Case Study 1
An American professional in Germany
Allan, an American senior manager in his late 40s, was heading the operations department of A2Z Advertising Company in New York, when the company acquired a German-based advertising company Schumark Marketing in Berlin, Germany. In a meeting headed by the CEO of A2Z Advertising, Allan was taken by an absolute surprise when the CEO offered him a position to head the operations department of the newly acquired Schumark Marketing in Berlin. Although, Allan was keen to take on the new position, however, he had mixed feelings about the work environment in Berlin. Allan had heard about strong German work attitudes that could pervade the work environment, much to the confusion of Allan.
One area of confusion Allan was particularly concerned about was teamwork and the boundaries of job descriptions. As per American culture, an incumbent to a role or a department, will get extensive training for the first few months on the job. With this background, Allan naturally expected that Margrate, his new German Colleague from Schumark Marketing in Berlin, would be a significant source of learning in his new role, especially as there was no initial formal training.
However, to much frustration and surprise to Allan, this was not the case when he resumed his role in Berlin. Although, Margrate provided him some initial assistance (when asked though), she conveyed it very clear that providing any training to Allan is not in her job description. This left Allan in a great deal of challenging situation to understand the operations and work requirements. Allan was extremely worried about the situation. How could he gain the knowledge he needed to be effective in this new job? He needed Margrate’s knowledge to become proficient in his job. This gap also brought hesitation to Allan to develop strong working relationship with Margrate, that Allan considered fundamental for company’s success.
Another concern for Allan was working overtime. Berlin was six hours ahead of New York. As the Berlin office was in frequent contact with the head office in New York, Berlin staff had to stay later because of the time difference. Allan understood right from the start that he would be required to do overtime because of the time difference. Moreover, Allan also thought that it was quite usual for an executive to work overtime in coordination with offices in different countries with different time zones, as he was doing in New York. Margrate, however, did not think the same way. She thought her work responsibilities finished at 5 pm, a routine she strictly adhered to.
Question 1. What different aspects of the Trompenaars’ “Relations to the others” dimension are applicable to the dilemma presented in this case? Outline justifications for your choices in 300-400 words
Question 2. Using the Trompenaars’ “model of reconciliation”, how can Allan and Margrate resolve the dilemma in order to enable them to work together successfully? (300-400 words)
Case Study 2
Tom goes to Dubai
Tom, a soccer agent from USA, was scheduled to meet Mr Abdul-al-Salim in his marvelous mansion in Dubai at 1.30 pm. The meeting was about finalizing a contract for a Tom’s client (a famous soccer player) to play for Mr Salim’s Club. Tom arrived at the mansion1.15 pm due to flight delays and the long queues at the Dubai airport. At the entrance, he was welcomed by two servants who directed Tom to the drawing room where Mr Salim was sitting with his two friends. Tom, a bit nervous ahead of the meeting, gathered all his courage before entering the room. “Mr Salim, I am delighted to meet you’, Tom said, rather too exuberantly. ‘Ahlan Tom, welcome my friend’, said Mr Salim. ‘I just have to say goodbye to my important visitors. Please make yourself at home while you’re waiting.’
A servant directed Tom to a large room where two sons of Mr Salim and his wife welcomed him. They invited Tom to a lavish launch table that Tom refused very politely. The three family members enthusiastically started enjoying their lunch. Meanwhile, an elaborate clock chimed two, but there was still no sign of Mr Salim. By 2.15, Tom started panicking. He was anxious about his next meeting that he could miss. He had already started questioning his deal, if this was the way Mr Salim was already breaking his commitments beforehand?
At 2.30, Mr Salim entered the room looking extremely relaxed in his traditional dress. Before approaching Tom, Mr Salim first kissed his sons and had a brief conversation with his wife. ‘Ahlan Tom, welcome to Dubai’, Mr Salim said. Looking at the table, he added: ‘I hope you enjoyed your delicious lunch with my beloved sons, Alain and Elie, and of course with my wife, Aalia.’ ‘Mr Salim’, Tom replied, ‘Thank you for your warm reception, but I ate on the plane. My client is extremely pleased about your interest and he is looking forward to playing for such an illustrious club as yours. Shall we come to terms as quickly as possible so we can finalise this matter in the best interest of both parties?’ ‘Shouf Tom’, Mr Salim retorted. ‘Please call me Abdul. But why the rush? We have the time for business until the sun walks out on us! When will your client arrive?’
Tom told him that his client, a famous soccer player who had played for Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Manchester United, as well as for his home country, Belgium, would be unable to attend the negotiations. ‘The thing is …’ (Tom was perplexed: how could he call him by his first name and show his total respect?) ‘It’s usual for a player to leave such dealings to his agent.’ Mr Salim seemed disgruntled, but agreed to talk. He called his two sons over while his wife quietly headed for the door.
The negotiations started and, quite supervising to Tom, Mr Salim’s sons joined in. Tom thought probably the three were trying to outweigh him in negotiations. He was confused to trust his sons to honour the confidentiality of the negotiation. After an hour they reached on some agreement. However, Mr Salim refused to provide Tom with a bank guarantee with respect to his client’s salary and signing-on fee. As a matter of fact, Mr Salim strongly refused to go into financial matters. He thought these could be discussed the next day, since they would not be a problem as far as he was concerned, he insisted.
Question 1. Refer to the contrasting cultural values outlined in this case-study which impacted the way encounter between Mr Salim happened. Mention, in particular, issues relating to importance of relationships, Time-focus, competition, Communication, Action, and space. (300-400 words)
Question 2. How can Tom best prepare for the future meeting with Mr Salim in UAE to make the deal successful? (300-400 words)
Case Study 3
Klara the American Store owner and Chan the Chinese business manager
Klara discusses the challenges she has faced as an American retail chain owner, in China. Primarily, cultural differences in business practices between China and the US have been a challenge to her retail operations in China. She did what she could to replicat its organisational culture in China of the low-cost, high -bulk model to a high-cost Chinese market. This aspect seems to have failed as the company has been facing with many challenges relating to labor, remunerating, and even pricing of its products. That is, it emphasizes more on meeting the desires and needs of consumers and not its employees. This is different from the Chinese culture.
On top of emphasizing conscientiousness to better service, the Chinese leadership, emphasizes ‘service to the people.’ Klaras retail store emphasizes ‘customer service.’ For instance, it pays its employees low salaries and does not recognize union leadership. This is not welcome in China. As it has been the genesis of inequality, tensions around labor, and workplace rights. This system of operation has resulted in one of the labor activists called Kim Young led demonstrations in order to convince the management not to cut the pay of the employees. This is what led to the strike involving about 55 workers at the coastal Shenzhen branch. Again, due to this demonstration, about four workers were detained and dismissed from Klaras retail store. These aspects have characterized its operations in China.
Question 1: Using Hofstede’s view on culture being the aspect that helps distinguish different people that exist in society, explain the problems faced by Klara’s company and how to best solve it. (300-400 words)