University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Organizational Behavior across Cultures
Cultural differences are inevitable in the world of today; the world is indeed an amalgamation of different cultures composed of diverse attitudes and values. People act in reference to the cultural features that define them. The distinctive nature of cultures brings sharp differences that people need to learn how to cope with, and embrace in their interactions (McFarlin & Sweeney, 2013). The most significant aspect is appreciating cultural differences and developing sensitivity towards cultural diversity. Without such, people from different cultural backgrounds often find it hard to relate effectively, and this leads to conflict. Organizational behavior is an example of many realms that cultural differences affect. Whenever an organization has employees from different cultural orientations, it is evident that the interaction amongst them will require cultural sensitivity in order to cultivate effective organizational relations.
In the wake of the globalization age, organizations are employing people from different cultures. Gelfand, Erez and Aycan (2007) assert that the importance of expatriates in the corporate world is increasing; hence, people are crossing boarders to find employment in other countries. Of course, this trend implies that different cultures will have to connect and meet organizational objectives. Certainly, an organization should develop structures of embracing cultural diversity by encouraging its employees to embrace sensitivity towards one another. In a cross-cultural environment, leadership is significant in realizing coherence among the employees. This fosters a robust organizational behavior by instilling cultural sensitivity among the employees (Gelfand, Erez and Aycan, 2007). In reference to the case study, John moves from Germany to the UAE for employment purposes. The culture at home is different from the culture in the UAE, thus he has to adjust to the organizational culture of the new environment. This emphasizes the point that different countries have different cultural trends.
Saunders (2010) highlights that culture is richly embedded in values, norms and attitudes that defines it. People’s personalities and behavior stems from their cultural trends and beliefs. Thus, the organizational culture of an organization is influenced by the collective and individual cultural features of its employees. The unique features of the employees affect the way they relate to each other; hence influencing the organizational behavior (Saunders, 2010). For instance, a person’s religious beliefs and approach towards creating relationships have a huge impact on how he relates with other people. Cultural differences have being a source of conflict among employees, as every one seeks to practice his or her identity (Saunders, 2010). In such instances, it is important to note that managing the conflict from a cultural perspective is paramount. Since cultural diversity is the cause of the discontent, it is essential to address the cultural differences in a viable way. This will go a long way in creating a good environment for the employees.
Based on the case study, it is true that Ahmad does not appreciate John’s insensitive nature to the culture of the UAE. As a devoted Muslim, Ahmad expected John to respect the month of Ramadan and ascribe to its rules because it is a significant religious practice in the UAE. The rude response from Ahmad surprises John because he did not violate the rules of Ramadan intentionally. Ahmad appears to uphold his cultural standards more than the professional standard, bearing in mind that John is his senior in the organization. Evidently, cultural differences have the capacity to influence the organizational behavior in an institution.
Organizational behavior in a cross-cultural environment requires the individual and collective responses from the employees. It is evident that cultural diversity is a universal phenomenon that has an immense influence in the organizational culture of organizations. Fischer et al. (2005) posit that without effective management of cultural differences in an organization, it is certain that employees cannot develop feasible relationships to attain organizational goals and objectives. Fostering efficient relationships in a cross-cultural environment calls for employees and the leadership to enact cultural sensitive structures of adapting to the cultural diversity (Obinna and Farkas, 2011). Cultural intelligence is a significant element of embracing cultural diversity. Through cultural intelligence, an organization is able to appreciate the diverse cultural features in it, and work towards developing viable relationships aimed at achieving results. At the individual level, employees should develop emotional intelligence in order to embrace and realize the beauty in cultural diversity. Valuing the cultural dimensions of fellow employees is paramount in encouraging a vibrant organizational behavior in a cross-cultural environment.
The information above is true in relation to the case study. After realizing that he had violated the cultural rules of the UAE, John responded well by apologizing to Ahmad. Moreover, Ahmad also apologized to John for being rude and for not considering that he was from a different cultural background. The effective communication that ensued was vital in establishing a good relationship between John and the other employees. Cultural sensitivity was instrumental in developing efficient relationships in the organization.
Indeed, cultural diversity is a global trend that is not only unique to the UAE, but also to other parts of the world. It is important for the management of companies and organizations to manage cultural differences in the right way in order to build strong and efficient relationships among employees. This calls for embracing cultural diversity and valuing the contributions of every employee in an organization.
Gelfand, M.J., Erez, M. and Aycan, Z. (2007). Cross-Cultural Organizational Behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 58 (479-514).
Fischer, R., Ferreira, M.C., Asmar, E.R., Redford, P., and Harb, C. (2005). Organizational Behavior across Cultures. International Journal of Cross-Cultural Management, 5(1) 27-48.
McFarlin, D. B., & Sweeney, P. D. (2013). International organizational behavior transcending borders and cultures. New York: Routledge.
Obinna, A.K. and Farkas, M.K. (2011). Cultural Conflict Management for Firms and Organizations. International Journal of Business and Management Studies, 3(2).
Saunders, M. (2010). Organizational trust: a cultural perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press.