Although the economic recession is currently observed in the finance industry, the global markets are expanding, and it is important to focus on both positive and negative impacts of globalisation on the industry’s development (Crane & Matten 2010). Challenges that are noticed in this area are the further development of the crisis, uncontrolled deregulation, and decreased investments (Statistics Netherlands 2015). Therefore, the task of the executive who operates in the finance industry is to promote financial cooperation, attract international partners and investors, and guarantee the flow of ideas and foreign capitals. Clever Clogs International plans to propose the ways of improvements for the banking system in the Netherlands, and the actual current challenges that can be faced by the expatriate manager are the necessity to work with the international team, negotiate conflicts, and develop the working strategies to improve the financial monitoring in the field (Arnold 2015). In this context, much attention should be paid to improving the management strategies under the impact of globalisation trends, and it is necessary to propose the most effective approaches to communicating within new cultural and business environments. The purpose of this report is to provide a brief discussion of differences in the cultures and working environments typical of Lebanon and the Netherlands and present the recommendation regarding the use of effective cross-cultural management strategies to address the situation in the Dutch finance industry.
Overview of the Macro-Level Factors in the Netherlands
While planning the work in the Netherlands, it is important to pay attention to several influential macro-level factors. The first factor is the differences in officials’ visions of political and economic courses. One political group focuses on continuing the policy of “open borders”, and the opposite politicians point at the necessity of decreasing the integration and closing the country’s borders (Netherlands Government 2015). The economy of the Netherlands depends on the events in Europe, and the immigration crisis affected the financial sector of the country because it influenced the economies of the country’s partners and investors (Arnold 2015). Politicians try to propose the unique course regarding the development of the finance industry and stress on innovation. More attention is paid to rebuilding the Dutch economy, focusing on financial services and innovativeness instead of promoting the agricultural and trade sectors (Statistics Netherlands 2015, p. 4). However, the unstable economic situation in Europe can lead to affecting the banking system in the Netherlands as banks have to close, and the level of trust decreased significantly (Arnold 2015). In this context, the specialist of Clever Clogs International should work to propose the most effective strategy for monitoring the banking system to prevent the further economic downfall under the current disadvantageous circumstances.
Comparison of the Netherlands and Lebanon Based on Hofstede’s Model
The comparison of cultures of the Netherlands and Lebanon according to Hofstede’s dimensions demonstrates that they differ significantly in relation to all factors, excluding the Uncertainty Avoidance dimension (Figure 1).
While focusing on the low Power Distance score for the Netherlands, it is possible to state that employees in this country expect that the hierarchy does not influence the working relations significantly, the equality in rights is promoted, and employees’ opinions are taken into account. On the contrary, the Power Distance score for Lebanon is high, and professionals expect the focus on the well-developed hierarchy and strict distribution of responsibilities (Thomas & Petersen 2014). In the highly regulated finance industry, the manager from Lebanon can experience difficulties because the power factor is not addressed strictly in the Netherlands. While focusing on Individualism, it is important to state that in the Netherlands, much attention is paid to individuals and their particular contributions to the organisation. In Lebanon, the situation is different, and the focus is on collective achievements. As a result, the manager should remember that the work with individuals will be more effective than the teamwork in the Netherlands finance industry, and the tasks should be assigned exclusively.
The next important dimension is Masculinity. The Netherlands are characterised by the low score; as a result, the focus is on the supportive working environment and on meeting employees’ interests and needs. The Lebanese manager can be rather decisive and strict in organising and controlling the work of employees, orienting them to the high performance, but this strategy can be ineffective with the Dutch workers (Griseri & Seppala 2010). The scores regarding Uncertainty Avoidance are similar for the Netherlands and Lebanon, demonstrating the absence of focuses on standards. The Netherlands has the high score regarding the Long Term Orientation, indicating the reliance on the context rather than on traditions. The situation is opposite for Lebanon, which culture is normative (Statistics Netherlands 2015). The scores are different also according to the dimension of Indulgence, and the Netherlands focus significantly on their leisure and enjoyment when the Lebanese prioritise the work.
Critique of Hofstede’s Approaches
For managers working in the finance industry in the Netherlands, it is important to adapt to the macro-level factors such as complicated economic conditions in the country and region and address visions typical of the Dutch employees according to Hofstede’s framework. Today, the finance institutions in the country focus on preserving their partner relationships in the region and attracting more investors (Arnold 2015). In this context, managers should pay more attention to encouraging employees to present their ideas regarding the course of actions and focus on innovativeness. From this point, benefits of Power Distance relationships typical of the Netherlands should be used in this case. In the daily management practice, this approach can result in regular open meetings with employees at different levels (Aycan et al. 2013). The challenge can be observed while addressing the factor of Individualism because the improvement of cooperation in the finance industry is based on the project and team work, and managers need to balance between encouraging the teamwork and valuing the individual’s contribution. The external factors influence the management practices in the finance industry, and the focus is on finding the consensus typical of the Dutch negotiations becomes the priority. The manager’s task is to create comfortable conditions for employees to formulate and discuss their ideas and projects in the flexible environment and achieve the agreement in the teamwork leading to the consensus in developing the new partnership and investment relations for banks in the country.
In order to propose the effective advice to the manager from Clever Clogs International, it is necessary to mention basic differences typical of the Dutch and Lebanese cultures and business environments.
Differences in Values and Norms
According to the Edward Hall’s model, cultures are divided into low-context and high-context (Brett 2014). The Netherlands is an example of the low-context culture where the focus is on clear messages that can be reported orally and in a written form (Cardon 2008). The challenge is in shifting the focus from the context and hierarchy to listening to the employees’ concrete ideas. The manager from the high-context Lebanese culture should avoid emphasising the context, and it is necessary to provide clear notes and guidelines. The Dutch employees prefer to work individually, and they should be clearly informed about possibilities of the flexible work. The difference is also in the fact that the female employees and workers of any age have equal rights for presenting their ideas on the project openly (Ali 2010). The representative of the high-context Arab culture should pay attention to this fact.
Hall’s model also explains how low-context and high-context cultures differ in terms of decision making because the Dutch society is egalitarian, and each participant of the decision-making process oriented to develop the strategy for the finance industry is regarded equally without depending on age and gender. The focus is on professionalism. According to Siegel, Licht, and Schwartz (2011), egalitarianism is typical of many European countries. The manager should develop communication skills in terms of encouraging all team members to participate in the decision-making process and listening to the ideas and visions of all employees. The challenge is in the fact that the complicated procedure of the decision making is developed to regulate the open communication between participants. Following Kline (2010), the decision-making principles are usually influenced by ethical and religious norms. However, the foreign manager should note that in the Netherlands, the hierarchy plays the secondary role in this process, and the tradition is not influential.
Being the representatives of the low-context culture, the Dutch employees in the finance industry pay much attention to the regulated negotiation process to achieve the consensus. The challenge for the foreign manager is in the fact that the decision is made depending on the support of all decision-makers, instead of referring to the leader’s opinion (Coldwell et al. 2008). Boult (2015) states that the Dutch professionals are ready to argue their ideas during long hours, and the word of the leader is not decisive in this case. Therefore, organising face-to-face meetings, the manager from the high-context culture should concentrate not on non-verbal signs, but on regulating the efficient negotiation to avoid conflicts. The cultural intelligence is the main skill that should be developed by the manager to conduct negotiations in the foreign environment (Imai & Gelfand 2010). The manager should be ready to discuss the problem in detail and accept the most efficient decision stated by the team member.
The manager preparing to work in the Dutch organisations should pay attention to the particular features of the low-context cultures because, in the Netherlands, the main emphasis is on the individuals’ contribution, equality in responsibilities and rights, empowerment, and the support for employees. In contrast to Lebanese culture, the opinions of both males and females are regarded equally, and employees expect the support of their independence and individualism. As a result, all participants of the decision-making and negotiation process expect that their opinions will be discussed and taken into account. In comparison to the Lebanese culture, hierarchy and traditions are not significant in this case. Therefore, the female manager representing the Lebanese culture should be ready to become more flexible in encouraging the work of Dutch professionals and finding the consensus while developing the negotiations. In this context, the manager should develop the following skills:
- Communicate with all employees as equals and high-level professionals;
- Empower employees to participate in negotiations and the decision-making procedure;
- Be ready to create the conditions for the flexible and individual work of the Dutch employees.
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