“From Regional Star to Global Leader”
(taken from Harvard Business Review January 2009)
International Business BSc/MBA
at ESB Business School
Tiffany Yoko Wendler
Tiffany_Yoko_Margarete.Wendler@Student.Reutlingen-University.DE Matriculation number: 702746
September 15, 2011
Table of Contents
“Culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster.” Geert Hofstede is one of the most prominent researchers in the field of cultural differences. His studies are well accepted and internationally renowned. However, even though the above mentioned quotation almost seems to be a warning regarding intercultural cooperation, one cannot imagine today’s world without it. Companies act globally in different markets, meeting the needs of and collaborating with individuals from diverse cultural, religious and ethical backgrounds. People travel all over the world, flexibility regarding location has become a necessity and we grow up with extensive cultural awareness and sensitivity. But even though we are used to living in a fast-moving global world cultural misunderstandings still are the main source of problems in international organizations. The case to be discussed is the perfect example of a critical incident, when Chinese country manager Yang Jianguo is promoted to global manager of product development in France and struggles as he is encountering cultural differences in terms of work ethos, hierarchy and further aspects discussed in the essay. Quickly, misunderstandings lead to frustration and Jianguo finds himself isolated from his colleagues. On the other hand, the French employees, as well as, the business’s CEO, wonder whether the Chinese scientist was the right choice for the position. Can Jianguo make the transition and live up to the French and his own expectations? The assignment of this paper is to find an answer to this question. In the following the reader will first be introduced to the subject of intercultural communication in order to gain a better understanding of what culture is after all and how cultural differences affect people’s interactions. The main part of the paper aims at analyzing the case study in detail. First, the challenges Jianguo is confronted with will be discussed and classified according to which extent they are of an intercultural nature. This will lead to an analysis of the different cultural dimensions, which further help to understand the case. Next, the role of cultural stereotypes will be discussed. The last part of the analysis aims at finding a solution to both the above mentioned question and proposes possible improvements in the behavior of the respective parties in order to avoid intercultural conflicts in the future. The last part of the paper concludes the problem.
Our behavior, thoughts, and values are to a large degree determined by where we come from, our culture. It is therefore of utmost importance to understand the concept of culture. In general it can be defined as “the collective programming of the human mind that distinguishes the members of one human group from those of another. Culture in this sense is a system of collectively held values.” Resulting from this, culture has two main purposes. On the one hand, it is shared meaning, offering us a sense of togetherness, on the other hand, culture defines behavioral norms and accordingly helps individuals to live together peacefully. Of course, when defining culture one has to consider that there are different levels, e.g. nation, region, religion or profession within...
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