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Managing Conflicts In A Multicultural Organization Cultural Studies Essay


With diverseness going progressively imperative in the coming decennaries, most people and administrations would experience the necessity to efficaciously pass on cross-culturally. “ Cultures are like belowground rivers that run through our lives and relationships, giving us messages that shape our perceptual experiences, ascriptions, judgements, and thoughts of ego and other ” ( Lebaron, 2003 ) . Though civilizations are influential, they are frequently cataleptic, and manifest in pull stringsing struggle and efforts at deciding struggle, in indiscernible ways.

Conflict that occurs across cultural boundaries is besides happening across cognitive and perceptual boundaries, and is particularly susceptible to jobs of cultural miscommunication and misinterpretation.

These jobs exacerbate the struggle, no affair what the root cause of it. In that sense civilization is an of import factor in many of the struggles that at first may look to be mercenary or about touchable negotiable involvements.

The relationship of civilization and communicating is mutualist with an oculus on better operation of a multicultural organisation. Since civilization affects many of the communicational or interlocutory procedures that are in thick of most struggles, understanding the impact of cultural difference is particularly of import for directors who work in intercultural contexts.

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This paper aims to show how cultures work, its relationships and maps and how to efficaciously pull off cross-cultural struggle in a multicultural organisation, with specific mention to different direction schemes

The Challenge

“ Conflict is a crisis that forces us to acknowledge explicitly that we live with multiple worlds and must negociate a common world ; that we bring to each state of affairs differing – often contrasting – narratives and must make together a individual shared narrative with a function for each and both ” – Augsburger ( 1992, 11 )

With altering demographics of the planetary society and increasing chances for inter-cultural contacts, effectual cultural communicating has become a prerequisite.

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Hiebert ( 1985, 166 ) , a professor of anthropology, stated: “ It is estimated that in normal communicating within the same civilization, people understand merely approximately 70 per centum of what is said. In cross-culture state of affairss the degree is likely non above 50 per centum. ” With organisations going microcosm of the universe the collection of rainbow staff would merely perpetuate misinterpretations as Waters ( 1992, 438 ) said, “ It is self-evident that a racially and culturally diverse work force will see struggle, if for no other ground, merely as a map of diverseness itself ” . In today ‘s planetary society the direction and employees come from a assortment of national and cultural backgrounds, to complement this paradigm the organisation must:

Enable this heterogenous work force to harmoniously work towards common ends.

Maximize part of each member in this mostly diverse squad.

Ensure just intervention for all, irrespective of the cultural background.

Systematic attempts are required on portion of these organisations to run into this challenge. Whether the multi-cultural character of the company arises from its international work force or from the assorted backgrounds of the work force in a individual location, the organisation must turn to this diverseness if it wants to be successful.

Every organisation has a pick in how it will confront this complex issue, between a basically defensive attack and a developmental 1. Robert Day in his article about pull offing diverseness says “ An organisation which adopts the defensive attack treats cultural differences as jeopardies – a series of weak links between people in which there is great possible for misconstruing, struggle, misgiving and even bitterness. It assumes at the start that certain people are inherently culturally insensitive to others. The developmental attack, on the other manus, foremost of all sees cultural differences for what they are – potentially different values, premises, outlooks, and behaviour which people bring to concern as a consequence of their differing backgrounds ” . As expressed by Fons Trompenaars a outstanding Dutch author, cross-culture is “ the manner in which a group of people solves jobs ” . Furthermore, the developmental attack recognizes that these corporate inclinations reveal themselves as single differences. Members of a squad are non at that place to stand for a ‘culture ‘ or peculiar cultural group – “ they represent themselves ” .

The challenge for cross-cultural direction is admiting that cultural differences are no longer jeopardies, but simply chances to beef up the organisation through shared acquisition and wider positions.

How Cultures Work

Two things are indispensable to retrieve about civilizations: they are ever altering, and they relate to the symbolic dimension of life. The symbolic dimension is the topographic point where we are invariably doing significance and ordaining our individualities. “ Cultural messages from the groups we belong to give us information about what is meaningful or of import, and who we are in the universe and in relation to others — our individualities. Cultural messages, merely, are what everyone in a group knows that foreigners do non cognize. They are the H2O fishes swim in, unaware of its consequence on their vision. They are a series of lenses that shape what we see and do n’t see, how we perceive and interpret, and where we pull boundaries. In determining our values, civilizations contain get downing points[ 1 ]and bearers[ 2 ]that influence and qualify our interactions with others ” ( Lebaron, 2003 ) .

Therefore three of import points emerge from Michelle Lebaron ‘s survey:

Culture is multi-layered – what you see on the surface may dissemble differences below the surface.

Culture is invariably in flux – as conditions change, cultural groups adapt in dynamic and sometimes unpredictable ways.

Culture is elastic – cognizing the cultural norm of a given group does non foretell the behaviour of a member of that group, who may non conform to norms for single or contextual grounds.

Since civilization is so closely related to our individualities ( who we think we are ) , and the ways by which we make intending ( what is of import to us and how ) , it is ever an under-running factor in our day-to-day lives. Cultural consciousness leads us to use the Platinum Rule in topographic point of the Golden Rule. Rather than the axiom “ Do unto others as you would hold them make unto you, ” the Platinum Rule advises: “ Do unto others as they would hold you do unto them. ”

Cultural influence and identities become critical depending on surroundings. When an facet of cultural individuality is threatened or misunderstood, it may go individual most of import standards in cross-cultural struggles. Narrow individuality may go the focal point of stereotyping, negative projection, and struggle. We have to concentrate on this kernel of working of civilization as it becomes really important in intractable or cross-cultural struggles.

Measuring Cultures

Before we start with tests and trials of cultural struggles it is indispensable for us to measure what comprises of a civilization. To do the sense of the connexion between struggles and civilizations, we must take into history the composing of each of them. This must take into consideration qualitative ( which are evident ) and quantitative ( which are non evident ) facets of it.

In some civilizations it is violative to do oculus contact when speaking while in others it may demo deficiency of involvement in communicating. Touching each other while discoursing might be poignant in some civilizations, whilst it would be taken as displeasure by people belonging to some other civilization. Understanding these all right lines that create diverseness is of extreme importance.

Hydrogen: Semester 2Conflict And Negotiationseven_dimensions_of_culture.gif[ 3 ]

Trompenaars Model of Culture

Trompenaars tries to measure civilization, non as defined by geographical and political boundaries but as persons who are portion of a peculiar civilization and exposed to diverseness. In true sense these persons create a multicultural organisation.

Measuring civilizations and understanding different facets of it would assist directors or leaders of multicultural organisation to germinate their accomplishments in effectual direction of cross-culture struggles. What should be length of pleasantries and salutations between parties of different civilization before acquiring down to concern treatment? What is the right etiquette and what is considered as polite behaviour in multicultural societal assemblages? What are the tolerance degrees of different civilizations? What is the expected dressing civilization? These are some of the inquiries that give an penetration to a cultural norm.

Based on survey of assorted articles on civilization, I would qualify these appraisals into following points:



Belief construction


Social standing of the people involved

Affection at place and in society

Past experiences

Myriad of other regional factors

The directors in multicultural organisation must see stainless position of the civilizations. They must unplug the contemplation of what is being portrayed and what an organisation really consists of. By beging responses from different visions of appraisal, a true image comparing that unmarred portrayal can be visualized on a graph.A From this information you can measure where the civilizations are similar, where struggles may emerge, and where the organisation ‘s strengths prevarication.

The undermentioned tabular array and figure attempts to sort four major civilizations present in organisation, their traits and struggle manners.

Major Cultural Classification and Their Traits

North American

European / Anglo-saxon


Oriental / Far East

1. Explicit communicating with accent on content. 2. Eating as necessity most fast nutrient 3. Focus on atomic household with duty of ego. 4. Individual orientation and independency. 5. Direct confrontation of Conflict 6. Preference of changeless mobility in life

1. Explicit and inexplicit communicating. 2. Dining as societal experience. 3. Focus on atomic household with duty of household. 4. Individual and group orientation and independency. 5. Direct confrontation of Conflict 6. Preference of changeless mobility in life.

1. Explicit communicating with accent on both content and context. 2. Eating as a household or societal assemblage with spiritual regulations. 3. Focus on extended household with trueness and duty of all. Age given position and regard. 4. Group orientation and conformance. 5. Preference for harmoniousness 6. Preference of stableness

1. Implicit communicating with accent on context. 2. Dining as societal assemblage with rigorous norms. 3. Focus on atomic household with duty of household. 4. Group orientation and conformance. 5. Preference for harmoniousness. 6. Preference of stableness


A Model of Intercultural Conflict Styles

North American

European / Anglo-saxon


Oriental / Far East

Hydrogen: Semester 2Conflict And Negotiationintercultural-conflict-model1.jpg


Culture and Conflict: Connections

Cultures are embedded in most struggle because such a status arises from how we perceive state of affairss, which are defined by civilizations. Cultures affect the ways we name, frame and effort to chasten struggles. Whether a struggle exists at all is a cultural inquiry excessively. For illustration through eyes of an aged Tibetan he has non experienced any struggle at all in the last 30 old ages. Among the possible grounds for his denial was a cultural penchant to see the universe through lenses of harmoniousness instead than struggle, as encouraged by his Buddhist and Confucian upbringing. Labeling some of our interactions as struggles and analysing them into smaller constituent parts is a clearly Western attack that may befog other facets of relationships.

Culture is ever a factor in struggle, whether it plays a polar function or influences it subtly. For any struggle that threatens us where it matters and where we keep our individualities, there is ever a cultural constituent. Intractable struggles like the Israeli-Palestinian struggle or the Indo-Pak struggle over Kashmir are non merely about territorial, boundary, and sovereignty issues — they are besides about recognition, representation, and legitimization of different individualities and ways of life and doing significance.

In organisations, struggles originating from different civilizations escalate tensenesss between colleagues, making strained or inaccurate communicating and stressed relationships. When differences surface in organisations, civilization is ever present, determining perceptual experiences, attitudes, behaviours, and outcomes. Cultures shared by bulk frequently seem to be “ natural and normal ” , “ the manner things are done ” . We merely notice the consequence of civilizations when they are different from our ain, sing behaviours that we label alien or unusual.

Culture is intertwined with struggle, sometimes wittingly but largely unwittingly. It acts as a brooding mirror of our individualities and when evildoing takes topographic point across those boundaries it presses a volatile switch that lays down a cyclic procedure of future actions which unwittingly are controlled by civilizations excessively.

Culture is inextricable from struggle, though it does non do it. An of import point of understanding here is that civilization is non beginning of struggle it is merely the medium of it. Culture permeates struggle, sometimes forcing Forth with strength, other times softly creeping beneath, barely denoting its presence until surprised people about stumble on it. Therefore in multicultural organisations, rudimentarily civilization and struggle are inseparable, ever ordering the result originating out of differences.

Culture is non a Problem – Unless it ‘s a Problem

Let us understand one thing that civilization is non a job – unless it is a job!

Many international undertakings have been a victory without anyone of all time detecting that prevailing cultural differences may hold caused unforeseen defeats or hurdlings. However, rather a figure of undertakings ne’er reach optimum degrees of operation because of omnipresent cultural asynchronizations have amplified the other troubles that may hold been encountered.

One company which presented a instance narrative in one of the “ Management of Multicultural Projects ” plans described a undertaking in North Africa which involved interested parties from 3 continents with representation from Korea, Libya, the UK and Denmark. For the experient Danish company entirely, the undertaking was to be finished within 2 old ages with a net income of 2 million US dollars. After 6 old ages when the undertaking was eventually completed it was at a loss of 1 million US dollars. Even the start-up meeting, which required an energetic start, turned out to be a prevue of the jobs that were yet to come. The parties were ne’er present that start-up hebdomad all at the same clip. It was about impossible to pull up undertaking programs and understandings to everyone ‘s satisfaction. Organizational relationships were ne’er rather clear. Language and cultural differences made communicating hard. These enforcing factors were rather clearly the ruin of this multicultural undertaking.

Most of us have heard of jobs that have occurred when mottos for merchandises were non efficaciously translated in international advertisement publicities. On the web site, Mary N. Bruder references several interlingual renditions gone bad. For illustration, when Chevrolet tried to sell the Nova to Spanish-speaking states, it ne’er sold good because in Spanish, “ No Virginia ” translates into “ It does non travel. ” Besides, when Pepsi started selling merchandises in China, the motto, “ Pepsi Brings You Back to Life ” was translated reasonably literally. The motto in Chinese truly meant, “ Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave ” .

With the wisdom of hindsight directors of multicultural undertakings understand that many of the jobs through-out the undertaking could ever hold been foreseen and at least partly resolved, if there had been a careful cultural analysis of the interested parties at the start. Therefore by allowing civilization being a job they made it a job.

Cultural Conflicts: How to Pull off

“ Conflict direction is purposeful intercession of directors to excite good struggles and suppress, resoluteness and prevent harmful struggles ” – Johnson ( 1994, 718 )

Given civilization ‘s of import function in struggles, what should be done to maintain it in head and include it in response programs? Unless we develop a comfort with diverse cultural responses and shrug off our myopic nature, we may happen ourselves tangled in its cyberspace of complexness, limited by our ain cultural lenses. The alteration from homogeneous to heterogenous work force requires directors increase their focal length and be adaptative in cross-cultural accomplishments.

The cardinal tool for extricating and pull offing multilayered cultural struggles is Cultural eloquence.

The undermentioned schemes are assimilated from assorted surveies, in order to give an abridged penetration of demand of tomorrow ‘s directors or leaders of multicultural organisations.

By Analyzing Different Cultures:

In detecting other civilizations, the differences are striking ; the manner concern cards are exchanged, the manner people greet each other, frock, negotiate and decide struggle, and even the manner ocular information is seen and perceived. Other differences are subjects of conversation and concern imposts that have been deemed appropriate. Besides, gestural communicating is different ; the distance between us and another individual when speech production, manus and facial gestures and how long oculus contact is maintained with another individual or if it is. In his article in Journal of Business and Technical Communication, Barry Thatcher claims “ that while more empirical and ethnographic research must be done, we face the danger of oversimplifying people, organisations, and civilizations ” . Most intercultural communicating is based on limited premises of organisational relationships. Directors need to pull valid and ethical cross-cultural comparings, the focal point should foremost be on similarities between civilizations, and so on the differences between those.

By Get the better ofing Ethnocentrism:

Ethnocentrism is inevitable since it is rooted in the impossibleness of get awaying from one ‘s experience. Ethnocentrism leads to false sense of high quality. Directors must larn to battle this false belief and adopt the world that, because people see things otherwise, does non connote that they are inferior. In his book Bridging Differences, William Gudykunst ( 1991 ) claims

“ Peoples must acquire off from the thought that we are right and they are incorrect. This mentality exists when groups or persons look out for their ain involvements and have small concern for others ‘ involvements. This deficiency of concern leads to moral exclusion, which occurs when persons or groups are perceived as outside the boundary in which moral values, regulations, and considerations of fairness apply. Those who are morally excluded are perceived as nonexistences, expendable, or undeserving ; accordingly, harming them appears acceptable, appropriate or merely ” .

There are two dimensions which assist a director in get the better ofing this leaning toward ethnocentrism:

a. An increased consciousness of one ‘s ain civilization.

B. An consciousness of the differences in work and cultural values of other civilizations.

By Avoiding Stereotyping:

The designation of stereotypes is an of import key to cross-cultural communicating. “ Stereotyping is simplism of preconceived impressions ” . Although people of one civilization portion certain features, stereotypes are likely to do unrealistic outlooks in interpersonal relationships. One of the best ways to avoid the job of stereotyping is to do an attempt at nearing wholly people as human existences. This mental pick helps to construct a positive attitude toward people of other civilizations.

By Developing Multiple Positions:

The leader needs to get the accomplishment of nearing the universe through multiple positions. Self-awareness is the first measure in developing multiple positions. Bing cognizant of personal cultural premises is a important facet in developing competency in intercultural exchanges. A German caput of section of a multicultural company in South Africa, who has lived there for more than ten old ages, states that his cross-cultural experience has assisted him in larning that there are multiple positions. Directors are used to see things and black and white but with heterogenous work force they must now understand that it is of import to put all issues in different chromaticities of Grey. An of import duty of a leader is to acknowledge the scope of forces that affect each of the employees, so to help them understand how these forces influence single perceptual experiences. This procedure creates an ambiance of co-operation in the work topographic point.

By Multicultural Communication:

An old Roman stating goes “ The important inquiry is non whether your message is understood but whether it can be misunderstood ” . A trough must understand the influence of civilization in communications. Communication refers to different get downing points about how to associate to and with others.

A categorization devised by Edward T. Hall differentiates communicating as high and low context. Hall ( 1976 ) says,

“ In high-context communicating, most of a message is conveyed by the context environing it, instead than being named explicitly in words. The physical scene, the manner things are said, and shared apprehensions are relied upon to give communicating significance. Interactions feature formalized and stylized rites, cabling thoughts without spelling them. Nonverbal cues and signals are indispensable to comprehension of the message. The context is trusted to pass on in the absence of verbal looks, or sometimes in add-on to them. Low-context communicating emphasizes straightness instead than trusting on the context to pass on. From this get downing point, verbal communicating is specific and actual, and less is conveyed in implied, indirect signals. Low-context communicators tend to state what they mean and mean what they say ” .

High context communicating being less direct than low-context communicating may increase the possibilities of miscommunication because much of the intended message is unexpressed while low-context communicating may intensify struggle because it is more confrontational than high-context communicating.

Hall ( 1976 ) further provinces,

“ As people communicate, they move along a continuum between high and low-context. Depending on the sort of relationship, the context, and the intent of communicating, they may be more or less expressed and direct. In close relationships, communicating stenography is frequently used, which makes communicating opaque to foreigners but absolutely clear to the parties ” .

Within a multicultural organisation the same pick is fallible and possible flicker for struggle. Thus directors may take low and high-context communicating depending on apprehension of cultural groups.

My experiences in multicultural organisations have helped me place redundancy as cardinal in multicultural communicating, where changeless elucidation and feedback is of import. Steyn set forth five rules of effectual communicating which can be transpired to cross-cultural communicating with an add-on of a 6th point.

Keep the message simple, utilizing direct and simple linguistic communication.

Keep the message clear and concise.

Deliver the message at a clip when the receptor is most receptive.

Give the message at velocity at which the receptor is able to understand.

Minimize the usage of debris words that detract from the primary message.

Repeat the message untill receptor grasps the intended significance

By Mentoring Employees and Team Building:

A leader of a multicultural administration should stress similarities among employees instead than differences. He must assist his employees understand and appreciate the value of single differences, finding a sense of community. Harmonizing to assorted research workers ( Salend, 1999, 9 ; Garcia & A ; Pugh, 1992, 217 ; Kirtman & A ; Minoff, 1996, 16 ; Putzman & A ; Johnson, 1997, 30 ) a trough should:

Create an environment unfastened to sharing.

Aid to understand how each member perceives motivations, actions, and state of affairss.

Aid to understand that people have differences in demands, aims, and values.

Provide chances for workers to see the diverseness of civilizations.

Be originative in supplying equal acknowledgment for each employee.

By Sympathizing with Employees:

Empathy is ability to interchange topographic points with another individual in order to understand the ideas, emotions and behaviour in a given state of affairs. Empathy is non automatic but a developed response. Harmonizing to Malone and Tulbert ( 1996, 47 ) , “ a centered individual needs the ability to switch paradigms and view the universe through eyes of other people ” . A deficiency of empathy could be a job, what may be minor for person could be major for another. Besides empathy helps in get the better ofing ethnocentrism.

By Approach to Meaning Making:

Approachs to meaning-making besides vary across civilizations. Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars suggest that people have a scope of get downing points for doing sense of their lives, including:

a. Universalist ( prefering regulations, Torahs, and generalisations )

b. Particularistic ( prefering exclusions, dealingss, and contextual rating )

c. Specificity ( preferring expressed definitions, interrupting down wholes into constituent parts, and mensurable consequences )

d. Diffuseness ( concentrating on forms, the large image, and procedure over result )

When directors do n’t understand that others may hold rather different get downing points, struggle is more likely to happen and to intensify. Negative motivations are easy attributed to person who begins from a different terminal of the spectrum. These continua are non absolute, nor do they explicate human dealingss loosely, they are merely hints to what might be sub-terrain. Directors need to be meaning-making, stating narratives and making apprehensions that preserve sense of ego and relate to aim. This can be done by the creative activity of shared narratives to do room for multiple points of position within them. Trompenaars adds “ Narrative conflict-resolution attacks help them go forth their concern with truth and being right on the out of bounds for a clip, turning their attending alternatively to narratives in which they can both see themselves. Another manner to research significance devising is through metaphors. Metaphors are compact, tightly packaged word pictures that convey a great trade of information in stenography signifier. As the director facilitates the two sides to speak about their metaphors, the more diffused starting point wrapped up in different cultural position meets the more specific one ” .

By Naming and bordering a Conflict:

Wayss of naming and bordering a struggle varies across cultural boundaries. Not everyone agrees on what constitutes a struggle. For those accustomed to repress, unagitated treatment, an emotional exchange may look fickle and a baleful struggle. Intractable struggles are besides capable to different readings. Is an event a brush, a aggravation, an escalation, or a mere trifle, barely deserving detecting? The reply depends on position, context, and how individuality relates to the state of affairs. Since there is no consensus across civilizations or state of affairss on what constitutes a struggle or how events in the interaction should be framed, so there are many different ways of believing about how to properly border a cross-cultural struggle. John Paul Lederach, in his book Fixing for Peace: Conflict Transformation Across Cultures, identifies the function of a modern director in a scope of cultural contexts when to prefer traditional, high-context scenes, and when to move in a low-context scenes. Mangers depending on their cultural sense of what is needed, how struggle should be addressed must be able to clearly specify and border a struggle least farther intensifying an bing one.

By Suspending Judgment:

It is a critical accomplishment for a leader in a multicultural administration. When a director makes a determination about a struggle direction scheme he must take into history non merely the accomplishment of short-run ends but the long-run effects to subsidiaries as good. Knowledge of personal cultural forms could help a leader in suspending opinion. This could assist in face direction which are outstanding in some civilizations.

Recommendations and Decision

“ When I think of what has helped me bridge cultural spreads, it is more than merely sensitiveness ; it is enjoyment of the difference, even when they arise in struggles ” – Mayer

Cross cultural struggles could be map or dysfunctional depending upon how the struggle is managed. The transverse civilization phenomenon may do confusion and impacting perceptual experiences, therefore it is imperative for directors and those in leading functions to understand the accomplishments involved in stamp downing such state of affairss and steering the diverse work force to way of organisational success.

A multicultural organisation should follow a three measure program.

An initiation plan for new employees concentrating on cultural specific preparation.

A diverseness and struggle declaration preparation.

A long term aim of uninterrupted up step of employees understanding of cultural issues and new schemes for struggle declaration.

In current scenario the cardinal term to understand for directors is civilization eloquence. Being culturally fluid involves all facets discussed in this paper. It strengthens a leader ‘s accomplishment in placing the root cause, the nature of struggle and methods required to successfully decide a possible escalating state of affairs.

The multi-dimensional character of cross-cultural struggles requires multiple perspective leading. Adaptive and germinating directors in such organisations are cardinal to success.

This paper merely provides an penetration into intra-organization cross civilization struggles. A farther range would add another dimension to already complex state of affairs. How would we pull off two or more multicultural organisation struggles? We besides require more intensive research on cultural values from a planetary base point to to the full qualify demands of tomorrow ‘s directors.

The undermentioned statement from Mayer compactly concludes this paper: “ The most serious struggles in our universe, with sedate effects, involve cross-cultural issuesaˆ¦Resolution must affect a new attack to interaction, in which the diverseness of people becomes a beginning of strength and non a cause of calamity. ”

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Managing Conflicts In A Multicultural Organization Cultural Studies Essay. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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