Cultural Responsiveness and
Cultural responsiveness refers to the capacity to respond appropriately and
inclusively to workers’ and clients’ different socio-economic backgrounds, religious
beliefs, values, customs and family structures.
Cultural intelligence refers to the ability to recognise and understand the beliefs,
values, attitudes, and behaviours of different groups of people and the ability to apply
that knowledge towards achieving business goals.
Business culture is influenced by the mission or vision statement and organisational
structure (hierarchical or flat) and can be seen in how the business approaches social,
environmental or ethical issues. Another indicator of business culture is the example it
sets in its treatment of staff or in decision-making.
Business culture normally consists of four elements:
1 Values ~ these are the basic beliefs of the business, shared among its employees.
Business values can include honesty, hard work, teamwork, quality customer service,
employee participation and innovation.
2 Symbols ~ these are objects or events used to represent something the business
believes to be important. One business may be philanthropic and give part of its
profits to a particular charity. For another business competitive sports could be an
important feature of its culture, with staff members participating in team events
such as Around the Bays, wearing the company logo on their team tee shirts.
3 Rituals, celebrations and rites ~ these are the routine behaviour patterns of
everyday business life. Regular social gatherings might be held to develop a sense of
belonging to a work team.
4 Heroes ~ these are the business’s successful employees who reflect its values and
therefore, act as an example for others.
Types of organisational culture
Role culture ~ each member of staff has a clearly defined job title and role.
Power culture ~ power is concentrated among a few people.
Task culture ~ business success relies on co-operation and teamwork.
Person culture ~ individuals are given the freedom to express themselves and make
5 Entrepreneurial culture ~ where management and workers are encouraged to take
risks, to come up with new ideas and test our new business ventures.
A business would normally operate with a combination of these.
Advantages of having a strong corporate culture
It creates a sense of belonging and security of staff because they feel as if they are part of
the business. This can help to improve teamwork and increase motivation. Mistakes and
misunderstandings are minimised because staff are familiar with the processes at work.
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Problems associated with a culture gap, such as conflict between different groups, are
Culture clash
This occurs when there is conflict between two or more cultures within an organisation.
This may exist when there is a merger or acquisition and two firms are required to
integrate, each with their own unique corporate culture. A greater potential for a culture
clash is when a business trades internationally as cultural vary from country to country.
Managing cross-cultural issues
Businesses that market internationally must make themselves aware of
the cultural environment they will be operating in, and adjust for
cultural differences.
A helpful starting point is for international trading partners to speak the
same language as misunderstandings can arise through inaccurate translations. Other
cultural differences may influence the way a product is marketed.
 A product name suitable in one country may have a totally different meaning in
 Colours have different meanings throughout the world. In the Far East white, rather
than black, is associated with mourning.
 When Nike realised that the logo designed to look like flames for Air Melt and Air
Grill basketball shoes, in fact resembled “Allah” in Arabic script, being potentially
offensive to Muslims, it pulled 38,000 pairs of the shoes from sale and made a
substantial donation to an Islamic school.
 In some countries, what may be regarded as a “bribe” in New Zealand is common
business practice. Payments to industry or government officials may be required to
get things done.
 The hand gesture we use in NZ for OK, where the hand is help up with the tip of the
thumb touches the tip of the index finger, is an insult in Brazil, means “money” in
Japan, and means “zero” in Russia.
 The French lemonade Pssschit would need a new name if it were to be sold in NZ!
To be successful in certain overseas countries, such as China and Japan, a multinational
business will probably need to shift from an ethnocentric to a polycentric orientation.
Different cultural approaches by multinational companies
A business with an ethnocentric culture orientation ensures the values and interests of
the parent company guide strategic decisions.
 The mission is profitability
 A top-down decision-making model exists
 There is a global strategy (determined at headquarters) involving a global product
which is based on the needs of the home country
 Management positions in the host country are held by home-country employees
 Profits from overseas subsidiaries are repatriated (go back) to the home country
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A polycentric culture orientation is one where strategic decisions are made to suit the
culture of the countries where the company operates.
 Mission is public acceptance
 Overseas subsidiaries set their own objectives and use national responsiveness
strategies to meet local needs
 Products are based on host country needs
 Local workers are trained for key positions
 Most profits are retained by the subsidiaries
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3.2 B Cultural Responsiveness & Intelligence