Training Expatriate Managers For Cross-Cultural Management
Answer to question 1:
As evident from the case study, there is huge difference between the cultures of Australia and New Zealand and Indonesia. Although Indonesia is just about four hours away from Australia and New Zealand by air, the distance in their cultures is immeasurable. Indonesia is a booming place for doing business as it allows multinational corporations to do business without unnecessary restrictions. However, it is important to remember for the expatriate managers that doing business there means complying with the cultural norms and traditions of the people.
Using Trompenaar’s cultural model, the expatriate managers of Australia and New Zealand could be provided training to do business in Indonesia. Trompenaar’s model has seven cultural dimensions that include universalism, individualism, neutral, specific, achievement, sequential time including past and future orientation and internal control (Kull et al. 2014). Cultures scoring high in universalism place increased importance on rules, laws, obligations and values. The most important thing for them is to deal fairly with others. The same could be said about Indonesia because Indonesia has a score of 47 in universalism whereas no score apply in case of Australia. The expatriate managers from Australia and New Zealand must be aware about it. Individualism is a dimension that is characterized by belief towards personal achievement and freedom. Indonesians are not known for individualism but the Australians place great value to it as evident from the score of 71. While preparing the managers, it would be important to train them regarding this dimension. The Australian and New Zealander managers must also know that they have to make adjustments when it comes to appreciating the Indonesian employees. The Indonesians make great efforts to hide their actual feelings and use reason to act rather than emotions.
The expatriate managers also have to be prepared about the importance the Indonesians attach to relationships. The managers are expected to be in a long-term relationship that is formed through shared expectations. This is an indicator of being diffuse rather than specific. While Indonesia scores low in the dimension of specific, Australia has a high score.
Apart from the Trompenaar’s model, the expatriates could be prepared using the Hofstede model of six cultural dimensions as well. Comparatively, Trompenaar’s and Hofstede’s dimensions are similar (Minkov and Hofstede 2014). Based on the country comparisons on Hofstede’s model, it has been found that Indonesians depend on hierarchy and have no problem with unequal power distribution. The individuals are expected to conform to the ideals of the society as evident from the low score in individualism. The Indonesians place little value on success and achievement as they do on the quality of life. However, with a score of 48 on uncertainty avoidance, they have least preference for avoiding uncertainty and thus are open to newness (Hofstede-insights.com, 2019). The expatriate managers from Australia and New Zealand must understand that although Indonesians might not be as competitive or punctual, they will definitely be welcoming for anything new and unique. Indonesia with a high score in long-term orientation also presents itself as a culture with the ability to adapt easily the traditions and to changed conditions.
Answer to question 2:
The case study shows the differences in cultures between Indonesia and Australia and New Zealand. While Indonesians are good at hiding their true feelings and keeping up appearances, Australians are just the opposite. This is some way might benefit the Australian expatriate managers because this would keep the atmosphere at the workplace calm.
One advantage of such a culturally diverse group is that while at one end, the western managers might yell and be furious at the Indonesian employee, at the other end, the Indonesian employee will maintain the harmony of the office by presenting the outward appearance that nothing wrong has occurred.
Another positive aspect is self-control. The Indonesians consider self-control as of the highest value whereas the Australians focus more on productivity and efficiency. Losing one’s temper, being confused and distressed does not necessarily mean being overwhelmed by mixed-up thoughts, but to regain self-control.
Amongst the cons, the lack of trust is one of the biggest issues in culturally diverse groups. The Indonesians might not readily trust the Australian and New Zealander managers because they come from a culture that does not value those things that are held dearly by the Indonesian people.
Apart from that, working with the Indonesian employees, the Australian and New Zealander expatriate managers are expected to look after them. The business relationship in Indonesia is either paternal or maternal in the sense that the workers expect their managers to take care of them just as parents take care of their children. This could burden the managers from Australia and New Zealand because the culture there is opposite.
While the advantages could hugely benefit the people involved in culturally diverse groups, the drawbacks might cause equal problems as well. To be able to manage the situation, both the culturally different groups will have to make adjustments to their attitudes and behavior. The Western managers must spend an extra amount of time in listening to and observing the Indonesian employees. They should also be willing to provide considerations for individual and cultural needs such as giving time for prayer and other religious duties, time for fulfilling religious duties before Ramadan and so on. Furthermore, the managers from Australia and New Zealand must make sure to let the Indonesian employees know that they are expected and free to share problems and ask questions and expect the response to be non-judgmental and unbiased. In case of the Indonesian employees, it is expected that they do not put on any masks in their faces and must express their anger and emotion openly while being polite. They should also be willing to adjust in areas where Western companies are most successful such as strategic planning, efficiency, punctuality, conflict management and productivity amongst others. Working in culturally diverse groups therefore requires both the groups to adjust and accept the cultural differences. Cross-cultural sensitivity works in both ways.
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Answer to question 3:
Although it is important that the Australian and New Zealander managers prepare themselves for their expatriate roles in Indonesia by learning their culture, the Indonesians too have to do the same. This is because a business could be successful only when both parties are mutually cooperative.
The Indonesians must be aware that managers from both Australia and New Zealand will demonstrate different behaviors as compared to their own. The Indonesians must be aware that the Australians and Mew Zealanders will be straightforward and blatant when it comes to expressing anything. As opposed to the Indonesian culture of being silent and secretive, Australian and New Zealanders are verbal and direct (Mukherjee and Ramos-Salazar 2014). With this awareness, the Indonesians will be able to adjust their behaviors while interacting with the Australians and New Zealanders. The Indonesians must also remember that Australians and New Zealanders consider achievement, efficiency and productivity more than personal relationships. Furthermore, Australian and New Zealanders are not able to control their emotions and they speak out directly whatever they feel. In contrast, the Indonesians have the ability to hide their actual emotions. Hence, the Indonesians must remember this distinction in behavior in order to build a strong and effective working relationship. Furthermore, while dealing with their Australian and New Zealander counterparts, the Indonesian people must acknowledge the fact that they are very punctual and do not encourage any “rubber time” for anyone. Apart from that, then Indonesians must also remember that Australians and New Zealanders believe in performance no matter who the person is. The Indonesian workers are managers should focus on this aspect of business so that they are able to build effective working relationship with both Australians and New Zealanders. Other than this, the Indonesian managers and workers must also remember that Australians and New Zealanders are very punctual and being punctual is very critical. They should also maintain a good eye contact whenever they are in a meeting or in a conversation with Australian or New Zealand managers. Some other important cross cultural behaviour that Indonesian workers and managers should keep in mind while interacting or doing business with Australian and New Zealanders is that gift giving is a very uncommon practice in business which most people in Australia and New Zealand do not endorse (Paris 2015). The fact that English is the spoken language in Australia and New Zealand, the Indonesian must give an effort to learn English so that the communication between the two parties is smooth and effective. Australian people are very open and friendly and they value directness and brevity while on the other hand, Indonesians are secretive and tend to keep their actual feelings hidden. This sometimes results in miscommunication and problems in business and hence the Indonesians must make sure that they value, respect and appreciate the directness and brevity of the Australian managers. Keeping these little things in mind regarding the cross-cultural behavior of Australian and New Zealanders it would be easier for the Indonesian workers to carry out a good business deal.
Hofstede-insights.com. (2019). Compare countries - Hofstede Insights. Retrieved 14 August 2019, from https://www.hofstede-insights.com/product/compare-countries/
Kull, T.J., Yan, T., Liu, Z. and Wacker, J.G., 2014. The moderation of lean manufacturing effectiveness by dimensions of national culture: testing practice-culture congruence hypotheses. International Journal of Production Economics, 153, pp.1-12.
Minkov, M. and Hofstede, G., 2014. A replication of Hofstede’s uncertainty avoidance dimension across nationally representative samples from Europe. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 14(2), pp.161-171.
Mukherjee, S. and Ramos-Salazar, L., 2014. " Excuse Us, Your Manners Are Missing!" The Role of Business Etiquette in Today's Era of Cross-Cultural Communication. TSM Business Review, 2(1), p.18.
Paris, D., 2015. Business gift giving etiquette. Journal of Accounting and Management, (2), pp.45-52.