Impacts Human Resources Management

Institution:

The current Era of technological advancements has ushered in the aspect of Globalization which enables individuals from different geographical locations and certainly from different cultural and belief systems to work together. Cross cultural communication is as such, quite an important aspect of Human Resources Management (HRM). However existence of different cultures across the globe and the ability of different individuals to relate to and then adapt to these cultures greatly influence the level of efficiency and effectiveness of employee relations and operations in Multi National Corporations (MNCs) (Schuler, 2000). While a particular culture may facilitate cross cultural communication among individuals from different cultures, other cultural factors, including difference in the languages which are spoken, also contribute to the hindering of effective communication.

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Hofstede (1984) defines culture as the collective programming of the human mind which constitutes patterns of basic assumptions, such as beliefs, customs, objects, architecture and language and these distinguish individuals defining one human group from another. Culture within an organization enhances orientation of the employees and individuals towards the achievement of a common goal. This enables individuals to attach deeper meanings to their actions and enhances coordination and integration between the individuals practicing the same culture (Congden, Matveev and Desplaces, 2009). Cross cultural communication can therefore be effectively hindered due to the difference in the belief systems of different cultures for instance acceptable mannerisms of dressing at work places. Different cultures advocate different types of dresses in a work environment, some cultures such as the Arabian and the other Islamic cultures are therefore likely to experience adaptation and cross cultural communication problems due to their cultures highlighting aversion to the dressing practices of the western as well as other westernized countries.

According to Neeley, Hinds and Cramton (2009) uneven proficiency in a common language such as English, prompts communication disruption between different employees from different cultures, this is due to the lack of a common linguistic culture that majority of the individuals can speak and understand. While individuals may actually be aware of the difference in culture and even get to learn the language in some instances, the different levels of fluency in the linguistic culture leads to uneasiness among the employees as well as a level of apprehension that effectively hinders cross cultural communication.

Culture also impacts on cross cultural communication within MNCs depending on whether the countries where individuals originate from are of low context or high context cultures. According to Goman (2011), High context cultures such as the Latin American, Arab and Asian cultures communicate through non formal modes of communication. Communications and messaging are left unspecified and are to be understood through the context, non verbal cues and generally a personal interpretation by the listener of what has been said by the speaker. In the Low context cultures, however, mainly involving English and Germanic speaking countries all across the globe, communication is specific and accurate and is often contained within legally binding written documents. Given the difference in these cultures, especially concerning communication, a hindrance in cross cultural communication among members is likely to be witnessed.

In the international business setup which involves individuals from multiple cultures operating together, factors such as reasoning as well as sentiments and emotions play a role in enhancing communication. Depending on whether a culture is affective or neutral, one of the factors will stand out and is likely to either hinder or promote cross cultural communication. McSweeney (2002) points out that, individuals from neutral cultures do not engage in showing or exhibiting their feelings and emotions in public such as at workplaces or at business meetings. This is contrary to individuals from the affective cultures who thrive by displaying their feelings publicly through laughter, crying, scowling, grimacing and a wide range of other emotional exhibitions. As such communication between members affiliated with these two different cultural set ups is likely to be hindered due to the difference in communicative culture. Individuals of the affective culture may even terminate their attendance of business proceedings and walk out of a business meeting due to emotive factors related to what has or has not been said. Dominance of the neutral cultures, however, eliminates the display of emotions in cross cultural business interactions and is therefore highly likely to enhance cross cultural communication.

Appreciation of cultural diversity, however, has an impact of greatly influencing and facilitating cross cultural communication. When individuals appreciate the diversity of the human race as described by geographical boundaries and therefore the prop up of different cultures, understanding and leniency are afforded by individuals during interactions which greatly impact in the enhancement of cross cultural communication (Congden, Matveev and Desplaces, 2009).

How MNCs can best reconcile the need for global integration and Local responsiveness through HR practices

A Multi National Corporation (MNC) involves a large organization or company which has affiliate operating companies in a large number of different countries throughout the globe. It is a company that is headquartered in its parent country but diversifies in development of production sites and companies in different countries so as to expand their market and tap into the market of other countries. The success of MNCs is hugely dependent on the response of the localized markets towards products and services which are produced by the company within the country. As such, integration of the products of the company into the global market through various ways such as differentiation and incorporation of the cultural variety in the product is key regarding the accessing of a market. Hill (2001) summarizes the main factors impacting local responsiveness to include major consumer tastes and preferences, difference in distribution systems, infrastructure and traditional practices as well as legal and political policies and frameworks in different countries.

Among the major ways of achieving concurrent goals of globalization and localization, as has been highlighted by Paik and Sohn (2004), include development of regional headquarters. The human resource practice observed at the regional headquarters therefore will involve ways of developing local responsiveness to products and services produced by the MNC through addressing of the factors affecting responsiveness. For instance, through hiring and training pf local employees to work on these localized headquarters, the HR integrates the local culture into the production processes which enhances the response of the local population due to their ability to relate to the product. They develop a taste and preference for a product, due to their ability to relate to it regardless of the company that produces it. In the same way, cooperation of the local culture in production enables the integration of the company’s products and services to the localized population such as banking in Tanzania. This has the impact of integrating the company and its products into various cultures and other facets of the globe to eventually enhance their success and competitive advantage.

Holmberg and Cummings (2009) highlight Strategic Alliances as another way of best reconciling global integration and local responsiveness. Strategic alliances enable the development of a link between two or more companies to mutually conduct projects through coordinating and sharing of various resources while still maintaining their autonomy. Through Strategic Alliances, the HR department of MNCs can acquire personnel from the country to enhance their products and enable their achievement of accessing of the local market. The partner in the local country has a wide knowledge base of the market as well as the consumer tastes and preferences. They also have a considerably greater understanding of the distribution channels as well as the local trade policies and legal requirements (Paik and Sohn, 2004). As such development of these alliances enables MNCs to achieve global integration of foreign markets as well as to attract local responses by offering differentiated products which appeal to the populations taste and preferences. HR practices including hiring highly educated locals who have the capacity of cross cultural communication, a great understanding of the various trade laws, awareness and appreciation of different cultures across the globe as well as knowledge about the characteristics of the labor market, political systems and trade laws which could highly impact an organizations ability to achieve concurrent local responsiveness and global integration (Claus, 2008). The Human resource department enables the functioning and operations of an MNC in a foreign country. As such, the more the HR resources are aligned with the localized market in question the easier and much more efficient it is to induce consumer response to the products being produced (Goman, 2011). This enables the expansion of a the MNCs market globally which subsequently enhances their global integration Eventually, for the maintenance of a competitive advantage and continued growth and development of an MNC, global integration is paramount. Awareness of different cultures and their beliefs is crucial in the development of an acceptable product for the respective market. Response from the local market in terms of purchase and utilization of these products is also crucial for success in the mentioned country and as such, the company has to develop means of attracting and maintaining contact with the market based consumers and customers of such products and services. For banking sectors such as Multi National Banks in Tanzania, the banks have to establish themselves as a trustworthy and reliable banking institution in Tanzania as they are in their parent companies and to the rest of the globe. in this way they achieve global integration as well as local responsiveness.

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References

  • Claus, L. (2008). Employee performance management in MNCs: reconciling the need for global integration and local responsiveness. European J. of International Management, 2(2), p.132.
  • Congden S. W., Matveev A. V. and Desplaces D. E. (2009). Cross-cultural communication and Multicultural team performance: A German and American Comparison. Journal of Comparative International Management. 12(2), pp73-89
  • Goman, C. (2011). How Culture Controls Communication. [online] Forbes.com. Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2018].
  • Hill, C. W. L. (2001) International Business – Competing in the global marketplace. 3rd ed. New York: Irwin McGraw-Hill.
  • Holmberg, S. R. & Cummings, J. L. (2009) Building Successful Strategic Alliances: Strategic Process and Analytical Tool for Selecting Partner Industries and Firms. Long Range Planning, 42, (2) pp. 164 – 193.
  • McSweeney, B. (2002). Hofstede’s Model of National Cultural Differences and their Consequences: A Triumph of Faith - a Failure of Analysis. Human Relations, 55(1), pp.89-118.
  • Neeley, T., Hinds, P. and Cramton, C. (2009). Walking Through Jelly: Language Proficiency, Emotions, and Disrupted Collaboration in Global Work. SSRN Electronic Journal.
  • Paik, Y. & Sohn, J. H. D. (2004) Striking a balance between global integration and local responsiveness: the case of Toshiba Corporation in redefining regional headquarters’ role. Organizational Analysis; 12, (4) pp. 347 – 359.
  • Schuler R. S. (2000). The Internationalization of Human Resource Management. Journal of International Management 6(2000), pp239-260.

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