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Cultural Conflict and Management Style


Cultural Conflict and Management Style

The management style that managers must use in order to be successful will vary from culture to culture. Otherwise conflict situations could arise.

Intercultural managers can avoid conflict situations if they have flexibility in their styles. Colback and Maconochie (1989) profiled what they described as the 'Euromanager'. A suitably expanded version could be used to describe a global manager. 'He, and presumably she, will be a graduate with a second degree in European studies, and will speak fluently at least one European language as well as English, and possibly Japanese. Experienced in working for multinationals, they will understand senior management operations in American, Japanese and European settings... Needs to be cosmopolitan in the truest sense of the word, at ease socially, linguistically and culturally in all countries.' Devine (1988) provided her version of the 'Euromanager': 'They understand the languages, the customs and the business and political systems of the countries where their countries operate.' The skills of such Euromanagers could be fostered, according to Devine, by creating multinational boards of directors.

Global managers should not spread themselves thin by learning the languages and mores of more than four countries. A key requirement is comfort with constant adaptation. This should be coupled with the ability to diagnose the context and ascertain what management style is appropriate. Additionally, global managers should be able to learn quickly aspects of management style that are locally appropriate. As they assumed senior positions, the ability to motivate managers in all cultures will stand them in good stead.

Finney and von Glinow (1990) argue that transnational corporations require 'cognitively complex self-monitoring managers who have global perspectives and boundary spanning capabilities, with a geocentric and not an ethnocentric orientation'. They also recommend that intercultural managers have contextual competence to complement their technical competence. Contextual competence refers to the following: capacity to understand the value orientations of different cultures, linguistic skills, capacity to recognize the importance of local customs, religion, history, climate, politics, and social norms, capacity to introduce change in a manner and at a pace suitable for local conditions, capacity to focus on the global performance of the corporation and not on local results, capacity to balance the need for control with the need for autonomy, and finally, capacity to act as a 'boundary-spanning interpreter' connecting home and host country decision makers. Finney and von Glinow also identified a set of attributes for inclusion in a global executive's management style. These are cognitive complexity, self-monitoring ability, boundary-spanning ability, global orientation and geocentricism. The technical term they devised to describe these attributes is 'superordinate value orientation'. They defined these superordinate value orientations as follows:

All these attributes enable a global manager to tackle conflict situations. They also enable a global manager to formulate conflict resolution strategies that lead to win-win situations.


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