Unsuccessful Application: Example Six
- The essay does not meet the word count requirement. The writer exceeded the word count limit by 131 words.
- The paper completely lacks criticism. No advantages, disadvantages, or limitations of the cultural theories were covered in the essay.
- Rather than providing the implications for HRM practitioners, the writer could have compared and contrasted the cultural theories to make the paper more elaborated.
- There are inconsistences in the referencing system used by the writer. Some references are included in the reference list, while they are missing from the text body.
Essay: Cultural Theories and Their Application in Human Resource Management
As the global workforce becomes increasingly mobile, more and more organisations are facing the challenge of managing a culturally diverse team. A common approach used by international companies in their key markets of presence is to blend expatriates and local talent (Gomez-Mejia et al., 2012, p. 576). The aim of this paper is to discuss the application of cultural theories in the international human resource management (HRM) context. By the results of the discussion, practical recommendations for HR professionals are formulated.
Cultural Theories in HRM
Cultural issues were not profoundly investigated in HRM literature until the early 1980s, when the attention of Western researchers and business practitioners was driven by the outstanding results achieved by Japanese companies. Aycan et al. (2014, p. 8) described that as a starting point for increasing awareness of culture as a success factor: “This awareness was raised by the observation that Japanese business was thriving and that this success was achieved thanks to culturally embedded managerial practices.” In order to meet the challenge of Japanese expansion, the Westerners began to study their HR practices to see in what way those could be contributing to increased labour productivity, efficiency, and employee loyalty.
According to Schein, every culture manifests itself on three levels: artefacts (material objects, structures and processes), espoused values (articulated goals and philosophies) and basic underlying assumptions (beliefs and perceptions that are learned by each member of this culture unconsciously and taken for granted) (Ehrhart et al., 2013, pp. 135-136). Schein’s model provides a useful framework to understand culture as a whole and its manifestations in organisational practices and employee behaviours. At certain situations, it might help to detect unobtrusive causes for tensions. For example, a Japanese employee applying for a position in American company might declare a goal of personal achievement (espoused value) to fit into this company’s individualist culture, but subconsciously she will expect her colleagues to be mainly team-oriented as people in her culture are (underlying assumption).
Another commonly used conceptual framework, the Cultural Web was offered in 1988 by Johnson. This model views culture as a communication pattern created through the dynamic interaction of six elements: stories, ritual and routines, symbols, organisational structures, control systems and power structures (Gregory and Wills, 2013, p. 137). Similarly to Schein’s model, this one is applicable to national and corporate cultures alike. For example, power structures in Eastern Asian organisations tend to be hierarchic while in Northern European ones they are mostly flat. The Cultural Web concept provides a framework for a comprehensive analysis of a company’s culture to determine which of its elements work well and which do not. Also, this model can be used to see how compatible the company’s culture is with national cultures of its employees – a clash of cultures might be the cause of low job satisfaction and underperformance.
Implications for HRM Practitioners
Ko and Yang (2011, p. 170) add that the selection criteria should consider language ability as a top priority and language training should be compulsory for all expatriates. As English is the international language of business communication, the expatriates who are native English speakers can keep using it on their assignment. Knowing the language of the host country will be useful for them but it might not be a must as long as the language used for workplace communication in the company’s overseas office is English.
The continuing development of new culture theories is providing HR professionals with new tools to deal with cross-cultural issues. Each new model of culture provides a new conceptual perspective and insights that can be useful to train expatriates or manage a cross-cultural team in a particular company. For example, Schein’s three-level model can help detect the hidden conflicts between the organisation’s dominant culture and the deep-grounded beliefs of foreign employees.
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