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Understanding Culture Shock

Question:

Discuss about the Diversity and Public Administration.

Culture shock can be explained as the mixed feeling of anxiety, confusion and uncertainty that individual face at the time of change in business, living area which includes totally different society from their own. It can arise due to unfamiliarity with local customs, language and acceptable behavior, as standards can be different for different cultures. Culture shock in organization can be daunting when an organization plans to operates its business activities across the globe for sustaining the profitable corporate relationship. Many of the international companies provide cultural training to help the employees to understand the different cultures. This training further helps in reducing cultural gaffes by employees which can influence the business (Furham, 2012).  

Cultural shock can also be explained as experience of the person when he/she shifts to a cultural environment which is totally different from their own (Fan, 2010). One of the main origins of cultural shock includes persons in a foreign environment. Cultural shock is a natural process and it may generally take weeks and months to develop in any person. Cultural shock consists of four phases’ adjustment, negotiation, honeymoon and adaptation (Vanderwerf, 2016). The experience involved in these stages varies from person to person and the influence of each phase is different. The different phases help to know that how one should adjust, adapt and manage the changes.

Honeymoon- When one finds the changes very exciting, interesting and fascinating.

Cultural shock- When one starts facing difficulties and challenges to comprehend the changes.

Adjustment-When one got to understand the changes and tries to adjust.

Mastery- when change has become the new normal.

For instance, an Indian student has planned to go abroad for higher studies in Australia. The student was aware of Australian accent and he knows how to speak English properly. He has an idea that he may face some challenges related to admissions and colleges but he wasn’t aware of actual difficulties. So when he actually reached their, he realizes that climate condition is totally different from their country. This further creates the health related problems. Then he came to know about the actual expenses in living in Australia afterwards he realizes he has to look for some jobs to bear the expenses. He also faced challenges in understanding their culture and values which was no similar to his own country (Cullingford, 2017). First he felt isolated and lonely and he was barely able to connect with the people around him. Then with time he got to know the changes and develop the understanding of their culture. He is then able to adjust with the new country and at the end the change becomes the new normal for him. Now he seems to belong from Australia. So this example defines the concept of cultural shock more clearly (Duchscher, 2009).

There is a need to understand the differences that occurs while shifting from one culture to another. The dimensions of the culture vary from one country to another country. To expand the business, an organization must go for global business. Global business implies global clients as well as global employees. This further creates the cultural shock as many of the employees have to shift from one country to another country to achieve the organizational objectives. Many of the organization involve employees from different cultures such as HP, IBM, and many more. The organizations that have the employees from different countries may face the challenge of cultural shock (Expatica, 2018). It is quite challenging to manage cultural shock as it requires some extra efforts and managerial skills to deal with it. International human resource management plays a vital role in dealing with cultural shock at workplace. From the beginning the HR mangers are aware that they may face the challenge of cultural shock as it is the roller-coaster of emotions of individuals which comes in between the performance of the employees. As the behavior of the employees depends upon the performance of the employees so the employees must have peace in mind so that they can perform well. The performance of the employees gets influenced by the level of anxiety and depression due to cultural change. To manage the cultural shock, there are some practicalities which may be included in settling down in a new country along with the new job and new culture.

Phases of Culture Shock

For instance, an American Multinational Information Technology Company known as Hewlett-Packard (HP) was founded in 1939. It has developed and delivers wide variety of software and hardware components and co services to the consumers, small and large sized organizations. It was ranked as the world’s leading PC producer from 2007-2013. The company HP has employees from different countries therefore they usually deal with the challenges like cultural shock. To manage the cultural shock, HP has followed the Synergistic approach out of ethnocentric and parochial approach. The synergistic approach implies “Our way and their way differ but neither way is inherently superior to other”

Synergistic approach suggests and assumes cultural contingency-that the best way depends on the particular cultures of the people involved. This approach identifies the similarities and dissimilarities between the different cultures that make up a global organization and advices that we neither ignore nor minimize the cultural shock. The organization does not force employees to follow the rules and values of a particular culture. They do not make the employees feel the cultural shock as they prefer to provide the information package to the employees regarding the host country. Instead of making the employees feel cultural shock, the organization tries to indulge them with existing employees. From the point of view of HP, the employees from different countries are resources which help in designing and developing the organizational systems (Banks, 2015)

HP follows some major steps to manage the cultural shock. They first describe the situation and determine the underlying cultural assumptions. Then accesses the cultural overlaps, then try to create culturally synergistic alternatives afterwards select one alternative and eventually, implement the selected solution. By following these steps it transforms the cultural shock into some positive outcomes (Kamal, 2009).

If the managers want the employees to switch in another branch of their organization then the employees must provide with the package of information. The package of information includes the information about the host country such as their culture, values, beliefs, norms and attitudes and the way they work and others necessary things. With the help of this information package, the employees will get themselves prepared for a new country. In some cases organization fails to provide information package to the employees therefore in those cases the organization should at least provide counseling support to the employees (Rice, 2015).

The cultural shock is combination of mixed feelings in which a person literally gets confused and that will further affect the performance of the employees. Therefore to deal with these challenges, the organization often hires well trained employees to motivate the employees to cope up with the new changes. The organizational helps the employees to know the information regarding the new country. The permanent transfer can be depressing for the employees consequently; employees might deny adapting the new changes (Reisinger & Turner, 2012). So to handle this situation organization can provide counseling support to the employees by the psychologist who can motivate the employees and help in keeping their mind positive towards the new change.

The Challenge to Global Organizations

As an organization includes different employees from different cultures therefore it is necessary to spend some time to establish and develop the team process to manage the cultural shock properly. Is the employees feel cultural shock that will ultimately affects the performance of the employees which can be very challenging for the organization. Therefore the organizations need to develop a good communication process in which every employee will feel free to ask any questions and doubts. A simple and easy process of communication will build a healthy environment in the workplace. If the employees from different country feel cultural shock they can easily ask for help from the organization to understand the new culture and changes (Waycott, 2015).

Cultural shock implies feelings of individuals such as anxiety and depression due to the cultural change. The teams which have the employees, who feel cultural shock, will definitely going to have poor performance as the employees will not be able to understand the new processes and ways to perform well. Therefore the organizations should indulge the type of team exercises to determine the new perceptions (Zhou, Jindal-Snape, Topping & Todman, 2008). They should also carry out the different trainings sessions that will help to encourage harmony and new concepts to handle cultural shock.

Conclusion

It can be concluded from the above essay that international business is a quite exciting and interesting term. This expression might seem interesting to hear but involves so many challenges and difficulties. Many of the organizations have failed to handle those challenges and difficulties and end up being unsuccessful. Therefore the organization should overlook the behavior and activities of the employees as it will ultimately affects the overall performance of the employees. In addition to this essay also includes the ways to handle the cultural shock. It can be concluded that cultural shock is a natural process which takes time to get on the normal stage.

References

Ang, S., & Van Dyne, L. (2015). Handbook of cultural intelligence. Routledge.

Banks, J. A. (2015). Cultural diversity and education. Routledge.

Duchscher, J. E. B. (2009). Transition shock: the initial stage of role adaptation for newly graduated registered nurses. Journal of advanced nursing, 65(5), 1103-1113.

Expatica. (2018). Manage culture shock in three easy steps. Retrieved 31st March, 2018. https://www.expatica.com/nl/moving-to/Manage-culture-shock-in-three-easy-steps_106059.html

Fan, S. (2010). Language shock: A challenge to language learning. Internet Journal of Language, Culture and Society, 2(31), 42-51.

Furham, A. (2012). Culture shock. Revista de Psicologéa de la Educación, 7.

Kamal, Y. (2009). Managing Diversity at Workplace: A Case Study of hp. Retrieved 31st March, 2018. https://www.bmefcolleges.edu.in/uploads/v3n2sl13.pdf

Mazur, B. (2010). Cultural diversity in organisational theory and practice. Journal of Intercultural Management, 2(2), 5-15.

Reisinger, Y., & Turner, L. (2012). Cross-cultural behaviour in tourism. Routledge.

Rice, M. F. (2015). Diversity and public administration. ME Sharpe. 

Vanderwerf. F. (2016). Four stages of cultural shock. Retrieved 31st March, 2018. https://www.minnesotaumc.org/blogdetail/culture-shock-6195954

Ward, C., & Kennedy, A. (2001). Coping with cross-cultural transition. Journal of Cross-   Cultural Psychology, 32(5), 636-642.

Waycott, A. (2015). How to Manage Employee Culture Shock. Retrieved 31st March, 2018. https://www.industryweek.com/engagement/how-manage-employee-culture-shock

Zhou, Y., Jindal-Snape, D., Topping, K., & Todman, J. (2008). Theoretical models of culture shock and adaptation in international students in higher education. Studies in higher education, 33(1), 63-75.

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