Culture is not just an attribute of an individual. Culture is a shared set of values, norms, attitudes, beliefs and perceptions of a group that share these similarities. Although variations can be seen between or among different groups, it can also exist within a group. More often, we associate culture with a larger group such as a country, yet culture also exists in ethnic groups, tribes, and organizations. We often refer to them as a subculture. Dealing with a group of people from another culture or ethnicity is what we commonly refer to as cross-culture.
Cross-culture binds together fields which are not quite related such as cultural anthropology and communication. The foundation of the concept of cross-culture is to establish and recognize how individuals of various cultures interact and communicate with each other. It also shows how the culture of a community or a society as a whole consists of the shared values, assumptions, and goals that are acquired from previous generations, carried on to the present-day society, and passed on to the future generations.
Cross-culture is basically an interaction of different cultures, and a comparison of the differences and similarities among cultures. Societies worldwide observe cross-cultural practices, traits, communication, and deal with barriers, issues, and conflicts.
Cross-Cultures in Business
Cross-culture may be present in various aspects, one of which is in business where a cross-cultural interaction of many companies and even within the organizations is getting more and more widespread. A key ingredient in effective and successful cross-cultural business practices is efficient way of managing cultural differences or what is better known as cross-cultural management.
When a business goes global and conducts cross-cultural business alliances and partnerships with either culturally diverse business associates or diverse employees having various cultural backgrounds, the organization is presented with challenges in many aspects such as language, cultural values, business ethics, etiquettes, world views, and expectations.
A good example to demonstrate this is the differences between the Asians and Westerners in conducting business. It is important to understand the underlying differences in the way business people of both cultures think and act. Another example of cross-cultural management is a business operating at a multinational level where one team is in Asia and another team is in the United States, both under the supervision of a project manager in Europe.
The concept of cross-cultural communication is very synonymous to intercultural communication which examines how people with diverse cultural backgrounds interact and communicate among themselves both in similar and different manners, and how they pursue to reach out to other cultures.
It is challenging to communicate with people having different languages and it is a challenge not everyone is competent of. Learning other languages helps people understand the diversity that is brought about not only by language, but also the ways of delivering thoughts and grasping knowledge. This realization has a great impact on developing critical awareness of cross-cultural relationships. Effective cross-cultural communication primarily contributes to the success of any cross-cultural interaction.
Due to the increasing need for a globalized society, many organizations are seeing the importance of cross-cultural diversity in the workplace as a key to long-term success. It is through this realization that many companies now engage in cross-cultural trainings and orientation to the employees so that they will be educated with cultural diversity and its importance in business as well as in their work relationships. Moreover, employees will feel more competent in the global marketplace as cross-cultural teamwork and cooperation increases in the organization.
Two major types of training are cross-cultural awareness training and culture-specific training programs. Cross-cultural awareness orientation broadens the knowledge of employees as to diversities in culture and the various manifestations of culture in the workplace. For management staff, cross-cultural management training can be conducted to equip the managers with the necessary skills in dealing with employees of different cultural backgrounds.
Culture-specific training is given to those employees or staff who regularly interacts and communicates with overseas business partners and clients. Such type of training focuses on a particular culture. It covers understanding of a culture’s values, morals, ethics, business practices, and negotiation styles. It prepares the staff with the required cross-cultural skills in establishing successful business relationships.