Discussion Questions

You learnt that Asia has a complex and diverse cultural profile. What advantages can you obtain from the diversity of internal and external stakeholders?

  • Through effective cross-cultural management, value is created when you achieve among others the following goals:

i.    Trust and a positive and inclusive mindset among individuals and teams;

ii.   Efficiencies through better understanding of communications and goals;

iii. Better planning, scheduling, profit streams across units and countries;

iv.  Better understanding and cross-fertilisation of best practice in business conduct, team management, internal and external negotiation and employee behaviour;

v.   Increases in productive self-initiative.

vi.  Later in the chapter we also learn about these related advantages:

a.   more innovations,

b.   faster and more effective learning (and hence strategic renewal capabilities),

c.   better decision-making,

d.   larger talent pool, talent acquisition and retention, and

e.   a wider customer base.

When working across a regional business that covers various countries, how do you best engage with multicultural stakeholders, whether internally or externally, to come to productive outcomes?

  • Raise awareness: the key is appreciation of own and others’ culture
  • Recognize valuable differences
  • Recognize valuable similarities
  • Highlight the most relevant bridging mechanisms for your teams onshore and offshore.

Do you believe that cultural ‘dimensions’ and ‘scores’ of measurements of Asian cultures such as provided by Hofstede’s work are sufficient to manage cross-cultural teams?

  • Unlikely, isn’t it? For example, the chapter points out that dimensions and scores provide for reference points about cultures, and need to be used to detect both differences and similarities. This allows the possibility to develop strategy and action in cross-border or cross-team multicultural management. Judging from the example of the Philippines with a high power-distance score, one will expect a hierarchical system with strong senior leaders who are the main decision-makers. By logic, you can hence prepare, for example, for negotiations (whether intra-firm or external) with Philippine teams that will likely require the involvement of those leaders. You will also be able to expect ahead of time that you will need to use some very clear communication and instructions when speaking to other staff, given that at that level, one will find relatively little habit of own initiative-taking. Yet the scores only tell part of the story: middle-management tends to be well educated and most likely will be used as the main link to non-Philippine teams. Recognizing communication styles and channels is hence crucial, as are preferred styles to collaborate and to make decisions collaboratively or authoritatively. The chapter provides other examples of such limitations of the use of scores and dimensions – though they are a good starting point when not used in stereotype cultures. Forget ideas of behaviours, norms or values to be good or bad; view them through a different lens, and put yourself in to the cultures ‘shoes’ to learn to understand and manage it. Scores and dimensions are a part of this journey; training and experience will help further.