Cross-cultural Communication

Topics: Cross-cultural communication, Management, Communication Pages: 23 (6710 words) Published: February 4, 2013
Chapter 13

The Impact of Globalization
on Cross-Cultural Communication
Lowell C. Matthews and Bharat Thakkar
Additional information is available at the end of the chapter

1. Introduction
In a global environment the ability to communicate effectively can be a challenge. Even when both parties speak the same language there can still be misunderstandings due to ethic and cultural differences. Over the last decade, there have been countless examples from the business sector that demonstrate how poor communication can lead to poor organizational performance. Understanding the impact of globalization on cross-culture communication is imperative for organizations seeking to create a competitive advantage in the global market. Recent economic challenges further highlight the need for organizations to develop the internal communication capacity necessary to control and monitor external threats. As society becomes more globally connected the ability to communicate across cultural boundaries has gained increasing prominence. Global businesses must understand how to communicate with employees and customers from different cultures in order to fulfill the organization’s mission and build value for stakeholders. The use of technology has had a profound impact on how businesses communicate globally and market their products and services. However, with the advancements in technology organizations must still be cognoscente of the culture nuisances that can potentially present obstacles in trying to increase profits and market share. According to Genevieve Hilton, “cultural proficiency doesn't mean memorizing every cultural nuance of every market. It's knowing when to listen, when to ask for help, and when—finally—to speak” [1]. For companies involved in global business operations the relationship of managers and subordinates in multinational firms is important. In research conducted by Thomas and Ravlin [2] it was found that participants to whom nationality was more important indicated lower perceptions of similarity with the manager, lower intentions to associate, and lower perceptions of managerial effectiveness. The results of the study strongly indicate that teaching members of different cultures to behave like each other is an ineffective approach © 2012 Matthews and Thakkar, licensee InTech. This is an open access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

326 Globalization – Education and Management Agendas

to improving intercultural interactions in business settings [2]. Focus should be placed on using individual differences to create innovation. Training and development of individuals involved in intercultural interactions should involve more than simply promoting cultural adaptation

Communication is vital for businesses to effectively explain how their products and services differ from their competitors. Companies that are successfully able to communicate crossculturally have a competitive advantage because they can devote more time and resources to conducting business and less time on internal and external communication issues [1]. Communication is necessary for individuals to express themselves and to fulfill basic needs. The same holds true for businesses, governments, and countries. Without the ability to communicate and understand each other, there would be chaos. Communication that is based on cultural understanding is more apt to prevent misunderstandings caused by personal biases and prejudices.

To illustrate the importance of communication on building relationships globally consider the example of the United States and South Korea. The relationship between these two countries is one built upon a rich history. In 1884, the United States government became the first...

References: [3] Habbi House. The American Embassy Residence Seoul, Korea. 2009. (accessed 15 August 2009).
International Journal of Human Resource Management 2008;19(7), 1298-1313.
[19] Thorpe, N. Employees take trips to understand other cultures. Automotive News
2005;79(6159), 24I-24I.
of diversity. European Journal of Work & Organizational Psychology 2006;15(4), 431458.
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