Topics: Communication, Cross-cultural communication, Culture Pages: 42 (11660 words) Published: October 24, 2013
Lecture 11-14 Cross-Cultural Communication & Interaction

1. Introduction
2. The communication process
3. Trust in Communication
4. Cultural variables in the communication process
Social organisation
Thought patterns
Non-verbal communication [kinesics, proxemics, paralanguage, object language] Time
5. Communication channels
6. Managing cross-cultural communication
7. Articles:
Communicating With The Arabs
Keeping Your Foot Safely Out of Your Mouth
Oriental Poker Face: Eastern Deception or Western Inscrutability? Indian companies are adding Western flavour

Adapted from Deresky, H., International Management: Managing Across Borders and Cultures, 5th Ed., Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2006, Chapter 4, pp 116 - 141


Cross-cultural communications are more complex than just the spoken or written words. The essence of effective cross-cultural communication has to do with transmitting the message effectively and getting the right responses from the persons you communicate with.

Communication [such as writing, talking, listening] is an important part of a manger’s role and takes up the majority of the manager’s time on the job. Mintzberg researched that most managers spend between 50% to 90% of their time talking to people. This makes communication a critical skill for a manager to have.

The ability of an international manager to communicate effectively across cultural boundaries will largely determine the success of international business transactions or the output of a culturally diverse workforce.

Cross cultural communication (also called intercultural communication) is a field of study that looks at how people from different cultural background communicate.


The term “communication” describes the process of sharing meaning by transmitting messages through media such as words, behaviour, or material artefacts.
Managers need to communicate in order to coordinate activities, to disseminate information, to motivate people, to negotiate future plans, to build relationships, to live meaningful lives and build connection with others.

Communication is the way through which resistance to change can be addressed, confusion can be explained and problems can be solved.

Anything that serves to undermine the communication of the intended meaning is referred to as noise. Noise distorts communication, making the meaning lost, and thus may cause what is commonly called communication breakdown.

Communication breakdown occurs when the receiver interprets [decode] the message sent by the sender different from the sender’s intended meaning. The difference in meaning may be caused by perception. The sender and receiver each exist in a unique, private world of his or her own thoughts & perceptions based on the context of culture, experience, values , etc, of the person. It is this context that colours the meaning people attach to messages they send and receive.

The more dissimilar the cultures of the communicators, the likelier misinterpretation of communication would happen.

Attribution is the process in which people look for the explanation of another person’s behaviour. When they realize that they do not understand the other person, they tend to attribute, i.e., blame their confusion on the other person, such as claiming that the other person is stupid, deceitful or crazy.

Example of an American boss dealing with a Greek employee

American: How long will it take you to finish this report?
American: I am asking him to participate in this project by asking his opinion. Greek: His behaviour makes no sense. He is the boss. Why doesn’t he tell me how long it takes for me to finish the report?

Greek: I don’t know. How long should it take?
American: He is refusing to participate and to take...

References: Adapted from Deresky, H., International Management: Managing Across Borders and Cultures, 5th Ed., Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2006, Chapter 4, pp 116 - 141
- James R. Houghton, former Chairman, Corning, Inc. [Deresky, 2006:121]
Effective cross-cultural communication and alliances depend on informal understanding among the parties, and this in turn, is based on trust.
Guidelines to develop trust [an adaptation of John Childs’ research as cited by Deresky (2006:121)]:
Identify a clear basis of mutual benefits and commit realistically to achieving those benefits.
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