Moderating the Differences between Domestic and IHRM
In the global competition international face more complex human resources management issues. Aiming to cultural environment’s important role in IHRM this paper analyzes the definition of culture, the difference between domestic and IHRM, the cultural adjustment process and the important role of the four dimensions of national culture for IHRM.
The definition and scope of culture
From the perspective of the management culture is a set of values, beliefs and norms accepted by a community and it is used to guide the daily life of the community. To successfully cross culture boundaries international managers should know the important social and cultural norms of the location as much as possible. And the international managers must also learn to recognize the important symbol, values and rituals of a culture. This knowledge will help managers to understand the reason behind their customers’, workers’ and colleagues’ behaviors (Alvesson, 2003).
International managers need to understand three culture levels of international operation, including national culture, corporate culture, professional and organizational culture. The international managers should know that the culture only provides the general direction of behavior and can not accurately determine the right way of each person’s thinking, act and feeling. And the professional culture and organizational culture is different in any country. The individuals are quite different in the same culture levels (Forster, 2000).
The difference between the domestic and IHRM
Cross-cultural human resource management is very different from the domestic human resource management because it must consider more factors than the domestic human resources management. The differences between domestic and IHRM are as the following (Brian, 1996).
(1) The scope the international human resource management is broader. In general international human resource management is in two or more countries, so there are many types of staffs involved. Then the managers need to understand foreign cultures, find the similarities and differences of management ways in different culture and master the basic principles of cross-cultural management and skills in dealing with cross-cultural issues thus minimizing cultural conflicts.
(2) International human resource management has higher requirements for management. There are many new requirements within the functions of the managers. For example, placing and guiding the staffs who are from other countries or will go abroad, participating in the language translation and so on. The most important requirement is that the international human resource managers must have a broader perspective and need to understand and adapt to cultural differences to form a new “cultural re-mix”.
(3) International human resource management must practice aiming at the practical problems through the understanding and participation of cross-cultural human resource management thus mastering the laws of cross-cultural human resource management.
The case analysis
LG Philips Shuguang Electronics Co., Ltd. is a joint venture. For the influence of different culture background and geographical environment conflict and friction is almost inevitable. In the early days Chinese and Korean staffs presented significant differences. These differences cause inconvenience to the enterprise, but also have a greater affect on the work. The organization takes decisive measures to carry out the strategic management of cultural diversity and integration by using various means. Firstly recognize the challenges; secondly organize a series of cross-cultural training activities; finally, establish a common corporate culture according to surrounding requirements and strategic needs (Rowley, 2004).
1. The challenge
Language is the main communication medium among people. Even if both values is similar the language difference can also lead to misunderstanding. Although both of China and Korea are located in close proximity and are eastern countries, the objectivity of both language differences makes communication difficulties increase. The real ideas of the staffs can not effectively communicate with each other (Mark, 1997).
(2) Values barrier
Values are the values standards that people judge things. Different nations have different values. People used to take their own nation values as the standards. This will be likely lead to the culture conflict. The biggest cultural differences between China and Korea are that Korean character is irritable and the Chinese character is more tactful. Thus some misunderstanding will inevitably be produced when the people of the two countries communicate (Warner, 2004).
(3) Understanding barrier
Understanding is people’s view of reality and these views will directly influence people’s communication and decision-making effects. For example, Koreans often consider that they have the strong fighting spirit and superior endurance, respect elders, hard-working and self-esteem. At the same time they also believe that others think so to them. However, Chinese employees may think that they are fickle, cold, sensitive and impatient. Obviously, this will affect the communication of both employees.
(4) Non-verbal communication
Nonverbal communication is a way of delivering information through body parts, facial expressions and so on. The smile of Koreans is used to hide the disagreement and even ruffle. The body language is formal and gestures are few. The distance among individuals is different. On the street, even if there is enough space Koreans are often crowded together. But in business, Koreans maintain a moderate distance. If the Chinese are lack of understanding of these non-verbal communications they will feel strange (John, 1999).
2. The cultural adjustment process
(1) Strengthen language training. Firstly multinational organizations should establish the organization’s “official language” and set up international and standardized language management model. Organization should strengthen English training according to the experience of big companies around the world. At the same time under the conditions permit the organization should also strengthen the language training of the host country and home country so that the employees will have a lot of means of communication. Not only the spoken language should be improved the written language can not be ignored because there are a lot of files to be addressed. LG train employees to master several languages to facilitate communication in order to reduce the language barrier.
(2) Enhance cultural communication. Organizations should make employees understand each other’s cultures, each other’s values and behavior concept through various activities and make employees establish a good working relationship. Firstly, the organization should cultivate multi-cultural awareness of the staffs; make the staffs be aware of different thinking ways, behavior model and other cultural features of people who are from the different cultural backgrounds. Secondly, the organization should have the training of cultural sensitivity and adaptability. Through cultural sensitivity training, improve the analytical capacity of staff, so that employees are clear of differences of behavior patterns led by the cultural difference. The staffs can deal with the impact of different cultures, understand and communicate mutually and reach a consensus. The cultural adaptability training is mainly that staffs work, live and learn in a different cultural environment in person and understand differences among different cultures to seek tolerance and understanding for different culture (Delaney, 1996).
(3) Create a common corporate culture
Management concept is rooted in organizational culture¼ŽBecause the existence of multi-cultural differences, only the organization seek the management concept accepted by both sides will the efficiency increase and will the operation succeed. The organization is a whole and must have a unified organizational culture to integrate the organization. In fact, the building process of organizational culture is the process of integration of different cultures. The staffs influence, learn, understand each other and form a common pursuit of value. The promotion of organizational culture may use “incentive measures” and refine “cross-cultural communication” into the assessment of the performance indicators. That will make employees’ objectives clear and motivate staff to learn and understand each other. At the same time the strict rules and regulations should established to clear responsibility and ensure the smooth progress of culture (Guest, 1997).
The four dimensions of national culture analysis in international human resource management
Hofstede G. (1980) proposed that the four dimensions of national culture include power distance, individualism and collection, male and female and uncertainty avoidance.
(1) Power distance
The trust of subordinates to superiors is limited, and they prefer to discuss. Emotional gap between them is relatively small. Establishment of subordinates and superiors is just to develop work. For work this kind of duties relationship is interchangeable. The wage gap is very small. The superiors do not have privilege. The superiors will discuss with the subordinates when making an important decision. But the superiors have the final decision. Under this system, age and seniority is not very important.
China and Asia are the large power distance countries. The trust of subordinates to superiors is very big. There are bigger emotional distance between subordinates and superiors. They are considered to be inherently unequal. The power of organization concentrates in few people as possible and the subordinates should cat in accordance with the requirements of superiors. The income gap is big. In this kind of right system the age and seniority is very important.
(2) Individualism and collectivism
In individualism society management the subordinate may act alone. In the incentive mechanism of human resource management rewards and punishments is based on the individual performance. In collectivism society management the manage object is a collective. As the situations where people are in are different, the extent that is consistent with collective in the actual emotional is different. In the context of cross-cultural human resource management the managers in the collective culture hope that they will be assigned together with the same race thus the managers in the individualism culture do not hope so.
The countries in individualism culture establish management systems and training programs almost without exception and this kind of management is built on the basis of cultural vision. In human resources management, the main purpose is to highlight the individual’s ability and performance. Evaluate individuals on a regular basis and conduct the kind of management by objectives. In the collectivist culture background, do not assess the individuals mainly in order to prevent resistance and hider social harmony.
(3) Male and female
The differences between men and women can be used to explain the phenomenon of some management activities. Managers in women’s culture in general are to rely on intuition and seek views on reunification. In the male culture managers emphasize is determination and self-confidence. The attitude in women’s culture for the job: work is for living. Men’s attitude towards work in men’s culture is: live is for work. Only to clearly know the international corporation is under what kind of context human can resources management effectively be carried out. But for geographical span of the big multinational companies is wide, through the carefully analysis the organization arranges different human resources management according to the specific cultural background.
(4) Uncertainty avoidance
China and Japan is in strong uncertainty avoidance cultures. People are more busy, often restless, active and lively. The needs for the law, rules and regulations are based on the emotion, and thus easily lead to variation of some systems. In this culture, the act of subordinates is not affected by whether superiors are at present or not.
The United States is in weak uncertainty avoidance cultures. The people are quieter, more reserved, a bit lazy and go with the flow. People can tolerate a wide range of ideas. This culture is conducive to have some idea of fundamental reform, but not good at putting these innovative ideas into action.
For example, there are many Nobel Prize winners in the UK and their academic achievement is unquestioned. There are few Japanese win the Nobel Prize but products designed by Japanese marketing in the world. This example illustrates that if weak uncertainty avoidance culture and strong uncertainty avoidance culture is complement the innovation and practice can achieve a high degree of perfect unity. There are a lot of inspirations for cross-cultural human resource management.
The international human resource manager should grasp the principles and techniques of IHRM through the analysis of multinational companies. The managers should comprehensively understand multi-cultural influence on the organization’s system, explore the new human resources management model and make it adapt to organizational development strategies thus win greater benefits for the organization.