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MANAGEMENT AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY

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MANAGEMENT AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY

LEAD-IN:

The characteristics of management often vary according to national culture, which can determine how managers are trained, how they lead people and how they approach their jobs.

The amount of responsibility of any individual in a company depends on the position he or she occupies in its hierarchy. Managers, for example, are responsible for leading the people directly under them, who are called subordinates To do this successfully, they must use their authority, which is the right to make decisions and give orders. Managers often delegate authority. This means that employees at lower levels in the company hierarchy can use their initiative, that is make decisions without asking their manager.




READING:

Read the portraits of managers from Sweden, USA and Poland and the, in pairs, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each approach to management and say which one you would find the most attractive. Do any of these profiles correspond to management practices in Romania?

SWEDEN Managers from this country consider social qualities to be as important as education and encourage their employees to take an interest in their work. They pay close attention to the quality of working life and do not use as much authority as in other countries. Swedish managers are often women and they appreciate low-level decision making.

USA Managers from this country often attend business schools and communicate easily and informally at work. They admire the qualities of a leader and expect everyone to work hard. Individual performance is measured and initiative is rewarded. They have competitive and aggressive attitudes to work and often accept innovation and change.

POLAND Managers from this country have either gained their experience in state-owned enterprises or are competitive self-starters. Older managers hold technical degrees rather than business qualifications. They work very long hours and expect their subordinates to do so. They are extremely innovative, optimistic and determined. Polish managers are quick to invest in the development of new products, market techniques and methods of production and distribution.

PRACTICE

1.Read the following text about British and German managers and fill in the gaps with the sentences below the text:

STYLES OF EXECUTION

A study comparing British and German management approaches to management has revealed the deep gulf which separates managerial behaviour in many German and British companies. (1) The findings are from a study called “managing in Britain and Germany’ carried out by a team of German and British academics from Mannheim University and Templeton College Oxford.

The differences are shown most clearly in the contrasting attitudes of many Germans and Britons to managerial expertise and authority, according to the academics. This schism results, in turn, from the very different levels of qualification, and sorts of career paths, which are typical in the two countries.

(2) It adds that German managers consider they earn their authority with colleagues and subordinates from this ‘expert knowledge’ rather than from their position in the organizational hierarchy.

In sharp contrast, British middle managers see themselves as executives first and technicians second. As a result, German middle managers may find that the only people within their British partner companies who are capable of helping them solve routine problems are technical specialists who do not have management rank. (3)

Other practical results of these differences include a greater tendency of British middle managers to regard the design of their departments as their own responsibility and to reorganize them more frequently than happens in Germany. German middle managers can have ‘major problems in dealing with this’, the academics point out, since British middle managers also change their jobs more often. (4).

Of the thirty British middle managers in the study, thirteen had held their current job for less than two years, compared with only three in Germany. Many of the Britons had also moved between unrelated departments or functional areas, for example from marketing to human resources. (5) Twenty of them had occupied their current positions for five years or more, compared with only five of the Britons.

The researchers almost certainly exaggerate the strengths of the German pattern; its very stability helps to create the rigid attitudes which stop many German companies from adjusting to external change. (6) And they are right in concluding that the two countries do not merely have different career systems but also, in effect, different ways of doing business.

a)      In contrast, all but one of the Germans had stayed in the same functional area.

b)      The gap is so fundamental, especially among middle managers, that it can pose severe problems for companies from the two countries which either merge or collaborate.

c)      Such an approach is bound to raise status problems in due course.

d)      But the authors of the report are correct about the drawbacks of the more unstable and less technically oriented British pattern.

e)      German manager - both top and middle – consider technical skills to be the most important aspect of their jobs, according to the study.

f)       As a result, UK organizations often undergo “more or less constant change”.

The text above describes two main differences Between British and German management. What are they?

Mark these statements T (true) or F (false) according to the information in the text.

a)      Mergers between British and German companies rarely succeed.

b)      The study mainly concentrated on middle managers

c)      Both German and British managers consider technical skills to be very important

d)      German managers prefer working with technicians in British companies

e)      British managers are very concerned about their executive status.

f)       There is much more change in British companies than in German companies.

g)      German companies are strong and successful because of the way they are organized

h)      British managers are probably more flexible than their German counterparts

VOCABULARY DRILLS

  1. The article mentions the “gulf” which separates managerial behaviour in German and British companies.
    1. Does the word “gulf” suggest a big or small difference?
    2. Find two other words in the first two paragraphs similar in meaning with “gulf”.
  2. The study is mainly concerned with middle managers. What words can be used to describe managers at levels above and below middle management. One example is in the text.
  3. The article mentions that 13 British managers “had held their current job for less than two years”.
    1. What word could replace “current”?
    2. Think of two other words with the same meaning as “job”. One is in the article.
  4. Match these verbs and nouns as they occur together in the text:
    1. pose, b. carry out, c. solve, d. undergo, e. change, f. occupy
    1. change, 2. problems, 3. jobs, 4. a position, 5. a study, 6. problems
  1. Find a word or phrase from the text that has a similar meaning:
    1. work closely with another company (para1)
    2. skill of being a manager (para 2)
    3. sequence of jobs you take during your working life (para2)
    4. structure of an organization with its different levels (para3)
    5. companies that you are working closely with (para4)
    6. problems which are not complex or difficult (para4)
    7. position of being a manager (para4)

WRITING

If you were going to collaborate with a British or German company, what could the potential problems be? Write a memo or short article giving suggestions and recommendations on ways to try to avoid or reduce these problems.

UNIT VII

RECRUITMENT

LEAD-IN

When a company needs to recruit or employ new people, it may decide to advertise the job or position in the appointments section of a newspaper. People who are interested can then apply for the job by sending a letter of application or covering letter (US cover letter) and a curriculum vitae or CV (US resume) containing details of their education and experience. A company may also ask candidates to complete a standard application form. The company’s Human Resources department will then select the most suitable applications and prepare a short list of candidates or applicants, who are invited to attend an interview. Another way for a company to hire is by using the services of a recruitment agency (US search firm) who will provide them with a list of suitable candidates.

PRACTICE

1. Look at the job advertisement below. You will hear a conversation in which Fiona Scott is telling a friend about the advertisement. Listen to the conversation and complete the missing information.

‘PREFER A CAMPING TRIP TO A COCKTAIL PARTY?’

PATAGONIA has a new position open:

Associate. Job is based in (2). Candidates must have substantial (3) experience and strong (4) skills. They must have serious proficiency in technical sports (skiing, kayaking, climbing…) and outdoor experience. (5) mother tongue. Environmental background a plus. No glamour…it’s a gritty job! Patagonia is a (6) company which designs and distributes functional (7) Send CV with picture to: Natalie Baudoin, Patagonoa Gmbh, Reitmorstrasse 50, 8000 Munich 22 – Germany. The interviews will be in Munich during the last week of (8).

2.Fiona Scott decides to apply for the job at Patagonia . Study her CV carefully to see how she has presented the information about herself. Where do you think each of the following headings should be place? Are CVs in Romania presented differently?

References Activities Personal Details Education Skills Professional Experience

1)

Fiona Scott

52 Hanover Street

Edinburgh EH2 5LM

Scotland

Phone: 0131 449 0237

E-mail: fiona.scott@caledonia.net

2)

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Diploma in Public Relations

University of London

BA (Honours) in Journalism and Media Studies (Class II)

Broadfield School, Brighton

A levels in German (A), English (B), History (B) and Geography (C)

3)

1995-present Public Relations Officer, Scottish Nature Trust

Responsible for researching and writing articles on all aspects of the Trust’s activities and ensuring their distribution to the press

Editor of the Trust’s monthly journal

In charge of relations with European environmental agencies

Press Officer, Highlands Tourist Board

Preparation of promotional materials and brochures

Co-ordination of media coverage

Summers of The Glasgow Tribune newspaper



1990 and 1991 Two three-month training periods as assistant to the Sports Editor

Arranging and conducting interviews

Preparation of articles covering local community sports events

4)

IT Office 2000 and Windows NT, Excel, Internet, Powerpoint

Languages Fluent German and proficient in French

Additional Driving licence (car and motorcycle)

5)

Cross-country skiing, rock climbing and swimming

Ski instructor (grade II)

Secretary of the local branch of ‘Action’, an association organizing sports activities for disabled children

6)

Geoffrey Williams, Professor of Journalism, University of London

Brenda Denholm, Sports Editor, The Glasgow Tribune

( adapted from New Insights into Business English)

3.The letter pf application can be as important as the CV in that it often provides the first direct contact between a candidate and an employer. If this letter is not well written and presented, it will make a poor impression. The letter of application normally contains four paragraphs in which you should:

confirm that you wish to apply and say where you have learned about the job

say why you are interested in the position and relate your interests to those of the company

show that you can contribute to the job by highlighting your most relevant skills and experience

indicate your willingness to attend an interview (and possibly say when you would be free to attend)

Below you will find details from Fiona Scott’s letter of application. Put the paragraphs in the correct order according to the indications above:

a)      Although I am presently employed by a non-profit making organization, it has always been my intention to work in a commercial environment. I would particularly welcome the chance to work for your company as I have long admired both the quality of its products and its position as a defender of environmental causes. As you will notice in my enclosed CV, the job you are offering suits both my personal and professional interests.

b)      I would be pleased to discuss my curriculum vitae with you in more detail at an interview. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me if you require more information. I look forward to hearing from you.

c)      Dear Ms Baudoin

d)      8th January 2000

e)      I am writing to apply for the position which was advertised last month in The Independent.

f)       52 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, EH2 5LM, UK

g)      Natalie Baudoin, Patagonia Gmbh, Reitmorstrasse 50, 8000 Munich 22, Germany

h)      My work experience has familiarized me with many of the challenges involved in public relations today. I am sure that this, together with my understanding of the needs and expectations of sports and nature enthusiasts, would be extremely relevant to the position. Moreover, as my mother is German, I am fluent in this language and would definitely enjoy working in a German-speaking environment.

i)        Fiona Scott

j)       Yours sincerely

WRITING

Read the advertisement below, than draw up your CV and application letter in order to apply for that position.

MUNCHIES: receptionists required for restaurant/hotel. Evening/weekend work only. Interested in the tourist industry? Speak French, German or Italian? Looking for a permanent full-time post after the summer? Do you like dealing with people? Are you patient? If you answered “yes” to all these questions, we want to hear from you.

READING

1 Fill in the gaps in the following text with the sentences below it:

RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION

Approaches to selection vary significantly across cultures. (1)

In Anglo-Saxon cultures, what is generally tested is how much the individual can contribute to the tasks of the organization. In these cultures, assessment centers, intelligence tests and measurements of competencies are the norm. In Germanic cultures, the emphasis is more on the quality of education in a specialist function. The recruitment process in Latin and Far Eastern cultures is often characterized by ascertaining how well that person ‘fits in’ with the larger group. (2) If there are tests in Latin cultures, they will tens to be more about personality, communication and social skills than about the Anglo-Saxon notion of ‘intelligence’.

Though there are few statistical comparisons of selection practices used across cultures, one recent study provides a useful example of the impact of culture. (3) They found that there was a striking contrast in the number of interviews used in the selection process, with France resorting to more than one interview much more frequently. (4) In addition, while almost 74 per cent of companies in the UK use references from previous employers, only 11 per cent of the companies surveyed in France used them. (5)

Many organizations operating across cultures have tended to decentralize selection in order to allow for local differences, while providing a set of personal qualities or characteristics they consider important for candidates.

Hewitt Associates, a US compensation and benefits consulting firm in the Mid West, has had difficulties extending its key selection criteria outside the USA. It is known for selecting ‘SWANs’: people who are Smart, Willing, Able and Nice. (6) For example, being able may mean being highly connected with colleagues, being sociable or being able to command respect from a hierarchy of subordinates, while the intended meaning is more about being technically competent, polite and relatively formal. (7) It all depends on the cultural context.

Some international companies, like Shell, Toyota and L’Oreal, have identified very specific qualities that they consider strategically important and that support business requirements. For example, the criteria that Shell has identified as most important in supporting its strategy include mobility and language capability. (8) There is less room for cultural misunderstandings with such qualities.

a.       A survey conducted by Shackleton and Newell compared selection methods between France and the UK.

b.      Similarly, what is nice in one culture can be considered naïve or immature in another.

c.       Furthermore, French companies rely much more on personality tests and handwriting analysis than their British counterparts.

d.      These are more easily understood across cultures because people are either willing to relocate or not.

e.       There are differences not only in the priorities that are given to technical or interpersonal capabilities, but also in the ways that candidates are tested and interviewed for the desired qualities.

f.        They also found that in the UK there was a much greater tendency to use panel interviews than in France, where on-to-one interviews are the norm.

g.      These concepts, all perfectly understandable to other Americans, can have very different meanings in other cultures.

h.      This is determined in part by the elitism of higher educational institutions and in part by their interpersonal style and ability to network individually.

2.Read the whole text again and decide whether the following statements are true or false:

a.       Many international organizations have decentralised selection.

b.      They look for different personal qualities in different cultures.

c.       The ‘SWAN’ criteria have international validity.

d.      The definition of some qualities can lead to cultural misunderstandings.

e.       Mobility and language capability are clearly understood across cultures.

3.Match these terms with their definitions:

1. panel

a. appealing to

2. assessment

b. recommendation

3. resorting to

c. research

4. ascertaining

d. standard

5. reference

e. concern for status

6. survey

f. to transfer

7. to relocate

g. technique

8. elitism

h. finding out

9. norm

i. group of persons

10. approach

j. evaluation

SPEAKING

Group work: Imagine you are the Human Resources manager of the Munchies, the company advertising in the WRITING item. You and your assistant are organizing the interview for the short-listed candidates. Decide upon the methods and questions you are going to use in the interview and then role-play the interview with another 3 or 4 students who will perform the candidates. Use their CVs and application letters.



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