Cross-Cultural Management

CROSS-CULTURAL MANAGEMENT 12

Cross-CulturalManagement

Cross-CulturalManagement

Theimportance of management cannot be gainsaid as far as the success andstability of any business entity or organization is concerned.Management is primarily concerned with the direction of resources,both financial and human, to the achievement of specific goals andobjectives of the organization. These goals and objectives areprimarily tied to the profitability and sustainability of theorganization in the long-term and short-term. However, it has wellbeen acknowledged that different organizations have differentmanagement styles. These are particularly influenced by the culturesof the countries from which the people are or even in which theorganizations are located. Scholars have noted that there is a linkbetween cultures of individuals and their management styles simplybecause individuals have varying assumptions pertaining tocharacteristics that are seen as necessary and effective forleadership. Of course, the appropriateness of any leadership stylewill be determined by the people that are governed simply becausethey determine what is acceptable to them in line with their values.indeed, the styles that are successful or effective in a particularcountry may not fare well in another especially in instances wherethere is a variation in the cultures and values of the two countries.Values, in this case, underline the fundamental convictions thatindividuals have pertaining to what is wrong or right, crucial ornot, and good or bad. Needless to say, these values, while derivedfrom the cultures of particular countries, are imbued into themanagement cultures of companies in those countries. This paper willcompare and contrast the management cultures of Hong Kong, Denmarkand Russia.

HongKong and Denmark Management Cultures

HongKong, China, incorporates a collective eastern culture that hassocialistic political and legal systems emanating from the communistdoctrine, as well as an underdeveloped technological base. As much asthe Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China has undertaken amodernization policy, it is noteworthy that the economic andsocio-political infrastructures are far from self-supporting. Inessence, Hong Kong is, both environmentally and culturally, adistinctive combination of Confucianism and socialism, in which caseit is a stark contrast to other western nations such as Denmark. Asnoted, the cultural environment determines the values that areprevalent in a particular country and consequently, the acceptablemanagement culture.

InHong Kong, the most prevalent form of leadership is hierarchical, inwhich case there would be a logical organizational structure wherepower belongs to the position and not the individual. This,therefore, reduces the risk that the leader of an organization wouldabuse power both in the long-term and short-term (Brooks, 2009).Managers in Hong Kong have ideas pertaining to the manner in whichspecific tasks should be accomplished, in which case they strictlydetermine the manner in which the tasks are to be completed. Thesemanagers entertain little discussion or feedback from employees, withhigh consideration being given on task completion and littlestructure on the employees’ opinions.

Thisis highly contrasted from Danish management structures, which areprimarily characterized by horizontal structures where open dialoguebetween employees and the management would take place (Brooks, 2009).This means that the working culture that is cultivated in suchscenarios cooperation oriented, with the work environment beingmarked by informal and open social conventions. Scholars haveacknowledged that Danish managers show high preference forconsiderably flat organizational structures that have the leastnumber of layers that can possibly be achieved. In this case,decision-making is, more often than not, delegated with employees inall levels incorporating a considerable decision-making capacitywithin their job functions. A large number of Danish companies andmanagers involve the employees in the process of decision-making.These actions would lead to open and democratic working environmentsthat have considerably short command channels from the management toemployees. On the same note, Danish managers are known to play downtheir authority to such an extent that they seem to be threatened orafraid of its exercise. Indeed, it is rare to have direct orders asmanagers always try to communicate or talk on the same platform withall people irrespective of their stature in the companies (Brooks,2009). In essence, they are often seen as more comfortable with termssuch as “competence” and “responsibility” in instances wherethey are describing decision-making capabilities that they have.Nevertheless, as much as subordinates have a free hand indecision-making, it is also expected of them that they would acceptthe consequences and risks pertaining to making inappropriatedecisions. It is quite likely that one will come across words such ascooperation and consensus in describing Danish labor relations andmanagement practices. It is worth noting that the consultativemanagement approach would compensate for the dislike for bureaucraticrules and formalization that is seen in the case of Chinesemanagement (Brooks, 2009). In instances where exists no specificrules that individuals have to follow, it is common for them to becompelled to talk with each other to up to the time that they reach aconsensus pertaining to the crucial issues irrespective of the timetaken.

Inaddition, the two countries differ with regard to the manner in whichthey handle employee motivation. The capacity to encourage and leadhas been known to be the foundation for any success in management.While this fact is well acknowledged in the two countries, theyhandle this aspect in a completely different way (Deresky, 2006).Danish managers acknowledge that the most appropriate way ofmotivating employees would be to ensure that they are highlyappreciated and involved particularly by involving them indecision-making. On the same note, Danish managers, like a largenumber of others all over the globe, are motivated by giving themrewards for the hard work, which could range from journalsubscriptions, cell phones, home computers and company cars or evenenrolling them for stock options, as well as training and developmentprograms. However, the same case cannot be said for Hong Kongmanagers. This is particularly considering that the employeesthemselves are, more often than not, close relatives of the managersin which case they are assumed to be perfectly motivated simply bythe fact that they are working in their own families’ companies.This, however, does not mean that employees are not offeredincentives. Indeed, research has shown that in Hong Kong, year-endbonus, mortgage loan, annual leave, merit pay, profit sharing andbase salaries are crucial factors pertaining to the retention andmotivation of employees (Deresky, 2006). A distinction would also bemade with regard to the Danish managers on the fact that therelationships with their workplaces or with the employees followparticularly distinctive lines. Indeed, it is noteworthy that onceDanish employees depart from workplaces, their work would be done asthere is a strict separation of individual’s private life and worklife. In essence, managers would never call on their employees duringweekends with regard to work-related issues.

Onthe same note, there are variations between the two countries withregard to the manner in which they approach issues such as prioritiesand time. Scholars have acknowledged that Denmark is primarily acontrolled-time culture, in which case it is important for andexpected of individuals to adhere to schedules. Indeed, any elementof missing a deadline in Denmark is an indication of inefficiency andpoor management, and has the capacity to shake the confidence ofindividuals. Managers in such controlled-time cultures are more adeptat having highly scheduled times, in which case it is oftenimperative that individuals offer and adhere to the milestonespertaining to performance (Osland &amp Bird, 2000). As much askeeping time is absolutely crucial in Hong Kong, it is alsoimperative that relationships are built so as to allow for doingbusiness in the long-term. This, usually, has the capacity to prolongthe amount of time that would be spend discussing varied issues ofbusiness and making decisions pertaining to the same. Further, theHong Kong managers place high value on long-term commitments fromwhich they would expect to reap rewards in the long-term (Adler,2008). Additionally, Hong Kong managers would never make a person intheir group to appear ignorant, in which case their conversationalstyle is considerably indirect to the extent that it may be difficultto tell their thoughts by listening to their words. Danish managers,on the other hand, are primarily preoccupied with short-term rewardsfrom their tasks and are considerably less preoccupied with thethought on whether they are making an individual lose face as theirprimarily goal is to close a deal (Peltokorpi, 2006).

HongKong and Russia Management Cultures

Russiaand China share a common history of communism and socialism. Inessence, a large number of values and cultural aspects that are inone country would be found in the other. These values and culturesare, essentially, imbued in the management cultures of the twocountries.

Oneof the fundamental similarities between the Russian and Hong Kongmanagement style is in their reverence for hierarchies. Indeed, theRussian management structures are primarily built on well definedhierarchies with clear rules and responsibilities governing thedecision making in the varied positions. This means that, as in thecase for the Hong Kong management, there exists clear demarcationsand limits pertaining to the decisions that an individual can make(Osland &amp Bird, 2000). Independence in decision-making is clearlylimited to the areas of jurisdiction, with rules, regulations anddecisions that are to be followed to the letter being made by themanagers in the higher echelons. Management culture in Russia tendsto take a centralized and directive form where the boss would issuedirect instructions that the subordinates have to follow. It is notedthat there would be little or no consultations with individuals whooccupy the lower echelons of the company’s hierarchy. Scholars notethat too much consultation by the senior managers is seen as anindication of weakness or even the deficiency of decisiveness.Further, little power is invested on middle managers over input andstrategy in significant strategic decisions. Indeed, the middlemanagers who hold the most amount of power would be the ones whoincorporate the most immediate entrée to the boss or the decisionmaker at the highest level of the organization. Scholars acknowledgethat it would be a waste of time for any person to debate with themiddle managers who have no access to the boss or top managers.Indeed, the making of decisions is, more often than not delayed insuch organizations simply because the decision is yet to reach or beput in front of the ultimate decision maker. The similarity betweenRussian and Hong Kong managers lies in the manner in which theydelegate their tasks. Scholars note that the delegation of taskscomes in the form of manager offering precise instructions to thesubordinates and expecting them to carry out the allocated tasks withno or little discussion. Of course, these aspects are persistentlychanging as a result of younger and more exposed and westernizedmanagers taking over the reins of power and management in suchorganizations.

Onthe same note, Russian managers incorporate business etiquette andculture that is significantly different from what largely people havebeen used to in other countries. However, it is well acknowledgedthat this should not be misconstrued as a problem of Russians ratherit amounts to a distinctive unique character of the nation emanatingfrom its history. Company structures are a reflection of theconventional Russian mentality (Peltokorpi, 2006). Indeed, Russiancompanies are primarily driven by a single strong central figure, whois responsible for the making of the strategic decisions withoutnecessarily consulting with any person apart from a number of closetrusted advisors (Adler, 2008). While the same may be said of theChinese management style, it is noteworthy that the later are prettyconsultative in their decision-making particularly considering that alarge number of their businesses are owned by families rather thansingle individuals (Ahlstrom &amp Garry, 2010). On the same note,Russian managers are primarily concerned about making quick profits,in which case they focus on the present rather than the future.

Inaddition, punctuality and keeping time are not particularly observedin the Russian management culture. Indeed, Russian managers would notbe particularly concerned about keeping time for meetings or restrictthemselves to particular timeframes. However, the main differencebetween them and the Hong Kong managers revolves around the manner inwhich they drive conversations (Osland &amp Bird, 2000). It isnoteworthy that Russian managers are pretty direct in theirconversations and are unlikely to engage in friendly chitchat simplyfor the sake of closing deals. Indeed, their directness often borderson dictatorship or being too pushy and inconsiderate to the otherparty’s likes and preferences. In essence, it can be said that theRussian management culture is primarily concerned with short-termgains and the issues that are on the table at that time (Deresky,2006). This is unlike their Hong Kong counterparts who, more oftenthan not, keep time but are likely to extend negotiations beyond theissues that were meant to be discussed. As stated earlier, the HongKong managers are concerned about long-term gains, in which case,they primarily concentrate building interpersonal relationships withthe other parties in an effort to make long-term returns. Russianmanagers are considerably straightforward in instances where they aredealing with business counterparts (Adler, 2008). They often prefergetting down to business as fast as they possibly can and are knownto be frank and direct communicators. More often than not, theRussian managers are detail-oriented, with negotiations being done ina considerably reserved way. Nevertheless, as much as thedecision-making is primarily made by single or central figures in theorganizations, there are some instances where consultations would bemade amongst all the stakeholders or at least the individuals in theentourage (Osland &amp Bird, 2000).

Nevertheless,the Russia and Hong Kong bear some similarities with regard to theirapproach to change. Of course, it is well acknowledged that there isa new crop of young intellectuals and managers who are imbuingintercultural adaptability, as well as the readiness for change inthe organizations that they lead (Ahlstrom &amp Garry, 2010).Nevertheless, Hong Kong managers are seen as having a highertolerance for risk and change compared to their Russian counterparts.However, both acknowledge the importance of innovations toincorporate a history or tack record noting the benefits if there isany hope for their implementation and acceptance. For the Russianmanagers, there is a persistent fear of exposure, as well as thelikelihood for embarrassment, which accompanies failure, therebyincorporating an aversion to risk (Adler, 2008). In essence, it isimperative that any individuals dealing with Russian managersincorporate some element of intercultural sensitivity particularlywhen carrying out group meetings or making discussions pertaining tothe contributions of the individuals.

Inconclusion, leadership and management come as some of the mostfundamental aspects of any organization in the contemporary humansociety. It is well acknowledged that businesses in the modern andglobalised world have adopted more or less similar managementtechniques, all in an effort to enhance their sustainability andprofitability (Osland &amp Bird, 2000). In spite of thisharmonization, it is well acknowledged that the different parts ofthe globe have varying values and cultures, which primarily informthe most appropriate methods of management in the countries. Thisunderlines the fact that there are distinctive variations in themanner in which managers in different countries act or exact theirmanagement actions. This is the case for Denmark, Russia and HongKong (Deresky, 2006). Of course, there are similarities in the mannerin which management is carried out in the three countriesparticularly considering the fact that young and well-travelled andknowledgeable individuals are taking up leadership positions in thethree countries. Nevertheless, it is still the case that that thereare variations. For instance, decision-making in Denmark is primarilymade by almost every employee in an organization since managers wouldhave to persistently consult with their juniors. Unfortunately, thesame cannot be said of Russian and Hong Kong management (Ahlstrom &ampGarry, 2010). On the same note, Russian and Denmark managers arepretty direct in their negotiations and communication, and wouldrarely engage in friendly chitchat in instances where they aresupposed to be making deals. However, Hong Kong managers are morelikely to engage in friendly banter in an effort to create somelasting relationships that would guarantee them some income in thefuture.

References

Adler,N.J. (2008) “HowCultural Differences Affect Organizations”,Thomson Learning.

Ahlstrom,D. &amp Garry, B.D (2010), “InternationalManagement: Strategy and Culture in the Emerging World”.New York: Cengage Learning.

Brooks,I (2009), “Organizational Behaviour”, New York: Prentice Hall.

Deresky,H. (2006), “International Management: Managing Across Borders andCultures”, chapter 1: The Challenge of International Management,Prentice Hall.

Osland,J.S. &amp Bird, A. (2000), “Beyond Sophisticated Stereotyping:Cultural Sense Making in Context”, Academyof Management Executive,14(1), pp. 65-79.

Peltokorpi,V. (2006), “Knowledge sharing in Cross-Cultural Settings: NordicExpatriates in Japan”, InternationalJournal of Knowledge and Learning,2 (4), pp.138-148