Cultural differences in among nations present various challenges to employees who work in nations different from their countries of residence. Lee is one of the workers who experienced challenges of organizational cultural differences. He studied and spent many years in Australia, and therefore, got accustomed to the Australian culture. After a long time in Australia, he gets employed in his home country Korea, which has an organizational culture that is different from what he is used to. He faces rough time from the staff members, the senior management and even the senior staff due to failure to understand and adjust to the existing corporate culture of the new company (Lim and Kim, 2011, pp. 21-38).
1.Geert Hofstede researched on the operation of the workplace and concluded that the prevailing culture influences the values at the workplace. He found that these values are sustained by the culture and affects the motivations of the employees and affects the productivity of employees with a different culture and geographical backgrounds. Hofstede came up with six dimensions of culture at the workplace. This includes individualism versus collectivism, pragmatic versus normative, the masculinity versus femininity, the high versus low power distance, high or low uncertainty avoidance and indulgence versus restraint. These dimensions of culture can be used to explain the situation of Lee in his new workplace (Minkov, 2007).
Individualism versus Collectivism (IVC)
Hofstede described culture as individualism or collectivism. IVC describes the strength of the people’s ties with others in the society. It describes the degree of interconnection that people have within a community and how much they care for others and the decision they make. In individualism, there is a loose interpersonal connection of the people in the community, and people are not concerned with the effects and outcomes of the decision of others in the society. On the other hand, a collectivist society, people value others and keep loyalty to them. Thus, their decisions and consequences concern them (Kim, Lim, Dindia and Burrell, 2010, pp. 543-566).
According to Hofstede, the Australian culture can be described to be individualism, and Lee was used to this culture because he expects people to express themselves, make their own decisions and others should not be concerned about them. In meetings, proposes ideas and is willing to take the responsibilities of himself. On the other hand, the Korean culture is collectivism because people are concerned about the decision and action of others and they prefer deciding with one voice as a group. Lee’s collogues dislikes his culture of standing out in meetings, and they expect to stand together in decisions as a group (Lim and Giles, 2007, pp. 349-364).
Indulgence versus Restraint (IND)
According to Hofstede, culture can be tolerance or restraint. This is usually used to describe the degree to which people do control their desires or the impulses which entail how people control their drives and the emotions. Countries with indulgence (or high IND level) allow people to work and live freely doing the small things that give them joy. On the other hand, a country with low IND level (Restraint) will have its people with restrictions to behavior and conduct to enjoying life and pursuing pleasure. Australia has a high IND ratio while Korea has a lower IND ratio (Adler, 2008). This evident when Lee dyed his hair and wore casual clothing on a working day he was considered rude before his superiors. Casual clothing and dyed hair are acceptable in Australia but not allowed in Korea, thus revealing the cultural IND differences (Ertmer, Newbe, Liu, Tomory, Yu and Lee, 2011, pp. 213-228).
Power Distance Index (PDI)
Power Distance Index, abbreviated as PDI, is one of the Hofstede’s cultural dimension that is used to describe the inequalities of differences that exist in the society between those in power and those without power (both seniors and juniors). In low PDI countries, both seniors and juniors are consulted, and the information is frequency shared unlike in countries with high PDI where there exists a hierarchy of authority. Australia has a low PDI score of 36 while Korea has a higher score of 60. This is proofed in Lee's Korean company where hierarchy is observed, and people respect those in power. Leaving the workplace earlier than the seniors is rude and unacceptable unlike in Australia where there is no hierarchy (Fischer, 2009, pp. 25-48).
Masculinity and Femininity (MAS)
A country with a culture that driven by competition, the achievement and success of people are considered to be masculine (high MAS index). The feminine culture (Low MAS index) is characterized by advocating for equality and caring for others. In a low MAS index society, the quality of life is the sign of success but standing out from the crowd is likable. Australia is highly masculine with a score of 61 which is above average while Korea is highly feminine scored at 39 which is below average. Lee's is used to Austrian masculine culture where employees stand out in the crowd and find it rough when he practices this value in a Korean company that is highly feminine. His colleagues dislike his culture of standing out during meetings (Moussetes, 2007, pp. 443-445).
The Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI)
UAI the degree to which the people tolerate the unknown future states. Countries with high Uncertainty avoidance (UAI) are fear the future and are not willing to engage in uncertain activities are risky while those with low UAI index can tolerate uncertainty. Korea is one of the countries that have a high UAI of 85 while Australia is medium with UAI of 51. Lee proposes innovative ideas for implementation by the management, but none of them are implemented. This is because the Korean company fears and avoids the risks that are likely to be associated with implementing this idea (Reynolds and Valentine, 2011).
Long Term Orientation and Short Term Normative Orientation (LTO)
This dimension describes how the people in the community keep links or interconnect the present with the past happening. Korea is among the countries with the highest LTO of 100 while Australia has 21. Therefore, this describes the situation of Lee whereby people are negative about him with his new culture (Janavaras, 2012, pp. 10-14). This means, from the history, they believe that such practices are wrong.
2.There are various aspects that Lee should consider to manage for a stay at the company and at the same time be comfortable. Firstly, for Lee to continue to work comfortably with the organization, he needs to get a good understanding of the Korean culture. This is the primary inevitable step towards successful adjustment to the new culture. He needs to understand the perceptions, evaluations, and interpretations of the social situations within the organization and make efforts to work within them (Smith, Peterson and Thomas, 2008).
After getting a good understanding of the Korean culture, Lee should learn to the new culture. There are various aspects of the new workplace culture that seems to lack meaning, but for the sake of survival, Lee should respect and embrace them. In many cases, respecting a new culture is challenging because Lee will often find himself thinking that this culture is superior that the new culture. Thus, Lee should learn to respect and appreciate any cultural differences that exist (Minkov, 2011).
The next step is to take significant moves towards successful working in the company. This includes an analysis of the new culture and then comparing it with the old Lee’s Australian culture and thus understand what he should do and what he should not. Lee will be forced to sacrifice some of his cultural values that are not acceptable n the new workplace for his comfortable living in the organization. Lee should also use his Australian culture to get more understanding of the new culture at the workplaceThe Korean manager needs to make efforts to help Lee, a new employee with cultural differences. Firstly, the Korean manager should understand the cultural differences that exist and then take action on them. This could be arranged for training to teach the new workers about the existing culture and then encourage them to comply and respect them. Also, in some cases, the manager should ignore the cultural differences and make Lee's colleagues understand and appreciate their culture (Humes and Reilly, 2008, pp. 118-137).
3.As a strategy, the management should ensure that there is regular communication. Accurate, prompt communication is critical for the management of the cultural differences. The management should also make team-building. Individualist employees will require building teams to enhance the teamwork in the society. The Korean manager should, therefore, put in more efforts to promote team work so that Lee can work with others to develop the groups (Beebe and Mottet, 2010). Therefore, putting these strategies in place is likely to help talented employees to stay in the organization and thus assist the company retains its competitive advantage.
In conclusion, understanding the culture is an inevitable aspect for the success of every culture. International management brings together people with different geographical and cultural backgrounds thus; there is need to understand and address the existing differences. This is best done using the Hofstede's theory. Also, there are certain aspects that the company acts on them to support and address the cultural differences. Besides, as a new employee in an environment that has a different culture, he should make efforts to understand and respect the prevailing culture.
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