Cultural Diversity in the International Business Environment

In order to function better with diverse colleagues, there is a crucial need for multicultural employees to be aware of the cultures that they are working with as well as have an appreciation for their values and beliefs, attitudes toward conflict, and personal experiences (Soderberg and Holden 2002). The increased reliance of international companies on a culturally diverse workforce should drive these organizations to improve their members’ understanding of how certain processes such as training or communication can positively contribute to the success of a multicultural labor force. Although ethnically diverse teams play a critical role in the success of companies due to the flexibility, receptiveness, and resource utilization that is expected of them (Marquardt and Horvath 2001), the management of cultural differences and conflict has become a challenge for the much international organization. Diversity in culture can bring about a misunderstanding, adverse relationships, and weak performance, thus the need to effectively manage geographic distances, facilitate control and coordination matters, establish strong communication, and maintain team consistency. Because of this crucial need, numerous studies, even early research such as that of Hofstede and Trompenaars, have been carried out to explain cultural variations in the working environment and the successful management of these differences among employees. Through my experience as an international director, I have learned about the essential components behind a successful expatriate assignment. Theories of cultural dimensions from well-known researchers such as Hofstede (1980) have been of good use in explaining why people are culturally different from each other. National culture plays a crucial part in understanding a workforce that is ethnically diverse as explained through Hofstede’s (1980) cultural dimensions including power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation. Power distance indicates the acceptance and expectation of the society, especially the less powerful individuals, that power can be unequally distributed, thus representing inequality. Anyone who has had experience in international studies can point out that all countries and societies have demonstrated inequality in wealth and power distribution, although some are more unjust than the others. Individualism refers to how people are integrated into groups. for instance, individualist societies tend to establish loose relationships among its members and each individual is expected to attend to himself and his family while collectivist ones are likely to stay committed to such relations and demonstrate unwavering loyalty to each other.