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Integrating Culture and Management in Global Organizations

Taking Cultural Training into the Global Millennium by Dean Allen Foster

INSIDE 2

Announcing the Intercultural Management Quarterly

The 5 Technology: Wave of the Future or Just Getting Swept Away?

Cultural 6 Attaining Synergy in Global Mergers

Suddenly, despite the Y2K fizzle, the magic of millennial change is beginning to make its mark. There is a growing awareness of things “then” and “now,” of “the Old Way” and “the New Way,” of “the Establishment Economy” and “the New Economy.” There is nothing magical about the millennial marker, but there is undeniably a palpable “then” and “now” which has settled into almost all aspects of human endeavor, including the field of intercultural training. Despite all the talk about it in the intercultural field for the last 20 years, we really have finally entered into a global world. If we haven’t prepared for it by now, it’s too late. What we really need to be doing now is dealing with globalization as it is, and is to become. Toward this end, I will first set out the differences between that pre-global, premillennial world of intercultural training of the past, and what I refer to as the “trans-national,” post-

global world we now find ourselves in, and then outline how intercultural training must change in order to address these changes. Duality versus Diversity Fundamental cultural research in the pre-global world (seminal researchers including Edward T. Hall, Geert Hofstede, and Fons Trompenaars) mainly centered on identifying categories around which cultures vary, and the ways in which different cultures varied on these categories. Most of the research was anthropological and sociological, mainly focused on determining and measuring the areas around which cultures can contrast. It was research that was, by its very nature, based on the pre-global supposition that there is an “us” and “them,” an inquiry based on an assumed intellectual dualism.

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Continued on page 3

Connecting Intercultural Communication and Management by Gary R. Weaver

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Book Review: Doing Business with Japan

Volume 1, Number 1

Ina ugu ral Edition Spring 2000

Most management principles are based upon American case studies, quantitative research at universities, and even laboratory experiments with animals. Many are built upon American psychological and pseudo-psychological research. While these principles are useful, they must be carefully and critically examined and questioned in the context of the multicultural or international workplace. Most are not validated across cultures and thus can only be applied to a fairly homogeneous, mainstream American workplace. It may be true that the average American is primarily motivated to be productive and remain with an organization because his or her need for individual achievement is met in the workplace. The employee is rewarded for hard work with a higher salary. However, a joint venture may involve employees from traditional non-European cultures or a company in Detroit may find an increasing number of employees who are female, from Latin American

backgrounds. These employees may be more concerned with long-term security or being valued as part of a group. Intercultural management takes cultural context into consideration. The stick and carrot that works best depends on the background of the employee. Most importantly, an effective manager is able to communicate with people from various backgrounds, not simply co-workers from his hometown or home state. It is tempting to take the position that those who are different ought to fit into the organizational culture. That is, the organizational culture trumps all other cultures. Somehow people leave their ethnic or national cultural identities on the sidewalk before they walk into the building each morning. When they behave like everyone else in the organization and share the dominant values, they will be fine.

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