Workforces

Multicultural Workforces

01- Introduction

The reality of organizations is changing. This is a world where national boundaries are no longer barriers to business. Marketing, production and logistics of modern organizations is increasingly global and organizations adapt to this new situation is still a factor survival beyond mere strategic decision. The difficulties that companies go through to accommodate this context are marked by huge coordination efforts that require new organizational structures emerging. The alignment of policy, strategy and organizational culture operating in this world is essential to be competitive organizations. When interactions required to achieve these goals are framed in intercultural and international contexts, where logical thinking and founded assumptions that are different, the task becomes very complex (Phatak, 1983). People of different nationalities have different “programs mental “in terms of Orlando (2000), from which build perceptions different to what happens. These differences in perceptions are a source potential conflicts that may hinder the agreements and understanding between the people.

Describe organizational realities that are full of these intercultural encounters. The interaction between people from different countries is a really hard to ignore. Whether negotiating with clients or in meetings and projects sets with people from the same organization, we live experiencing these contacts. The problems that can cause these cultural clashes have been widely documented in the literature. While organizations are present intercultural issues, their activities are focused almost exclusively on expatriate policies. But this cultural awareness is diluted when it is short-term projects, where people from different countries must be found by short periods of time to develop products, implement policies, develop strategies or solve problems requiring the meeting or interaction between People from different parts of the planet. At these meetings, sporadic or not, that often require an investment of not less money, they are not commonly organizational attributes the same importance in their diversity component cultural. These encounters are perceived as part of the daily routines of work, where individual skills of people are considered sufficient. From a logical point of view, a contradiction arises. If the theme of work intercultural is an issue for expatriates because they are exposed to a cultural different why not for other types of cultural encounters? Why considers it important to know the customs and the way of thinking in a country when you move for a few years and it is not the same with the customs and ways of thinking of a co-worker with another culture (Kanter, 1983)?

The challenges are the same, but apparently not the case with the importance attributed to them in organizations. In this paper we will investigate on particularities of ad hoc teamwork composed of members of different cultures, and whether organizations are aware of this and do something about it. In the context in which they operate organizations currently, Management classical structures are meaningless. Traditional companies, monolithic, and interested only by way monetize immediately will struggle to compete in a changing environment increasingly fast. To date, models of human resource management defended professionals, consultants and academics have been raised on the basis that workers constitute a generic and homogeneous category. Practices such as remuneration, evaluation, training or motivation are designed traditionally without considering that different workers may respond different ways about same policies, depending on their interests and preferences, and their ways of understanding reality and work. If, for example, organization considers giving more or less weight to variable pay, can we expected to be equally accepted by an employee of 55 years, married with children on the other you start your career, much younger and uncompromising no?. Not difficult to understand that the second one will accept much more easily the risk involved with high remuneration component variable. The employee with the most seniority wills certainly far less willing to sacrifice the time you spend on your family, and it is likely that obligations do try to avoid uncertainty as to their total salary. Although the importance of such obvious differences, until very recently, the criteria by which labour managed not collected at all the possible internal heterogeneity of the working groups (Gomez-Mejia and Palich, 1997).

Indeed, arguably did rather the opposite, since most of proposed policies placed emphasis on homogeneity, assuming that a culture stable and well established in the organization should necessarily have a very positive effect on efficiency, productivity and the working environment. With this have traditionally been designed intention, for example, socialization policies, designed to make the new workers apprehended a series of values that management wanted them to be shared, and to transmit those behaviours that would be considered “desirable”. In a similar sense, training practices also served to create monolithic organizations, in which the knowledge and skills of workers were virtually cloned from preparation programs and intense indoctrination that were extended to all levels. We could continue to review every the actions of human resource management, and we would quickly realized that the type of organizations that have led clashes with the requirements imposed by the new environment, characterized by complexity, dynamism and, as we have seen, by increasing heterogeneity in labour markets (Crockett, 1998).

These doubts, which today would come to the mind of any director with responsibilities of human resource management, show that it is need to change the model that organizations manage aspects related individuals. However, before analyzing the way in which the diversity can be managed and used by organizations, we will take some time to study the sources of this transformation population, which will help us understand all the implications that can have on the functioning of the working groups. Broadly speaking, we could human resources that organizations are becoming more diverse due to four recent changes (Jackson, Joshi and Erhardt, 2003).

02- Globalization

The increasing internationalization of the activity of makes companies significantly intensify its contacts with other geographic areas and cultures in which they sell its products, buy groceries, or recruit labour. In response, some organizations prefer to keep centralized structures (ethnocentric) and direct drives international expatriate workers from the plant. However, in many cases, it is necessary to bring management of these international subsidiaries to local environments, by example, hiring workers and managers in the country target. This trend poses new conditions for human resources management, who must now face challenges such as expatriate workers, adapting laws and policies to local cultures or coordination transnational work teams (Bantel and Jackson, 1989).

03- Labour markets

However, ethnic and cultural diversity is not the only that is present today in the working groups. Changes in the demographic structure of the labour markets, as the progressive incorporation of 4 women at all organizational levels, or delay in retirement ages, foster heterogeneity gender or age, as discussed below, also have very significant effects on the dynamics of teams. New business structures strategies such as cooperation between companies, mergers and acquisitions, or inter-organizational alliances, often required for implementation of team building with workers from different organizations contributing therefore different cultures companies, different skills, and different ways of understanding work. Although this type of diversity not as visible and as apparent as the heterogeneity of age, gender or nationality, also has an influence on the way groups to develop their work, make decisions and solve problems (Hambrick and Mason, 1984).

04- Importance of the service sector

Finally, noted in many times that service firms tend to be comparatively more diverse. The importance that these companies have the deal Customer makes it absolutely necessary for them to have templates that reflect the diversity of its consumers (Harrison, Price and Bell, 1998).

05- Concept and Measurement of Diversity

Although, at first glance, the concept of diversity may seem simple understand, see how your definition is actually really complex. A Broadly speaking, we could say that diversity is “a property of groups measuring work heterogeneity of the components in relation to a series of personal characteristics.”However, this concept tells us little unless we able to outline two issues: the type of attributes that are valued and possible relationships that can occur between different types of diversity. Will it work like a group that is very heterogeneous in terms of the origin of its members to one with a very high degree of gender diversity? Can we expect the same effects of age diversity to diversity ethnic? The answer to all these questions seems clear, but the situation becomes even more complex if we consider that the characteristics that describe the diversity Group members may be related to each other. E.g. be logical to think that members of the same age group with very different also present various degrees of experience or those teams with high equally diverse origins are heterogeneous in terms of values their workers. Therefore, to understand the true consequences of the diversity, it is necessary first to define the attributes in which individuals may differ (Cox and Blake, 1991).

Two types of heterogeneity:

5.1. Demographic Diversity: describing the heterogeneity of the group in a series primary attribute, directly observable, such as age or gender of the workers. Within this category, we could further refine and differentiate between a first group call attributes immutable, which cannot be changed or taken back by individuals (age, gender, origin …), and other features that do that can change over time and that describe the wealth of individuals, such as educational level, type of training received, seniority and areas of the company in which he has played some activity

5.2. Diversity of human capital with the demographic, we consider a second type of heterogeneity, not so visible, but also has significant effects, even more intense than the last. This is what is commonly known as human capital diversity, ie differences among group members about their knowledge, skills and skills where the value truly lies that people bring to the organizations. If we focus our analysis on this dimension of diversity, might realize the teams may differ in the following aspects (Hofstede, 1980):

  • Knowledge of work processes. or skills, that is not necessarily technical skills (“know-how work “) but also other issues related to important to the functioning of the team, as the capacity of workers to perceive and process information, capabilities reflection, dealing with other people, etc.. There are many ways to approach each of these processes, and the presence in the groups of workers that face many different ways can have develops significant about the work or on the levels of internal conflict.
  • Experience: besides having the knowledge and skills necessary, workers may see improved its human capital have experienced prior work situations or processes to work now face in the group. The presence of people with degrees and types of experience will strengthen disparate as we will see collective performance, as result will be much better able to make decisions and solve complex problems.
  • Values: the group’s culture is not simply the integration of values of all its members. Consequently, it is not difficult to understand that when the whole is very diverse, the presence of a shared culture stronger unlikely. By contrast the group dynamics will be characterized more by conflict interests and confrontation of perspectives which, as we chance to see below, does not have to be necessarily negative, but focused, may even be a strong point team of great importance. Consider for example, the effect could have on a set of managers matching people with very different degrees of risk aversion. Surely, decisions taken late will get a perfect balance between innovation and prudence, hard to get when all workers share the same values.

06- Role of the Manager and Leader

Presumably manager’s multicultural organizations have the skills and attitudes to interact with people effectively and motivate beyond differences in race, gender, social attitudes and lifestyles. The optimum would be that every organization will have leaders who promote the value of cultural sensitivity (besides those particular values of the organization as honesty, friendliness, participation, institutional commitment, etc.). That these were bilingual (to ensure a basic understanding in their exchanges of views and information), they were able to maintain and strengthen effective and efficient communications in the organization, and ideally should know and understand the attitudes of people. All of the above, in order to avoid falling into the “tunnel vision” and ethnocentrism, defined respectively by DuBrin as (Thomas, 2003): (a) the assumption that the forms of one’s culture is “unique” in that it can doing things and, (b) and the assumption that the forms remain in the culture are the “best” to do things.

Values should promote respect and organization to capitalize on cultural differences of its employees Values are symbolic interpretations of reality, providing meaning to the action and setting standards of social behaviour. The values correspond to the criteria of what is good and desirable and should influence the collective behaviour. But people are not born with a particular set of values; rather, they are learned in the process of socialization through imitation of models and patterns, thanks to obtaining rewards to express a certain value.

The values are crucial to the success of the organization, especially if they are really shared by the majority of its members, for the sake of the supreme goals of the company. Facilitate consensus on the goals to follow, encourage critical behaviour, generate attitudes of commitment at work, allow understanding of job expectations and help the team work, ie to give cohesion everyday efforts. Moreover, the importance of the value is that it becomes a motivator of human behaviour and actions, defines the fundamental and definitive organization, and creates a sense of personal identity of the organization. For all the above, the values must be clear, equal, shared and accepted by all members and levels of the organization, so that there is a unified approach to compact and strengthen the interests of all members of the institution.

The value of cultural sensitivity refers to the awareness and willingness to investigate the reasons why people of another culture operate in the way it does. A culturally sensitive person recognizes certain nuances in customs and practices that will help you build better relationships with people of different cultural backgrounds to yours (for example, the rules of protocol for different countries). Cultural sensitivity brings connotations of concern or interest in the topic of cultural differences. This concern or interest suggests some ability to know how to get better, play or capture “the specific nature” of the individuals or groups that make up the organizational population. Consequently, one could argue that transcends knowledge and sensitivity which means at the same time, a certain understanding of the other’s culture. Therefore, according to (Jackson and Schuler, 1995), for an organization to be multicultural, ie for the organization to achieve recognition and respect cultural diversity, it must comply with: (a) he or leaders need to keep and promote the value of cultural sensitivity, (b) be bilingual basic requirement in positions requiring verbal information exchange between employees, supervisors and managers from different countries, (c) promote the breakdown of communication barriers between people of different cultures, because communication is the major source of conflict between people.

07- Effects of Diversity on Group Dynamics

Noting the number of ways in which diversity can manifest, we can easily understand that this reality changes radically the way which had been operating groups. From a definition like the one just exhibit includes recognizing the influence of the visible differences between individuals (age, gender, origin …) but at the same time, also shows the importance of a second type of factors, not directly observable, but that affect development teamwork even more intensely than before. Can we expect that all types of diversity also influence, or, raising the question of alternatively … one function equally in two heterogeneous groups different characteristics of its members. It seems clear that the answer to both questions is no. It will be necessary, therefore, to analyze issues in each case in the differ workers to understand the real implications of the diversity and discuss how the organization can use it. Although this is a topic which is discussed in a relatively short time, both the between academic research and resource management professionals humans, there have been many possible effects of heterogeneity on operation of the groups. Trying to rearrange all these explanations, (Jehn, Northcraft and Neale, 1999) one of the most influential works on diversity of the workforce who have recently written, wherein presented a very comprehensive review of the research to the time. Based on the work of these authors, we can group the consequences diversity in three types of effects: (1) cognitive, (2) affective and (3) on communication.

1. Effects on cognitive or decision-making process:
In the development of his work, it may seem routine, any group need to collect and interpret information, from it, make decisions and solve problems. This dynamic, which is called the cognitive process, is develops in a very special when the group is very heterogeneous, especially those features which we have called “capital human.” Each individual brings a “mindset” different, ie a way particular perceive and use information. This means that, at the same data, by objective may be multiple interpretations. Until recently, this was seen as a risk for teams, as it could trigger in unnecessary conflicts that hinder its performance, agility and subtracting group responsiveness. Instead, he defended himself and cohesion establishment of what became known as “shared meanings” as basic principles. However, a deeper analysis of the effects of diversity reveals that while it is true that approaches equality guarantees minimum levels of efficiency in decision-making, misses others benefits can be much more interesting. In fact, it has been shown enough that the differences among members of a working group on about their mindsets, values or knowledge causes improvements substantial issues such as (O´Reilly and Flatt, 1989):

  • The effectiveness of decisions, which are of higher quality and best suited to the problems to be, addressed.
  • Efficiency of the solutions, which are taken with minor costs or faster than in homogeneous groups.
  • Creativity or degree of innovation of the solutions pose.

To understand how these effects occur, discuss the stages of the process decision making, with the intention of view in each of which way diversity influences group members.

  • Perception and interpretation.
    The resolution of all problems should start with the collection of relevant information that could define as the “raw material” of any minimally complex decision. This capability is especially important in environments like these, in that the volume of data available to decision makers is increased dramatically. In this regard, several groups demonstrated have a much greater capacity to develop more complete analysis reality, as they are able to collect data from a much wider. Each individual, applying their values, their knowledge and experiences identify those sources that, in his opinion, are relevant information. So, to solve the same problem, it is likely two individuals with different background gather information very different kind, something that ultimately enrich the process of making decisions. In addition, the personal differences can also influence on the way in which this information is interpreted. Once collected the data, it is necessary to categorize them, ie, label and provide them meaning and, in this process, we can say that diversity presents significant benefits because, by generating a greater number of alternative interpretations, can more easily identify problems and opportunities that might have escaped the analysis in groups homogeneous and cohesive (Jackson, 1992).
  • Formulation of the problem.
    After selecting the relevant information, will be necessary to define the elements of the problem and its major implications. Also in this sense we can say that diversity has positive effects as the coincidence of ways different problem will understand that, if properly integrated, the reality about to be decided define more systematically and exhaustive. Thus, it is less likely to be left without considering any important dimension of the phenomenon. In fact, it is very common for people different from other approaches that contribute to the rest you had escaped or never been granted the importance for these workers. By contrast, when the mindset of all workers are very similar, the consensus on how it should formulated the problem is very high, so there is a risk of define it in haste without a thorough analysis of all implications, including those that a priori might seem more remote (Pallich and Gomez-Mejía, 1999).
  • Proposal for alternative solutions.
    Also because, in groups various, different match patterns of knowledge and experience personal number and disparity of previous solutions to the problem originate are far superior. When the question about to be decided is complex, you usually will not take any more of the solutions initials have been proposed, but the group started a process of “Negotiation” in setting out the alternatives and reach a final proposal in a sense pick up elements of different alternatives that are started. If at first each group member provides a different view, we can expect many shuffled more alternatives, which may be incorporated or not the final decision but, for the simple fact of being considered, have enriched the process substantially. If all previous phases in the diversity effects exhibited positive, as to the ability of a solution to groups agreed the situation is quite different. Although, as we of view, individual differences can enrich the process of negotiation with multiple alternatives that can be weighed, is Chances are, at times, also produce irreconcilable disagreements, that extend forever the decision making, or leading to solutions that neither party feels comfortable.
  • Definition of the action.
    A decision has been taken; the group will have to carry it out, for what must devise a plan of action. Relative the latter procedure, the effects of diversity are again positive. Of Indeed, heterogeneous groups often develop more realistic plans and feasible because, in their definition, analyze a greater number of potential risks that could threaten the success of the implementation The conclusion to be drawn from what has been said so far is that if properly managed the process of consensus decision making in groups characterized by the diversity of its members can be enhanced due to the presence of “divergent thinking” or “counter-arguments” that bring new perspectives, or new sources of information.

1. b) Effects on emotional or personal relationships:
It seems logical to think that the consequences just discussed will not be the Unique features diversity effects on the operation of the groups. No forget that the teams are unions of persons mutually related, so that the decision-making process will occur, not in isolation, aseptic, but in the context of a particular set of relationships. We can expect that the relationship established between two co-workers of similar age, with the same degree or entered the company at the same time is very different from what they set with other members of the group with which they have many points in common. In general, the dynamics of internal relations in different groups is dominated by what in psychology is called process of “social categorization and identification” (Pelled, 1996).

According to these principles, individuals who share same characteristics tend to cluster into subgroups informally with which fully identified. In fact, join one serves people to identify its position in the group and, as far as possible against legitimate those who are perceived as different. When someone joins the group, remains “wandering” until it find a collective that link. From that time, everyone knows where they stand and what to expect from him. Of Indeed, one of the main problems of formation of these subgroups is favouring the emergence of stereotypes, ie they tend to think that all those who join a given set have a same values and behaviour patterns about themselves. The more homogeneous these subgroups internally are more radical positions, and more vehemently defend against the rest. Individuals who are part of them seek within them the information they need and the support they need to do their jobs (Kanter, 1983).

1. c) Effects on communication:
Communication is an activity inherent to teamwork. A group without any communication cannot be defined as such, and is merely a group of employees who share the same workplace. Also in regarding these information exchange processes found that diversity may have very significant effects that manifest both internally and externally, ie both communications between members form the group and in their ability to communicate with the outside?

08- Competitive Advantage of Cultural Diversity

Stimulating cultural and demographic diversity in an organization helps you achieve goals of social responsibility. Furthermore, cultural diversity provides a competitive advantage to a company. Before this diversity can provide competitive advantage, the company should be managed to get tissue interlacing of the organization. This contrasts with just having a program of “cultural diversity” offered periodically by the human resources department (Jackson, Joshi and Erhardt, 2003).

Human Resource Managers should direct their efforts to ensure that the work to achieve diversity is part of the organizational strategy.

Recent research, reveal the competitive benefits of cultural diversity:

  • The good management of cultural diversity provides an advantage in marketing, including higher sales and profits. A representative workforce facilitates reaching a multicultural market.
  • Effective management of cultural diversity may reduce costs. A more effective management of cultural diversity can increase job satisfaction of various groups, which, consequently, reduces turnover, absenteeism and the associated costs. A diversified organization that welcomes and manages the growth of a wide variety of employees, retain more employees who come from minority and multicultural. Also effective in managing diversity helps avoid costly lawsuits over allegations of discrimination based on age, race or gender.
  • Companies with favorable background in the management of cultural diversity have a noticeable advantage in recruiting talented people. Those companies that are known to willingly embrace diversity attract stronger candidates among women and racial and ethnic minorities. A labor shortage has given greater impetus to cultural diversity. During seasons of low workforce, companies cannot afford to be seen as racist, sexist or discriminatory based on age or union membership.
  • The diversity in the workforce can bring to a company advertising useful ideas and propaganda favorable. A culturally diverse workforce or the company’s advertising agency can help you place it in a favorable position at the cultural groups that want to reach.
  • The heterogeneity in the workforce can provide a company an edge in creativity. The probability of finding creative solutions to problems is higher when attacking a diversified group. A study of organizational innovation found that innovative companies have above average records in reducing racism, sexism and classism.

09- Cultural Differences Based In the Style of Directors

The impact of culture on management style and leadership is another important cultural influence on organizational behavior. Although personality factors are an important element in the management style, culture also is important because it serves as a guide to what constitutes acceptable behavior. Culture sets the values that guide behavior. And just as with the dimensions of cultural values, there are also a result of the study by Thomas (2003) and his collaborators, some national stereotypes management styles in the world. For example, in Germany is expected to be mainly German managers, technical specialists, or meisters, to distribute tasks and help solve difficult problems. Like their counterparts in many cultures, the German top-level executives tend to be authoritarian and desirous of power.

And again, in France, administrators, particularly in major corporations, are part of elite (for attending business schools selected, called Les Grandes Ecoles). Consequently, they behave in an authoritarian manner, with superiority. The rigid class distinctions of French society also help shape the attitudes and behaviors of managers. The senior managers perceive themselves as superior to lower-level administrators.

9.1. Barriers against Cultural Good Relations

The following are major barriers to multicultural diversity and good cultural relations (Gomez-Mejia and Palich, 1997):

9.1.1- Expectations perceptual:

We know that all people have a predisposition to discriminate, so they tend to avoid and / or damage good cultural relations. However, those who discriminate, they do as a perceptual shortcut, largely as stereotypes. As people naturally discriminate, a company has to make a considerable effort to become multicultural.

9.1.2- Ethnocentrism:

As mentioned, the administrator avoids ethnocentrism multicultural. This same attitude hurts intercultural relations in general, since most cultures consider themselves the center of the world. And one consequence of this attitude is that people prefer people of a culture of cultures similar to yours. But, despite this generalization, some countries seem to have similar cultures have an intense rivalry. For example, many Japanese and Koreans do not like being together and same is the case with French and Belgians.

9.1.3- Intergroup relations rather than relationships:

In intergroup relations gets attention only on the group membership of the person, however, in interpersonal relationships puts attention on the characteristics of the person as an individual. And why is that an interpersonal relationship, although it requires more effort, it is recommended that an inter-relationship, because it addresses the unique characteristics of another person and not be pigeonholed into a stereotype by the group that owns or represents.

9.1.4- Stereotypes in inter group relations:

As a result of stereotypes, people overestimate the likelihood that a given member of a group having an attribute of its category. Therefore, people tend to choose information that fits the stereotype and reject inconsistent information. Consequently, makes conclusions about people from another cultural group without listening and observe carefully (Pelled, 1996).

10- Conclusion and Recommendations

Throughout this chapter, we have seen that diversity is a factor, currently, a particularly significant influence on the operation of the working groups. Virtually any equipment that will be built affected by one or another type of diversity, so we can expect to occur some of the effects we have described or occasionally taking place all of simultaneously, making the situation even more complex. When this occurs, many human resource managers tend to think that groups are ungovernable. However, as has been seen, there are policy guidelines that can “moderate” the consequences of internal diversity. It can be properly managed, is necessary to study not only the differences between workers in matters visible and apparent, but also in other underlying characteristics but ultimately, are the ones that can benefit the group’s work. Therefore, we could say that, rather than demographic differences, management human resources should be focused towards what we call diversity human capital. So, the way that employees should not be managed depending on their gender, origin or training, but the values, knowledge, experiences and skills they bring to the group, as it is in these matters lies the true value they bring to the organization. Practices discrimination or differential treatment not only cause unfairness or contrary to labour law, but also prevent the organization the benefits of diversity, as stated above, can be crucial when the team faces complex tasks or to decisions quickly and efficiently.

Another key conclusions from the analysis of diversity is that, if not properly managed, groups can lead to a negative spiral resulting disintegrated equipment, divided into multiple subgroups that move according to their own interests, not communicate with the rest, and when they do, they fit easily in conflicts cross the border of what is working and become problems Personal intractable. To prevent this from happening, the management of resources human has available a number of management tools that can reverse the process. Taking advantage of the differences, we can get the various groups are much more creative, more effective in their work and that better solve very complex problems. But this, as we have seen, is needed to be managed in a completely different way. The objective, indisputable until recently, to get a strong shared culture, stop make sense, and have strategies to emphasize new issues as awareness of differences, leadership, mutuality of interests or communication capabilities. Today, organizations that implement properly manage these systems operate much more efficiently, and achieve a comparatively better position in the markets. However, the steadily increasing demographic diversity will, before long, adequately manage differences is not a differential factor, a source of “Competitive advantage”, as they say, but an absolutely necessary requirement for management of any team.

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