Intercultural Communication and Business Practice: The system of sharing symbolic resources by a group of people is known as culture and communication is basically the practice of making and exchanging these symbolic resources or meanings. Since intercultural communication is basically communication between people of various cultures, intercultural business communication is considered as the communication by people of different cultures between and within businesses (Chen, 2007).
The importance of intercultural business communication and impact of intercultural communication in business practice is largely because of diversity in the workplace. Most organization and businesses depend on intercultural communication since cultural differences do not prevent people from working with each other. Actually, in today’s business environment, the need for good intercultural communication skills cannot be underestimated since it results in better business. Revolutionary Shift in Business Practice through Intercultural Communication:
As compared to fifteen years ago, business ventures and practice are rapidly becoming more and more globalized (Shively, 2010). This is largely due to the fact that today’s world is characterized by an ever increasing number of interactions between people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. International business has begun to develop in more prominent cultures with the exception of only a few regions. Consequently, the revolutionary shift in business practice from an intercultural communication angle is the rapid development of international business ventures across the globe.
Business ventures and enterprises are now adopting an international or global perspective that enables them to conduct their business effectively across various cultures. This shift to international business from a global perspective is due to the fact that intercultural communication is a common daily experience, universal phenomenon and has been on-going for thousands of years. The increase of intercultural communication in the twenty-first century is also a factor that has contributed to the revolutionary shift in business practice.
From an intercultural communication angle, there are four major developments that were significant to the rapid growth of intercultural communication and revolutionary shift in business practice. These major developments include: 1. Developments in Transportation Technology: The developments in transportation technology has not only helped in shrinking the world to a global village but it has in turn created a means for people to travel anywhere within a period of days (“Chapter 1” n. d. ).
As a result of this easier and quicker traveling, people from different cultural backgrounds communicate in the modern world and engage in business ventures and practices. 2. Improvements in Communication Technology: Improvements in communication technology happened concurrently with those in transportation technology prompting the rapid movement toward a global village. These improvements have resulted in the ability of people to have instant vocal, video, textual and graphic communication. Consequently, conducting international business has also been made easier because of the instant global communication in various forms. . Changes in Patterns of Mass Migration: With the movement of millions of people across national borders, contacts with people from other cultures have now become a normal part of day-to-day life. This has made businesses to strive in attempts to adapt to the cultural diversity including advertising to communities using their respective language. Such efforts enable businesses to communicate effectively to their customers from different cultural backgrounds. 4. Globalization of the World Economy:
This is the major development in intercultural communication that has resulted in the revolutionary shift in business practice since international businesses have become a vital economic force for many nations. This development has been brought by the fact that intercultural communication serves as a platform for conducting international business through international communication. The globalization of the world’s economy has challenged business people to become more internationally aware and inter-culturally adept. Revolutionary shift in business practice is also evident in the fact that globalization has promoted mobility and made the abor market more challenging (Espinar, 2010). However, working in an international team and interacting with business partners or customers from different cultural backgrounds has brought challenges and the need for new attitudes and skills. For international businesses to gain competitive advantage, there is need for conscious efforts in acquiring new skills to communicate successfully in a global context (“Introduction”, n. d. ). Furthermore, the global business environment requires a broad training on intercultural communication because of the cultural diversity and increasing globalization. Cultural Diversity Management:
Since the need for communication is a fundamental principle in the success of any business, management of cultural diversity is crucial. This is because intercultural communication may present difficult impediments that cover the whole communication spectrum. These intercultural barriers and conflicts that characterize today’s workplace basically involve verbal and non-verbal communication factors which have a huge impact on communication with people of other cultures. The major intercultural barriers and conflicts include ethnocentricity, jargon and slang, stereotypes, eye contact, time and personal space.
Ethnocentricity is basically considered as the assumption that other cultures speak the same language with a person’s culture. This has resulted in businesses conducting their transactions on their language and contributed to the failure of these businesses in foreign markets. While every culture develops unique sets of jargons and slang and use them in their business ventures, people from other cultures do not understand their meanings resulting in intercultural communication barriers. Various cultures have distinct approaches to personal space and a lack of cultural understanding may make certain people uncomfortable (Evans, n. . ). Stereotypes and assumptions across cultures have distinct meanings which significantly impact effective intercultural communication. Understanding cultural norms concerning eye contact and time is essential in effective intercultural business communication. This is due to the divergent approaches to eye contact and time across various cultures. Throughout the history of management of cultural diversity in businesses, there have been significant changes in which has led to the adoption of new business practices in handling intercultural communication barriers and conflicts.
From a historical perspective, addressing these barriers and conflicts was based on the predominantly indigenous and homogenous workforce. Intercultural business communication was minimal because of the nature of the business environment that wasn’t culturally diverse. The general cultural diversity management was developed through anti-discrimination, equality legislation, workplace ethics and affirmative action. The management mainly relied on affirmative action and equality policies to handle the intercultural barriers and conflicts in the workplace.
This business practice and approach by the management developed in the United States and was intended to conquer the dominance of white males in the business and workplace environment. Generally, there was no strategic approach of addressing intercultural communication barriers and conflicts. Management practices in the handling of intercultural communication barriers and conflicts have changed over time because of the world’s increasing globalization. Given that people are no longer in an insular marketplace and have become part of the global economy, there is need for interacting with people of divergent cultures.
Consequently, management of and importance of workplace diversity has become a fundamental issue for management today (Green et al, n. d. ). One of the major changes in diversity management is the development of the necessary managerial skills to supervise a multicultural work environment. These managerial skills basically involve training on multicultural differences within the organization in order to treat business associates, colleagues, partners and customers with dignity.
The current approach in handling intercultural communication obstacles and intercultural conflicts are not confined to compliance driven or rights-based practices. While equality and other diversity management legislations are integral in the process, the current practices involve a holistic approach. This holistic approach is for the strategic use of the diversity of people in the business environment to achieve business and organizational incentives. Instead of focusing on making the individuals fit to institutional values, the holistic approach focuses on valuing the individual.
As a result, the management and business objectives are connected since the approach capitalizes on drawing potential from individuals’ diversity. Conclusion: Intercultural business communication is essential to today’s business environment because of the diverse workforce which is a reflection of the changing marketplace and world. While a culturally diverse workforce adds greater value to organizations and businesses, it also brings several challenges and conflicts that need to be addressed. Therefore, it’s important for managers to possess necessary skills in handling these challenges to communicate effectively.
References: “Chapter 1: Introduction to Intercultural Communication. ” (n. d. ). Learning Chapters, from www. cflo. edu. cn/jiaocai/109/147/992075/??. doc Chen, J. (2007, August 7). International Business Communication, from http://ccomm. bravehost. com/Report1. html Espinar, A. L. (2010). The Use of ICT In The Development of Intercultural Business Communication, from http://www. pixel-online. net/ICT4LL2010/common/download/Proceedings_pdf/LBV06-Larrea_Espinar. pdf Evans, K. (n. d. ). Six Barriers to Intercultural Communication, from http://www. how. com/list_6303080_six-barriers-intercultural-communication. html Green et al (n. d. ). Diversity in the Workplace: Benefits, Challenges and the Required Managerial Tools, from http://edis. ifas. ufl. edu/hr022 “Introduction. ” (n. d. ). Research on Contemporary Diplomacy, from DiploFoundation Education website: http://www. diplomacy. edu/language/communication/main. htm Shively, M. (2010, March 29). Intercultural Business Taboos: What to Avoid, from http://www. associatedcontent. com/article/2819950/intercultural_business_taboos_what. html
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