Explanation Cross-Cultural Management Cultural Conflict in Organizations

Cross-Cultural Management: Cultural Conflict in Organizations

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TOC o “1-3” h z u 1. Explanation PAGEREF _Toc73944913 h 21.1 Background PAGEREF _Toc73944914 h 21.2 Definition of Key Terms PAGEREF _Toc73944915 h 21.3 Scope and Range PAGEREF _Toc73944916 h 32. Interpretation PAGEREF _Toc73944917 h 32.1 Hilton Hotel in China PAGEREF _Toc73944918 h 32.2 Challenges and Issues Facing Hilton Hotel China PAGEREF _Toc73944919 h 43. Exploration PAGEREF _Toc73944920 h 53.1 Cultural Training to Cover Information and Communication Gaps PAGEREF _Toc73944921 h 53.2 Hybrid Work Management Style PAGEREF _Toc73944922 h 64. Impacts and Benefits PAGEREF _Toc73944923 h 6References PAGEREF _Toc73944924 h 8

1. Explanation1.1 BackgroundFrom an organizational point of view, having a workforce that represents the community of doing business is valuable and a way to give back. Local businesses conduct business to mostly a homogenous customer base, reducing the need for cross cultural representation (Lashley, Lynch, & Morrison, 2007; Lynch et al., 2011). However, large international or multinational organizations that exist across cultural lines must have cross cultural representation. Wherever there is representation across different cultures, conflict becomes a pervasive element of professional and socio-cultural interactions (Chan, Huang, & Ng, 2008). Conflict in the workplace has been studied quite extensively, yet only a handful of scholars look at the hospitality industry and organizations from a cross-cultural conflict management perspective (Wood, 2016). This case study will investigate the issue of cross-cultural conflict and how it can be managed at an organizational level with a particular reference to Hilton Hotel Group in China.

1.2 Definition of Key TermsAs globalization continues to impact on the world of business, more organizations are expanding beyond their domestic markets to participate in businesses within different cultures and regions. In the global hospitality industry, this interaction leads to an engagement between different groups of people, different cultures, dissimilar perspectives on socio-cultural boundaries, and other variations in the way people see life (Baum, 2011; Lashley, 2008). Diversity in organizations has given birth to cross-cultural workforces. Diversity in the workplace is simply described as the representation of different people from a multicultural perspective, a gender point of view, ethnic, racial, sexual orientation, educational, age, social backgrounds and so on (Kim & Meyers, 2012). Diversity not only looks at the physical, geographic, demographic, and financial differences between employees in a workplace but also their participation in creating an equal or balanced workforce (Qingxue, 2003). With such interactions, conflict emerges, especially from a cultural standpoint. Cross-cultural conflict is defined by Yan (2015) and Hill (2007) as any conflict arising from the diversity between social groups or individuals separated by boundaries relating to culture. Therefore, in celebrating individual differences, cross-cultural interactions may lead to conflict. Cross-cultural conflict management is seen by Chen, Cheung, & Law (2012) to be a process of minimizing the negative outcomes of the differences that emerge due to the intersection of cultures while still promoting the increase of positive consequences of the same. Therefore, although organizations in the hospitality sector are pushing for diversity of the workforce, negative outcomes may emerge, requiring managerial processes to reduce such and promote an increase in positive consequences of cross-cultural interactions.

1.3 Scope and RangeThe issue of cross-cultural conflict management is especially important for the hospitality sector. Hospitality and a hospitable environment is defined as a generous and friendly environment, entertainment, and reception of visitors, strangers, and guests in relation to catering to their needs in a friendly and caring manner (Lynch et al., 2011). In so doing, employees of various cultural backgrounds are likely to interact, both with customers from a different culture or from other employees from different cultural foundations. Conflict is inevitable in such situations. While the entire hospitality industry is likely to go through certain cross-cultural conflicts, the scope of this study is on how Hilton Hotel in China uses cross-cultural conflict management to reduce negative consequences of conflict and increase positive outcomes. In highlighting the specific cross-cultural conflict issues affecting Hilton Hotel operations in China, management of said conflict is proposed to take a long term plan of training employees to handle differences in the workforce to increase positive outcomes.

2. Interpretation2.1 Hilton Hotel in ChinaChina has, over the years, created favorable work conditions for foreign firms to enter the hospitality industry. Its rapid development continues to attract impressive number of hotels from all over the world. Luxurious brands such as the Hilton Hotels Group has also entered the market. As a layer in the service and hospitality industry, the company continues to face different cultural issues that emanate from the interaction of people from variant social, cultural, economic, political, ethnic, racial, age, and gender backgrounds. Cross-cultural conflict becomes a reality facing the company in its international operations in China. The company is headquartered in North American and the management and other important policy-formulation is from a western orientation. The culture in China is significantly different, creating room for conflict in how people and the organization interact.

2.2 Challenges and Issues Facing Hilton Hotel ChinaThe main challenge and issue facing Hilton Hotels operations in China is due to a communication problem based on the cultural and traditional differences in the way people convey messages. Difficulties in communication is expressed by researchers such as Chen, Wang, & Chu (2011) as one of the main negative consequences of cross-cultural conflict. Language is important in facilitating communication. Employees working in Hilton Hotels in China are often required to interact with others in an environment where the primary language used is foreign, particularly English. While the language skills of Chinese employees are adequate for basic interactions, Wang, Chu, & Lee (2011) note that problems arise where he meaning conveyed is different from what is received in an attempt to communicate. Policy formulation and implementation, whether verbally communicated or written, may create different meanings to different people, leading to variations in interpretations. Additionally, communication may be hampered by the cultural influences of power distance where the Chinese and people from western cultures interact. According to Sanchez-Burks et al. (2003), power distance for the Chinese is relatively large to an extent that employees at lower managerial levels do not fully interact with others above them and vice versa. The opposite is true for those from western cultures where employees are free to offer suggestions, provide alternative views, and even interact freely with their bosses. Again, the use of non-verbal communication between the Chinese and western cultures is very different. Issues such as use of gestures, maintaining eye contact (and lack thereof), nodding, facial expressions, and other non-verbal cues are sources of conflict. These elements create conflict because the Chinese culture is perceived as a high context culture where the element of collectivism is highly valued while western cultures are ore individualistic and favor low context communications (Guan & Li, 2017). For example, Chinese people use indirect communication while Americans prefer direct and concrete language to pass a point. For either of the approaches, people of a different culture would often interpret the communication as rude and inconsiderate. Combined with the hierarchical differences between the said cultures, communication within the Hilton Hotels in China can be greatly hampered on the basis of cross-cultural conflict.

Another major challenge and problem arising from cross-cultural conflict is a lack of unified organizational values and comprehensive management style. As a foreign-owned organization operating in a different culture, Hilton Hotels is required to have unified organizational values and a management style that is aligned to other branches from different countries in line with the shareholder expectations and objectives. However, as a direct consequence of cultural differences between employees at various levels of management and operations, there is a clear lack of unity in what the organization values as important and the style that is preferred in managing employees. In China, leadership and management are distanced from the employee base, creating a rift in the corporate culture of Hilton Hotels in terms of how it expects al employees to relate. The main problem arising from this is that employees are conflicted over what culture to adopt in terms of teamwork, individuality, or a combination of these elements (Zhu, Anagondahalli, & Zhang, 2017). Foreigners hold management positions, leading and managing employees from a very different cultural setting. Conflict emerges in relation to the expectations of these managers from their employees. Additionally, the managers find it difficult to manage employees who are not used to a management style and culture of active participation and direct interaction with superiors (Zhu, Ma, & Jiang, 2019). Talent management therefore becomes another major negative outcome.

3. ExplorationThe interaction of employees from different cultures at Hilton Hotel China is a major cause of frustration and conflict for the organization. In order to reduce the negative impacts of such cross-cultural conflicts and provide solutions to the issue of communication breakdown and a lack of uniformity of organizational values, this report suggests the use of training to cover information gaps and a change of the infusion of a hybrid work management style that fits the cross-culture environment.

3.1 Cultural Training to Cover Information and Communication GapsWhenever people from different cultural backgrounds interact in a work environment, Jhaiyanuntana & Nomnian (2020) found that communication gaps emerge because of the relative differences in delivery and reception of messages through different verbal and non-verbal communication. To solve cross-cultural conflict, especially on the lines of ineffective communication, Han, Huang, & Macbeth (2018) suggest that companies conduct cultural training for employees, an idea echoed by Jhaiyanuntana & Nomnian (2020) especially for employees in the management level. For the Hilton Hotel, communication is a very important element that is likely to create core competence in a highly competitive environment in China. Cross-cultural training will enable easier management of employees, help in understanding the perspectives of people from different cultures, create an effective work culture, lead to better unification of organizational values, and harmonize the management style used within the company. Additionally, staff training will be important in order for them to better understand the demands of the shareholders who are the primary stakeholders in the organization. Staff training will significantly reduce the information gaps that exist in relation to communication and management styles. It will also enhance language interactions and help in reducing hindrances to effective communication such as power distance, and poor perception of non-verbal communication.

3.2 Hybrid Work Management StyleOften, foreign organizations try to force what works in their domestic and major markets on a foreign industry. For example, the management style use by Hilton Hotels in the western world have been very effective, but may not necessarily fit the Chinese management culture. As observed in this case study, the use of foreign-based management culture have led to conflict in the way employees receive and interpret instructions. It is important to note that China is a highly collectivist and a high context culture (Kim & Meyers, 2012). The way that an organization relates to its employees in China is very different from the western world and cultures. While training of the staff and managers is likely to reduce the said effects, the most applicable solution is to create a hybrid approach that factors in the needs of the shareholders in maintaining uniform organizational values and management while considering the different cultural orientation of the Chinese market. To achieve this, a more western overall management style can be applied for the entire organization, but then narrowed down to a funnel approach so that individual management fits the expectations of the Chinese culture in lower management. Cultural compatibility is mentioned to be a vital element in ensuring the competitiveness of an organization in a foreign market (Qingxue, 2003). Therefore, Hilton Hotels in China should implement a management style that retains the uniqueness of its brand, while ensuring that management of the staff is aligned to Chinese cultural values and norms in order to ensure that employees perform at their best and conflict tis reduced or eliminated.

4. Impacts and BenefitsTo run a successful organization, conflict management is a vital element. By implementing the solutions suggested above (staff training and a better management style), Hilton Hotels will be able to reduce negative outcomes such as competing agendas, low morale, low productivity, hostility, and high turnover. These negative outcomes are not ideal hallmarks for a strong business. The solutions suggested are collaborative in nature. The impact of using these approaches is that they are win-win strategies, and an effective way to restore an environment that gives the organization power to compete better. The main advantages of the solutions suggested are that they make every stakeholder feel valued, foster an understanding of the different perspectives of the different parties, creates empathy, and fosters mutual respect. Additionally, the use of such strategies to resolve cross-cultural conflicts is that they set the tone for conflict resolution in the future. For Hilton Hotels in China, the use of training and a workable management style gives every employee, despite of their cultural background, shared responsibility in ensuring that conflict is resolved whenever it arises.

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