Implications of Cross-Cultural Competency for senior management and corporate strategy
In business management, cross-cultural competence refers to the ability of company leaders to effectively understand, communicate and interact with people from different cultural backgrounds, be it employees, customers, suppliers, colleagues, or any other stakeholder of the company (Abbe, Gulick and Herman, 2007). Cross-culturally competent managers are able to design practices, policies, and systems that can facilitate and support cross-cultural interactions in various areas of human relations, including retention practices, recruitment, and hiring. Senior managers of every organization require extensive cross-cultural training to help them acquire insights, self-awareness, skills, and personal strategies that can assist them to effective, inclusive, and respectful when handing people from different cultures. In the contemporary economy, cross-cultural competency assists senior managers with essential skills necessary for accomplishing corporate strategy (Zakaria, 2000).
Cross-cultural competency has got several implications in senior management and corporate strategy. Cross-culturally competent senior managers are able to effectively manage inclusive and diverse workplaces. According to Zakaria (2000), it is anticipated that the workforce will consist of people from diverse cultural backgrounds. Therefore, in order to properly manage a diverse workforce, senior managers need essential skills that will allow them to interact, communicate, and led people from diverse cultures (Zakaria, 2000).
Specifically, cross-cultural competence prepares senior managers with the mandatory that they need to resolve conflicts, cope with stress, tolerate ambiguity, identify, and use the best language for communication, and to have a good experience in interacting with people from various cultures (McDonald et al., 2008). Cross-cultural competency is integral to the development of positive interpersonal relationships and to maintain strong co-existence across cultural boundaries. Additionally, it enables senior management to achieve maximum mission success in those organizations that they lead. Cross-cultural competence also equips senior managers with the knowledge and ability to shift from a home-culture mode of management to international management mode (Abbe, Gulick and Herman, 2007).
Again, cross-cultural competence improves the ability of senior managers to efficiently cope with unexpected events and deteriorations associated with emergence of new cultures. In view of these advantages, it is evident that lack of cross-cultural competency may prevent senior managers from managing people from different cultures, thereby preventing the possibility of achieving success from corporate strategy. Therefore, it is very important for organizational leaders to possess cross-cultural competency as this will enable them to alleviate costly and undesirable outcomes when dealing with people from across cultures (Zakaria, 2000).
Cross-cultural competency is not only essential in management of one organization, but also in government of global corporations. Ideally, cross-cultural competence enables global corporations to compete favorably in the marketplace. Many companies believe that they can always excel in more than one business at a time (McDonald et al., 2008). These businesses normally focus on diversification strategy assuming that it is less costly to engage in multiple businesses as compared to managing one complex organization. This concept in the main idea behind development of a corporate strategy that focuses on approaches that result into identification of various source of business advantage. According to Zakaria (2000), corporate strategy is an approach that makes an organization add up to more than the sum of its individual business units. Effective management of these business units requires managers to be cross-culturally competent.
Senior managers are expected to have a comprehensive understanding of the business environment in which their companies operate. This knowledge assists managers to align the company’s vision, mission, and values to the company’s corporate strategy (Johnston et al., 2010). Maximum success with every corporate strategy can only be achieved if all stakeholders of an organization are involved in implementation of corporate strategy. This is true for both local and international organizations. Additionally, there must be quality planning within the corporate strategy for the senior management to realize success. For proper quality planning and for effective inclusion of stakeholders in implementation of corporate strategy, senior managers must possess the necessary skills that will enable them to communicate and interact with people from different culture (McDonald et al., 2008).
The purpose of corporate strategy is to maximize value through creation of a close relationship between individual business units and the large company. To achieve success, the senior manager must be able to analyze and employ factors that will ensure creation of a strong relationship (Johnston et al., 2010). The possibility of creating strong relationships comes about as a result of similarity in various organizational components, such as buyers, suppliers, employees, and distributors. Even though different business units may function separately, similarities among diverse groups of people who operate in these units allow sharing of knowledge which enables the organization to reap several advantages from its corporates strategy. Ensuring similarity among various organization components is only possible if the senior management is cross-culturally competent (McDonald et al., 2008).
According to Zakaria (2000), it is only through cross-cultural competence that an organization can attract, develop and retain the best talents on both local and international operations. This is because, cross-culturally competent managers are able to use effective hiring practices when selecting and hiring new workers. In addition, cross-culturally competent managers have improved access to a diverse and a wide range talent pool. Only culturally-competent managers can effectively manage diverse teams and communicate effectively with staff and clients. This way, such managers ensure that they create a more innovative and inclusive workforce (Abbe, Gulick and Herman, 2007).
Rasmussen (2014) highlights twelve core competencies that a person must possess to be considered cross-culturally competent. These core competencies are further classified into two categories as thinking and connecting factors (Johnston et al., 2010) as shown in figure 1 below. The core competencies grouped under thinking factors include; staying focused on business goals, understanding personal culture, managing personal attitudes towards the culture, aspire to learn the culture, consult reliable sources of information, and learn efficiently about the new culture (Rasmussen, 2014). The core competencies grouped under connecting factors include; coping with cultural shock, formulating effective cultural behavior, taking a cultural perspective, planning cross-cultural communication, developing positive interpersonal skills, and cultural adaptability. Senior managers must be aware of these competencies of cross-cultural competency that will enable them to conduct personal assessment to find out whether they are cross-culturally competent or not (Rasmussen, 2014).
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