International Intercultural Management
The intercultural dinner is an interesting concept which helps gain insights into the various aspects of a culture. It is important to understand food and life style as well as personality aspects in order to form a better understanding of the culture of a nation (Hamel, 2007). I met all of the group members for dinner and all of us brought a dish belonging to different cultures. I brought Hummus which is a popular dip made from smashed chickpeas and tahini with other seasonings. China and Saudi Arabia were other two predominant cultures which were presented at the dinner. The learning and outcomes of this dinner was that culture is an extremely important aspect which impact management as well. As we discussed cultures, we were able to understand how history, lifestyle and exposure to globalization impacts them.
Culture of Iraq
Iraq is located in the Middle East Asia. Iraq is predominantly an Islamic country (A Country Study: Iraq, 2010). This makes it important to understand the laws of Islam and the preaching’s of Quran or Prophet Mohammad (Abdul-Jabar, 2002). Prophet Mohammed has been a very popular Prophet not only among the Muslims or the followers of Islam but also among several religion researchers, philosophers, diplomats and other people. Their culture and thought on food is that food is a blessing given by God. They believe in rich food which is enriched with nutrients and contains fruits, nuts and even meat. The teachings of Prophet led to his popularity growing from time to time and there are nations like Arabia, Pakistan and India where Islam is popularly preached and forms one of the main religions (Abdul-Jabar, 2002). Prophet Mohammed is as popular as Jesus Christ in America and United Kingdom. Similarly the food and cuisine of Iraq is also popular all around India, Pakistan, Arabia and other Eastern countries. Though the economy of Iraq is not very stable, it has a very rich culture (A Country Study: Iraq, 2010).
The revelations of God, received by Prophet Mohammad included the will of God and the principle of submission to God’s will (Musharraf, 2012). Prophet Mohammad narrated these principles to the people. The revelations of God include the Apostle of Peace which propagates love and brotherhood (Abdul-Jabar, 2002). So the people of Iraq believe in being good hosts and serving food generously to people that visit them. This is also an important part of celebrations of festivals like Id and Bakrid. Considerations of prestige and family strength are important values of the culture of Iraq (A Country Study: Iraq, 2010).
In Medina there were eight different tribes which had several conflicts among themselves. These led to them inviting Prophet Mohammed as a neutral negotiator and resolve these conflicts (Musharraf, 2012). So the food habits and lifestyle varies significantly among different sub groups in Iraq itself (A Country Study: Iraq, 2010).
Iraq does not have political stability and such elements like instable political situation, poor economic conditions and war has led to deterioration of life and business, but their culture still remains extremely rich (A Country Study: Iraq, 2010). The texts of the “Quran” play an important role in formation of the texts of several other religions including Judaism (Abdul-Jabar, 2002). It has also greatly influenced middle-eastern ethics and common beliefs as it is one of the oldest religions practiced (Abdul-Jabar, 2002).
Comparison of culture of Iraq with China and Saudi Arabia
Culture refers to the values and lifestyle adapted by a society. The post-globalization era has been a time of merging of cultures and this leads to one culture impacting another and understanding these influences is extremely important in the present times as they impact the management of human resources in multi-national corporations (Dauber, 2012). Culture refers to the several lifestyle elements like food, dressing, sports, entertainment and several such factors along with the values like uncertainty tolerance or emotional involvement and independence, openness and several other faiths (Greenfeld, 2013). Culture is shaped through the interaction of people and their ideas as well as ideologies (Schein, 2004).
The comparison of cultures of these countries has been based on two models – one being Hofstede’s cultural framework and another being Hall’s cross cultural framework. These models help understand the similarities and differences between the cultures of Iraq, China and Saudi Arabia.
Hofstede’s cultural framework
The culture of Iraq does have several similarities with that of Saudi Arabia but is very distinct from that of China. Hofstede’s cultural framework helps evaluate cultures based on five cultural and behavioural parameters as explained below.
Fig 1: Comparison of culture of Iraq with the cultures of China and Saudi Arabia, based on Hofstede’s cultural framework
This refers to the extent of importance and influence of hierarchical relations in a culture. It reflects the degree of unequal allocation of power and psychological detachment that is accepted in a country. Power distance in China is high (National culture – Iraq, n.d.). Subordinate-superior relationship tends to be polarized and hierarchical ranks are followed strictly. Power distance is extremely high in Saudi Arabia and Iraq (National culture – Iraq, n.d.). Inherent inequalities, centralization of decision making and bureaucratic hierarchy marks the culture of Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Uncertainty avoidance refers to the risk appetite of the culture of a country. Hofstede refers this as “what is different, is dangerous” (Khastaret, et.al., 2011). China is low on uncertainty avoidance (National culture – Iraq, n.d.). Adherence to laws and rules in China are flexible and adapted on situational basis (Country Profile: China, 2008). Iraq and Saudi Arabia are very high on uncertainty avoidance (National culture – Iraq, n.d.). The rules play an important role in all aspects of life. People of Iraq and Saudi Arabia are bound to abide by the stringent codes of belief based on Islamic preaching. They are intolerant of modernisation and influence of western cultures.
Individualism vs collectivism
This dimension reflects the relative importance that a company places on interests of an individual or a group (Ryh-Song and Lawrence, 1995). China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are collectivistic society (National culture – Iraq, n.d.). Individualism is found to be very low because the cultures are relationship driven. In China relationship needs to develop before doing business (Hatch, 1993). The traditional root of Chinese culture is Confucianism. Confucianism focuses on long term orientation, thrift and perseverance (Ryh-Song and Lawrence, 1995).
Masculinity vs femininity
This dimension reflects the importance of the level of dominance of masculine values for achievement of the organizational goals. Chinese, Iraq and Saudi Arabia cultures have more of Masculinity aspects than femininity (National culture – Iraq, n.d.). Chinese often prioritise work over family and leisure (Country Profile: China 2008). In Iraq and Saudi Arabia, the leaders in the organisation are decisive and assertive. Conflicts are often resolved by confrontation.
Long term orientation
The Chinese culture has a high long term orientation and Iraq and Saudi has a short term orientation (National culture – Iraq, n.d.). The Chinese are comparatively more employer oriented and the employee retention rate in China is higher in comparison to other countries (Bu and Xu, 2000). Cultures of Iraq and Saudi Arabia immensely respect and follow traditions. Propensity to save is low as Shariah law and Islamic banking does not encourage savings (Aggarwal and Tarik, 2000).
Hall’s Cross Cultural Model
Hall presents a popular cross cultural framework and when we apply that to these 3 cultures, they have been found to be extremely compatible. The Hall’s model is based on cultural awareness, cultural adaptation and effective management of the elements of personal, social and cultural aspects in present times of multiculturalism (Schneider and Barsoux, 2003).
Awareness is high in Iraq and Saudi Arabia when compared to China. But in present times technology enables people everywhere to find information easily.
The model explains that multiculturalism is an important element of present times and seamless communication and technology promote it and the same can be observed in various cultural texts as well and in present times of globalization (Schneider and Barsoux, 2003). The adaptation of these elements is based on cultural adaptation, which is high in China as compared to Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Management of Cross Cultures
This can help create effectiveness and better competency (Schneider and Barsoux, 2003). It can help bring teams together and also create an environment that is suitable for work and helps create several competencies. It also helps ensure that there be effective balance between operational and strategic level planning and organizing.
Comparison of leadership styles in these countries
Leadership behaviour in organizations is demonstrated through taking initiatives, considering broader roles and helping the organization achieve better progress through focus on improving the overall organizational performance (Pillai, et.al., 1999). This is evident in China when compared to that of Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Leadership in Iraq and Saudi Arabia
In case of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, senior levels of management focus on overall performance of the organization and its competitive position. In order to create effective business development, leaders focus on operational efficiency as a whole and deal with managers who actually communicate with the team members. Leaders at the senior management levels set goals and targets which help in ensuring that the organization is able to form the common vision (Hofstede, et.al., 2002).
Authoritative style of leadership is focused on the creation of authority. The leader is mostly expressing the authority and passing the judgment during using such style leadership. The management communication follows a top down approach (Zaharna, 1995). This is evident in the day to day organizational activities in several of the local organizations. This is evident in Iraq and Saudi Arabia where in the rules and regulations are extremely strict and stringent. It is important that the authoritative style of leadership be based on mutual understanding and acceptance in order to avoid conflicts and retaliation (Smith, et.al., 2007).
In case of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, religion and political systems have a great impact on the leadership style used in these countries (Smith, et.al., 2007). It forms an essential impact on the styles in which the government and the public sector is managed. It also impacts the various business ideologies and set of ethics followed in these organizations (Smith, et.al., 2007).
The culture of Saudi Arabia and Iraq is based on the preaching of Prophet Mohammed. In discussing the leadership style of Saudi Arabia, it would be relevant to evaluate the leadership style of Prophet Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad can be considered as a transformational leader (Musharraf, 2012). His teachings and public speeches have inspired thousands of people to do things for greater good of mankind (Musharraf, 2012).
Intellectual Stimulation: Prophet Muhammad not only inspired them for good deed and good thought, he also made is followers aware of following the right path. He increases awareness about what is right and good.
Individualized Consideration: the followers of Prophet Muhammad were trained by Prophet himself (Musharraf, 2012). He guided them to become leaders in their own ways.
Inspirational Motivation: He motivated his followers to spread Islam fearlessly.
Charisma or idealized influence: Prophet Muhammad can be considered an ethical charismatic leader. He had a unique vision for his followers and a long run perspective. His high ethical and moral values, forgiving nature and optimism for future showed direction to the followers (Musharraf, 2012).
Leadership in China
A futuristic measure is ensured in case of leadership in China. It assists the organization to take futuristic decisions and helps in implementation of the firms’ long term plans or strategies (Management in the People’s Republic of China in comparison with the West: Convergence, divergence or crossvergence?, 1997). Mostly, all organizations follow some core values according to their business strategies to serve the customers with better products and services (Hirst & Thompson, 1996). The mission and vision creates an alignment with the strategic planning of the organization. These values impact the leadership as the leaders of the organization or the top management form these and ensure that they are effectively passed on to the subordinates (Management in the People’s Republic of China in comparison with the West: Convergence, divergence or crossvergence?, 1997). But this is not the case in present day multinational organizations as they belong to globalized environments. In this way the leadership styles used in organizations in China are compatible with the trends in leadership in several of the globalized countries and this helps them take benefit or advantage of globalization to propagate economic development. Leadership in China has been considered as effective and has been used to benchmark leadership strategies in several of the multinational firms all around the world (Management in the People’s Republic of China in comparison with the West: Convergence, divergence or convergence? 1997).
Transformational leaders are those who influence others based on the usage of participation with all of the other members of the team. In this way they are able to accept the leader as a part of the team (Wade, 2013). This form of leadership is coming up rapidly in all of the countries including Iraq, Saudi Arabia and China. In case of democratic leadership, it is crucial that there be consideration of opinions of everybody. A leader requires ensuring that things are understood by the people who are to actually implement them. He should be very careful about the client requirements as well as the need of the project (Wade, 2013). This is not consistent with the cultures of all the three countries and may not be adopted in the near future.
To conclude, culture forms an extremely important part of all nations and the global culture as well (Albala, Ken, 2011). Culture is an extremely important factor that affects the business environment of an international business. It is important for present day organizations, especially multinational organizations to reform their policies in order to suit the present day need of these organizations. It is important that the business environment is well researched and cultural change adaptation strategies are formed for the purpose of creating better synchronization with the cultural changes. It is extremely important that there be effective balance among the culture and the dynamic environment around the world in the present times of globalization. It is also important that the focus on the required changes in organizational environments be made slow and steady in order to ensure smooth transitions.
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