Fred Bailey: Cross-Cultural Management and Case Study

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Executive Summary

Owing to the current globalization, there has been the transformation of businesses that are opting to participate in overseas markets. This is mainly because most governments have realized how individual capitalism is uneconomical within the global market. Drastically, more businesses are expanding in the global market, leading to a need of incorporating cross-cultural studies among various countries. Cross-cultural issues have continuously sprouted as diverse businesses are joining the foreign market. As a result, this has created employment opportunities for millions of people globally. For instance, the foreign markets have attracted several people from diverse ethnical backgrounds. Importantly, such people must learn communication skills that would enhance interaction with their business partners in the foreign market. In this case, multi-lingual learning was introduced to assist in effective communication. Unfortunately, it was not very successful as there are cultural issues that should be addressed. Cultural issues may include misunderstanding of how some people pronounce words according to the accent of their language. While speaking, some people normally use proverbial statements meant for interpretations in communicating. On the other hand, some people like the Americans are always straight to the point and never tolerate any kind of delays. In particular, there is a case study of Fred Bailey who was newly appointed as the Managing Director of Kline & Associates at the Tokyo Branch. Following his appointments in Tokyo, Bailey was facing disappointments that hurt his family. He then decided to take part in cross-cultural management as a way of solving the underlying issues.

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Introduction

Years back before and during the cold war, there were two main economies mainly associated with the two blocks, the eastern and the western. These blocks that lined the transformations and expansion, that is the U.S and the Soviet Union, led to the polarization into communism and capitalism (Everett, William & Yoshitaka 2002, pp. 1-5). However, in recent times, economic shift and advancements in communication between the former competitors have slowly developed into globalized economic capitalism which has brought in all the players in the business world. Businesses have been transformed and they now seek to cash on the overseas markets. Governments have realized that individual capitalism is uneconomical with the availability of resources and demand for their services in the global market (Ellingboe 1998, p. 199). These expansions of businesses and governments became the foundation of cross-cultural studies as they sought to communicate effectively with the foreign markets. Besides, the workforce in multinational companies had to reflect their missions of providing equal employment opportunities to the global population by actively involving them in management of the organizations (Bartell 2003, pp. 44-49). Then came the multi-lingual learning which was integrated to help in effective communication, but this was not enough as there still lay cultural issues that needed to be addressed. For instance, the Japanese and most Asian people are never straight to the point when speaking, they seem to use proverbial statements meant for interpretations in communicating, and this is completely different from the Americans who are straight to the point and never tolerates any delays even in time. This looks arrogant to the Japanese while the Americans see them as sluggish and undecided people. Indeed this is an essential part of communication that requires understanding to break the barriers in cross-cultural communication. This paper will consider a case study of Fred Bailey, the newly appointed Managing Director of Kline& Associates at the Tokyo Branch. The paper will analyze his involvement in cross-cultural management and how best he could breach the already escalating disappointments ranging from family issues to his post in Tokyo (Black 2010, pp. 1-5).

Cross-cultural management focuses on the behavior of different cultures working in the same environment or organization. It works with traditional behavioral issues that can be witnessed in an organization as well as the group dynamics in such environments. Other issues that it deals with include motivational factors, decision making and management abilities like leadership among others. It therefore essentially majors on the micro-level; the study of people in an organization rather than the study of the organization itself which is at the macro-level (Cameron 1984, p. 123). Apart from multinational cultures, cross-cultural management deals with the various cultures that are included in the same country like for countries with different ethnicities like Australia and the U.S. The objectives pursued by all the organizations facing the same problem of cross-cultural management is to accomplish the idea that integrates corporate global community, in which all the cultures are unified to a single organizational culture that will improve efficiency and production as well as promote effective cross-cultural communication.

Case study

The case study talks of a newly appointed manager, Fred Bailey, who was transferred from San Francisco to a big promotion in Kline & Associates’ Japan Branch in which he has 40 employees under him and is to report to the Asian regional partner. His employer, the managing partner of the firm’s head office, Dave Steiner had promised him another coming promotion that would make him a partner with the company. In his rewards, he got an increase with allowances covering even his children’s school fees. The offer was tempting and he was so excited. Rushing home to inform his wife who to his astonishment never liked the idea, after all, she wanted to get a job as she was a graduate in fashion and merchandising (Black 2010, pp. 1-5).

After some negotiations, they agreed to move into their already awaiting city house in Tokyo. Then problems began, Jenny his wife, came to realize that she could no longer stay in Tokyo and wanted to move back home, citing many reasons ranging from loneliness, food, equipment, prices and idleness among others. On this end, Mr. Bailey faced many challenges as he had to meet his first disappointment in the office when the associates could not give him the answers he had inquired. This was especially rampant with the Japanese who seemed to give vague answers to his inquiries. The problem was augmented when he tried to tie up a deal with one of the top 100 multinational companies in Japan. After a tiresome presentation by Ralph Webster, one of the American consultants, Bailey tried to inquire from the Japanese if they were convinced, but their rather slow response made him conduct another summary presuming that they had not understood it the first time. Again this time the response was vague and he opted to try out one of the Japanese associates to present the project at another set date. He chose Tashiro Watanabe who failed them as he did not complete the proposal on time. Fred was furious and could not believe it (Black 2010, pp. 1-5).

Analysis

This case study shows the difference in cultures and how it compromises the performance efficiency. It is quite clear that Bailey did not understand Japanese culture and therefore could not interpret their mind regarding the project proposal. This led to unaccepted events within just seven months of his managerial career. This is partly because as was witnessed in the sitting posture of the staff, during the meeting, there was no cross-cultural learning to help bridge the gap (Cameron 1984, p. 123). The cross-cultural gap was large in this institution, affecting the organizational culture and this caused great measures of problems to the management (Black 2010, p. 1-5).

Main problems that confront Bailey in dealing with Management and personal problems

Bailey had to face various problems that gave him difficulty in successfully managing the firm’s Tokyo branch. First he had difficulty in convincing his wife to come to Tokyo and in every sense; there was a high probability of Jenny changing her mind since she wasn’t fully convinced in the first place. Another problem that faced Bailey was the fact that he could not clearly understand the Japanese way of dealings, in business. The case study gives examples of two clients, one of whom had delayed and eventually failed to sign the contract with them, similarly the other only gave vague signals after they presented the proposal. Dealing with the Japanese employees was also a quandary as they were slow, vague and time-wasting. This was annoying, frustrating and stressed him each day. He even considered moving back to the U.S and end up forfeiting the opportunities that were awaiting him. Clearly, the problem was cross-cultural communication and how to manage it. Jenny complains of loneliness, being stared at and expenses incurred. On the other hand, Bailey supervises a different culture he does not understand and this gives him trouble (Black 2010, pp. 1-5).

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Analysis of the cross-cultural Situations that adversely affect Bailey Using Hofstede’s Mapping Bridging Integrating

Geert Hofstede does not believe in a universal system of management, he sees the difference in culture, religion and other dimensions as difficult to completely bridge. He names five dimensions of culture that includes long-term versus short-term (Rudzki 1995, pp. 421-422), which deals the valuation of actions the impact on the future for long-term cultural societies and actions that affect the present or past for the short-term societies; power distance, which looks on the various countries, there are countries with large power distance and others with small, in the latter, the staffs of lower hierarchy can contribute confidently and even criticize their seniors while in the former, those of higher hierarchy command the juniors without counteractions; uncertainty avoidance, strong uncertainty avoidance focuses on strict rules which must be followed as directed, while weak ones allows for flexibility and informal duties (Hofstede 2001, pp. 1-12); individualism versus collectivism, this defines members of different cultures in terms of their memberships, most people display individual personalities while in collectivism they define themselves as a group, and masculinity versus femininity, femininity refers to a culture in which value of life relationships are valued while in masculinity, they are ignored at the expense of competitiveness and accumulation of wealth (Black 2010, pp. 1-5).

One of the dimensions that affect Bailey is the difference in cross-cultural power distance; He asks questions but only the Americans give conclusive answers, the Japanese seem used to a large power distance where they don’t contribute to their seniors (Hofstede 2001, pp. 1-12). Individualism is also quite prevalent in the Americans as they can present projects individually while the Japanese are of the collectivist culture where they do things in mass. Japanese tend to incline to weak uncertainty avoidance as they love flexibility; this is seen in Tashiro’s way of doing his assignments and the firm’s dalliance. On the other hand, the Americans are from a strong uncertainty avoidance culture and therefore strict in their dealings (McSweeney 2002, pp. 89-118). Japanese are short-term oriented, they value their traditions and that is seen in their bows which the Americans see as a waste of time as they focus more on the future which is long-term orientation. Lastly, we can see jenny, Bailey’s wife concerned about the children’s welfare in a new place and her husbands time out, she seems to long for a comfortable life and can be referred to as feminine while Bailey is masculine from what his values are, accumulating wealth, and does not even give attention to his wife (Black 2010, pp. 1-5).

Sitting positions in meetings and their significance

The sitting arrangement in the meeting calls for cross-cultural management, it comes out that the two cultures do not mix and seem to be joined together by work and nothing else. There is no bond between the staff and as expected, a very weak organizational culture. This shows a lack of togetherness and is very unhealthy for an organization planning to be the leading branch in the company. The fact that Bailey does not see this implies lack of cross-cultural exposure and management skills. This is his first promotion to such a level and it shows he has not undergone any training to facilitate his managerial skills. This also exposes the lack of group work that involves everyone. If he had known, just as he thought of approaching the Japanese clients with their own man whom they could fully understand, maybe he could have done organized cross-cultural studies to gel the staff irrespective of their cultural affiliations (Black 2010, pp. 1-5).

New Japanese clients

The Japanese clients are clearly unimpressed by the method used to present the proposal and the urgency that accompanies it. They love to take time with their activities and seem to value consultations before deciding on any project. The speed at which Bailey expects them to respond is quite short as that is not their culture. Bailey, therefore, affects them negatively, and the repetitive nature of the presentation, because Bailey thinks they didn’t understand whatever was presented, may also be of effect to the clients. There is conflict in cultures and these need to be addressed for effective communication. It, therefore, seems that there is a misunderstanding with one side wanting things to be precise while the other is flexible (Black 2010, pp. 1-5).

Bailey’s Management skills

Bailey should have closely monitored Watanabe to ensure that everything goes on as planned. This would have ensured not only its completion on time but the guidance Watanade seemingly required to efficiently complete the task. Other options would have been, to give them that assignment as a group since they are more of collectivism dimension (Rudzki 1995, pp. 421-422). This would have helped in moving things faster. The significance of this project in the company’s success was compromised by a cross-cultural misunderstanding. Bailey should have known the cultural barriers and addressed them effectively to avoid the results witnessed. His managerial skills are therefore quite insufficient especially regarding cross-cultural management, organizational culture, and communication management (Black 2010, pp. 1-5).

Why Bailey has family problems

Bailey and his wife Jenny seem to share different views in life. While he works towards achieving his dreams of becoming a partner at the expense of their family relations and the good development of his children’s life, Jenny wants a comfortable life and is already feeling lonely and idle to the point she wants a job, whether part-time or not. She also appears to dislike her husband’s increasing hours away from home and the fact that he seldom pays attention to her. She is even decided on leaving for home since she cannot fit in the new environment where no one cares for her and much worse, the domestic things she values are quite expensive, and not as adequate as she requires. Other complications are brought by the fact that she is not pleased with changing the children’s schools and again wants a job. Bailey, on the other hand, thinks that there is no need for her to seek employment as there would be enough remuneration for the family (Black 2010, pp. 1-5).

Significance of the last paragraph

The last paragraph talks of Bailey’s worries as he gazes outside into the packed street. He tries to find a way out of his managerial problems and that is a good sign as it gives him the hope that indeed they can be solved. The paragraph also describes the traffic on the ground and an advanced subway that takes people to their homes. This is of significance to him since he can be reflected as the seemingly undeterred cars and tucks amid changes in traffic lights. He needs to transform his thoughts and organize how to mitigate cross-cultural communication and hence perform as the eloquently described subway down below. It gives him hope of another day when things will move on despite the challenges he is facing right away, and on deeper insightful look, the change begins with him both at work and in the family to rescue both, otherwise much worse activities could be witnessed (Black 2010, pp. 1-5).

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Recommendations

Bailey should first be well conversant with the challenges he has so far faced during his seven months in management. When analyzing them, he should find that the problem to be addressed is cross-cultural communication which is deficient causing lapse in understanding and combined focus (Teather 2004, p. 3). This should be addressed by first assessing its parts like the social psychology involved in cross-cultural communication, he should also take into consideration the session’s style and social meaning when dealing with negotiations and presentations. This would include looking into who should be invited, the kind of conversation, courtesy, and the kind of debate which should conform to the client’s values to persuade them into signing the deal.

Further consideration should be put on cultural impacts on the decision-making to help him understand both his clients and employees under him (Rymes 2008, p. 2). Self-image is very important in convincing clients, in this case, he looked rather unsettled jumping from one method to another and kind of harassing the clients into decision making (Teather 2004, p. 3). His is not an accepted culture in Japan and should be avoided. He should also look out to the Japanese cultural styles of logic, persuasions and reasoning which would help him grasp their attention and understand when they agree or not. Other recommendations include mixing the staff in meetings so that there is no cultural affiliation that encourages ethnicity. Organizational culture should be his priority in the company to assist in bridging the cross-cultural gaps. To do this, he needs to attend several cross-cultural communication and management seminars which will help in aligning him to the duties that require immediate attention like cross-cultural studies. He should organize groups that target to culminate cultural affiliations and organize many workshops on the same to help impart the staff with the necessary bridging measures.

Conclusion

The two main problems facing Bailey are family and the management of cross-cultural communications. In dealing with family issues, Bailey should first be ready to listen and understand his wife; this would make things much easier for them as there would be much understanding. Cross-cultural management also appears to deepen his worries; he has dealt with just two clients and he looks resigned from the heat of the discussions. He has not realized how much cross-cultural bridging is required although it directly hits on him (Rymes, 2008, p. 2). To further propagate his problems, he has not bothered to study or understand the mode of life in Japan, albeit he expects to reach out to them. His products are based on American style, tastes, and standards and he expects to pull the Japanese population with the same. He must take his time it understands the culture he expects to reach out to effectively communicate with them. Thus it calls for the cross-cultural study in the organization and any multinational company expecting to venture into a foreign land with a different culture (Black 2010, pp. 1-5).

Reference List

  1. Bartell, M. 2003. Internationalization of universities: A university culture-based framework. Higher Education, 45(1), 44, 48, 49.
  2. Black, J. S., 2010. Fred Bailey: An Innocent Abroad. University of Evansville Global Case Competition. Dartmouth College. 1-5
  3. Cameron, K.S. 1984. Organizational adaptation and higher education. Journal of Higher Education 55(2), 123.
  4. Ellingboe, B.J., 1998., Divisional strategies to internationalize a campus portrait: Results, resistance, and recommendations from a case study at a U.S. university, in Mestenhauser, J.A. and Elllingboe, B.J (eds.)., Reforming the Higher Education Curriculum: Internationalizing the Campus. Phoenix, AZ: American Council on Education and Oryx Press, 199.
  5. Everett M. R., William B. H., & Yoshitaka M., Edward T 2000. Hall and The History of Intercultural Communication: The United States and Japan. Keio Communication ReviewNo.241-5.
  6. Hofstede G., 2001. Culture’s Consequences: comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks. California. SAGE Publications. <ISBN 9780803973237>.
  7. McSweeney B. 2002. Hofstede’s Model of National Cultural Differences and Their Consequences: A triumph of Faith-A failure of Analysis. Human Relations55 (1):89-118.
  8. Rudzki, R. E. J., 1995. The application of a strategic management model to the internationalization of higher education institutions. Higher Education, 29(4), 421-422.
  9. Rymes. 2008. Language Socialization and the Linguistic Anthropology of Education. Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 2(8, Springer), 1.
  10. Teather, D. 2004. The networking alliance: A mechanism for the internationalisation of higher education? Managing Education Matters, 7(2), 3.

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