Copyright (c) 2012 Morgan D
Adler (1997) states that the extent to which managers and employees recognize cultural diversity and its potential gains and losses define an organization’s approach to manage cultural diversity. He has identified the following strategies for managing cultural differences:
Ignore cultural differences- this strategy involves the business managers choosing not to recognize cultural differences or its impact on the organization. They consider cultural diversity as irrelevant.
Minimize cultural differences- this is a strategy adopted by ethnocentric organizations that recognize cultural diversity as a source of problems. They reduce cultural differences by reducing cultural diversity in the business and ignore its advantages. They try to select a culturally homogenous workforce or try to socialize all employees into the behavior pattern of the dominant culture.
Manage cultural differences- this strategy is employed by synergistic organizations who recognize the impact of cultural diversity and acknowledge that ‘no way is superior to the other’. They train their managers and employees to recognize cultural differences and to use cultural differences to create advantages for the organization. These synergistic organizations cross cultural training and valuing diversity.
Synergistic organizations choose to accept cultural diversity in the workplace and use managing differences strategy. As discussed by Sonja & Phillips (2004) they assume that:
Groups within societies differ across cultures, and that each maintains its cultural distinctness.
Similarities and difficulties are of equal importance.
There are culturally distinct ways to live, work, and reach a final goal. There are many different, good ways to reach the final goal with the beat way dependent on the cultures of the people involved.
According to Luthans (1995) these synergistic organizations also make use of cross-cultural diversity training and value diversity in recognizing cultural diversity of the workforce and creating advantages for the organization as discussed below.
Cross-cultural training stresses on training employees about cultures and sensitizing them on the discrimination and biasness other employees feel. This training helps employees live and work comfortably in other cultures. It also imparts practical, real-life training to employees and managers on how to handle situations that arise due to cultural differences (Farren & Nelson 1999). Some of the training techniques used include environmental briefing, orientation in culture, culture assimilator, language training, sensitivity training and field experience (Hodgetts & Luthans 1994).
Value diversity involves valuing and utilizing diversity (Hayes 1999). It involves a five-step program that includes organizational audit, company pulse assessment, establishment and communication of clear performance standards, provision of continuous feedback and avoidance of copying (Torres & Bruxelles 1992).
The Australian workforce is comparatively young with 52 % of the workers being under 35 years of age. Being young the workforce can be trained easily. They tend to show low-power distance with title, distance and formality commanding low importance. Subordinates question orders and demonstrate a willingness to take risks, have high levels of stress and high levels of anxiety. They are on the low uncertainty avoidance dimension, have high levels of autonomy and achievement orientation. The Australian workforce also shows qualities of masculinity, where assertiveness, acquisition of money and material things are features (Australia Multicultural Foundation 2010).
While managing the Australian workforce, the multinationals may need to take the above mentioned features into consideration. They may not face lingual problems given that Australia is an English-speaking country. There will be no problem relating to business communication while dealing with English speakers, non-English speaking people may, however, have a problem in managing and conducting business in Australia. While English is the main language, collectively Australians speak over 200 languages of which 50 are Australian indigenous languages (Australia
The focus of workforce employment diversity has moved from equal employment opportunity to effective management of workforce diversity as an organization imperative (Torres & Bruxelles 1992). As businesses becomes globalized, and the world changes intoa global community workforce diversity in businesses increases and is viewed as a positive trend. For businesses to be successful they must, therefore, learn to value and respect cultural styles and ways of behaving that differ to their own (Johnston 1991).
Multinational organization managers in Australia must be able to tie the issues of managing cultural differences to the needs of the organization and be well versed in issues, goals and results. This will serve their needs better and enable them penetrate new markets (Johnston 1991). Managers who hope to utilize workforce diversity must link diversity to every business function or strategy e.g. recruitment, selection, placement, development, succession planning, performance appraisals and rewards (Cascio 1998). Cascio (1998) argues that to remain competitive an organization must develop long-term strategies. These are to remove the barriers which prevent the organization from developing and utilizing fully equitable systems that allow workforce to achieve its full potential.
More Bruxelles Articles