Cross-Cultural Management online Tutor support CHAPTER 9 INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCIES, TRAINING AND ETHICS Miranda’s story Miranda Fung was born and brought up in Wuhan, China. Her given name is Li Hua Fung: she gave herself the added Western name on arrival in the UK. Miranda enrolled on a bachelor’s degree in business administration at a Welsh university in 2004. Her father is a senior manager in the chemicals industry, and Miranda is ambitious to progress to a managerial position in the future, preferably within the financial services sector. Approaching her three-year stay in the UK, Miranda was keen to learn about the new culture, feeling that this would give her self-confidence and enhance her career prospects. CASE STUDY Read the case study above, and respond to the following. 1 2 3 Which (if any) of Craig’s (1979) ‘adaptation behaviours’ is displayed by Miranda, according to her own account of culture shock? Give reasons for your answer. Should a university put measures into place in order to alleviate potential culture shock as felt by overseas students – and if so, what could these be? To what extent are Miranda’s initial reactions to her first term at university the result of her cultural background? Could a British student experience similar reactions – and if so, why? This case study may well be closely linked to real-life experience of some students. In Question 1, Miranda might be understood as exhibiting a cross between ‘encapsulator’ and ‘cosmopolitan’ behaviour. She may not fit entirely neatly into any one category, as is the way of such models. She has kept close links with friends in China and feels more comfortable with Chinese friends. However, she did try to adapt to the UK education system, although deep down feels she has not taken it on board. The case can bring in discussion of the stages of culture shock — here Miranda’s experiences fit well with findings from the established literature. Question 2 begins with a philosophical point, while Question 3 points to culture shock being one — but only one — manifestation of a psychological transition. There is no definitive template of agreed ethical principles which cross-cultural managers can refer to when seeking help with ethical dilemmas arising from their work. Within the terms of cultural relativism, ethical standards are mostly fluid. The crosscultural manager in following this approach should appreciate the ethical norms of a new country and adhere to them, even if they go against accepted standards in his or her home culture. Identify any two forms of behaviour in business that you consider to be universally wrong – ie they should not occur in any culture – and two that you think would tolerate in another culture even though they were not normally accepted in your home culture. Give reasons for your choice. Discuss your findings within a small group (of two to four people). How can you account for similarities and differences in your views? To what extent do you think cultural empathy is the most important competency that a cross-cultural manager should have? Refer to the relative importance of other competencies in preparing your answer. A short activity intended to encapsulate material contained on pages 152—9. Tutors can shape discussion around the underlying perspectives on ethics, ways of dealing with dilemmas and non-negotiable issues. The question on the primacy of empathy points to whether one can and should ultimately take a culturally-relativist standpoint.