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7928IBA-Cross-Cultural Management | Report

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Numerous hawker stalls were a familiar sight in Singapore's streets and alleys until late 1960s. They were not much different from the hawker stalls that visitors to many developing nations see: colorful, arranged in a disorderly pattern, inviting visitors to use them, but unconsciously sending the message “buyer beware”. While there's little argument that these hawkers (street food vendors) brought a certain charm to the social and cultural landscape of Singapore, many stall holders plied their trade under less than desirable conditions. More often than not, hawkers operated under unhygienic conditions, contending with a lack of piped water supply and inadequate facilities to prepare and cook their food. To compound the problems, the authorities and wider population had to deal with the indiscriminate disposal of wastes into drains. Over a period of time, these conditions caused considerable pollution in the island's water courses, endangering both public health and the environment. 

As a result, the Singaporean government developed a plan to build designated hawker centers with complete infrastructure and strict regulations. Stall holders were expected to be vigilant in adhering to proper food and personal hygiene practices and to ensure that their stalls are free from pests and other infestation. Importantly, the hawker centers in Singapore succeeded in promoting five important standards of community development: ethnic diversity but unity, efficiency, the power of women, safety, and synthesis of traditional and modern values.

In view of this success, Sunshine Inc., a privately owned European food company, negotiated an agreement with the government in YOUR ASSIGNED COUNTRY to establish and manage a hawker center in a regional city of that country. The local government stipulated that the newly established hawker center must adhere to the same health, safety and community standards as the Singaporean model but it left the authority to implement and maintain these standards to Sunshine Inc., unwilling to pass or enforce any state laws that would ensure the standards. The local government will not intervene in the operations but it will close the hawker center down if it is inefficient and/or breaches health, safety or community standards. No assistance of international agencies is available.

In order to have a stronger management control, Sunshine Inc. changed the Singaporean model and decided to hire all hawkers as permanent employees. To stand apart from other food services available in the country, additionally to the adherence to strict food safety, sanitation requirements and community standards promoted in Singaporean hawker centers, the local hawkers are required to operate according to company core values. Sunshine Inc. prides itself to be quality-conscious and innovation-focused and promotes in all its operations consistent quality of food, friendly and professional customer service, and provision of innovative food services to local community. It is known for its management expertise and efficient operations but it has never operated in the region where YOUR ASSIGNED COUNTRY is located. That is why the company hired you to advise them how to set up the organizational structure, operations and people systems, and management practices in a culturally-effective way to make the new hawker center successful while adhering to the required standards and core company values. The specific goals, which you are assisting with as an experienced cross-cultural management consultant, are listed on Page 1 of this assignment.

Based on your analysis, propose suitable culture-specific organisational structure, operations systems, support systems or management practices, such as problem solving, decision making, motivation or other management activities, that will enable and enforce the required standards and company core values. Your goal is to ensure that employees of the hawker center maintain the standards and behave in line with company values. Focus in your analysis on 3-4 most critical internal management issues of your choice (determined by your management analysis) and recommend other issues for future research in the scope section. Justify by means of your cultural analysis (using cultural dimensions) why the recommended methods would work in the local situation. Assume that local employees will be managed by supervisors from Sunshine Inc. headquarters in the initial phase.

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