A client of mine has just decided to create international branches. They want to ensure that the organization still works as one entity, even though it will have branches now in the United States, China, Germany, and Mexico. In order to keep strong ties with all the branches, the leadership team has decided to have a task force International Liaisons. This task force will have one person from each branch that represents the company, outside of the head leadership teams, somewhat like a liaison or project manager for each country branch. To ensure that the branching out was successful, this role was filled by someone working for the company, and residing in each of the countries, to best keep a finger on the pulse of how the company fit in with the respective cultures. Cultures are the “shared values of a group of people that make that group different from another group” (PSY 533, L12, 2018). In multiculturalism, there are several cultures coming together, like in this task force (PSY 533, L12, 2018). As learned in unit, understanding culture is a critical element. Globalism, or the connection of countries, leads to stronger exchanges of ideas, which can hopefully lead to profitability for companies (PSY 533, L12, 2018).
This group would have one member of each of the four countries, with the goals of ensuring that the differing branches are kept abreast of differing company advances, struggles, and would help to ensure that there was shared knowledge of product developments. Like is the case with any small group, there is the need for that interaction, and there is the cohesive problem-solving orientation (PSY 533, L11, 2018). In an effort to build that strong team dynamic when everyone would be miles and miles apart, the company sought to bring them all to the United States, the home office, to meet and have senior leadership review the goals of the team in person. It was mainly to be a team building experience. The company is one that prides itself on a strong team culture. In a lot of ways, their guiding principles align with a few of the guiding principles of the APA code of ethics. Two guiding principles of the company are Respect and Working for Each Other. These line up with Respect of People’s Rights, Justice, and Beneficence (APA, 2010).
What the company did not take into account was the differences in cultural norms. For example, in looking at Hofstede and Hofstede’s Six Dimensions of National Culture, the United States does not have a strong desire of power distance, or desire for hierarchal environments (Hoftstede & Hoftstede, 2018). Yet, China and Mexico both have strong scores in the dimension of power distance (Hoftstede & Hoftstede, 2018). There is a definite difference of power. Therefore, while having the CEO’s assistant show around the new team members may not have bothered the German representatives, it left a bitter taste for the Chinese and Mexican team members. Additionally, another differing factor of the group, based on culture, is Hofstede and Hofstede’s measure of comfort with indulgence (Hoftstede & Hoftstede, 2018). The United States, as many of us know, can be very willing to have a business meeting after having a few drinks at dinner. Not surprisingly, the United States has a strong score in Indulgence (Hoftstede & Hoftstede, 2018). Mexico is even higher, whereas Germany and China have both lower scores (Hoftstede & Hoftstede, 2018). To that point, the senior leadership team planned a “fun evening” of ice breaker games and drinks to try to build bonds. The team members wanted to get to business before the “play.”
After the meetings and everyone had gone back home, the senior leadership team realized they needed to make more considerate decisions to create the most welcoming and effective working relationships. In order for a small group to be effective, the members need to be able to interact and be interdependent (PSY 533, L11, 2018). Whereas the culture was working for the United States office, they acknowledged there was a need to broaden their thinking to include those of other cultures. The organizational climate was no longer constricted to one location. Hitting the cultural road bumps when they brought everyone on site helped the company to ensure new guidelines and expectations were created for the team. Then everyone on the International Liaison team was able to work cohesively and comfortably as a strong advocate for the differing needs and advancements of each country. In some ways, this company learned to represent a strong degree of “collective moral sensitivity,” by understanding that their social norms had, in fact, changed for this team to be effective (Arnaud, 2010). Additionally, they showed an empathic concern to make things right for everyone (Arnaud, 2010). Furthermore, after the initial on site hiccup, the company learned from it and showed a strong degree of “collective moral judgment” by putting forward the focus of others to decide what was right or wrong for the structures of that international team.
American Psychological Association. (2010). Code of Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code.
Arnaud, A. (2010). Conceptualizing and measuring ethical work climate: Development and validation of the ethical climate index. Business & Society, 49(2), 345-358.
Hofstede, G., & Hofstede, G. (2018). 6-D Model of National Culture. Retrieved from http://geerthofstede.com/culture-geert-hofstede-gert-jan-hofstede/6d-model-of-national-culture/
PSY 533. (2018). L11: Small Teams. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1896721/pages/l11-introduction?module_item_id=23792046
PSY 533. (2018). L12: Globalism/multicultural issues. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1896721/pages/l12-overview?module_item_id=23792056
PSY 533. (2018). L13 Organizational Climate. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1896721/pages/l13-ethical-climate-defined?module_item_id=23792071