Some Sources of Misunderstandings in Intercultural Business Communication (3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1) T. Lázár University of Debrecen Faculty of Economics and Business, lazar.timea@econ.unideb.hu

 

  • 2. The Importance of Cultural Background in Intercultural Communication
    In every form of communication the key to understanding is the meaningful context. Communicators make statements assuming that the other party has the same context of the statement. But in the case of communicators from different cultural backgrounds this is not always necessarily the case. If one understands the language and the words it is not sure that they understand the message, too. Understanding the culture can help communicators understand the context and the message. It might sound easy to achieve but in fact it is not. First of all it is not easy to define culture as such. Originally the world culture was used by ancient Roman orator Cicero and he used it for the cultivation of the soul. Culture can be defined broadly and it can affect many aspects of human life. In 1952 Kroeber and Kluckhohn collected more than 150 definitions of the term. “The essence of culture is not what is visible on the surface. It is the shared ways groups of people understand and interpret the world.” [35]
    Culture has an impact on business in different forms: there are international managers who operate on several different premises [18]. Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1993) wrote that there is a presumption that internalisation will lead to a common culture all over the world, and tastes and markets, thus culture are becoming more and more similar.
    “Whereas communication is a process, culture is the structure through which the communication is formulated and interpreted. Culture deals with the way people live.” [24] In intercultural communication different cultures interact and might influence each other, so if you
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International Journal of Engineering and Management Sciences (IJEMS) Vol. 2. (2017). No. 3. 

DOI: 10.21791/IJEMS.2017.3.9. 

are not familiar with the given culture at least partly, it can hinder or deteriorate successful communication. 

If people have to function in another culture it is natural that they experience difficulties. Brislin and Cushner (1996) wrote about areas of difficulties such as: dealing with anxiety whose origins are typically vague, learning new culturally appropriate behaviours, having to make decisions based on less information than one is accustomed to, recognising new clues to the role and how one is expected to interface with that role. 

When one communicates with people from another culture there might be communication barriers which are obstacles to effective communication. Chaney and Martin (2014) enlisted the following handicaps: (p. 12) physical (time, environment, comfort and needs, and physical medium), cultural (ethnic, religious, and social differences), perceptual (viewing what is said from your own mindset), motivational (the listener’s mental inertia), experiential (lack of similar life happenings), emotional (personal feelings of the listener), linguistic (different languages spoken by the speaker and listener or use of a vocabulary beyond the comprehension of the listener), nonverbal (non-word messages) and competition (the listener’s ability to do other things rather than hear the communication). 

Cultural differences obviously influence the different styles of management. Hanges et al (2016) conducted research on cross-cultural leadership and they found that culture moderates the outcomes resulting from different styles of leadership. They found that different leadership styles can be more effective if the followers are culturally homogenous at least to a certain extent. 

Artiz and Walker (2010) studied how member participation in meetings changes when teams are formed on multicultural basis using discourse analysis and observational methods. They found that there were significant differences in the discourse patterns of U.S.-born English speakers and their Asian-speaking counterparts when speaking English and working in mixed groups. Their research showed that group composition affected communication patterns. 

Shieh et al (2009) found that failures suffered by multinational enterprises generally result from neglecting cultural differences and managers must be cross-culturally trained to face the challenges of global competition. Tutar et al (2014) found that multinational company managers are aware of cultural differences and they have the skills to turn cultural differences into advantages as today multinational companies have workforce from different cultures, and managers need to take these differences into consideration in their activities. 

In the case of international companies intercultural communication differences can cause serious problems, Laurig (2011) established that differences in styles of communication could slow down the process of decision making and weaken social ties or they could make working processes more difficult. Levitt (2014) tried to explore cultural factors affecting international team dynamics and effectiveness and he found that cultural differences created more frustrations and barriers to effective teamwork than benefits. 

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International Journal of Engineering and Management Sciences (IJEMS) Vol. 2. (2017). No. 3. 

DOI: 10.21791/IJEMS.2017.3.9. 

Global economic crises have multicultural effects. Oliveira’s findings (2013) confirmed that even in crisis communication cultural diversity had a significant effect and understanding cultural differences was an important requirement in our society.

1) T. Lázár University of Debrecen Faculty of Economics and Business, lazar.timea@econ.unideb.hu

About Professor C.J.M. Beniers


Prof. C.J.M. Beniers is a well known authority in the field of modern and international communication techniques. He developed the Six-Component-Model. This model enables companies, institutions and politicians to communicate and negotiate with counterparts from all over the world successfully. His career began as international manager at Philips and later he earned his doctorate as professor in communication. He has more than 35 years experience as manager and management trainer. Thus he knows both sides – theory and praxis – very well. As scientist, Prof. Beniers conducts frequently research in the field of intercultural communication. The results of his interesting research can be found in news articles, free pod casts, audio books and his E-books such as “Bridging The Cultural Gap.” Here, modern managers learn how to prepare for business meetings with people from different cultures; they acquire the techniques and tools to handle situations in times of crises successfully, master intercultural barriers, country-specific communication patterns, looking into personal cultural values & systems. Knowing all this, men can prevent cultural misunderstandings and misinterpretations – not only in business but also in private life.

Zoetermeer NL

23-03-2019

 

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