Personnel Needs to Support Globalization Effort
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The phenomenon of globalization cannot be judged as positive or negative anymore, but it should be treated as an inevitable process that is difficult to ignore. Big companies that are willing to expand their boundaries and conquer new markets have to deal with globalization in business. The world grows smaller and smaller with the race of technology and development of transportation, and the idea of multinational corporations and global communications is likely to take a successful business out of the home country it started in. It is essential to turn the advantages of globalization to the company’s benefit, and these efforts should not be restricted by the outside environment of the organization but cultivated inside it as well. The right personality for any overseas officer is a very responsible position as it determines the success of the organization abroad and the fulfillment of the initial business mission in this particular industry. Doing business abroad is a great challenge even for the most experienced professionals.
Qualifications that apply to international managers regardless of the destination country include the ability to manage well locally and control or coordinate worldwide and regional operations. The important skill of the local international manager is to communicate undistorted information to the headquarters sending clear messages to the subordinates in the foreign country. The manager has to be aware of the difference in labor markets that take place worldwide. There is always a different mix of available employees, and labor costs vary greatly too. If it is the resources or the market the company is looking for, the international manager should understand that identical products may be manufactured differently in various regions of the world. International worker mobility problems, objective economical and law differences, national management practices and styles, culture orientations, preferable control and management are all crucial to comprehend for a local manager in a foreign country.
Every single culture has its own particulars that play an important role in business and cannot be ignored by the top-management of the company that is willing to operate overseas. Scandinavian culture is no exception. Although business sphere is very different from all other life aspects, culture peculiarities are still very significant to be considered. Geert Hofstede (1996) has provided five major criteria that define the system of values true for every individual that originate from this particular culture. They include:
- Power distance. This criterion stands for the level of respect and authority of those who have a higher social status, are older, or wealthier. If power distance level is high it means that power is not distributed equally among all members of the society, and an individual is judged of by his or her age, social position, occupation and wealth, but not by his or her merits and personality characteristics. Individuals who take different roles and places in the society do not socialize freely, and when it comes to business, the boss is taken as a superior person who has to know everything and take responsibility for the company activities all by himself/herself. At the same time, his/her authority is unarguable and not supported by personal charisma but rather by the status of the boss.
- The next criterion is individualism or collectivism. High individualism rate means that the members of the society do not feel very committed to the groups and group interests. Individuals concentrate on themselves instead of their colleagues, mates, etc. High collectivism rate means that people depend to a great extent on the opinion of their equals that belong to the same social group. Individuals do not like to be either left back or step out of their group (Hofstede, 1998).
- Masculinity or femininity rates stand for the importance of the roles of each gender in the society. It means that feministic societies are more family-oriented, prefer more leisure time instead of additional work. Meanwhile, countries that have higher masculinity rates are more achievement-oriented, put traditional “male” values and goals as the foremost priority. This criterion is responsible for the emphasis that the society puts on achievement, success or family care and inclusiveness.
- Uncertainty avoidance is the tolerance that the members of a particular society feel for ambiguity, uncertainty, taking risks, and changing circumstances. If this rate is high it means that the culture minimizes the possibility of changes, risk appearance and unexpected situations with a range of regulating rules and laws that should be followed. Such cultures also have a strong religious belief, philosophical trends or security measures that are not arguable and are perceived as the absolute truth. The representatives of such cultures tend to be more emotional and inspired by their inner nervousness. The cultures that accept uncertainty are more flexible, phlegmatic and accept different opinions with ease.
- Long-term orientation is a very complex criteria that was last to be developed by Geert Hofstede. If the rate of the long-term orientation is high, the members of this culture value perseverance, thrift, see the perspectives of the future as the weightiest priority. On the other hand, short-term oriented cultures appreciate traditions, commitment to the familiar social patterns and preserving one’s “face” in front of the others.
Scandinavian countries include Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland according to the cultural and historical associations and connections between these countries. Evaluating the Scandinavian culture and opportunities and threats offered by it, Hofstede’s criteria helped the researcher to describe the Scandinavian business and corporate culture with the following list:
- Scandinavian culture is characterized by lower power distance rate, which means that company hierarchy is used only for maximum organizational convenience and efficiency. The barriers of vertical authority arrangements are not very sufficient to overcome. The initiative of the employees is considered to be a value. The power and rights are distributed equally in the Scandinavian society. Management is meant to empower, facilitate and coach. It should not be difficult to have constant access to one’s superior in order to have consultations and offer unique ideas. The responsibility placed on the team members is quite high – the boss should expect initiative and maximum power decentralization. Employees tend to dislike control and monitoring, and the managers are treated as equals and named using the first name.
- Scoring a high percentage rate of individualism, the Scandinavian culture expects every employee to take care of himself and his family only, so that the social network is not very dense. Any offense and failures lead to a strong feeling of guilt and self-esteem lowering. The relationship between the manager and the subordinate are based on mutual advantages. Managers need to make their decisions about promotions and employment based on the employee’s individual merits. Management is based on individual but not group approach.
- Although Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway have slight differences in masculinity rates, they are still quite low, and that is the reason why the Scandinavian culture may be called feministic. It means that the subordinates and the employees expect a certain balance between family life, leisure time and work. An effective management technique is to include all these elements into the working process. It is very important to sustain participative and supportive cultivating group leadership and involvement. Consensus is the greatest value for the manager, while the employees expect equality, solidarity, and high life quality. Conflict and stress management is considered efficient only if they are resolved with the help of compromise and long negotiations that last until full agreement is achieved. All the employees will appreciate additional free time, entertainment activities or social mission values embodied in charity. Moderation is extremely appreciated by the representatives of the Scandinavian culture.
- Scandinavian countries differ a lot basing upon the criterion of avoiding uncertainty, so the manager has to consider a particular country making each decision. For instance, Denmark and Sweden have a lower rate of uncertainty avoidance – it means that they need less predictability in their work and are ready to take some risks. On the other hand, Finland, Norway and Iceland have a higher uncertainty avoidance rate, and it means that the members of these societies are not ready to accept innovative ideas that disrupt the traditional patterns and rules. Rigid codes of belief apply to all working processes and life situations. It is essential for the employers to feel busy all the time, have some rules to follow even if they do not turn out to be efficient, employees and partners are extremely punctual, and safety is more important than innovation.
- Scandinavian cultures are characterized by short-term orientation meaning that traditions and familiar patterns are greatly valued by this society. The concerns for stability, absolute truths, and strong social pressure to march in step with the surrounding elements are required. Employers and partners expect quick results, and the focus of working processes is on today and tomorrow, but not on the results that may be achieved in ten or twenty years. This is quite typical for all the Western cultures.
Therefore, the most important skills of an efficient officer of the Scandinavian department would be flexibility, ability to incorporate leisure time and family values into the working process, incorporating a clear code of conduct with rules to follow. The manager should not be afraid to delegate his or her responsibilities as the employees want freedom of action, more authority and are characterized as initiative and not ready to handle severe control system. At the same time, an efficient manager should provide extra stability and give some absolute truths for the employees. It is acceptable to take risks or tolerate ambiguity for the employees coming from Denmark and Sweden, but any unclear situations will be quite frightening for the representatives of all other countries (Hofstede, 1996).
One of the most sufficient obstacles on the way to success of international business is the lack of knowledge and management skills in global business. Moreover, it is essential to know all the changes that come with different documentation, currency, and technical details. There is a classification of the possible obstacles that appear on the way of international business success. Technical difficulties that appear due to the procedure differences and splitting are elements of the same existing working processes. International corporations have to deal with additional bureaucracy even in the Western countries. International managers may encounter certain problems because of the shallow knowledge of local laws – they may require legal advice from international experts. It is essential to know about the taxation and other social fees that may affect the profits in a particular country. A myriad of regulations, tax breaks and rules have to be used to the benefit of the organization. An efficient manager should make all the contracts and other legal documents clear.
Slips and “blind spots” of the etiquette, cultural particulars, conduct or manners that are typical for this country may sufficiently influence the success of management solutions. Most of the employees who have to follow the decisions of the international manager have a certain level of cultural resistance and unpreparedness to change their cultural values to adjust to the new policies. It is impossible to influence all the staff members simultaneously, and that is the reason why it is the manager who has to adapt to the new circumstances. The value of an efficient manager is that he or she is able to provide transparent information to the managers in the home country and to the subordinates in the foreign country, represent the interests of the company, and tune them up with the needs of the employees coming from the foreign country. What is perceived as a demonstration of respect or sympathy in the original country may not be approved within the new country where a manager is going to work. For instance, the representatives of the American culture are considered too informal, too direct and abrupt throughout the world. There are numerous cases of misunderstanding that are related to the mentality differences between nations. An effective manager must never give estimation to the culture he or she is dealing with. It is useless to ignore evident difficulties or try to search for similarities. Obviously, it is inefficient to try pressing unfamiliar values or claiming that the manager’s culture is predominant. Scandinavian employees will not understand achievement-oriented managers who add extra working hours promising a promotion or salary bonuses. Instead, they will appreciate those managers who are involved in social campaigns, respect the private lives of their subordinates and create a balance between family, leisure and work for all organizational levels of the company. Unlike their French counterparts, Scandinavians like gifts and presents that come at the end of working process. Ignoring the cultural differences between two countries will at least create an embarrassing situation or even disrupt the whole working process.
Surely, the issues that an international corporation encounters may be unique and may require some exquisite solutions. However, language barriers are quite similar for all international businesses. If the international manager is not familiar with the language of the country he is going to work in, it is a disadvantage that may disrupt the working process to a great extent. Surely, many employees use English for communication, but learning the language is almost a mandatory qualification for the officer that is going to operate overseas. This is a sign of respect shown towards the new culture (Mayfield, 2003).
The method of delivering messages to the subordinates should never contradict the contents of the messages. Body language is considered to be very important for all cultures as it transmits almost 80 percent of the information hidden within each message. Again, what is considered to be polite and respectful in one country may be taken as rude and unprofessional in another country. It is essential to learn the peculiarities of the body language used in business. For instance, Scandinavian employees prefer to look into each other’s eyes directly. Some countries are easier to conduct business in. Patience is a valuable merit that a good manager and communicator should possess. Patience is not about words, but it is an ability to demonstrate respect and persuade the employee in one’s reliability. The reasons for procrastination are not always communicated to the manager as they are considered traditional. An effective manager has to be aware of the government involvement and approvals as passing through the bureaucracy channels takes time. Therefore, being patient and making no attempts to speed up the working processes is a virtue in the modern business world.
One of the significant cultural peculiarities that have already been discussed above includes male or female orientation in different countries. Some employees may find it difficult to accept a female boss or manager as the traditional female roles are not associated with decision-making in these countries. Some countries will not perceive women as bosses at all refusing to adhere to their decisions and advice. But in the Scandinavian countries women may be more effective in the role of managers as they evoke more trust on the behalf of their subordinates (Peters, 2005).
The most efficient way to understand all the tiny elements of the cultural background of one’s potential employees is to immerse oneself into another culture. A top-manager who is going to fulfill his or her decisions abroad should better come to live to that country for a while before the working processes are launched. For example, Americans have a great benefit comparing to all other countries because the USA is a big cultural “melting pot” where practically all backgrounds are represented. If it is not possible, the World Wide Web is there to provide at least some basic knowledge about all world cultures imaginable. If the manager comes to the country where he/she is going to operate in, he/she should not forget to visit the areas populated by the culture, attend national restaurants, museums, delights, stores, and establishments. It would be perfect to speak to the community leaders, watch culture-oriented movies, listen to the music of the area and the way people communicate with each other. This investigation will allow the manager to avoid numerous embarrassing situations and misunderstanding in the future (Francis, 2010).
It is very important to be aware of the generalized data of the country the manager is going to come to. The danger is that the average income, price levels, and transportation opportunities may not be tuned up with the over-optimistic expectations of the manager. Some most successful companies introduced a new system of cultivating the international awareness of the best managers. These systems teach the best managers to take after the most effective world practices and use the example of the most noticeable leaders. Future local business leaders have to be reeducated to understand decision-making and execution processes in a particular area.
Another challenge for the manager is the ability to come back and be welcomed even if the business overseas failed, changed or was liquidated. That is the reason why only the best managers are frequently sent to deal with the international issues abroad. Any manager coming from another country will not be productive if his decisions are not supported by retrained officers hired from within the new country of operation.
The tasks that are set before a manager who is going to leave his/her native country and try to make decisions and execute them within an unfamiliar environment are very complicated to perform. The list of qualifications required may be endless depending on every particular country. It is obvious that the culture of any country is reflected in its working process patterns and traditional business activities as well. An international manager is responsible for many things, and he/she has to be aware of all the cultural elements that the destination country presents.
When it comes to the Scandinavian culture that is represented by Finland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, the most recommended manager has to be flexible, participative, introduce group leadership, permit the subordinates demonstrate their initiative, overcome hierarchical barriers, and have more authority and freedom of action. The local manager of the Scandinavian region has to provide enough leisure and family time preserving the balance between social life and work. Scandinavians are not likely to be attracted by higher salaries, bonuses or promotions if it affects their entertainment, family socialization, and life quality.
There are many issues that an international manager has to encounter moving into a foreign environment. They include technical differences, local peculiarities of documentation, bureaucracy, traditional management techniques, local income level, speed of operations, labor market characteristics, and many other factors.