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With a multicultural team, barriers to communication can be major obstacles. How can understanding the cultural values overcome this?

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With a multicultural team, barriers to communication can be major obstacles. How can understanding the cultural values overcome this? Course: International Business and Cultural Diversity 3034 words 22/01/2009 Business has changed significantly over the last decades. Nowadays, almost all of the 185 countries in the world buy from abroad a larger proportion of what they consume than they did 50 years ago (Mead, 1998). We are living in an interdependent world economy which requires organisations to think global and in companies that act on an international level multinational teams have become an everyday reality. However, international mergers or acquisitions that failed due to cultural differences or a lack of communication are often on the news. Communication plays an important role in building up successful or satisfying relationships, especially on the international level. But despite the highly praised and steadily increasing globalisation, we do not live in a completely borderless world yet, as cultural differences still play an important role (Edwards et al., 2006). This essay deals with the question as to how understanding the cultural values can help to overcome the barriers to communication within a multicultural team. As a starting point, a definition of a team will be given and it is to be clarified what exactly is meant by an individual's culture and cultural values. The connection between one's culture and its influence on the behavior will be drawn and communication barriers in intercultural communication will be presented. Finally, it will be evaluated how these barriers can be overcome and why the knowledge of each other's cultural values can be vital to successful communication. ...read more.


In numerous everyday issues the distinction between what is right and what is wrong belongs to the most natural things in the world in the individual person's mind. Frequently in basic respects, people do not need time to judge on whether something is right or wrong as they know the answer. Should they, however, meet someone who judges the very same situation contrarily they might, for the first time, be forced to open themselves to other perceptions. Especially very simple situations show how people automatically judge issues as right or wrong. For example, in the United Kingdom traffic regulations determine that cars have to drive on the left lane, whilst they have to drive on the right lane in Germany. In this case, the right and left lane are often referred to as the right and the wrong lane depending on the perspective of the speaker. Here, the speaker's perspective is due to the regulations within one country. This kind of knowledge can be perceived easily but most conflicts provoked by the different understanding of people with a differing idea of right and wrong are a result of a much more complex background. Another example is that in most Eastern Countries such as Japan or China it is common to read a book from left to right. If a European without any knowledge on this issue would go to China now, he would certainly say that the people are starting to read their books from the wrong side, while a Chinese who goes to Europe would probably say the same (Gesteland, 2001). The 'wrong' or 'right' always depends on the cultural perspective from which one is looking at something. ...read more.


These external factors build a framework that leads to joint patterns of thinking and acting within a community that share the same background. Basically, it can be said that an analysis of the things that seem natural, obvious and self-explanatory is the most difficult but also the most important part of a person's attempt to develop a sound self-reflection. Without this awareness people tend to generalise their perception and actions as normal and perceive everything that differs as foreign. This pattern of thoughts has to be broken so that, first, the knowledge and awareness of one's individual communication system, and second, the distance gained to it, provide the neutral ground to compare culturally based communicational diversities. Anyway, it should not be ignored that an individual's behaviour is not only influenced by its culture but also by personal experiences and its personality, and although the cultural background plays a great role, there also exist quiet and shy Italians and fully unorganised Germans. Reference List Adler, N. (2002) International dimensions of organizational behaviour. 4th edition, Cincinnati, Ohio Bate, P. (1994) Strategies for Cultural Change. Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd, Oxford Boddy, D. (2005) Management. An Introduction. Financial Times Prentice Hall, Harlow Edwards, T., Rees, C. (2006) International Human Resource Management: Globalization, National Systems and Multinational Companies. Financial Times Prentice Hall, Harlow Gesteland, R. (2001) Cross-Cultural Business Behavior. Reproset, Copenhagen Harzing, A., Van Ruysseveldt, J. (2004) International Human Resource Management. SAGE Publications Ltd, London Hofstede, G. et al. (2002) Exploring Culture. Intercultural Press Inc., Yarmouth Mead, R. (1998) International Management. 2nd edition, Blackwell Publishers Ltd, Oxford ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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