Cross-Cultural Management: Brett Jones in Tanzania

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Introduction

Cultures across the globe are increasingly becoming intersected, and the business environment is progressively getting more international. For managers, this infers that they should be ready to work with persons from different cultural backgrounds and countries. Since many people are deeply entrenched in their cultures, they become adamant about realizing how the situation can impact their trend of thinking as well as behaviors. To address such, scholars recommend certain mechanisms or tools to enable the comparison of nations on cultural differences and similarities. Several attempts have been initiated to integrate these cross-border cultural differences, such as the Trompenaars’ cultural dimensions, Hall’s cultural model, and GLOBE theory (Ansah et al., 2019, p. 5). However, the best-known and widely used cultural differences model is Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Framework.

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Cross-cultural dimensions offer critical understanding required to facilitate people from various cultural backgrounds to work harmoniously. With the era of globalization, many companies, especially multinational firms, have begun to integrate and exploit the growing immigration and global trade needs (Ansah et al., 2019). The move ensures persons from diverse cultures, education, and other different backgrounds can join hands towards a common vision. The case, titled Brett Jones in Tanzania – what to do when a manager “goes native” forms the basis of this discussion. Based on America’s Hydro Generation institution where Graham Steinberg, the organization’s vice president, has been appointed to make a critical managerial decision. He was to resolve quickly whether to send Brett Jones hired as the project manager during the preliminary task and construction phase to perform the operations stage as the project’s liaison specialist. The report selects national culture, organizational structures, motivation, and HRM for discussion.

National Culture

A momentous challenge to the global business environment is a prosperous espousal of various cultures and their effects on daily activities. Such embracing needs comprehension of cultural diversity, cultures, views, values, and stereotypes. In the past few decades, the subject of cross-culture management has attained considerable attention, with several scholars carrying out research linked to cultural attitudes and dimensions. The studies have also illustrated the significance of addressing cultural differences for enhanced business performance (Ansah et al., 2019). Hofstede describes culture as the shared programming of the brain that separates one team from another. He later highlighted that cultures encompass mental programming, trends of feeling and thinking, as well as potential acting. From the definition, culture includes learning values (overriding beliefs and attitudes), the undertaking of rituals (shared activities), showing against heroes (role models), as well as comprehending symbols (jargon, dress, legends, legends, myths, etc.).

The National Culture Dimension postulated by Hofstede becomes critical in evaluating the unfolding scenarios in the Jones’s case. As documented in Hofstede Insights, the model illustrate that culture is just a cooperative encoding of the mind that allows differentiating of various persons and groups from others. The Power Distance Index (PDI) under the six-model framework helps to elaborate the situation of leadership depicted by Jones.

The power distance index concerns lack of equality among people in societies. The dimension depicts the attitude of every culture towards these dissimilarities in individuals. Therefore, the PDI refers to the levels to which weaker members of organizations and institutions in a nation anticipate and embrace that power is distributed asymmetrically. According to Hofstede Insights, Tanzania scores high (70 percent) when engaged in this model against the U.S. (See Appendix I), meaning nearly everybody in the country accepts a hierarchical instruction, and individuals have a place without further rationalization.

The team selection method used by Jones can also be seen to reflect Tanzania’s culture. The high rate of unemployment in the country infers that securing a job requires family input or close a friend and Jone’s actions reflected the same. The individualism measurement in Hofstede’s dimension helps to evaluate the nation’s culture in such norms. The dimension addresses the magnitude of interdependence a culture sustains among its people (Ansah et al., 2019). It concentrates on a person’s self-image and members of such a society tend to look after themselves and perhaps their direct family. In contrast, collective societies embrace groups in their actions in return for devotion.

Moreover, persons in high individualistic society accept characteristics such as self-started undertakings as well as an emphasis on various initiatives. Organizations with reduced low individualism tend to attain higher total quality management as a group, or teamwork is vastly encouraged (Ansah et al., 2019). Nations like Tanzania, rank higher, depicting that they espouse teams and attribute to performance as a supportive accomplishment. The lifestyle of many Tanzanians is likely to circle near family ties with firm community support.

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Tanzania, which scores 25, is regarded as a collective society rather than individualistic. The situation is evident in a close, lasting dedication to group members, either a family or extended relationships. In a collectivist nation, loyalty becomes paramount and dominates many other societal regulations and rules. Society promotes strong relations where everybody takes ownership of fellow group members. As illustrated in Hofstede Insights, collectivist cultures, offense results in shame, and the employer-employee connection is observed in moral terms. In what could appear as outright favoritism in the United States and even other western nations, for Tanzania, it reflects part of the wider social culture. Companies might require to embrace some national culture factors for effective comprehension and success, it becomes complex to implement in Tanzania.

The paper recommends adopting the change model theory postulated by Kurt Lewin for future strategies to leadership tactics. Lewin’s model on leadership posits that staff should be deeply be engaged in organizational change. Moreover, a merit-based recruitment process should be embraced in the future, and the compensation and other resultant benefits should be made clear to all staff before assuming such roles (Ansah et al., 2019). The company should also make it part of its agenda of engaging local talents to eliminate possible bipolar staff profiles and enable the company to attain its intended core mandates.

Organizational Structure

Organizational structure refers to a moderately stable, either spontaneous or planned, trend of interactions and actions that members of an institution undertake for the intention of attaining the key defined goals. Comprehension of the organizational structure relies on the fundamental supposition of it being useful (Benzer et al., 2017). Dedication of the form infers that it remains a cogent instrument for those managing the institution and should be used to direct the course of actions in the company towards attaining set goals. The sagacity of the institutional structure is guaranteed by its differentiation and incorporation of the member’s collective and individual activities. Specifically, the differentiation process entails diversifying managerial and operational activities, which can then be attained through job designs or division of labor. Therefore, the structure becomes functional and employees are categorized based on their roles by creating units such as sales, administration, finance, marketing, etc.

In an institution, hierarchy is seen as imitating inherent inequalities, centralization is popular, subordinates anticipates to be instructed on what to do, and the perfect manager is a benevolent dictator. Bret Jones attempted to use Hydro Generation’s normal leadership style, the United States tactic where everyone feels more contended decided for themselves, the same flopped in Tanzania as a national culture not be impacted by it. Consequently, the benevolent dictatorial leadership method could prove prosperous in managing employees in the country.

Organizations can also assume the geographic structure when it strategically decides to create a new branch in a certain location for a specific purpose or assignment to meeting the incessant clients’ needs across the globe. The Hydro Generation exemplifies the geographic structure in the case study by setting up a different site in another foreign country (Tanzania) to handle the awarded project. In such circumstances, leadership remains indispensable, as managers must balance between the cross-cultural needs and the company’s operational philosophy to extract the best for sustained success (Benzer et al., 2017). Therefore, organizational structures with weak leadership can result in massive problems for the company, especially if the overseas mission has not been comprehended effectively.

National culture has a meaningful impact on both organizational culture and structure. It hugely influences the nation from which the company has its heritages. From Hofstede Insights, applying Hofstede Dimension, Tanzania is categorized as both a pyramid and a family people. The situation can be attributed to a high PDI and a normal uncertainty avoidance score. Nonetheless, Hydro Generation’s basic culture lies in the village market with comparatively low uncertainty avoidance and PDI. In such a setting, the people manifest reduced personal authority, minimal business loyalty, and low collectivism.

The tactic used by Jones to recruit staff for the project in Tanzania can be seen to show favoritism, which is not acceptable in western societies. In contrast, Tanzania’s family culture accepts such a form of nepotism in job search, making Jones feel lethargic with this kind of behavior. However, in the long run, the move can dent the company’s reputation for other future assignments (Benzer et al., 2017). As part of the company’s strategy to revamp its image and avoid any potential catastrophe from such moves, the Bureaucracy theory postulated by Max Weber could prove effective. The model posits a firm pyramid, a vertical job separation coupled with stringent procedures and rules to attain desired outcomes. Based on the nation’s culture and the high PDI rate, the possibilities of the prosperity of this strategy much higher.

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From the perspective of the leadership method, Jone’s tactic of management could be fruitful in a horizontal organizational structure since it has fewer strata between the management team and staff members. Moreover, in a flat design, workers have a precise authority in the decision-making (Benzer et al., 2017). In Tanzania, the employees could benefit from a hierarchical leadership methodology since they effectively receive appropriate guidance and instructions. Importantly, they are posed to have a clear professional path where industrious staff could realize benefits and meritoriously progress through their career.

Motivation and HRM

Under the prevailing international background, several businesses are compelled to employ persons from different nations, resulting in a diverse workforce. Workers from cross-cultural experiences have varied perceptions and comprehension of leadership and management, as well as different behaviors and perspectives on numerous positions (Zhao and Pan, 2017). To enhance the efficiency of administration, companies must encounter the problems of cultural diversity in the realm of human resource management, prompting serious consideration and subsequent solving of the challenge generated cross-cultural elements.

Employee motivation is a vital component of human resource management within many enterprises. Every business needs to mobilize the initiative and enthusiasm of the workforce in many aspects to complete their outlined tasks and contribute to realizing the organization’s goals with full quality and quantity. Effective employee motivation can ignite their enthusiasm and trigger their inner capability for making unrelenting efforts and dedication towards realizing organizational goals (Zhao and Pan, 2017). The wrong decisions of social dissimilarities in places of work can hinder motivation mechanism as well as cause unpredictable deleterious consequences.

In this case, Jones can effectively deploy many ways to motivate the cross-cultural staff. First, he can find a solution by applying the management experience of individuals who previously worked in Tanzania. Moreover, studies and associations of workers’ national cultural backgrounds might also assist him in addressing motivational issues (Islam, 2017). Jones can apply Maslow’s theory on the hierarchy of needs in managing the employees. Tanzania being a low-income nation create a scenario of workforce with common requirements and target groups.

The people have varied goals such as marginal welfare, working hours, and job security. Such needs can also entail relationships with superiors and colleagues, as well as the working opportunities and challenges to use their abilities. Therefore, the demands of the people are different, and through activating Maslow’s theory on the hierarchy of requirements, their issues can be addressed and are enthusiastic (Zhao and Pan, 2017). Jones, therefore, must comprehend the needs, values, expectations, and goals of the employees when deliberating how to motivate them. Irrespective of their cultural backgrounds or nationality, the workforce always has their individual needs to be fulfilled.

Jones’s style of management can be regarded as transformational when the society in which is used to provide long-term benefits for the employees and the company. As a leader, he has to ensure the team is motivated and has the required instruments to remain successful. He can integrate the dichotomy of external and internal factors theory proposed by Herzberg (Zhao and Pan, 2017). The external factor relates to the hygiene aspects, while the interior elements deal with motivation and seek to make the workforce feel satisfied.

Moreover, the motivation aspects can immensely inspire the passion of the staff to improve the overall enterprise productivity. The ramifications of practicing partiality can be cited at various stages in the organization (Zhao and Pan, 2017). Irrespective of damning publicity and moral concerns the organization might face, the immediate effects of biases can be seen under Jone’s leadership. The situation can result in a bipolar staff composition as a result of drawing workers from close family members and/or their relatives, leading to distrustful working setting and employee turnover rate a current the case.

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Jones can also explore the aspects of staff rewards as a way of enhancing their motivation. In Tanzania, just like other cultures, the reward is regarded as a positive incentive and is highly valued. It can come in different forms such as social status, career progression, remuneration, and job duties. In the U.S. where the company originates, the specific trends of rewards are diverse dues to the organization’s structures and the sectoral characteristics. Generally, the workers’ professional capability in the work forms the principal basis for making rewards (Islam, 2017). The national culture in Tanzania prefers group rewarding systems to individual incentives since various teams compete with one another to please the manager.

Conclusion

In conclusion, addressing cross-cultural issues in this increasingly pervasive business environment facilitated by globalization becomes highly significant. In a world where countries have cultural diversity, international firms must effectively strike a balance in cultural background aspects while also trying to remain relevant and attain the core intended aim of profitability. Hydro Generation finds itself in such a tight situation when Brett Jones assumes the role of project liaison specialist in an assignment in Tanzania.

Critical analysis of the case at hand shows the permissive style of leadership as depicted by Brett Jones. In his management style, he allows the team member to exercise the required freedom while also have the latitude in selecting who they want to deliver on their respective job mandates while in strict conformity to the project’s set timelines. The key concern that might arise from this kind of management style is lethargic action. While Jones managed to finish his assignment under the set objectives, from a leadership lens, it creates an imprint of inefficiency with no clear center of authority. Explicitly, the employees were accorded with unwarranted freedom, making some protest about the situation.

The country has a different cultural perception when compared to the United States, a scenario that must be critically handled to deliver effectively without conflict by the company. Low individualism and high PDI make certain practices such as favoritism and bribery in this society appear normal while they can be regarded as unethical in western culture. Hofstede’s dimension model has become critical in understanding cross-cultural background.

References List

Ansah, M.O., Louw, L. and Belso-Martinez, J., (2019) ‘The influence of national culture on organizational culture of multinational companies’, Cogent Social Sciences, 5(1), p. 1623648.

Benzer, J.K. et al. (2017) ‘The role of organizational structure in readiness for change: a conceptual integration’, Health Services Management Research, 30(1), pp.34-46.

‘Country comparison’ (n.d.). Hofstede Insights. Available at: https://www.hofstede-insights.com/country-comparison/tanzania/ (Accessed: 13 April 2021).

Islam, A.T., (2017) ‘Research on how to motivate employees in cross-cultural corporations’, International Journal of Business and Management Invention, 6(12), pp. 6-16.

Zhao, B. and Pan, Y., (2017) ‘Cross-cultural employee motivation in international companies’, Journal of Human Resource and Sustainability Studies, 5(4), pp. 215-222.

Appendix I

Power Distance Index in Tanzania and the United States
Power Distance Index in Tanzania and the United States.

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