Multicultural Management

Multicultural Management in the context of international business is discussed as a key attribute and a “success factor” for businesses, managers and teams in today’s globalised business arena (Kelley School of business, 2011, P.A Cassiday, 2005, Y.Y Kim, D P.S Bhawuk, 2008, R. Ma, D G. Allen 2009). For both Multinationals, expatriates and lone workers through the advancement of transport, communication, Information technology and reduction in flight costs in travelling abroad in recent times, taking a post in a foreign country or conducting business across foreign borders is a feasible growth opportunity for some enterprises and unfortunately a financial necessity for others. For the individual, whether you’re a practitioner of management, engineering, medicine, manufacturing, education or construction, your country of origin’s current economic situation need not be the be all and end all in determining the financial stability of your family or indeed be an over ruling factor in preventing your career advancement prospects (The Bent of tau Beta PI, Spring 2005).

The increase in expatriate workers in recent times has arisen from a combination of factors such as globalisation’s, labour shortages in many countries, as well attractive higher salaries and tax benefits available in some countries (HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2012). Globalisation has created many opportunities (Mitroff, 1987, Eric T-S Pan, 2005) but having the ability to be able to manage within and adapt to a culturally diverse environment at grass roots level or at managerial level will impact on the level of success of this opportunity both for the company and for the expatriate.

In order for expatriates to be successfully integrated into a multicultural organisations, it has been identified through various studies driven by the growth in international business, that there is a need for cross cultural training “At the present time there is a greater need for effective international and cross cultural communication, collaboration and co-operation not only for the effective practice of management but also for the betterment of the human condition” (Culture Leadership and Organisation, the GLOBE study of 62 societies) of individuals in a multicultural context (Dr. Lee, Hung-Wen, M.G. Harvey, N. Miceli, 1999). Multinationals such as IBM, Heineken and Johnson &Johnson , colleges (S. Ledwith, D. Seymour, 2010) and training houses have had to quickly adapt to this evolution in multicultural management requirements and implement/offer specific cross cultural training programs to students and expatriates under many different titles such as “Re-patriation Training” (M, G Harvey, 1997, M Harvey, D Ralston, N Napier, 2000) “Cross Cultural Training” (A, Esther Joshua-Gojer, 2012) Multicultural Training, Diversity Training, Cross Cultural Leadership, and Cross Cultural Adjustment. Although success rates of these training programs is suggested as questionable, the main emphasis of these multicultural training programs is in the preparation of the individual to work effectively from a cultural perspective in their new place of work.

Even though there is an awareness in recent years on the importance of Multicultural Management (D, Shanahan 1996), many companies still “do not provide or give very limited cross cultural training” (S. Ghafoor, U. F. Khan, F. Idrees, B. Javed, F. Ahmed, 2011) as a result, expatriates are suggested as failing and experiencing the difficulties of working in cross cultural environments. Working in a foreign environment can be a difficult experience (Truax, 2008) and a study by (Buckley and Brooke, 1992, Christensen and Harzing, 2004) suggests that failure rates of the expatriate to be high for a variety of different reasons from both a professional and personal standpoint. Expatriate failure can also have a negative monetary impact on the company, for instance in the (Journal of Contemporary Research 2011), it is reported that failure rates of expatriates has a reported $2billion per year negative impact on US multinationals (S. Ghafoor, U. F. Khan, F. Idrees, B. Javed, F. Ahmed).

It is also important to point out that the challenges faced and negative impacts of working in a culturally diverse environment are not only experienced in business management, it is also well documented in education among teachers resulting in suggested “Diversity burnout” (Moshe Tatar, Gabriel Horenczyk, 2003), in psychiatry (A. Quesrishi, F. Collazos, M. Ramos, M. Casas, 2008), international project management (E. G. Ochieng, A.D.F. Price, 2010) as well as operations and manufacturing to name but a few. So in taking a position abroad and to be able to adapt efficiently and successfully within a culturally diverse environment in today’s world is becoming more and more the norm and seen as an expected prerequisite in both professional and personal development (The Bent of tau Beta PI, Spring 2005, N. Adler 1995).

The business world has evolved and the need to understand human behaviour in a cross cultural context by means of successful Multicultural Management is crucial in modern day management (G. Hofstede, 1991, F. Trompenaars, C. Hampden Turner, 1998, P. R. House 2004, Schwartz 1990), “All experts in international business agree that in order to succeed in global business, managers need to be able to respond positively and effectively to practices and values that may be drastically different to what they are accustomed to” (Culture Leadership and Organisation, the GLOBE study of 62 societies). What the above quote and introduction indicates is, Globalization is here and now and having an impact on everyday business. Modern managers at some point in their career may work abroad, but the skills of being able to manage abroad in a Multicultural setting is extremely important and not having those skills can have an impact for the individual and the company.