Intercultural Team Communication in the Workplace

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Article Review

The selected article is called “The Impact of Managerial Multicultural Competences on Company’s Competitive Advantage in Global Economy”. It was written by Grušovnik and Jelovac in the year 2014. It discusses what influences multicultural competencies of managers and leadership have on the success of organisations (Grušovnik and Jelovac 2014). The article is qualitative in nature; for that reason, it had a comparatively small number of participants (28), which came from or were managing multicultural teams in different countries. The study aimed to evaluate the importance of multicultural competencies for day-to-day activities. In addition, the team investigated the reasons for the absence of this type of competency and the consequence of cultural negligence.

The authors of the article emphasise that globalisation brings to the forefront the importance of cross-cultural interaction. Researchers note that companies that are able to use the multifaceted experience of professionals and managers have a wider bridgehead for critical consideration of complex problems (Grušovnik and Jelovac 2014). At present, there is a tendency to switch to a contractual system of relations, decentralisation, focus on results and innovations in personnel management. Employees from different cultures are part of cross-cultural interaction and are an important strategic resource for the company. With proper management, such employees can become a factor in increasing the competitiveness and development of the company (Grušovnik and Jelovac 2014).

Intercultural interactions push individuals to absorb the values of other cultures and result in transcultural convergence (Grušovnik and Jelovac 2014). Such processes require a change in management technologies due to the fact that modern mechanisms become inadequate since they do not reflect the ongoing changes. However, according to the study, many managers do neglect cultural differences (Grušovnik and Jelovac 2014). Gradually, this leads to inevitable problems in management, costly mistakes, and failures in business.

Guide Dogs is an organisation that provides services to 200 thousand people and aims to grow to deliver services to 500 thousand clients (Guide Dogs, 2020). The customers of the organisations come from different cultures and ethnicities, and the workforce of Guide Dogs is also diverse, which allows assuming that multicultural competence is particularly important for it. According to the researchers, the attitude to intercultural issues is an important element of business success. The reviewed article will help to understand the company’s approach to intercultural management. In particular, it will be possible to determine whether the purpose of the organisation is to neutralise and control cultural differences or build processes around them.

For such an organisation to work effectively, it is necessary to promote cross-cultural learning and the ability to work together (Grušovnik and Jelovac 2014). Working with the cultural characteristics and differences that are the sources of conflict and misunderstanding, the development of a special methodology, a new worldview and globalist thinking are necessary. Multicultural management allows studying and explaining the cultural differences inherent in representatives of different nationalities and determining the methods of managing relations arising in international groups. The article will help analyse the Guide Dogs organisation from this important perspective.


Guide Dogs is an organisation that takes its roots in 1931 (Guide Dogs, 2020). The main task of the centre is to ensure social rehabilitation of people with disabilities with the help of specially trained dogs. For decades, experts have been training animals for people who have lost their eyesight (Guide Dogs, 2020). The organisation provides rehabilitation services for people with different life situations, from different demographic, social, and cultural groups. Like most socially-oriented organisations, Guide Dogs operates through donations, both private and corporate ones. The centre employs professionals dedicated to their work, as well as volunteers who not only help save money but also provide comprehensive assistance to people. Trainers form the core of the organisation since they breed and train dogs, as well as educate clients on how to communicate with their animals most effectively. Dog training for people with disabilities is, in many ways, different from other types of training, as it should take into account the characteristics of each person. Moreover, the team is focused on effectively educating a person who needs the help of an animal.

Current Business Practices

Intercultural awareness is of particular importance for such an organisation due to the fact that all trainers and volunteers interact with people belonging to different cultures on a daily basis. Multicultural management refers to methods that muffle the negative impact of intercultural differences on solving managerial problems and contribute to the evolvement of intercultural sensitivity (Hofstede, Hofstede and Minkov, 2013). For Guide Dogs, the development of a similar empathic ability is crucial, especially, given the sensitive environment in which the organisation functions (Schnurr and Zayts, 2017). The centre creates conditions in which trainers not only teach animals and people how to interact with each other but also learn themselves how to work with colleagues and clients coming from different environments. The organisation seeks to improve the interaction of employees, customers, volunteers, and partners through seminars and events. Thus, cross-cultural management seeks to make traditional communication strategies multicultural (Grušovnik and Jelovac, 2014). In the case of Guide Dogs, multicultural management aims to influence culturally determined variables on the behaviour and work of not only managers but also members of the entire team (Guide Dogs, 2020).

It is worth noting that multicultural competence needs to be assessed from several angles in order to build a comprehensive picture of intercultural awareness and communication in Guide Dogs (Shaalan, Reast, Johnson and Tourky, 2013). In particular, it is necessary to consider the motivational (multicultural orientation), cognitive (multicultural literacy) and operational (multicultural activities) aspects of the organisation’s awareness. The motivational criterion includes such qualities as tolerance, interest in a foreign culture, desire for positive actions in the field of interethnic interactions (Ljubica, Dulčić and Aust, 2016). In addition, it includes respect for representatives of other ethnic cultures and the acceptance of the existence of many cultures in the same communicative space (Grušovnik and Jelovac 2014). This aspect can be observed at different levels of the organisation. Management emphasises that they will refuse to interact with another organisation if it does not support similar views or if its activities can undermine the principles of Guide Dogs (Guide Dogs, 2020).

The cognitive aspect implies that management has a wide range of knowledge in the field of culture, knowledge of universal and specific categories of culture related to the possibility of their use in work-related settings. It also needs to have an understanding of the cultural situation and possess knowledge of legislation that supports relations between individuals (Bhardwaj and Sharma 2017). Analysing the company from the point of view of this criterion, it can be noted that trainers of Guide Dogs possess the skills of tolerant interaction and can professionally assess the situation in order to correctly respond to it. According to the organisation’s policy, management provides the staff with training, which takes into account the needs of each client and encourages them to work in accordance with all the rules and regulations (Guide Dogs, 2020). Moreover, if the situation requires so, management can restore the violated rights in accordance with the law in the field of cultural and ethnic relations.

The operational aspect implies the ability to penetrate the essence of a foreign culture and the ability to participate and organise multicultural activities (Korzilius, Bücker and Beerlage, 2017). This criterion cannot be objectively assessed since to be able to do it, it is necessary to speak with the organisation’s staff and study the problematic situations that management faced and what measures were taken to resolve them. However, Guide Dog’s philosophy implies that all employees strive for self-improvement, and it is possible that this aspect of multicultural competence is being developed (Guide Dogs, 2020).

Further Discussion

Having analysed the business practices of Guide Dogs, it became possible to assume that this organisation is at a stage between an average and a high level of multicultural awareness. The organisation has a situational interest in understanding the characteristics of a holistic cultural situation. Apart from that, it also possesses relatively stable multicultural communication skills (Ting-Toomey and Dorjee, 2019). This is due to the fact that the organisation has openly published its attitude to diversity and stressed the importance of treating with respect and acceptance the differences between cultures and backgrounds (Guirdham, 2017). The main recommendation for the organisation is to strive for the development of the internal and external communication that will not only recognise and accept diversity but will also actively engage individuals in dialogue and interaction.

Concluding Points

Thus, it can be concluded that Guide Dogs has introduced multicultural management and communication strategies into its business practices. The organisation aims to effectively manage business relationships that arise in a culturally diverse environment. This is achieved through internal and external communication, the creation of inclusive working conditions, and interaction with customers from different cultures. Guide Dogs has initiatives aimed at resolving cross-cultural conflicts in the business environment. Moreover, particular attention is paid to the development of multicultural competence among the company staff through training and education.

Reference List

Bhardwaj, S. and Sharma, V. (2017) ‘A study on managerial communication in multicultural workplace’, BVIMSR’s Journal of Management Research, 9(1), p. 60-65. Web.

Grušovnik, R. and Jelovac, D. (2014) ‘The impact of managerial multicultural competences on company’s competitive advantage in global economy’, Innovative Issues and Approaches in Social Sciences, 7(3), pp. 58-89. Web.

Guide Dogs. (2020) Ethical statements. Web.

Guirdham, O. (2017) Communicating across cultures at work. 4th edn. London: Macmillan Education UK.

Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J and Minkov, M. (2010) Cultures and organizations: software of the mind: intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival. 3rd edn. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Korzilius, H., Bücker, J. J. and Beerlage, S. (2017) ‘Multiculturalism and innovative work behavior: the mediating role of cultural intelligence’, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 56, pp.13-24. Web.

Ljubica, J., Dulčić, Ž. and Aust, I. (2016) ‘Linking individual and organizational cultural competences: one step closer to multicultural organization’, Management: Journal of Contemporary Management Issues, 2, pp. 51-82. Web.

Schnurr, S. and Zayts, O. (2017) Language and culture at work. New York, NY: Routledge.

Ting-Toomey, S. and Dorjee, T. (2019) Communicating across cultures. 2nd edn. New York, NY: Guilford Publications.

Shaalan, A., Reast, J., Johnson, D. and Tourky, M. (2013) ‘East meets West: toward a theoretical model linking guanxi and relationship marketing’, Journal of Business Research, 66(12), pp. 2515-2521. Web.

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