domingo, 28 de febrero de 2010

Exploring Diversity

According to the article "Who is managing ethnic and cultural diversity in the european condominium? the moments of entry, integration and preservation" of Gabriel Toggernburg talks about how the EU has created a multilevel structure for the management of cultural diversity in order to avoid the discrimination and foster the integration of the minorities in the society. This model states three moments of diversity management, where the EU legal entity and the member states have different levels of responsability and involvement.
The first moment, known as "moment of entry"is related with the rules of entry, free movement and residence within the european territory, "with regard to intra-european mobility this competence has increasingly been transfered to the supranational level. As a result member state borders have lost their functions as the definitive marker of unity and diversity". Meanwhile the rules regarding on the entry and free movement of third- country nationals depending on the member states consideration.
The second stage "the moment of integration"covers a wide set of political and normative measures focused on eliminate the discrimination and foster the integration within the different social fields such as the labour market, the educational system and so on. The aim is to achieve that EU citizens, migrants and minorities could be part of the societies of the member states. The management of this stage is characterized by the close co-operation of the two main actors: The EU and the member state, both entities provide a strong a good structured set of laws to promote this integration .
The third stage "the moment of preservation"is about how certain minority groups are recognized as special groups , and the member state entity grants them their group rights and several forms of cultural and territorial autonomy in order to preserve their identities. The managent of this stage is totally in charge of the member states discretion. 

Question: do you think the entry and integration of new members to the European Union are processes that promote diversity ? or on the contrary, strive to homogenize the European society?
I think the entry and integration of new members in the EU foster and strength the diversity iniciatives that the EU and the member states are undertaking. The aim of the european integration policies is to find "unity into the diversity", so I don't think that the EU tries to homogenize the european society, indeed what the EU pretends is to harmonize the european societies through further elements of cohesion, such as the respect for the diversity, the intolerance against the discrimination and the progressive integration. I agree with the EU statement , where they consider the cultural diverity as a source of social richness.

jueves, 18 de febrero de 2010

Virtual Teams and Managing Diversity

All the aspects related to managing diversity are very important issues to take into account in the socio emotional process that takes place inside a virtual team. The fact to recognize that the other group members  have the experience and the knowledge to achieve the final objective that the virtual team is pursuing makes easier to build closeness in hteir working relationships, generate trust and reciprocity.
Many of these cultural differences  that could generate problems are just wrong perceptions, that's why the group members should be oriented to practice in their everyday tasks a culltural sensitivity, in order to not let any doubt of the members habilities.
Depending on the communication level, the cordination of the group members and the application of the team kwnowledge, the outcomes of the joint work could reflect a greater grade of creativity and group members satisfaction.

Photo taken from

Information Source: Virtual Teams and International Business. Dr. Eoin Higgins (University of Galway, Ireland)

Corporate Culture (Sumary and Answer)

According to the Gregory Millman's article publicated in the Financial Executive "Corporate culture describes the whole collection of assumptions, practices and norms that people in an organization adopt over time". About this issue many executives and academic specialists have given their opinion, most of the CEOs expect the corporate culture helps the organization to get better outcomes in its performance, that's why when things aren't working good within the organization, the managers, in a precipitated decision, arrange to change the corporate culture,but it has proved that this is not the best solution. The cultural changes take much time to be executed and adopted.
When things aren't working properly, the most effective way to fix the problem is first identify which factors are causing this bad performance and then change all these behaviours that aren't healthy for the company, all these changes could be supported by a strong corporate culture oriented to the continum improvement.

Due to the actual economic conditions and the shifting business environment , where the workers have higher turnover rates and the average tenure of a CEO is just about five years, entail that the corporate culture doesn't have the required time to be developed. Eventhough this situation shows other facet, the professional culture is becoming more important to the company's performance , the norms and values that are tied to a specific profession could be practiced in any organization, " the occupational groups define cultures that transcend organizations".

Do you thing  there is a corporate culture in every organization?

I agree with the statement that in each organization exists a corporate culture and it is composed by a common set of values, beliefs and attitudes, which are proposed by the company's owner or the board of directors. As long as the employees stay in the organization, it would be easier for them to truly adopt the corporate culture in their lifes.
I think the corporate culture can be modified, but this process takes much time in becoming a real change, the stronger the corporate culture, the slower the change process.
Any change that entails a corporate culture modification such as a M&A, could generate rejection and troubles among the organization members, because the change causes uncertainty and moves the employees out of their "safe zone", where they develop their jobs, for that reason is very important that the CEO get a complete knowledge of the national cultures that are involved in those corporate transactions in order to direct the new corporate culture to the strategic objectives of the company.

lunes, 15 de febrero de 2010

National Cultures, an added value to Organization's performance

According to Hofstede's definition, culture is "the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from other", so the culture characterizes by: 
A culture belongs to one particular group and not others. 
Culture is learned through an active interaction with family members and other members of the society. 
Culture includes a system of values.
According to Hofstede's definition "values are assumptions that members of a culture group make about how they should behave". As the values are taken for granted by the members of the society , they are the most reliable predictors of the individuals behavior. Other elements that are included in the culture are: beliefs, attitudes and opinions.
As one of the most important elements of the culture, the values are reflected in many practices of the material culture, for example the arts and crafts can communicate in an indirect way what the group's values state. The use of the technology also depends on the values orientarion,the technology could be used for the group purposes in a colectivistic culture, meanwhile in an idividualistic culture, the technology just can pursue our own interests.
The political ideology of one group just can be legitimized in the long term, when this ideology  reflects the values of the national culture.

At the moment to implement any structural change within an organization, the knowledge about different national cultures would allow the international manager  to be prepared to face all the obstacles and challenges that could bring the cultural differences.
An international manager, who is interested to maximize the performance of the company's multicultural groups should focus on the promotion of the creativity, tolerance and competitiveness.

For further information, please remit to the book: International Management, cross cultural dimensions by Richard Made.
Photo taken from:

sábado, 6 de febrero de 2010

Ethnographic Research: proposed question

As part of the course activities, the proposed question is:
Give 2 examples of how ethnographic research can be used for international business.

1. An ethnographic research can be very useful to understand how a specific culture could react to a difficult situation such as an economic crisis. This study could help the researcher to forecast cultural and consumer attitudes and behaviors. The Context Based Research Group developed an ethnographic research that focused on how the American culture had to adapt itself to the new circumstances that the crisis led.
Some of the findings were: a considerable number of the participants of this research believe “the recession has had a positive impact on their lives”. This study allows realizing that “the American society and culture are moving into an era where the consumers truly measure the quality of their lives in social terms rather than economic terms”.
Consumers’ affirmations like the following ones confirm this cultural change:

“I believe the American dream has died. We’ve gone from the being land of opportunity to the opportunity to buy. So I am saying good bye to the Homo Economicus”.
“I took the time to move from a Me to a We way of living, seeing that transacting life is not as valuable as building and growing social relationships”.

2. The Asian American Advertising Federation developed an ethnographic Research focused on the Asian Indians communities in the USA, because nowadays these ethnic groups are becoming increasingly attractive to marketer, due to their rising population and purchasing power.

“According to recent US census figures, Asian Indians are now the second most populous  Asian- American group(next to Chinese), and growing rapidly”.
“Indians are number one among US Asians, and far ahead of the nation overall, on college graduation, professional and managerial employment and annual household income”.

All these reasons encourage the marketing teams of the different companies to know more about their cultures in order to conquer their attention and preferences.

For a better insight of this research check the following video:
The information sources are:
1. The Grounding American Dream, a cultural study on the future of consumerism in a changing economy.  Contex Based Research Group.
2. Marketing Research, Ethnographic Research Study. Asian American Advertising Federation.

miércoles, 3 de febrero de 2010

Ethnographic Research, a balance between insider's and outsider's points of view.

Based on the academic article "A Synthesis of Etnographic Research" by Michael Genzuk, publicated by the Center for Multilingual and Multicultural Research, University of Southern California.

Ethnography is a research method focused on the descriptive analysis of the distintive features that define a particular culture, such as customs, beliefs and behaviors.
The way how the Ethnography works,refers to a fieldwork that is conducted by a researcher, who is in charge to collect information from the specific cultural environment. The ideal is to gather this information in its most natuaral state, this means the information agents should not be influenciated by any external factor or by the researcher's preconceived ideas.
Some of the most common procedures to collect datas are: observation, interviews and documents.

Eventhogh the ethnographic fieldwork "is a highly personal experience", the researcher must define his/her involvement extent in order to assume an unbiased position during the elaboration of the research.
A complete participation into the observation process entails the researcher develops an insider's view of the issue that is being analyzed, this means he/she can see and feel "what it is like to be part of the group" and can get an accurate understanding of the situation that is being studied.
But in order to elaborate an objective research, the ethnographer should balance his position and describe the experiences, make the analysis and report the findings as an outsider.
Both orientations (the insider and the outsider)should be adopted by the researcher and it is necessary to establish an equilibrium point between them. This actions will allow him to make a more effective research and get more interesting findings.