John Baker, Chief Engineer of the Caribbean Bauxite Co. of Barracania, has been promoted to Production Manager of Keso Mining Co., one of Continental Ore’s Canadian enterprises. Baker’s successor, Matthew Rennalls, has many assets that he can potentially contribute to the company with one negative, or what Baker calls his racial consciousness. Baker thinks that Rennalls’ repressed sense of race consciousness prevented their relationship from being as close as it should have been. Baker, bothered by this, feels he needs to raise the issue and break-through the seams at the last meeting with his successor. Unfortunately, do to the lack of importance of communicating across cultures portrayed by Baker and his unawareness when it comes to his ladder of inference, Baker has unintentionally created a hostile atmosphere which has left the company with no successor as Chief Engineer.
The ladder of inference is a common mental pathway of increasing abstraction, often leading to misguided beliefs. The ladder of inference begins with observable data and experiences. (Ross, 1994). For example, Baker, as he begins thinking of the “credits” and “debits” associated with Rennalls, he claims because Rennalls spent four years at London University it has heightened his sensitivity to any sign of disdain coming from expatriates. Baker, by observing what was going on in the work place (Jackson’s complaints about Rennalls’ rudeness), has selected certain data from what he observed and put personal meanings behind it that may be untrue. This has caused him to make assumptions after the meanings he has added to his observations. Rennalls’ claims that if a Barracanian had behaved in an equally obstruct manner he would have reacted in the same way. He claims there are also other people in the company, also expatriates, who felt the same. Baker assumed because Rennalls was a Barracanian that he would not get along with expatriate senior managers and he was racially conscious. When,...
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