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In this briefing new employee human resources, we will be considering cultural management issues in the tourist industry and how they impact upon our business. Our company, Beach Bum Ltd. is a travel consultancy Agency which was recently hired to provide a critical analysis on whether or not sustainable tours can attract American ecological tourists to travel to countries such as Tanzania and Namibia. We are a culturally eclectic group of advisors specialising in all aspects of tourism. Cultural sensitivity is not only our watchword, but our bottomline. Please do not feel overwhelmed by all of this information. Some of you may feel as though you are back in college. Rest assured, the difference between profit and bankruptcy in our business is the ability to sell in that person's culture. People like to feel important and an acknowledgement of their importance is not just being nice. It is also good business sense.
There are a number of ways to look at other people's cultures. We will consider several to give you a variety of approaches to understanding and appreciating other cultures from various parts of the globe. We will be focusing at promoting our British-based business to the largest country and market in the world-China, as well as promoting tourism in the other direction. As tour guides, it will necessary for you to receive this sensitivity training for Chinese culture before you lead a tour. Chinese society is far more stratified than ours and protocol plays much more of a role, hence our extensive study of cultural issues management.
Alice in Wonderland
Going on vacation is like traveling to wonderland. So, let's tell a story, the story of Alice in Wonderland. The story is a case study for culturally-neutral management. Alice's croquet mallet's head turns wherever it wants. This is similar to the person's whose cultural expectations go in the direction they want, that is in their comfort zone. This translates into an acknowledgement of cultural bias, something that everyone has. According to Thomas, what we learn is that a lot of management practices end at national boundaries. This translates into what that author calls "comparative management, " that is, management practices that acknowledge these differences and find commonalities that managers can count on everywhere in the cultures that they will encounter (Thomas 2003 17-18). These differences occur in every culture on the planet and smart companies recognise and exploit these differences for market advantage and share. The tourism market is especially so because of the great amount of person to person interaction that is just a part of our industry. Our industry is very customer driven, customer centric and customer service. For customer amazement and brand name retention in the twenty-first century, we must demonstrate our good citizenship in the global village by mastering the cultural "lingo." Respect for and knowledge of culture go hand in hand.
Training Employees for Expatriate Assignments
According to a competitor, Kwintessential.co.uk, expatriate assignments fail due to not just poor work performance and an inability to adapt. It is due to a lack of investment in offering their expatriate staff intercultural training. Intercultural training is not just a luxury. Certainly, those companies have not properly analysed the financial impacts of failed expatriate assignments on their business (Kwintessential.co.uk. 2011).
A key area is in the area of team cohesion and also effective management. Managers or staff member who come into a foreign environment without understanding how the local customs, the result is poor communication, a lack of group energy and poor results. The impact on the business is stark. A team does not function at its best and does not produce, sell, or grow as it might. Financial losses can be averted through the proper staff hiring and placement my management. The time, money and effort that is spent in the business can be lost in a fortnight with out the management being sensitised to local customs (ibid)
How to Win Friends and Influence People
While our training memo today will concentrate upon cultural issues between people, it has been known for some time that putting ourselves in someone else's shoes is the key to sales and a basic skill in developing personal relationships. This model is a major contrast to the model put forth in the Alice in Wonderland story where the croquet mallet head moves in the direction that it wants to go. Dale Carnegie, the writer of How to Win Friends and Influence People introduces the model of the master ambassador: the faithful old dog. This friendly little individual has no ulterior motives. They just want to please. Basic friendliness and attachment to people makes sales happen and companies strong (Carnegie, Dale 1981 51-52).
Mr. Carnegie put forth a maxim that has become a classic in customer service and sales for decades: get interested in other people. They are primarily interested in themselves. As he says, the New York Telephone Company made a detailed study of telephone conversations to find out what was the most used word. Of course it was "I." For us to relate to people, we have to be focused on them. We have to speak the language of ingratiation symbolized in the letter "I" (ibid 53).
Culture and The Three Cultures Model
Expanding upon Dale Carnegie, for us to "sell" our product outside of our country (which is our mission), we must adopt an accepting view of that person wherever they come from. If Carnegie was alive today, certainly, he would probably be saying this. It is possible to define culture as the source of ties that bind the members of a society via an exclusive socially constructed array that consists of such features as practices, ideas, schemas, values, norms, mores, institutions, goals, cultural artifacts and modifications of the physical environment
The culture that we are born in inevitably influences our personal views about leadership. To make sense of the many different types of cultural influences, Gardenswartz, Rowe, Digh and Bennett developed the three cultures model. This proposes three cultural influences at work in companies:
1. Personal culture is a shared combination of individual traits, personality and skills that have been formed within the context of his or her ethnic, familial and/or educational environments.
2. National culture is a shared understanding that comes out of the combination of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours. These are the foundations for the heritage of a given country.
3. Corporate culture is a combination of shared institutional beliefs, mores and the organisation's foundation philosophy that is stated in its mission, vision and values statements (Gardenswartz, Rowe, Digh, Bennett and 2003 65-67).
In the case of China, we need to consider the primarily the work of Geert Hofstede. He conducted intensive research on employees at IBM that were stationed in 40 countries and discovered that their cultural values strongly influenced relationships both between and within organizational divisions. This is better known as cultural dimensions theory. Understanding the ways in which these dimensions influence the cultures of companies is of increasing importance for both global leaders and managers in leading a diverse workforce in an era of globalisation (Hofstede and Hofstede 2004 25-27).
The Power Distance principle refers to whether or not individuals will accept inequalities in power arrangements. China is no exception to this. These include, those found within an organisation. In this parlance, low power distance means that participating individuals expect equalities in the power structure and do not readily accept a leader's authority just because of their position. Various cultures that come to endorse low power distance accept and expect power relations that are more consultative or more democratic in nature. People relate to each other more or less as equals regardless of their formal positions. Those who are in subordinate positions are more comfortable with and demand their rights to contribute to and also to critique the decision-making of those in power positions. In high power distance nations, the less powerful usually accept power relations that are more autocratic and paternalistic in nature. There, subordinates acknowledge the power of their betters simply based upon where they are situated in their formal, hierarchical positions. As such, the power distance index of Hofstede does not reflect any objective difference in the power distribution. Instead, it does so in the way people perceive power differences (ibid 45-47).
Uncertainty avoidance usually refers to the feelings of discomfort or comfort that is associated with levels of ambiguity and uncertainty. The term low uncertainty avoidance means that the individuals more easily tolerate unstructured and unpredictable situations. This reflects the extent to which the members of that society themselves attempt to cope with anxiety by minimizing their own uncertainty. People in nations with high uncertainty avoidance tend to be much more emotional. They try to minimize the occurrence of the unknown and unusual circumstances and then to proceed with careful changes step by planning and then by implementing laws, regulations and moral rules. Bu contrast, low uncertainty avoidance cultures tend to accept and feel comfortable in…[continue]
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