Intercultural Communication

Topics: Geert Hofstede, Cross-cultural communication, Culture Pages: 7 (2231 words) Published: August 23, 2010

Intercultural Communication

Intercultural communication is now a common experience as a result of globalisation. It is extremely important to understanding how culture impacts on employee relationships and communication as it can affect the success of multinational and culturally diverse businesses. Hofstede (1984) defines culture as “the mental programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from another”. Intercultural communication refers to the communication between people from different cultures. According to Samovar and Porter (1991), intercultural communication occurs whenever a message is produced by a member of one culture to a member of another culture, the message must be understood. Because of cultural differences in these kinds of contacts, there is a large opportunity for miscommunications, misunderstanding and disagreement. To reduce this risk, it is important to know intercultural communication. This essay is about intercultural communication and possible issues which may arise in communication due to the team being made up of two different cultures. In this essay, it will focus on two cultures where members from Japan and Australia who are working together on a project as a team which has some face-to-face communication and at other times virtual. In the next section, it would analysis the differences of the two cultures using Hofstede's cultural dimensions and other dimensions of culture and how these dimensions might influence communication between members of the team.

Power distance is one of the Hofstede’s dimensions of culture which can examine the differences between cultures. Power distance refers to the acceptance of unequal power distribution. It is the extent to which power in an orgainisation is distributed and the extent to which people accept inequality in power and status as normal (Bordia, Crossman & Bretag 2008, p.303). According to Hofstede’s model, Japan is considered as a high power culture with a score of 63 where as Australia is a low power distance culture with a score of 31. A high power distance score indicates that people accept an unequal distribution of power and people understand their place in the system. Low power distance means that power is shared and well dispersed. It also means that people see themselves as equals with other people (Dubrin, Dalglish & Miller 2006, p. 432). This means that members who come from Japan, people accept the power inequality in organizations and usually the boss or the leader makes decisions because the boss can and members comply. In a low power distance culture, such as Australia, members do not readily recognise a power hierarchy. People accept directions only when they think the boss is right or when they feel threatened (Dubrin, Dalglish & Miller 2006, p. 432). For the members who come from Australia, freedom and choice are important. This might lead a leadership and decision making issue between the members of the team. For the Japanese members, members might be too afraid to express their doubts and disagreements with the leader as the members accept unequally power.

Another dimension of Hofstede’s dimensions of cultural differences is individualism versus collectivism. This dimension refers to how people define themselves and their relationships with others. It is refers to how loosely or tightly intergrate the society seems. The degree of wheater people of the country prefer to act as individuals rather than as members of the groups (Bordia, Crossman & Bretag 2008, p.304). Individualists “see themselves first as individuals and believe their own interests and values take priority” (Dubrin, Dalglish, Miller 2006, p. 432). People are more concerned with careers than the good of the firm. They tend to put more effort in to their personal interest rather than interest in the orgainisation and into their work. Collectivist cultures are emphasise responsibilities to the group, are more often homogenous...
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