Cooperating and communicating across cultures are the key issues in this case study. Jim, an American employee, joined the German team well prepared with the knowledge of German culture and their language; however, he wasn’t expecting the length and details the meeting session went. He became increasingly impatient, and consequently lost the respect of his fellow team members by “hardly paying attention” to the process. The Germans used a three-day meeting as a way to lay the foundation for the structure of the entire product launch.
By not understanding the importance of the initial meetings in the process, Jim never truly understood the way the team was working, that is by analyzing the problem, and addressing the issues then dividing the work and moving forward with the team leader checking and controlling the outcome. The German team had worked together for at least 10 years and so they knew the company procedures very well, but Jim clearly did not. A key organizational issue Jim exhibited is not showing respect for the Germans’ methods and failing to align himself with the culture more rather than removing himself from the process and complaining. Fundamentally, Jim wanted to outline the problem, adjust and confer during the process but the Germans had different ideas.
This was a result of different culture for doing things. Each side saw the others’ method of operating as wrong rather than as a possible new and different way to address a product launch. Klaus, a German employee, had similar issues arriving in America and learning that the project would be put together as a work in progress rather than carefully thought out prior to execution of a plan.
This is a cultural difference both sides experienced, which could have been prevented by an introduction to work methods before Jim/Klaus started with their new team. Outlining the process and roles of each person would help the visitor learn the culture. The interests of both the Germans and Americans were aligned; however, there was an unwillingness to review the possibility of adapting the best methods from each culture to work together for the benefit of all.
Hitt, Miller & Colella (2011). Organizational Behavior, 3rd Edition: John Wiley & Sons Alston, Jon (June, 2005). Japanese Business Culture and Practices: A Guide to Twenty -First Century Japanese Business. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, Inc.