Managing Across Cultures

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Literature Review: Managing Across Borders and Cultures

Management is the art of supervising and controlling the activities of an organization to achieve specific objectives (Cyr, 2008). On the other hand, culture is society’s way of life. Therefore, managing across cultures involves discovering and turning the cultural strengths of a particular social group into a business opportunity. There are several ways in which an organization can thrive and prosper in various cultural diversities. They include managing service qualities, skills, and experience needed for a successful career in a globalized workplace, influence of culture by human resources management, the role of industry and educators in developing intercultural skills in the tourism industry, cultural intelligence, and how culture is influenced by communication. The previous literature that discusses these points has been analyzed and presented below.

The paper by Usunier (2005) discusses the management of the quality service aspect. According to this paper, the quality of service is determined by comparing the expected and perceived outcomes with the delivered services. In service quality, the managers are required to take into consideration the impact of hospitality and tourism management. According to Heckling (1995), the manager is supposed to consider how the diversity of cultures affects the globalization and growth of international firms. Hodgetts (2006) emphasizes how culture affects the customers’ behavior that in turn determines the marketing strategies. The manager should be aware of how corporate cultures develop, grow, and change. Finally, it is imperative to explore how national cultures affect the way people think, act, and feel as they perform their daily affairs. For example, in some countries, motel attendants expect some tips from a client after carrying their luggage to their respective rooms after checking in.

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Mead (1998) looks into the cultural influences on the value of tourism. He proposes that the value is the ratio of quality and acquisition of capital to purchase of this quality, i.e., V=Q/ACq, where V – value, Q – quality, and ACq – acquisition cost of quality. According to Mead (1998), consumers always compare the holiday experience during their tour to the holiday destination with the value of services charged.

Joynt and Warner (2002) study the culturally-based perceptions and decision making. In this, customers normally make culturally biased decisions in regard to their visiting destinations. For example, most tourists prefer visiting their former colonies or areas where they feel that they are not exposed to too many foreign cultures. When this happens, it may bring back the colonial ideologies that in turn affect the way local people perceive things and impact negatively on independent decision-making according to their cultures (Joynt & Warner, 2002).

Deresky (1995) studies the importance of managers considering the global and local cultural norms and their roles in the service encounter during service delivery. This should focus on customer satisfaction regarding expectations and perceived quality of services. According to Hill and Buchanan (1999), cultures can be scaled depending on how close or distant they are, that is, too close cultures exhibit a common way of perceiving quality services. Deresky (1995) adds that cultural variance calls for intercultural management skills.

Lastly, the manager needs to consider management issues and their implications. The manager should thoroughly evaluate the most appropriate cultural norms to run an organization (Gesteland, 2002). For example, there is the need to consider what most of the clients’ values are, regard some of the issues that may discourage them as well as create an interpersonal relationship with them. This means having a friendly interaction will make the client have an interest in the culture of the manager, and this will have a positive implication for the transmission and spread of the individual culture. On the other hand, if the manage portrays a hostile relationship with the clients, it may have a negative impact on the transmission and spread of culture to the company clients.

The second aspect is to consider the skills and experience needed for a successful career in a globalized workplace. According to Gesteland (2005) and Stajkovic (1997), for one to be successful in a globalized workplace, it is a must to be a global graduate. The global graduate is the one who has met all the global requirements needed by the employers. The following are the global attributes that every employer looks for in the global graduate: one who is knowledgeable; one who has appropriate skills and abilities; and most importantly, one with experience. The global graduate with the above attributes will easily acquire values such as dependability, openness to different ideas and cultures as well as connection to customers, global communities, regulators, and colleagues (Thomas, 2004).

With the above values, one qualifies for the international graduate program. The international graduate program (IGP) equips global graduates with the following managerial characteristics: ability to learn in any given cultural setting, being tolerant and respective to the views of other people, ability to network globally, self-awareness, diplomatic skills, ability to develop new ideas, perseverance, listening and speaking skill as well as teamwork. Having gained the above IGP managerial skills, one can easily secure employment by checking for graduate opportunities advertised as the global mindset and cultural agility. This implies that one can secure these jobs in any part of the world.

Jackson (2002) has paid attention to the aspect of the influence of culture on human resources management. This involves how resources, including human and financial resources, are mobilized to influence a given cultural setting (Verburg, Drenth, Koopman, Muijen, & Wang, 1999). For example, the availability of financial resources may portray the culture of a given community (Goodall, Warmer, & Joynt 2002). These may include celebrations during the festive season and the places to be visited for adventure. Culture is also influenced by resources management through investing in certain assets that will make people move from their home countries to other states, the so-called ‘home away from home.’ At the same time, some communities have invested in their culture that tourists from all areas of the globe come to see them. For example, they may invest in foodstuffs, dancing styles, traditional songs, cultural practices like bull riding, and economic activities. Strong human resources management that impacts on cultures involves the following considerations.

Recruitment and employment culturally involve the analysis of jobs (what the job is), job description (duties and roles one will be expected to perform), and personal specification (these include terms and conditions of work). On the other hand, it comprises the attraction and management of applications, which involves advertising of the position,, and selecting candidates, which involves short-listing and assessment of candidates. Moreover, it presupposes making appointments, which involves the signing of employment and dissemination of roles, and finally joining the organization, which involves the induction of the newly recruited employees to the firm as well as an introduction to the organization staff.

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After the new employee has been recruited to the organization, he or she undergoes in-service training so as to know and uphold the organization’s core values and operations to be able to perform his or her duties effectively. This can be done by the head of the organization or junior members through orientation programs and seminars.

Performance management is normally conducted by the administration of the organization to ensure the achievement of the organizational goals, mission, and vision. In many firms, there is the hierarchical structure of management from the topmost bosses to the junior members. Each of them has responsibilities all geared toward the success of the firm. Each firm has its unique assessment tools to test whether it is heading toward its goal or not. For example, a manager of a firm may devise performance appraisal for employees so that each one of them can be able to measure his or her individual performance.

Payments and rewards are also points of crucial importance. Payment is normally done depending on the terms of employment. Some employees, most of which are permanent, are normally paid on a monthly basis, while others may be employed as per the contractual terms as well as temporary terms. In some firms, workers are paid on a weekly or daily basis, depending on the organization’s policy. According to Ormel, VonKorff, Ustun, Pini, Korten, and Oldehinkel (1995), rewards are also given to workers who perform exemplary well through their input. These rewards may include promotions, accolades, special allowances, allocation of scholarships, and sponsored vacations. Rewards encourage hard-working employees to continue with their efforts as well as challenge the low-achieving employees to change their attitude and start working harder (Schneider & Barsoux, 2003).

The paper by Evaristo (2003) regards the aspect of developing intercultural skills for international industries. This aspect considers the role of industries and educators. This aspect has the following roles: to provide managers with an overview of the importance of intercultural awareness and communication skills among todays and future hospitality in the tourism industry. These help managers handle different cultures in their work, thus attaining success. The second role is to provide tangible examples, involving weak interaction and communication skills in contemporary institutions, especially in the UK. The third role is to present temporary ways that can be used to employ future general unit managers. The fourth role is to identify managerial loopholes which would hinder future success in the hospitality and tourism industry (Pitta, Fung, & Isberg, 1999).

Earley and Ang (2003) have studied the aspect of cultural intelligence. According to their paper, cultural intelligence is the ability to cope with diverse cultures. It can be divided into two components; these are meta-cognitive and cognitive components that involve all the learning strategies and clues to a shared understanding of different cultures.

With respect to culture, motivation refers to the ability to influence other people to like a certain way of life (Spencer, 2002). According to Sommer and Luthans (1996), motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within an individual such as ones who desire to learn a certain language for pleasure as well as their customs. Extrinsic motivation involves motivation that comes from the surrounding environment such as rewards for performing well with regard to foreign cultures. As for cultural intelligence, motivation helps individuals overcome hurdles beyond their communities, thus enhancing interaction with all people. Moreover, motivation instills confidence and realization of individual potential, thus producing high self-efficacy (Earley, 1999). With these, one can achieve much without limitation from the native culture. Lastly, the behavior is the response to environmental stimuli. Such stimuli include mirror, customs, and gestures that identify with a given culture. According to Lewis (2010), behavior also includes the adaptation of mannerism and habits by individuals in a given cultural setting.

Finally, the last aspect is how communication influences culture. By definition, communication involves the transmission of information from one person (sender) to another (receiver) through a certain medium (Guirdham, 2011; Straub, Keil, & Brenner 1997). The sender receives and encodes the message, while the receiver decodes the message after which feedback is given to the sender after the interpretation of the message. According to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, people who speak different languages perceive the world differently. This is because there is a direct relationship between language and culture. Culture is normally passed from one generation to another through language, and the language is a product of culture. Therefore, there can be no language without culture, nor can there be culture without language. Communication can be classified as verbal or nonverbal.

Verbal communication involves the use of spoken words that have meaning. The meaning gives instructions or directions on what is to be done, thus facilitating communication. Verbal communication may be of high culture or low culture. In high culture, the meaning of something is determined by how it is said rather than what is said, for example, in the Japanese and Latin American cultures. In low culture, the meaning of something, unlike high culture, is determined by what is said rather than how it is said, for instance, in Swiss and German cultures. On the other hand, non-verbal communication involves the use of body language, that is, posture, head movements, facial expressions, eye contact, and gestures. These body movements convey different messages, depending on the culture of one’s origin. For example, the nod of the head may be perceived differently depending on cultures and how it is done. It may mean acceptance or rejection of something. Another good example is the OK sign; it means the money in Japan, while in Mexico, it means sex.

A notable tendency in the literature is to attempt to identify a universal set of competencies and skills that can be expected to apply to the majority of expatriate jobs around the world. However, it is reasonable to assume that different regions of the world and different expatriate jobs may require different emphasis on certain skills than others. Empirical studies conducted within the context of the hotel industry, for example, have suggested that the emphasis placed on certain skills and competences may not completely conform to the most generic skills proposed in general expatriation management literature. A relatively early study by Shay and Tracey (1997) indicated that “the reasons for failure and the attributes required for hotel management success abroad appear to be particular to the industry.” The study identified the following as the most desirable attributes of expatriate hotel managers: people skills, adaptability, flexibility, and emotional maturity. Similar beliefs are shared by Dorfman, Howell, Hibino, Tate, and Bautista (1997) who argued that due to the international nature of the hospitality industry, different needs for developing international managers exist.

The following are contributions of international hospitality and tourism industries to various cultural settings (Hodgetts & Luthans, 2006). The first one is the creation of employment opportunities: through tourism, various firms have been established, for example, hotels, restaurants, tourist transportation companies, curio enterprises, archives, monuments, airlines, national parks, and museums. These firms create employment for local people. For example, people are employed in the tourist hotels as chefs, waiters, and cleaners, while others work as game wardens in the game parks or drivers and guides. The creation of employment opportunities helps improve people’s standards of living. The second contribution of tourism and hospitality is eliminating stereotypes and growth in the economies of developing countries (Wilson, 1996). Furthermore, these industries earn the country’s foreign exchange. For example, when tourists visit a country, they bring foreign currency with them. Moreover, international tourists make their payments in hotels and game parks.

Tourism also opens some unproductive areas through the development of transport and communication network. Tourism helps improve loans and supply water in different parts, leading to tourist sites. Communities living near game parks are also assisted through the building of schools and health centers. In addition, the tourism sector earns the country’s revenue through taxation and direct fee collection. The owners of the hotels also earn income from the tourists, thus improving their standards of living. Also, tourism has encouraged the development of other related industries such as banking, insurance, hotels, and transport. It also enhances the development of agriculture as tourist hotels rely on local farmers for the supply of food to the hotels. The demand for certain vegetables and fruits encourages farmers to grow the crop to meet the demand. Tourism also promotes crafts industries. The development of local crafts is boosted as tourists purchase curios such as sisal bags, wood and stone carvings. Moreover, tourism aids in the appreciation of wildlife. The development of domestic tourism enables people to appreciate wildlife as they visit game parks, which reduce human-wildlife conflicts.

Finally, the country gains a good international reputation and fame through tourism: if tourists visit a given country and they are treated well, they carry the name of that destination to their country. Also, tourism creates a good relationship among people. Tourism helps bring together people from different countries of the world. It also assists in reducing the prejudices and stereotypes that exist in different countries.

Even though tourism is the major revenue earning industry in the country, it presupposes some limitations (Laurent, 1995). Firstly, the rate of school drop-outs has increased, especially in developing countries. These happen when some school children are enticed to leave school to act as tourist guides, for example, along the beaches of the coast; there are boys who are paid money either for befriending the tourist or selling curios to the tourist. Young girls are also enticed with money to become friends with adult males, cheating them to leave school.

The second problem caused by the tourism sector is the spread of diseases. Some of the tourists engage in immoral activities that encourage the spread of diseases such as sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS (Spencer-Oatey, 2000). The third problem results from drug trafficking when some tourists traffic drugs and encourage youths to use and abuse drugs. Tourism also results in aping of foreign cultures when some people believe that any behavior exhibited by tourists is good, and they start copying the mannerisms and lifestyles that impact negatively on their culture.

Another problem associated with the tourism sector is the issue of caretaking of animals, which is induced by an influx of large groups of tourists in the game park that disrupts the wild animals. Particularly, when vans drive to the places where animals rest, it makes them very uncomfortable; and if it is done continuously, it affects the natural behavior of animals. Tourists also cause the problem of pollution when they dump plastics and polythene bags everywhere, thus causing negative consequences to the environment. This renders the sites ugly, dirty, and unsafe to visit. Polluted areas are less attractive to tourists. Moreover, the high travel cost discourages tourism, especially in developing countries; for example, airfare from and to other parts of the world is becoming unaffordable to many people. This forces the tourists to resort to charter planes and travel in groups so as to reduce the cost of airfares. Group travels restrict those who would want to stay in the tour countries for a longer period. The tourists have to hire vans to visit the tourist sites that they find very expensive. Finally, since tourism is a delicate industry, it cannot be relied upon as the main source of revenue to the country because a little political disturbance scares the tourists and forces them to abstain.

However, the hospitality and tourism industry has not been fully exploited, which leaves some gaps; for example, some of the remote areas, like those in deserts, have resources that have remained unexploited since these areas attract very few tourists; the reason for this is that most of the tourist areas to visit are well-developed, thus leaving behind those other areas.

In conclusion, the tourism sector is of crucial significance to countries: therefore, it should be upheld and protected. This will promote banking, insurance, hotels, and transport industries that play a crucial role in the economy of any given country. Employees involved in the tourism sector should be trained to be hospitable, which includes the best way to encourage both local and international tourism (Hoffman, 1999). Aspects such as managing service qualities, skills, and experience needed for a successful career in a globalized workplace, culture influence by human resources management, the role of industry and educators in developing intercultural skills in tourism industry, cultural intelligence, and how culture is influenced by communication should be upheld to keep hospitality and tourism sector alive.

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