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Managing Diverse Cultures in Multinational Organisations

Why is verbal cross cultural communication, non verbal communication and cultural dimensions important today?

The important issue is the application of verbal cross cultural communication and cultural dimensions in managing the employees belonging to diverse cultures in the multicultural organisations.

The multinational organisations have operations all over the world and employ people belonging to diverse cultures. The top executives of the multinational companies like Google have to manage and direct subordinates belonging to diverse cultures. These executives in order to motivate and manage these employees need to understand the cultures and the cultural expressions of them. For example, the CEO of Google is Sundar Pichai, an Indian and he needs to drive a work force from all the countries in the world. A strong business communication is indispensible for a strong motivated workforce. Understanding one culture aids enforces communication which in turn enforces motivation and trust among the employees. Hence, motivation and management of employees in multinational organisations are closely linked to cross cultural communication where non verbal communication and cultural dimensions play significant role (Rai, 2014).

The second issue according to me is the need to understanding diverse cultures in order to be able to serve a wide base of consumers. The multinational companies today cater to a diverse range of consumers with their diverse products. It is very important for them to understand the culture perceptions of the consumers belonging to different cultures so that they are able to produce the right goods. The production of a wide range of goods has become one of the bases of competitive advantage of the multinational companies like Unilever (Al Ariss, Cascio & Paauwe, 2014). They need to understand the cultural feelings, non verbal codes and relatedness to other cultures in order to be able to cater a multinational consumer base. For example, the Muslims prefer halal products and multinational chains like Dominos and KFC have already introduced it in their menus (dawn.com, 2017). Thus, the multinational companies, I feel must understand the multicultural dimensions and non verbal codes of communication to be able to cater to an international consumer base.

According to me, the third issue is that most of the countries in the world today are inhabited by people from other cultures. The governments and other bodies need to understand these cultures in order to maintain peace and integrity with the countries (Sanders & Canel, 2015).

The first issue is the need of multinational companies to understand multicultural communication to employ and manage employees from diverse cultural backgrounds. The second is the need for the companies to understand the non verbal codes and other features of several cultures in order to serve a wide range of consumers coming from diverse cultures. The third and the last issue is the need for governments and other bodies to integrate citizens and immigrants coming from diverse cultural backgrounds. I can clearly say that these three points are intricately requires knowledge of cross cultural management and theories.

Serving Multinational Consumer Base by Understanding Cultures

I feel that cross cultural communication is intricately linked with non verbal communication codes and dimensions of cultures. This requires managers and public to study cross cultural communication including the nonverbal codes  as they are linked and dependent on each other. The link between cross cultural communication and non verbal codes is that non verbal codes form a great proportion of cross cultural and are dependent on the dimensions of cultures (Moran, Abramson & Moran, 2014).

Theory of linguistic relativity by Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf:

The difference between structures of languages is intricately related to understanding and perceptions of people.

The structures of languages determine opinions about certain words. For example, lion and eagle arouse the feeling power and have evolved as royal symbols.

Words can have different implications for different people (Davis, 2015). For example, to a king tiger may mean representation of his royal power but to a person who had suffered an attack the animal’s name may mean death and fear.

Carrol modified the theory of linguistic relativity opined that speakers interpret the meanings and implications of words according to their experiences and mindsets. This perception also affects the understanding and the behaviour of a person (Hwang, 2017). For example, the cognition about a snake for herpetologists will be different from a snakebite victim.

The modern theorists widely believe that languages are intricately related to cultures and have components which influence perceptions. The components can be linguistic, paralinguistic, extralinguistic and sociolinguistic.

There are variations in ways people perceive the meanings of words, non verbal communication like gesture and the style of communication.

Some cultures consider silence as absence of communication while others consider it meaningful. Low context cultures consider silence uncomfortable while high context cultures perceive silence as a part of communication (Ishihara & Cohen, 2014).

Edward Hall in his theory conceptualised the terms high context and low context to determine the type and periodicity of communication. High context societies have close connections over a longer tenure. The high context society communication is less verbally explicit, more internalised, linked with other cultures and last for longer span of time. The high context societies differentiate between confidants and outsiders. The knowledge shared is based on situations and the focus remains on personal relationships usually a specific person of importance.

The low context societies communicate giving more importance to rules, relationships and more scope of expansion of knowledge. The knowledge or information is more centred on work which allows participation of outside identities (Matsumoto & Juang, 2016).

Integrating Citizens and Immigrants from Diverse Cultural Backgrounds

Non verbal communication consists of more than 80% of the communication and includes facial expressions, hand gestures, intonation, eye contact, position of body, posture and silence. The two broad divisions of non verbal communications are paralanguage and extralinguistic communication (Burgoon, Guerrero & Floyd, 2016).

Paralanguage consists of speed of talking, intonation, emphasis on certain words, interruption and silence.

Extralinguistic communication codes consist of communication through movement of various body parts including eyes. It also includes communication through smells and odours (Kavanagh, 2015).

The six approaches to multicultural dimension of culture consists of the following:

The study of parochial relates to study of single culture. The study delves into relationship between the people belonging to same culture and their interaction with other cultures (De Dreu, Balliet & Halevy, 2014).

The ethnocentric culture refers to study of other cultures and evaluation of them. They evaluation takes place based on the evaluator’s own cultures and preconception about the culture being judged. This is practiced and is the most common way people on one culture judge the people of other cultures. The multicultural dimensions have a profound effect on the people and even affect their consumption patterns (He & Wang, 2015).

Polycentric views of multicultural dimension view every culture as a unique one  and judge them after them own unique characteristics.

This study of multicultural dimension delves into the characteristics and compares them. It tries to find out differences and similarities between them (Ng, 2013).

Geocentric approach of cultural dimension studies multinational corporation of various countries and search for similarities. It ignores cultural differences and tries to identify non cultural aspects like raw materials.

The synergistic multicultural dimension studies patterns of relationships and interactions among people in the multinational companies. It follows culture specific or universal approach as the situations demand. For example, Unilever follows culture specific approach to product while Apple follows universal product line strategy (Steenkamp, 2014).

The study of multicultural communications and non verbal communications are very important for the multinational companies. They require understanding the culture and expectations of the consumers while designing products for them. The companies like mark & Spencer and Nestle cater to a large number of consumers and need to understand their culture in order to satisfy them. For example, the multinational shopping chains package their products with packages having Chinese designs. This helps the companies to relate to their consumers and creates a strong market space for them. It is this knowledge about other cultures that allow these companies to product appropriate products and earn high revenue by selling those (Kastanakis & Voyer, 2014). The companies also consider these factors while advertising strategies like Coca Cola while advertising its products in India shows the family system to relate to the Indian consumers (financialexpress.com, 2017).

Significance of Cross-Cultural and Non-Verbal Communication for Multinational Companies

The multinational corporations toady employ people coming from diverse cultures from their host countries. The understanding of multicultural communications, according to me helps them to motivate and maintain a healthy communication with their work forces. This establishes a healthy relationship and corporate culture which motivates the employees to perform. I can also point that the understanding non verbal communication codes help the managers to communicate with their subordinates better. Mangers use both verbal and non verbal communication to increase interpersonal involvement of their subordinates. They use these codes like smile to motivate them which improves performances and creates job satisfaction (Dugguh & Dennis, 2014). The companies as a result are able to retain their human resources which play a strategic role in maintaining competitive advantage in the market. They today consider their multicultural dimensions of human resources of strategic importance and maintain them (Tung, 2016).

Countries like the United Kingdom, France, India and the United States are home to people from diverse cultures, religions and so on. The government bodies of these countries need to have a deep understanding of the cultural sentiments of the people while framing policies. These countries also have people from other nations and need to frame policies for them as well. I think, they need to understand and approve the cultures of these people and ensure them social security. For example, India festivals are celebrated in the United States which draw participation from the people of Indian and foreign origin (statesmanjournal.com, 2017). Today multicultural communication has become a part of diplomatic policies and relations between countries. Thus, cross cultural communication have become very important to maintain international peace and cooperation between nations. Countries explore intercultural understanding a new means to international peace and prosperity (Wilson, 2017).

The theories and concepts of multicultural communication, non verbal communication and multicultural dimension are of great strength. They are used in the multinational organisations and governments which prove their strength and necessity.

Theory of linguistic relativity by Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf state that some words have meanings an implications based on a person’s own mindset which is not totally true. It can be pointed out that a single word can have different meanings to different people.

The concepts of non verbal codes of communication rightly states non verbal communication consist of a majority of our communication. According to me, non verbal communication lacks clarity and cannot be used in decision making which is its weakness.

Effect of Language and Perception on Communication

The concepts of multicultural dimensions consist of six approaches and I feel that they are very relevant in real life communication. Their weakness is that they are not complete by themselves and require to be combined to be used.

As pointed out, different cultures have different perception of words and comprehend different meaning. For example, to some silence may mean lack of communication while others consider it as a sign of consent. The non verbal codes of communication have different meaning in different cultures in the same way. An alternative way of communication is digital and written communication. Written communication is objective by nature and can be used for future references. I think written communication can be used to communicate with people using some common international language like English. This will enhance understanding of other cultures and encourage more transparent multicultural communication. For example, multinational companies have instructions and policies written mostly in English which help the employees to understand them irrespective of their culture (Hajro, Gibson & Pudelko, 2017).

As pointed out, these concepts can be used by companies to engage stakeholders of various cultures. Having knowledge about several cultures they can design their official websites targeting investments and consumption from specific markets. Cadbury depicts the festivals of its host countries to attract the consumers. I also feel these cross cultural communication can be applied to know the people of other cultures and regions. This will help the people of different countries or regions understand each other which will promote human welfare.

I found out a rich literature in the theoretical research. The literature and the concepts helped me to get a proper grasp of the topic. It helped to reflect and conceive ideas about practical application in real life.

I was able to test my ideas against the literature. That is what helped me to cite appropriate examples from the real corporate world.

I have found out the answer to the question of mine and understood the value of cross cultural communication, non verbal codes of communication and dimensions of culture.

The articles, journals, newspaper editorials and official websites act as strong evidences. They provided me with strong examples to support my findings and ideas which helped me to write on the topic.

The additional evidences required can be interviews of famous personalities like CEOs of the multinational companies.

The strongest evidences are the newspaper articles. They are short and to the point and give a good body of knowledge to support the concepts with strong examples.

The Role of Non-Verbal Communication in Communication Codes and Dimensions of Culture

There is no missing evidence.

I would suggest the individuals working across cultures to make an attempt to understand other cultures. This will create better understanding and harmony both in the companies and in the countries.

Conclusion:

I can sum up that cross cultural communication in verbal form, non verbal codes communication and dimensions of culture are very important. The areas are interlinked and are based on rich literature. They are followed by a large body of literature contributed by various scholars and experts. Cross cultural communication, non verbal codes of communication and dimensions of culture find a broad usage all over the world. The multinational companies need to understand and recognise the diversity of culture and its effect on perception of meanings words. This should be followed by them while managing their human resources and consumers. These two have become crucial to maintain the very sustenance and competitive advantage. The managers in the companies use non verbal communication like smiling to motivate their employees. The understanding of diverse cultures is also important for the government bodies to achieve welfare of the citizens. Multicultural communication has emerged as an area of diplomatic partnership between countries and countries encourage cross cultural exchange. Thus multicultural communication goes a long way in ensuring industrial growth, international peace, national integrity and all over human development. 1

Reference:

Al Ariss, A., Cascio, W. F., & Paauwe, J. (2014). Talent management: Current theories and future research directions. Journal of World Business, 49(2), 173-179.

Burgoon, J. K., Guerrero, L. K., & Floyd, K. (2016). Nonverbal communication. Routledge.

Celebrate Holi, festival of colors at Oregon State Fairgrounds. (2017). Statesman Journal. Retrieved 27 April 2017, from https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/holdingcourt/2017/04/05/celebrate-holi-festival-colors-oregon-state-fairgrounds/100060738/

Davis, E. (2015). Does the world look different in different languages?. Artif. Intell., 229, 202-209.

De Dreu, C. K., Balliet, D., & Halevy, N. (2014). Parochial cooperation in humans: forms and functions of self-sacrifice in intergroup conflict. Adv. Motiv. Sci, 1, 1-47.

Diwali ad campaigns: From Pepperfry, Tanishq, Cadbury to Coke, here’s how brands are looking to lure business. (2017). The Financial Express. Retrieved 27 April 2017, from https://www.financialexpress.com/industry/diwali-ad-campaigns-from-pepperfry-tanishq-cadbury-to-coke-heres-how-brands-are-looking-to-lure-business/428760/

Dugguh, S. I., & Dennis, A. (2014). Job satisfaction theories: Traceability to employee performance in organizations. Journal of Business and Management, 16(5), 11-18.

Hajro, A., Gibson, C. B., & Pudelko, M. (2017). Knowledge exchange processes in multicultural teams: Linking organizational diversity climates to teams’ effectiveness. Academy of Management Journal, 60(1), 345-372.

Halal products: bid to go mainstream. (2017). DAWN.COM. Retrieved 27 April 2017, from https://www.dawn.com/news/967655

He, J., & Wang, C. L. (2015). Cultural identity and consumer ethnocentrism impacts on preference and purchase of domestic versus import brands: An empirical study in China. Journal of Business Research, 68(6), 1225-1233.

Hwang, G. J. (2017). Mobile Learning research in specific disciplines. Retrieved from ouhk. edu. hk: https://www. ouhk. edu. hk/URC/Seminar_Prof% 20Gwo-Jen% 20Hwang. pdf.

Ishihara, N., & Cohen, A. D. (2014). Teaching and learning pragmatics: Where language and culture meet. Routledge.

Kastanakis, M. N., & Voyer, B. G. (2014). The effect of culture on perception and cognition: A conceptual framework. Journal of Business Research, 67(4), 425-433.

Kavanagh, B. (2015). A Contrastive Analysis of American and Japanese Online Communication: A Study of UMC Function and Usage in Popular Personal Weblogs.

Matsumoto, D., & Juang, L. (2016). Culture and psychology. Nelson Education.

Moran, R. T., Abramson, N. R., & Moran, S. V. (2014). Managing cultural differences. Routledge.

Ng, C. S. P. (2013). Intention to purchase on social commerce websites across cultures: A cross-regional study. Information & Management, 50(8), 609-620.

Rai, A. (2014). Global Organizational Behaviour Research Essay Managing and Motivating Multicultural Teams Lecturer-Dr. Romie Littrell.

Sanders, K., & Canel, M. J. (2015). Mind the gap: Local government communication strategies and Spanish citizens’ perceptions of their cities. Public Relations Review, 41(5), 777-784.

Steenkamp, J. B. (2014). How global brands create firm value: the 4V model. International Marketing Review, 31(1), 5-29.

Tung, R. L. (2016). New perspectives on human resource management in a global context. Journal of World Business, 51(1), 142-152.

Wilson, I. (2017). Exchanges and Peacemaking: Counterfactuals and Unexplored Possibilities. In International Education Exchanges and Intercultural Understanding (pp. 21-39). Springer International Publishing.

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