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TRAINING FOR CULTURAL SENSITIVITY

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					TRAINING FOR CULTURAL SENSITIVITY
Training is used to stimulate cultural understanding, but the type, cost, and intensity of
cross-cultural training varies widely. Having surveyed international management training
programs in Europe, Japan, and the U.S., Rosalie Tung (1982) observed 6 types of training
in use:
          1. Environmental briefings typically provide descriptions of a nation, including
          information about climate, topography, infrastructure, population and housing.
          2. Cultural orientations typically provide information about cultural institutions,
          habits or values of the nation—typically these orientations are to the dominant
          culture.
          3. Cultural assimilators are used to expose participants to likely intercultural
          encounters.
          4. Language training.
          5. Sensitivity training helps the individual recognize how values affect behaviors.
          6. Field experience is gained when the individual lives in the assigned country and
          experiences some of the challenges that lie ahead.


Lectures or briefings on country demographics or host country values and behaviors often
are relatively inexpensive because many can be exposed to the same information in a
relatively short period of time. Cost and intensity escalate when training involves
simulations, role plays, reflection, field trips and visits or cultural immersion in another
country for an extended period of training time, regardless of whether the training is for
work abroad or to understand diversity within organizations. As the following example from
Intel shows, some organizations use multiple forms of training to improve intercultural
learning across nations and within the organization.

 Intel Corporation's Intercultural Training
  Intercultural awareness—managers and employees are introduced to information
 about how workers from different cultures perceive the business structure, processes,
 and procedures.
  Multicultural integration—a series of workshops provide skill building and career
 development for foreign born professionals.
 Culture specific training—when groups are to work with others from a specific
 culture, they receive training to understand better their own cultures and to learn about
 cultural nuances of the other group.
 Training for international assignments—usually a training consultant who has lived
 and worked in the assigned country is brought in to orient the newly assigned person to
 the language, culture, and practices of the host country.
 Intact team training—consultants are brought in to act as liaisons, translators or
 intervention providers to encourage positive ways for people from different cultures to
 work together.


Informational forms of training enhance cognitive knowledge and improve awareness of
behavioral differences, but more intensive (and expensive) cultural learning is needed to
move below the surface level of culture. Whether offered to enhance cross-cultural or
diversity understanding, more intensive forms of cultural learning such as sensitivity
training often are resisted because they ask people to reach a new level of awareness about
themselves and examine both the positives and negatives of their own cultural values and
behaviors when interacting with people from another culture.


Managerial Competencies for a Global World—Cultural Sensitivity
The global manager can be someone who lives outside a home country, but more
importantly this manager can put aside national allegiances at work. Kenichi Ohmae (1990)
believes this person can be in different national cultures, but not "of" them because she or he
has an overriding commitment to the single, unified global mission and culture of the global
organization. This global manager can be from any country, but typically speaks more than
one language fluently and has lived and worked in more than one country. Often they have
passports from more than one country, and frequently they are the children of parents who
are from different nations. Global managers must have "a broad nonparochial view of the
company and its operations yet a deep understanding of their own business, country, or
functional tasks" (Bartlett and Ghoshal, 1992; Reich, 1991). Third, global managers need to
increase their cultural sensitivity, but some may find this easier than others. Those who are
the product of two cultures or who have lived and worked in other countries or in culturally
diverse communities within their own country may have an advantage over those who have
no experience of cultural diversity.


Developing Cultural Sensitivity in Persons
According to Milton Bennett (1993), as a first step many deny there are differences cross-
culturally. Denial is then followed by defense, often characterized by "us versus them"
thinking. The third stage of "minimization" recognizes and accepts superficial cultural
differences such as eating habits, but a belief in all people being the same remains strong. A
fourth stage of cultural sensitivity is acceptance of differences, and having accepted
differences, one can then move to the fifth stage of adapting to differences. Finally, there is a
sixth stage of cultural sensitivity which is to integrate differences so they are internalized
and understood. This model was developed with the expatriate or long-term sojourner in
mind, but it is equally applicable to the global manager who operates within an
organizational and world culture where diversity is the norm. Among the twelve important
individual and organizational competencies appearing in Chapter 2 are several cultural ones,
including an understanding of one's own cultural values and assumptions and an ability to
avoid cultural mistakes. Both of these cultural needs can be addressed by managers able to
assess and adapt their cultural sensitivities.

				
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