Cultural Issues

a) Cultural Profiles

VariableCulture

Americans

Germans

Japanese

Environment

Control: assigning of responsibilities and performance standards

Control: Implementation of schedule before leaving the meeting

Harmony: consultation amongst the group in order to reach a decision

Time

Single focus, fixed and present: focus on one issue at a time, have fixed time for the agendas of the meetings and focus on issues that are affecting us now.

Single focus, fixed and past: focus on one issue at a time, have fixed time for the agendas of the meetings and focus on issues that are affecting us now

Multi-focus, fluid, and future mixed with past:  Open discussion on multiple issues, the agenda is not rushed and look at long-term benefits of the proposals in the agenda

Action

Doing: a lot is to be accomplished and these are the primary tasks

Being: relaxation and socialization before beginning the key tasks

Being: relaxation and socialization before beginning the key tasks

Communication

Low context, instrumental, informal and direct: focuses on the key issues, direct to the point

Low context, instrumental and formal: focuses on the key issues, direct to the point

High context, expressive, formal and indirect: focuses on history of the problem before going into key details, and utilizes formal language

Space

Public; prefers to work in large spaces where it is relaxed and facilitates socialization with work mates

Private: works better in confined space away from everyone else. Values privacy during work

Public: prefers to work in large spaces where it is relaxed and facilitates socialization with work mates

Power

Equality, small power distance: equality in roles, consultation of subordinates and legitimate use of power

Equality, small power distance: equality in roles, consultation of subordinates and legitimate use of power

Hierarchy, large power distance: subordinates expected to do what they are told, lack of equality and legitimacy of power is irrelevant

Individualism

Individualism, universalistic: better working alone and making decisions individually. Not open to change when situations change.

Individualism, universalistic: better working alone and making decisions individually. Not open to change when situations change.

Collectivistic, particularistic: prefers working in groups and fluid to change with the current situation

Competitiveness

Competitive: everyone for themselves

Cooperative: emphasis on working together in order to benefit everyone

Cooperative: emphasis on working together in order to benefit everyone

Structure

Order: procedural documentation and recording of all details in their work

Order: procedural documentation and recording of all details in their work

Flexibility: just requires the key points and not all the details.

Thinking

Deductive and linear: begins from the general principles narrowing down to more minute details. Expresses thoughts in a straightforward and logical manner

Inductive and linear:  begins from the general principles narrowing down to more minute details. Expresses thoughts in a straightforward and logical manner

Systemic: focuses of specific details before moving on to the general principles. Tackles the issue as a whole with the assumption that it might be multidimensional and complex

b)

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From the cultural profile of the three cultures we notice some similarities and differences when it comes to cultural variables. These variables can be used in anticipating conflict between the men and women and the three cultures. The Germans and Americans are individualists while the Japanese are collectivists. In their work, individualistic cultures have an outcome-oriented model that is focus of the criteria of effectiveness over that of appropriateness. On the other hand, collectivists have a process-oriented model that puts emphasis on the appropriateness over effectiveness. Hence during their work, it possible to anticipate conflict in activities where the individualist is focused on the ultimate outcomes while the collectivists are focused on the means to reach the ultimate goal (Ting-Toomey, Stella). 

Another scenario is between large power distance and small power distance cultures. Trust is cultivated differently in this types of cultures. In high power distance cultures, such the Japanese, culture trust is based on dependability, kinship, reputation and consistency of word and action. However, in small power distance trust is based on personal credibility, reliability, persuasive words and decisive action. The difference in methods of cultivating trust my lead to a sense of mistrust hence can be used to anticipate situations of conflict between the three cultures (Hofstede, Geert).

There is also the case of masculinity versus femininity in the three cultures. German and American cultures are characterized by femininity while Japanese cultures are characterized by masculinity. It is therefore likely to anticipate conflict when individuals of opposite sex are working together especially if they are from both masculine and feminine cultures. This is mainly due to the ideological differences such as gender equality and roles of males and females cultural in the society (Hofstede, Geert).

c)

The first step is to comprehend of the different angles on all issues in the conflict. After comprehension of all the issue, problem solving is then tackled in a three steps subsequent procedure entailing; differentiation, mutual problem description and integration. During the differentiation phase, each of the parties is given an opportunity to clarify their conflict positions, interests and goals. The underlying reasons for the positional differences is also pursued in this phase. 

Mutual problem description phase involves describing the conflict problem in specific terms that both are mutual to all parties. Neutral-toned language is utilized to detail the situation of the conflict and predicaments that are related to the conflict. Each party refrains from making any intrusive interruption or evaluative comments. The primary focus is on peace-building.

Integration phase is the final and most essential step of the three. It is actually putting into practice the peace building solution. It includes several things such as the use of cultural-sensitive verbal and nonverbal acknowledgement and supportive message to display cooperative and mutual-interest intentions. Use of diverse cultural approaches to generative creative solutions such as traditional storytelling, cultural metaphors, visualization technique just to mention a few. The cultural solutions then need to be analyzed stating their positives and negatives. This enables selection of a viable solution. It is essential to ensure that all the three parties are committed and involved in the selection process. The members of each parties will have preference for different solution. Bearing this in mind, it is therefore essential to combine the best of the different solutions selected from the three parties to help blend together. Finally, a monitoring system needs to be developed to determine if the solution is culturally functional; this can be timeline and criteria for successful implementation (Starn, Orin).

d)

The gap between the three culture can be bridged by impacting operational skills essential for constitutive conflict management on the employees from the three different countries. The major operational skills required are: mindful listening, mindful reframing, face management skills, collaborative dialogue and communication adaptability. It is essential to note that individualists (Americans and Germans in this case) and collectivists (Japanese) have different opinions of what constitutes effective and appropriate practices for conflict resolutions. Operational skills help them to see eye to eye when it comes to conflict resolution.

Mindful listening entails both parties listening attentively to the cultural assumptions that they come across in a verbal interaction. This entails taking note of the verbal, non-verbal and meta-nonverbal contexts that are being conveyed in the conflict negotiation process. Furthermore, new categories or context can be created in the listening process, for instance the use of low or high context communication styles to make sense of conflict variation behaviors. When the different cultures become aware of the existence of multi-perspectives they can apply diverse frameworks in analysis and interpretation of conflict situation and come up with synergistic solution (Zourrig, H.).

Individuals with different cultural profiles also need to learn to translate each other’s verbal and nonverbal messages form the context of each other’s cultures. This is known as mindful reframing. It enables individualists and collectivists to notice that most of their conflict arise from lack of awareness of habits that are culturally biased.

Cultivation of face management skill is an essential thing in intercultural conflict resolution. The major concern with face management is the issue of self-esteem which calls for respect and approval during daily interactions. In this case, the Germans and Americans should learn to give face to the Japanese and the vice versa; this means that neither of cultural parties should humiliate the other.  The collectivists should recognize that individualists separate substantive issues from socioemotional issues in conflict. Individualists, on the other hand, should take note of the fact that there is a link between substantive issues and relational issues in collectivists when it comes negotiation of disagreements (Ting-Toomey, Stella).

When the Germans began covering their glass windows with paper, it created a sense of mistrust between them and both the Americans and Japanese and made the latter cultural groups feel uncomfortable. This is an indication that trust is an essential component for different individuals, including those from different cultures, to work together. Trust building skills is critical for as they bring the different cultures together for negotiation. Trust is not a mindset and a communication skill. In order to develop trust, the different parties need to understand the term trust from the each other’s cultural perspective. Cultures from high power distance need to understand the in culture with small power distance trust is cultivated on the basis of charismatic personality traits, personal credibility, reliability and persuasive words. One the other hand, cultures from small power distance need to appreciate the fact that trust is based on reputable organization, dependable family and kinship network and long term consistence between word and actions when it comes to large power distance cultures (Hofstede, Geert).

Finally, the three cultures should develop collaborative dialogue and communication adaptability. Collaborative dialogue is founded on culture-sensitive, respectful inquiry process where the conflict parties put hold their assumptions regarding each other and focus on inviting the other cultural parties to tell their stories, expectations and needs. It explores thinking, feeling and visualization in new and different dimensions from both cultural and personal aspects. It aims at unfolding a common identity-need issue such as approval, competence, honor and safety. In order to engage in collaborative dialogue, the different cultural parties need to adopt a paradigm shift; where the focus is on the already existing internal resources and mechanism of building peace in multi-cultural conflicts rather than on focusing on prescription of answers and modalities that exist outside the conflict setting. Communication adaptability focuses on changing the conflict behavior to meet the specific needs of the situation. This skill signal awareness of another person’s perspective, interest or goals and our flexibility by altering our own interests or goals to adapt to the conflict situation (Ting-Toomey, Stella).

Works Cited

Hofstede, Geert. “Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model In Context”. Online Readings In Psychology And Culture, vol 2, no. 1, 2011, Grand Valley State University Libraries, doi:10.9707/2307-0919.1014.

Starn, Orin. “From Culture To Ethnicity To Conflict: An Anthropological Perspective On International Ethnic Conflict:From Culture To Ethnicity To Conflict: An Anthropological Perspective On International Ethnic Conflict.”. American Anthropologist, vol 102, no. 2, 2000, pp. 387-387. Wiley-Blackwell, doi:10.1525/aa.2000.102.2.387.1.

Ting-Toomey, Stella. “INTERCULTURAL CONFLICT MANAGEMENT: A MINDFUL APPROACH”. 2016,.

Zourrig, H. “Cross-Cultural Individual Differences In Customers’ Sensitivity To The Service Failure”. Personality And Individual Differences, vol 101, 2016, p. 529. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.paid.2016.05.363.