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Understanding Culture For International Projects Essay

3224 words - 13 pages

Introduction
With the initiation of global economy comes an increased interaction between people of different countries and an increase in the need to deal with cultural differences. Thus, there must be an understanding of how the international project will affect people and how people will affect the project. This requires an understanding of economic, demographic, educational, ethical, ethnic, religious, and other characteristic of the people for whom the project affects or who have an interest in the project (Egeland, 2011).
Today’s projects have dramatically increased in complexity, which requires a culturally and functionally diverse mix of individuals who must be assimilated into ...view middle of the document...

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Why is Culture Important?
Its importance—it is a strong part of people’s lives. It is what influences their views, values, humor, hopes, loyalties, worries, and fears (Axner, 2013). It gives an individual a unique identity and shapes the personality of a community. It influences one’s way of living and thus impacts their social life (Oak, 2008).
To fully understand any culture one must understand that it is based on the attitude of open-mindedness, response, and flexibility. One’s culture should not be considered more superior than another. Customs, behaviors and habits are the things that a supportive project culture allows one to focus on. Cultural understanding supports the achievement of a given task and functions as a common reference for communication to all parties involved in the international project (Rosetti, 2012).
Understanding Cultural Differences
In understand the culture of another; one must first become aware of his own culture. To do this, one must allow himself to understand how his culture might affect someone else and why it might be of importance to them. Gaining an understanding of their own cultural affect upon others and its importance will assists in treating those from another country with sensitivity. It will allow one to approach those from another country with the same demeanor found in their own country. For example, if collaborating with Hungarians, “act Hungarian”; if collaborating with the Japanese, “act Japanese.” To develop a sense of what ‘acting Hungarian’ or ‘acting Japanese’ might entail Dr. Geert Hofstede conducted research on the multinational company IBM, which involved 72 countries and 116,000 respondents. Through his ground-breaking contribution on intercultural cooperation, he discovered that the respondents all had the same five basic problems in social life and was able to develop a numerical value for certain elements or “dimensions” which make up “Culture” (Trellas-Duckett, 2012).
Hofstede’s cultural dimension theory
Cultural differences can interfere with the successful completion of an international project. However, to achieve the project’s goal and avoid cultural misunderstandings, project managers must be sensitive to one’s cultural differences and promote creativity and motivation through flexible leadership. Success and failure in international, multicultural projects can only be accomplished through culturally-aware leadership, cross-cultural communication, and mutual respect. Without these components the project is destined to fail (Anbari, Khilkhanova, Romanova & Umpleby, 2003).
The leading study of cross-cultural management conducted by Dr. Hofstede became a framework for cross-cultural communication. It is the effects of a society’s culture on the values of its members and how these values relate to behavior, using a structure derived from factor analysis. Dr. Hofstede’s theory identified five cultural dimensions: power distance (PDI), uncertainty...

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