Why it is important to mind cultural differences

To success in recently started course “Multicultural and community work” I should have read text about about cultural differences and after that express my opinion. I decided to share my thoughts in my blog as the theme is very close to it.

This text “culture as a starting point and framework for guidance and counselling - basic concepts and perspectives” (Launikari & Puukari (eds.) 2005) comes in handy in this exact moment because now I am an exchange student in the “other” country (Finland) and during my exchange program I meet a lot of people from all over the world and every one of them is a culture carrier of his or her own culture and of course their cultures are “other” to me.

During my studies here, I have to communicate with other international students and whether results of our communication are successful or not depends on whether we are ready to understand and accept each other. And I think the first thing we should do on our way to the efficient communication is to confess that we all are different, this is the fact, beginning from the language we speak and ending the way we think. It is true that when our point of view is not corresponded with the point of view of our foreign companion, we often start to consider him/her weird, because we cannot perceive his/her state of mind and it is awful. Putting up our unconscious boundaries we are “condemned to failure in both communicational process and professional relation”. But there is a remedy and the remedy is a desire to comprehend the culture of others and this concept should be accepted by all the sides of communication.

Today problem of misunderstandings on the ground of cultural differences is very urgent. Nowadays the process of globalization unites a lot of nations and cultures in worldwide organizations and obviously efficient communication and cooperation between employees within the company are impossible without considering which features are typical for their world image. That is why I am convinced that every TNC (transnational corporation) leadership should remember, that workers from different countries should be dealt with differently. To apply the same ways of management to every department regardless people’s way of life is ineffective and even can be ruinous to the company. To know how to manage different kinds of employees it would be useful to pay attention to 5-D model by Geert Hofstede and also to reseaches of his followers. G. Hofstede made a great work identifying 5 cultural dimensions, that can be found in every culture. These 5 dimensions are: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism vs. collectivism, masculinity vs. femininity, and Confucian dynamism. Of course, apart from that model, there are some others and you cannot distinguish the one that would be totally better than others.

These models are just tools and should be wisely used by the leadership to achieve their goals, so, if I was the one who is responsible for finding ways to manage work of international employees, I would add two other dimensions to Hofstede’s 5-D model from Fons Trompenaars’s 7-D model - attitudes to time and attitudes to the environment, because I find these two cultural variables very important. All the cultures have different attitude to time, some of them are similar, some of them are not, but definitely you should consider the attitude to time of workers when, for example, you give an assignment to an employee with a deadline or if you are about to have a meeting with a presenter of a polychromic culture when you are from monochromic. Have an understanding of this would decrease risks of conflicts in organization. To know the attitudes of workers to the environment can also be useful. It would help you to hire “right” people and to build an effective organizational culture.

All the knowledge the text gave me was very interesting and useful. I am concerned to build my career in TNC and as I am about to become HR-manager, it is significant information to remember, because to find ways of how make people work, especially when they are from different nations, is what I want to do.