Cross Cultural Business Training And Communication Management Essay

Culture affects every part of a business from initial communication to building team synergy. To conduct business in a foreign country, one must understand the traditions and values of the society, along with consumer needs. Estimates show that more than half of all international joint ventures fail within 2-3 years because of the lack of cultural competency.  Certain issues need to be addressed for a business to ascertain what is culturally correct in a country. Resolution of these issues comes through direct experience with the culture to determine the needs and desires of the population, then addressing these in culturally appropriate ways. Behavioral assessments and adjustments need to be made constantly by employees to effectively penetrate a market and culture to be successful. In today’s business world this is now essential for building and maintaining a competitive global advantage. (2010, June 8). Cultural Savvy A Global Cross-Cultural Consulting, Coaching & Training. Retrieved October 10, 2010, from : http://www.culturalsavvy.com/index.htm

Providing a cross-cultural training experience is an investment that will reward a company in the long run. Companies that institute these types of programs have a competitive advantage over those that do not, as training reduces culture shock, affectively alleviates inappropriate situations, and ultimately creates lasting relationships with international partners. Culturally savvy employees are more effective leaders as they can better relate to situations outside their realm of comfort, with ease, and continue to build on them for the future.

China and India’s current business relations; future endeavors

When looking at China and India and their current relationship, one must consider, first and foremost, their size. China has recently over taken Japan as the world’s second largest economy, with India’s own recovering economic status coming in close behind. For centuries they have shared advanced ideas, inventions and philosophical traditions. They have reemerged as leading techno-economic nations, and recent developments and exchanges between them indicate that the ball is already rolling in the direction of globalization for common good. No two nations are better equipped than India and China to show the world how the common concerns of humanity can be addressed through mutual respect, friendship, healthy competition, and sharing of resources. Both Democratic India and Communist China have embarked upon ambitious science, technology, and economic development programs through centralized planning. Both emphasize self-reliance through local initiatives, restricting the flow of foreign capital and technology. ((Ahmad, A. A. (2010, February 10). Share The World’s Resources. Retrieved October 5, 2010, from http://www.stwr.org/india-china-asia/india-and-china-conflict-competition-and-cooperation-in-the-age-of-globalization.html))

Prospects for India and China

Prospectively speaking, India and China are facing an energy crisis that needs to be addressed today. India must create 15 million new jobs a year to keep the younger population employed. China has 17% of the world’s population and only .8% of the oil reserves, with an economy growing at a rate of 8-10% every year. China and India alike are actively seeking imports to meet their energy needs. China recently invested in oil interest in Russia and the Middle East.  China and India continue to compete with each other for oil resources, however an opportunity can be created here where they can cooperate. Discussions have been taking place between CNOOC, The Chinese Oil Conglomerate, and India’s Oil and Natural Gas Commission. Discussions include developing a committee of oil producing nations to determine the supply and price of crude oil, for the benefit of importers in rapidly developing countries, and exploring acquisitions strategies to meet these needs.

China and India have allocated a large amount of capital to research and development, consequently they are producing more innovations than any other countries in the world after signing the Indo-China Inter-governmental Science and Technology Agreement. These two countries are highly trained in the fields of science and technology which make them a diverse resource to outside countries wanting to utilize those talents. Specific joint projects are proposed at inter-agency levels in such diverse fields as meteorology, ocean science and technology, space science and technology, and biotechnology.  These two countries graduate millions of students each year that are inundated with the knowledge to produce and actively participate in the global production of goods and public services. With these numbers, manufacturing may be at stake in the western world, by combining these efforts they are causing a power shift from manufacturing countries. (Ahmad, A. A. (2010, February 10). Share The World’s Resources. Retrieved October 5, 2010, from: http://www.stwr.org/india-china-asia/india-and-china-conflict-competition-and-cooperation-in-the-age-of-globalization.html)

Insights into China

        China is the world’s fourth largest country (9.6 M sq km) in area after Russia, Canada, and the US. China is located in Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea. China is surrounded by fourteen neighboring countries namely: Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Vietnam.

The Land

        China’s terrain consists mostly of mountains, high plateaus, and deserts in the west, and plains, deltas, and hills in east. China has extremely diverse weather, from tropical in the south to subarctic in north. The lowest point of China is Turpan Pendi, 154 m below sea level, and the highest point is Mount Everest at 8,850 m. Total area of China is 9,596,961 sq km, land area being 9,569,901 sq km and water area being 27,060 sq km. The land consists of 14.86% arable and 1.27% permanent crops. 83.87% of land is used for other purposes. 545,960 sq km consists of irrigated land. The natural resources of China include aluminum, lead, zinc, uranium, coal, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, and magnetite. China has the world’s largest hydropower potential. The natural hazards include frequent typhoons (about five per year along southern and eastern coasts), tsunamis, damaging floods, droughts, earthquakes, and land subsidence.

People and History

On 1 October 1949 People’s Republic of China was established. The most recent promulgation of the constitution was done on 4 December 1982 with amendments in 1988, 1993, 2004. The flag of China is red with a large yellow five-pointed star and four smaller yellow five-pointed stars in the upper hoist-side corner. The color red represents revolution, while the stars symbolize the four social classes: the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie, united under the Communist Party of China. Beijing is the capital of China. Major cities include Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenyang, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Harbin, and Chengdu. China has five official religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. The ethnic groups include the Han Chinese at 91.5%; the Zhuang, Manchu, Hui, Miao, Uighur, Tujia, Yi, Mongol, Tibetan, Buyi, Dong, Yao, Korean, and other nationalities comprise the remaining 8.5%. The languages spoken in China include Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect, official), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, and minority languages.

     China is the world’s most populous country with 1,330,141,295 people (July 2010 est.). The birth rate is 12.17-births per 1,000 of the population, and the death rate is 6.89 deaths per 1,000 of the population with the population growth rate being 0.494%. The male to female ratio being 1.06. The life expectancy for males is 72.54 years and females is 76.77 years. The median age is 34.1 years, with 33.5 years for males and 34.7 years for females. The literacy rate is 90.9%, 95.1% for males and 86.5% for females. As of 2000, percentage of population age 15 and over having no or incomplete primary schooling is 15.6%. Those that have completed primary is 35.7%, some secondary is 34.0%, complete secondary is 11.1%, some postsecondary through advanced degree is only 3.6%.

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Education

China has a vast and varied school system to provide for its population. There are preschools, kindergartens, schools for the deaf and blind, key schools (similar to college preparatory schools), primary schools, secondary schools of diverse disciplines, and various institutions of higher learning. China’s basic education involves pre-school, a nine-year compulsory education from elementary to junior high school, and the standard senior high school education. It also has special education for disabled children, and education for illiterate people. The Law on Nine-Year Compulsory Education, which took effect July 1, 1986, established requirements and deadlines for attaining a universal education system, tailored to local conditions, and guaranteed school-age children the right to receive an education. China has over 200 million elementary and high school students, who, together with pre-school children, account for one sixth of the total population. The Central Government has prioritized basic education as a key field of infrastructure construction and educational development.

Public Administration

China has a communist government. The administrative divisions include 23 provinces which consist of: Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang; and Taiwan. There are five autonomous regions consisting of Guangxi, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Xinjiang Uygur, Xizang (Tibet) and four municipalities consisting of Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, Tianjin.

Economy

During the past 30 years, China’s economy has changed from a centrally planned system that was largely closed to international trade, to a more market-oriented economy that has a rapidly growing private sector. It is now a major player in the global economy. In the late 1970s, reforms were started with the phasing out of collectivized agriculture. The reforms led to the expansion of fiscal decentralization, increased autonomy for state enterprises, the foundation of a diversified banking system, gradual liberalization of prices, the development of stock markets, the rapid growth of the non-state sector, and the opening to foreign trade and investment. The labor force consists of 813.5 million people. These numbers consist of 39.5% agriculture, 27.2% industrial and 33.2 % services. The unemployment rate is 4.3%, and the population below the poverty line is only 2.8%. The GDP growth rate of the country compared to other countries is 9.1%. The agricultural products include rice, wheat, potatoes, corn, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, apples, cotton, oilseed, pork, and fish. The industries in China include consumer products, such as footwear, toys, and electronics; food processing; transportation equipment, such as automobiles, rail cars, locomotives, ships, and aircraft; mining and ore processing of coal, iron, steel, aluminum, and other metals; machine building; armaments; textiles and apparel; petroleum; cement; chemicals; fertilizers; telecommunications equipment; commercial space launch vehicles, and satellites. The Chinese government has vowed to continue to reform the economy and emphasize the need to increase domestic consumption in order to make China less dependent on foreign exports for GDP growth in the future. (The World Factbook. Retrieved August 31, 2010 from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.html)

Cross Cultural Training plan

“The term “cross cultural training” refers to a variety of different training courses. Each in essence aims to develop awareness between people where a common cultural framework does not exist.” The main purpose of cross cultural training is to simulate problems that may arise in the workplace due to cultural differences and be prepared with resolutions to these problems. In today’s economy, it is becoming increasingly essential to conduct business globally. For a multinational company to experience long-term success, its employees must have an understanding of the beliefs and values of the country in which they are conducting business. (Cross Cultural Training. Retrieved November 09, 2010 from http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/cross-cultural/training.html)

Cross-cultural training includes both general orientation and specific skill development. General orientation consists of self-assessment, dealing with change, stress management and identifying attributes, and cultural awareness including national values, general dimensions, and work place incidents.  Specific skill development consists of knowledge acquisition, area studies, language studies, host attitudes, and skills training, such as case studies, area simulation and behavior modeling. Training includes providing the information to the trainee about national culture and attitudes in the host country. The trainee should be trained to handle different situations in a simulated environment. (Rohmeter, N. (2005). Human resource development: challenges and opportunities. Daryaganj, New Delhi: Anmol Publications PVT. LTD)

One major issue surrounding cross-cultural training includes getting beyond culturally determined stereotypes, how to raise and deal with stereotype. Most often, the common thought is, “Life would be a lot simpler if people would just see things our way.” Without realizing it, we carry those misconceptions and stereotypes into meetings, conferences, trainings, or even social gatherings that can make communication difficult and hard work. This break down in communication leads to in-effective work strategies, and also a non-productive work environment; in reality, the only person that can be changed is you. By learning about another culture i.e. their beliefs, values, common practices, and social norms, ultimately this will open up the communication lines. Other issues of cross cultural training include: feedback, how to counsel employees, coaching and team building, resolving conflicts (those include various ethnic groups at work place). (The Library. Retrieved November 09, 2010 from http://www.impactfactory.com/library.shtml)

Need for plan

It is critical for managers to develop effective communication between employees. Training deals with interpersonal interaction. It provides management staff with the knowledge and skills to effectively supervise a multicultural staff. It results in a hospitable and understanding work environment. Cross cultural training covers areas such as values, morals, ethics, business practices, etiquette, protocol, and negotiation styles.  It helps in developing successful business relationships. It provides managers with a thorough cultural profile of the target country, highlighting similarities and differences between the target and home country. It also discusses factors that may arise regarding family, personal and business relationships, and runs interactive simulations that reflect realistic situations in the target culture.

People and practices differ across cultures

People can react very differently to a situation based on cultural differences. The need to motivate employees varies by culture. What motivates employees to work in India may not be a relevant motivator to Chinese employees. Therefore the trainees will need to become familiar with the differences in the employee motivation across cultures. The differences in the way motivation is perceived by the employees will need to be taken into consideration for performance appraisals everyday business decisions. 

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The expatriate will need to perform the same tasks he has performed in his home country in a new environment with new environmental stressors. The cultural stress will affect the performance and yield of job related duties. Expatriates failure in cross cultural environments is often due to inability to adapt to the new culture.

The skills that have been shown to generate success are:

-Show respect to the values of the new culture

-Ability to be non-judgmental

-Ability to understand ones limits in relation to knowledge and perception of the culture

-Ability to empathize

-Flexibility

Rohmeter, N. (2005). Human resource development: Challenges and opportunities. Daryaganj, New Delhi: Anmol Publications PVT. LTD.

Designing of cross-cultural training

Linguistic barriers are a major area of the crossings of two cultures. This major form of expression needs to be addressed to even begin to understand another culture, but then it is closely followed by those things around us that we would use to “describe” a culture. Language barriers, and breakdowns can lead to ineffective business plans and can damage relationships with potential clients. English is used for most transactions, but the usage of English tends to change with the country’s context.  In order for the expatriate to learn to communicate in China, we will enroll them in a 3-month Survival Chinese course taught by Surfchinese.com. The first program will consist of three – 50 minute classes per week.  This course is designed for those who have no experience with the Chinese language.  Through this class, the expatriates will learn about 100 topics that are used in daily life, in addition to culture tips and interaction with a Chinese teacher.   The course is “a rapid learning course based on oral Chinese to help them deal with their practical needs in daily life.” (Survival Chinese. Retrieved November 09, 2010 from http://www.surfchinese.com/class/SC1.asp)          

After the completion of Survival Chinese, we will continue to enhance the language skills of the expat by continuing to a Business Communication course. This course is designed to help the businessperson learn the essential communication for business circumstances.  The course progresses through three levels starting with Basic Communications such as, time schedules, business banquet, marketing, and business consulting. The Intermediate Level moves to business topics such as, business greetings, conversations in the office and trading.  The Advanced Level will progress to allow the use of Chinese to perform more complicated communications such as negotiations, presentations, or business meetings. Since these are online courses the expatriat can continue with the language training throughout the transition to China and as long as needed until they are competent in the communications needed for their professions. (Business Chinese Courses. Retrieved November 09, 2010 from http://www.surfchinese.com/class/BC1.asp) 

Timetable and steps of the plan

The timetable for training our India managers in China has 3 phases. The overall process will take roughly 30 days, with some continuing education to follow. It is important for our managers to not only learn and understand the culture, but it is equally important for them to stay current with it. Having a good grasp will generate a higher level of respect, and that will generate a higher level of business.

Documentary training – 3 day training

The initial phase will be a 3-day training phase, or 24 hours, covering the culture and what is acceptable through documentary training. Language, behaviors, and demographics will be topics discussed during this time. Proper greetings and gestures should also be mentioned here. A pre-test will be administered to gauge our managers’ knowledge, so we can tailor the training program to the level of knowledge of our group.

A documentary training program about the country’s geography, economics, and sociopolitical history helps to show cultural differences between the home and foreign countries.  It is expensive to send the trainee abroad for training; it is more economical to train in the home country with videos and books to learn about the foreign culture.

Cultural and field simulation trainings and exercises – 7 days or 40 hours

The second phase will be approximately 7 days or 40 hours of applying the knowledge received in step one through cultural simulation trainings and exercises. It will be the responsibility of those in the group to be active in the community, talk to the local people, and learn firsthand the quirks of the culture that has been taught to them. A short synopsis will be required pending completion of this phase to showcase real experiences and application of the lessons up to this point.

Cross Cultural Simulations are easy ways to get people involved in learning about different cultures. It allows them to actually be immersed in the culture and experience what someone of a different culture may encounter in a new country. By allowing yourself to step into someone else’s shoes, you are able to see the basic similarities, differences, obstacles, first impressions, and interact with culturally different groups.

Simple simulations can be played such as how many ways can you come up with to say hello in different languages; the “Story of my name”, where you give an inside look into the meaning or origin of your name; case scenarios, multicultural games addressing counting, stereotypes, and English as a second language. (Wilderdom, (2006, February 11). Multicultural, Cross-cultural & Intercultural Games & Activities. Retrieved October 19, 2010, from http://wilderdom.com/games/MulticulturalExperientialActivities.html)

Role playing is a training simulation that allows a trainee to be placed into specific situations that may be encountered. Creating specific simulations can help others become more aware of the challenges faced and behaviors that may be primarily cultural, rather than natural.

Instructions

1.    Make role playing cards depicting certain attributes for different cultures. Each person should get just one of the secret instructions to act out during the meeting.

2.    Tell the group they are to read their individual instructions by themselves, and not let anybody else know what they are. Tell them they should intentionally act the way their instructions indicate during the group activity.

3.    Role-play for about 20 min.

4.    At the end, allow at least 20 minutes to discuss the questions provided.

The different cards that people are to follow should be specifically pertaining to an attribute of a culture. For example: You are someone from a cultural group that believes men and women should be separate. You would never shake hands with the opposite sex, and prefer to be seated in the same sex groups during meetings.

          Another example would be: You are from a culture that it is common to greet hello with quick kisses on the cheek or long handshakes. Friendships are important, you ask a lot of questions to get to know someone and gender-mixed relationships are common.        

          While playing this game it is extremely important to stick to the roles given, while not giving away that this is what you are actually portraying. This in effect puts the player directing into the shoes of someone who is of a different culture. It allows them to see first-hand the challenges that can be faced, and ultimately allows them to see how they can be more accepting and responsive when faced with someone whose common practice is opposite of their own.

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After the meeting, you should allow for questions to be answered pertaining to:

1. How they felt during the exercise?

2. Describe what happened during the exercise.

3. What did you learn?

4. How does this relate to the real world?

5. What if you had known why the others were behaving as they did?

6. How can you apply this?

          The focus is to learn by doing, rather than by showing. These simulations allow you to gain a firsthand experience of a different culture, but also allow you to make those mistakes that are inevitable between the mix of cultures. It allows you to address those mistakes or downfalls that may occur in a watered down version of a culture, and how best to handle those situations once they occur. Even though a full-blown culture experience will have unexpected situations that arise, this allows for highlights into a culture and the firsthand experience at what to expect.

Implementation of the Plan

The next 2 weeks or 13 days will be spent implementing some of the learned strategies to determine if any of them are viable. This encourages those that came up with the ideas and motivates those who did not. Hopefully, this will build a team atmosphere and establish who the true leaders are. During this time we will be able to evaluate where the company stands at this point in the training process. A closing test will be administered to recap the lessons learned and to promote continued practice of the new strategies.

The next 7 days will be a research and development phase. This is a good time to have the group come up with a clever and creative way to market the business, and break into the scene so to speak. The group will start with a SWOT analysis, followed by a marketing plan, explaining in detail their ideas for market penetration.

Spouse and family issues

Another important area to address for any candidate who is incorporating their family into a cross-culture scenario is to provide the candidates family with sufficient training on the host country. It is better to train the spouse and family members of the trainee, so they can adjust to the new culture. Training the family enables the employee to concentrate more on the work that will lead to success of the business and not have the added stress of the adjustment time of both themselves and their families.

Budget for the plan

Language Training 1 – Survival Chinese. Online

3 months of language classes. 3 classes per week. 36 Lessons

$810

Language Training 2 – Business Chinese. Online

3 months of language classes. 3 classes per week. 36 Lessons

$810

Documentary Training

3 – 8 Hour Days

$3750

Cultural Simulations

7 Days -40 Hours

$200

Implementation of the Plan

2 Weeks

$0

7 Days

$0

Total

$5570Estimated Budget for the Cross Cultural Business Plan – Per Individual

* This plan does not include Spouse and Family training. Language training would be approximately $7 per 50 minute session. Cultural Training is approximately $1250 per day per person.

*Cultural simulation cost in this example is based on a Chinese community within the city of the expat. Pricing would be greater if travel is required to a Chinese Community.

*Implementation of the Plan is based in an office setting and would not require additional funding for travel, per diem, etc.

Expected results in cross cultural training

Cross-cultural training has many benefits to be gained by participants and the business. Measuring the effectiveness of cross cultural training can be challenging, but it is rather clear that cross cultural competence has the potential to make a significant contribution to top and bottom line results as well as the individuals performance”.

Cross-cultural training increases cross-cultural competence i.e., the ability of the individuals to perform effectively and confidently in other countries or with foreign nationals. This training helps to develop new skills, attitudes, and gain new insights. The main benefits of a properly designed and customized cross cultural training are:

Greater understanding of the customs and beliefs of other cultures.

Better relationships and communication with people from other cultures.

Insight into needs and opportunities of the global market.

Greater level of adjustment to living and working in a new environment.

Develops inter-personal and listening skills.

Change in Motivation Levels:

          Motivation is considered to be a goal-oriented behavior. It may be either intrinsic or extrinsic. Motivation levels are of great importance in the business world. During the cross-cultural training programs, one tries to enhance the motivation levels of the expatriates by the various training programs. These programs increase the work performance of the expatriates and also build confidence in them. By enhancing the trainee’s personal experiences in a specific culture, he becomes more aware of situations he may encounter. This ultimately relieves the stress and culture shock of a situation, allowing their true motivation to show through, and business transactions to be conducted smoothly.

Change in Competency

          Competency can be defined as the ability to perform the prescribed work efficiently. The cross-cultural training increases the skills, knowledge, and behavior of the person. These three qualities combined can be termed as “Competence”.        

          Competency is the general requirement for a person to participate effectively in various organizations and communities. This training program increased levels of competency in the expatriates, which helps them with their work activities individually, and enables them to rely on the skills provided and learned through simulations, and cultural interactions.

Change in Organizational Effectiveness

          Organizational effectiveness is considered one of the key factors for success of the company. It can be defined by the effectiveness in which the organization achieves specific outcomes. This is a cumulative effort put forth by all employees, which makes an organization effective and productive in their goals.        

          The success of the company is dependent on the organizational competence and ethics. The effectiveness of an organization is not measurable, but can be evaluated based on the profits they earn. Thus cross cultural training can enhance the effectiveness of the organization by building confidence and enthusiasm in the workers.        

          In conclusion cross cultural training programs prove to be profitable to both countries, the families, and the employees who are involved in the business exchange. With the training as a guide, the expatriates as they get to know about the culture, customs and most importantly the working style of the foreign country. A company with employees knowledgeable about the culture of the country in which they are performing business will be more adept at meeting the goals of the organization. This knowledge will also increase consumer confidence in the company, and enhance the relationship between the countries i.e., China and India.

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