to understand what is expected of them and how to behave. Consequently, low context cultures such as Germany familiarizes with as mush people as possible in their everyday life because differentiation between groups are less. Workers only share minimum information enough to carry out their work, people rarely discuss or share information amongst colleagues. In China, people exchange information both at work and in private, which makes communication very proficient. They discussed everything in advance and agree on a common decision which is announced and approved in an official meeting which the people regards as ceremonious. The Chinese values this practice and regard it as dignifying. In contrast, the Germans are very formal, would not disclose agenda for a meeting before the actual time. They would only discuss important information in the meeting which will enable everyone present contributes to the decision making process. High context societies also have dense, strong boundaries, intersecting networks and favours relationship higher than tasks while low context culture have wide networks , loose and favours tasks more than relationships.
5. Monochronic v Polychronic cultures
In a monochronic culture, people prefer doing one single thing at a time while in a polychromic culture, people would prefer to multi task at the same time. National business cultural norm in a polychromic culture comprises of an open door policy, meeting and business all at the same time. Germany is a monochronic culture while China is a polychronic. These differences can sometime cause problem in business transaction, example, a German prefer a close door conversation during business meeting and would not like to be interrupted by phone calls or people intruding into the office. They feel less important and disrespected if business is going on at the same time the phone is ringing and staff interrupting the conversation. The Chinese have a flexible time manner which allows them to switch from one task to other as the need arise. To a polychronic, time is unending, and flows like the sea from endless past to present unto the future.
For a monochronic such as German, only one thing is permitted at a time until is successfully completed before they can switch to another. Monochronic also regards time as distinct, with an ending, they see as a single unit of hours, minutes and seconds. They prefer to plan, organize their schedules around the ticking of the time. They value time so much that lateness is not acceptable, punctuality is compulsory and people are expected to meet deadlines at work. In Polychronic cultures such as China, people like to relax, enjoy themselves, and be the person they are rather than weighing themselves down with the highly demanding world of business planning and activities. They do not regard lateness as an offense and people are allowed to work around their schedule as long as the work is completed.
From the above discussions, this assignment will therefore conclude that National Business Cultures are affected by the Changing Environments. Language, Aesthetics, religion, education, attitudes and values, social organisation are some of the changes that affect the national business of a country. Some of these are discussed briefly below.
Language to a greater extent determines the values and nature of the society. In some countries several dialects deters the business interaction among the people. Sub-cultural languages are also some of the causes of communication and tribal problems in some countries. As people travel from one place to another, language can be an advantage or disadvantage in engaging in business. As people interact they feel more confident to trust others and adapt some of the cultural norms discussed above. Languages also affect relationship and how work is done in both a monochronic and polychronic society. Language also carrying different meaning in a high and low context culture, these concepts often relate to the balance between the spoken and non spoken language. In a high context culture such as China, messages carry different meaning, it is important to understand some of the hidden cultural meaning in a message, whereas in a low context what is said carries the same meaning of the message.
According to hofstede (1991), China is an Atheist society, their religion is best understood by the study of Confucius teaching and concepts. In some countries religions laws are used to govern a state and will restrict individual willpower and initiatives in doing certain business. Chinese government supports this belief which reflects the attitudes of the peoples in relation to carefulness and determination. Belief and religion will also determine the level of individualistic-collectivistic of a society. However, National Business practices are changing because younger people are being educated in western style business schools and culture. Also organizations are obliged to adapt their products and services to the local culture n order not to be offensive, unlawful or not tasty to the local nation. In 2007, several advertisement relating to pig which ban in order not to offend the 2% Muslim Chinese minority, the ban was to include any picture which represents any aspect of pig meat such as sausages or picture cartoon. Consequently, Germans religion is divided into Roman Catholic and Protestants which is also practices across Europe. There is no compulsory religion in Germany, as religion is not mixed with politic. There s freedom of everything. As people belief is constants changing, the national business environment is also affected.
Attitudes and values
Individual Attitudes and values changes from place to place and can also change among people in the same country. It is also important to understand the local environment and the culture before entering the market. Universalism and particularism are also some of the cultural practice that changes by the attitude and values in the society. Chinese people will not do business with a stranger and prefer to do business with someone they know and can trust. Companies wishing to do businesses in China have to form friendship with the local people to establish friendship and trust not just for a short time but on a long time bases in order whereas the reverse is the case in Germany. Similarly, in some cases, promotional messages or delicate branding are designed according to the local cultures, managing local employee also may pose a challenge. Example, In 2004, China ban a Nike TV advert which shows a basketball star in a fight with kung fu master cartoon because the advert is an insult to Chinese national dignity. The effect of attitude and value on national business of a country is an important ingredient which has to be clearly studied and understood in constantly reviewed in order to keep on track the changes that may hinder businesses with the country.
The degree of interaction between people in a society depends on the level of education. Education also determines how messages are communicated to the people and the medium of communication. The level of education among people changes from country to country. Example, it is difficult to use communication messages such as written materials to advertise in a country with a low literacy level, in such country, it will be wish to use radio advertising with audio communication and billboards. Branding and labeling of the products is another medium of advertising in such society. In China, most management courses are taught according to the standard of the western culture. As more people get educated in western way of thinking, this unarguably boasted business culture and enable modern theories and business model to take over rigid and traditional leadership style. Moreover, the need for advancement in research and development is a significant influence for both China and Germany who always seek to improve their business environment. However, as a result of word counts and limit, this will not be elaborated any further. Finally, the discussion can point out to the fact that National business culture of a nation is affected to the changing environment.
7. Management style and managing across borders
Finally, in discussing some of the facts important to Saudi managers to succeed across borders in business, they should learn the management style, culture of the local people and respect their cultural differences. It is important to develop how to manage cultural diversity, differences and conflicts, dealing with issues such as control and coordination, communication and teamness Marquardt et al, Shenkar and Zeira, (2001)
Cultural diversity and language difference is a challenge to any multinational company. When doing business in countries like China, managers should seek to build a lasting relationship with the local people to gain their trust and friendship. When cultural differences are neglected at work several challenges such as conflict occurs. It is important to recognize others and built flexible team, empower team members and involve staff in decision making process. When intercultural skills are ignored, results may be rage, communication barrier, and difficulty in sharing knowledge. Managers should be empathic and understand the cultural practice in countries where they are operating. Some of these cultures have great significant in the individuals and society in general as discussed above, it is therefore necessary to acquire the norms and focus on how businesses should adapt to theses cultural practices across border as stated in this assignment.
Managers should understand Hofstede and Schwartz theories, monochronic polychronic, individualistic collectivistic and other cultural differences discussed in this assignment and apply them correctly in individual nation. Managers should understand what their local business environment requires and design products and services to meet such demands which will encourage universalism. They should ensure business in done in an open way according to the nation’s managerial style and culture example in Germany where employee competition is encouraged by companies. In conclusion, managers should always reflects on their local culture, and apply the ethic and values in cross cultural borders as a means to understanding how other nations operate before judging them.
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