Managing Across Cultures and Comparative Management Help

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MMM240 – Organisational Behaviour

Individual Reflection on Cultural Issues (Observed and Experienced During Team-Working)

Participating within a multicultural student body offers important opportunities to learn about national (and sub-national) cultural differences, which should assist you greatly in your future working life. These learning opportunities are widened by your participation in a number of teams during various courses on the MSc programmes on which you are enrolled. The more cross-cultural interactions that
you have and the more deeply you reflect on those experiences the more likely it is that you will become a successful global manager.

Critical reflection involves exploring your experiences through the lens of some framework and model. This requires you to bring together those experiences and some of the models to which you are introduced. It also requires, deep thinking and awareness of the difficulties and limitations of any conclusions drawn. Avoid assertions and substantiate your findings with evidence backed by your reading of
the academic literature, which must go beyond what is covered in the lectures and seminars.

The aim of this Individual Reflection assignment is to allow you personally:

a) To analyse if and how far models of national cultural differences can help to explain behavioural differences among team-members by identifying which dimensions of national cultural differences, if any, seemed most relevant in your individual experiences and explaining why you have reached these conclusions. To what extent are national models oversimplified? How do you distinguish between the influence of personality and the influence of culture?

b) To critically reflect upon what you have learned concerning the advantages and disadvantages of multicultural team-working e.g.
positive issues such as creativity, and access to different strengths, skills, perspectives and ways of working; and negative factors such as intra-group conflict, difficulties in understanding different thought processes and ways of working. Reflect on the strengths and weaknesses in moving from macro-level theories to individual behaviour – it is crucial that you explicitly make this bridge between the theories to which you have been introduced and your personal experiences.

c) To reflect critically on your use of national cultural stereotyping in your multicultural experiences. How does one distinguish between national culture and sub-national cultures and personality? For example, are all Germans the same? Are all Chinese the same? What similarities do they have and what differences in your experience?

d) To reflect critically on the process of team-working – how did it work? How were tasks assigned? How did a leader emerge? – and how this has altered your cultural self-awareness and behaviour and to outline how and why you would change your behaviour in the future both as a student and as a business manager in the light of your reflections.

Writing your Individual Reflection assignment:

  • You can draw on your experiences in any group-working in which you have participated such as in other classes or in your work life, not simply group-working in the MACCM course but if you have no other multicultural team-working experience then draw on the group work element of MACCM. Taking regular notes during or after your group meetings or after the presentations will help keep your memories fresh. Make sure that you are active in your group and that your group meet regularly – perhaps for a social event as well as for working on the presentation – because this will give you more experiences upon which to draw.
  • Do not over-personalise your analysis but provide concrete examples of your experiences.
  • Make sure you relate your experiences and learning to the models and frameworks we have studied in class and use the experiences to test the value of the models. Be explicit about how they relate to one another. Making this bridge between personal experiences and theory is the key criteria in determining performance in this assignment. As such the piece needs to be overwhelmingly analytical and critical, not simply descriptive.
  • Make sure you cite references and the readings assigned when you are referring to various models and frameworks, and you should consult and cite other books and articles.

Experience of multicultural team-working

Research has shown that students learn cross-cultural competence most effectively through a mixture of practical experience and the consideration of theoretical frameworks. To ensure that you have some experience of multi-cultural team-working we organise you into groups to work on a question relating to a case study.

The three case studies used are:

1. Schindler Elevators and the Challenges of the Japanese Market (2006)
2. Google and the Government of China (negotiations 2005/6 on market entry)
3. A New Approach to China: Google and Censorship in the Chinese Market (negotiations for relicensing Google in China in 2010)

The first of these concerns the problems faced by Schindler in Japan in 2006 and its crisis management response to a fatal accident there. The second is a case study of cross-cultural negotiations and the difficulties experienced by Google in finding a position acceptable to its shareholders, its worldwide users and the Chinese government in 2005/2006 in regards the acquisition (and market entry) of
a domain name. The third case study examines the negotiations between Google and the Chinese government in regards the relicensing of Google’s domain name in China after international criticisms of self-censorship, alleged Chinese cyberattacks on its intellectual property rights, and the rollout of Android.

All three cases will be available on Moodle. Everyone should read all three cases to familiarize themselves with the issues, but obviously focus on the primary case and question assigned to your particular group.

You will be assigned to a group in the first week of the class.

Each group will study and prepare a presentation on one of the questions as assigned – 4 on the Schindler in Japan case, 4 on the Google-China negotiation case of 2006, and 4 on the Google-China negotiation case of 2010. Each presentation should last for about 5 minutes. It is not necessary for all members to speak but there must be a fair distribution of tasks within each group.

  • Please focus on your group’s specific question without encroaching on other questions and group presentations.
  • Unless explicitly asked to do so, use only the information available in the case, that is, only the information available to the participants at the time. What would you do at that time? Feel free to disagree with one another. Do not do independent research about the companies’ trajectory after the decision-making point.
  • Every group’s presentation should be uploaded to the course moodle page prior to the final class.
  • In the final class one of the groups assigned to prepare for each question will be selected at random to make their presentation.
  • The Powerpoint presentation is collective and is not assessed.
  • The value of the exercise is in working together to create the presentation as it gives you experience of multi-cultural team-working which you can then draw upon in your individual reflective assignment. So, as said, the more you through yourself into working on the presentation the more material you will have on which to write your assignment.

In the presentation:

  • Make clear what question your group is answering! Concentrate only on your question, not the case as a whole.
  • It is not necessary for everyone in the group to speak but a majority should and there should a balance in the workload put in by group members.
  • Be clear about your conclusions.
  • Everyone in the class should be present for the presentations and be prepared to ask questions of the group. Remember this helps your fellow students in their individual write-up. Help each other.

The aim of the group case studies is to allow you as a group:

a) To explore a particular aspect of cross-cultural management in detail and to consider the complexity of the issues raised in the case;
b) To apply the skills and techniques introduced in the course to the analysis of a particular case;
c) To provide an opportunity to experience cross-cultural team-working. You might decide to take notes on your experience, differences of opinions, or even conflicts among group members. Many of these issues are quite controversial with a lot of money, if not the future of the company, at stake. It would be surprising if everyone did agree. The group presentation is collective, but you might have presented aspects differently.

Remember that culture cannot explain everything and so one of the key considerations is to think about how much is due to culture and how much due to other factors, and what are they?

The questions are as follows:
Schindler Elevators and the Challenge of the Japanese Market (Schindler)
1. Review the major dimensions of Japanese culture drawing on your knowledge of models of national culture. Which of these national cultural dimensions of Japan were particularly important in the Schindler Elevators case? Were national cultural differences between Switzerland and Japan also significant in this case, or not? Be as specific as possible.

2. Review and assess the mistakes that Schindler made in its crisis management response to the fatal accident. Which of these could be related to lack of cultural know-how as compared to other factors? Rewrite Schindler’s press releases from June 8 and June 12, 2006. (You need not physically rewrite them, but explain what changes you and your group would have made.)

3. Should Schindler develop a new state-of-the-art management framework for the company, and what would this comprise? Develop a prioritized “Action Plan” to revise “Schindler culture” and its strategy in the future. This plan should address any cultural issues you feel are important. Should this framework be global in nature or country-specific?

4. In spite of headquarters and Gerhard Schlosser’s commitment to the Japanese market, should Schindler exit Japan after 2008 and focus its efforts elsewhere? Even with a better crisis management, perhaps the Japanese market is not appropriate? (You might prepare a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to gather your thoughts. Use the Internet to see the extent to which Schindler has learned from this episode to revise its strategy in Japan? How successful has this been? Could it have done more?

Google and the Challenge of the Chinese Market: A Case Study in Cross-Cultural Management (in 2006) (Google 2006)
1. To what extent were Google’s priorities in its 2006 negotiations with the Chinese government a product of the company’s corporate culture? Were these priorities compatible with one another, and if not what might be done by Google negotiators to reconcile or minimize apparent contradictions? Can Google afford not to be in China?

2. What were Chinese negotiators trying to achieve in their discussions with Google, and to what extent were these aims the product of China’s national culture? Should Google be permitted a local (.cn) domain name? Were the aims compatible or consistent with one another, and what might be done by Chinese negotiators to reconcile or minimize apparent contradictions?

3. Outline the key priorities for Google and for the Chinese government as they approached their negotiations, focusing in particular on the differences in cultural values between the two positions. How might these differences in cultural values be minimized through negotiation, resulting in an integrative agreement that both sides would benefit from?

4. What potential impact might this episode have on Google’s corporate image and brand? What should it do in relation to the Chinese market and Baidu? Do a bit of Internet research on the Yahoo China incident regarding cyberdissidents; what happened to Yahoo? More generally, should Google adjust its corporate culture to be more flexible in different national contexts or stick to its principles more firmly than it did in this case? Should it change its mission statement and code of conduct? Do not discuss what happened post 2010!!

A New Approach to China: Google and Censorship in the Chinese Market (in 2010) (Google 2010)
1. Who are the key parties, interest groups, and issues that are influencing Google’s strategy and potential negotiating position? Outline as
explicitly as possible who and what those positions are and how they might they play a role in the negotiations for Google. Do some Internet research on Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin. What do they stand for; what are their positions and what do they mean to the company? What are the alternatives and main issues to be negotiated for Google? What should be Google’s negotiating strategy? Detail it as explicitly as possible. Is there an integrative solution?

2. Who are the key parties, interest groups, and issues that are influencing China’s development strategy and potential negotiating position? Outline as explicitly as possible who and what those positions are and how they might play a role in the negotiations for China. Do some Internet research on some of the broad changes in Chinese society. How might they matter for these negotiations? Can China afford to do without Google? Should it reject an extension of the license? What are the alternatives and main issues to be negotiated for China? What should China’s negotiating strategy be? Detail it as explicitly as possible. Is there an integrative solution?

3. In 2006 Google famously agreed on self-censorship. What are the pros and cons of relicensing in 2010 with a further agreement to self-censor in order to keep the Chinese domain name (i.e. Or should Google let the domain name expire? What would your group decide to do and why?

4. At the beginning of 2010, Google was cyber-attacked by China-based hackers who accessed the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights
activists, the implication being that it was the Chinese government. Along with other companies, Google had to regularly defend its
intellectual property rights from cybercrime and cyberspying. In an internal discussion, please discuss the pros and cons about going public with this knowledge about the cyberattacks. (We know Google did go public in January 2010, but would your group have done so?) What might be the purpose of going public? Are there any cultural issues involved? What risks are involved with this confrontation? Are there other options?

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