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International Management – Cross Cultural Communication And Negotiation Notes

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Cross Cultural Communication and Negotiation


Communication - The process of transferring meanings from sender to receiver.

Context - Information that surrounds a communication and helps convey the message.

Downward Communication - The transition of information from managers to subordinate.

Upward Communication - The transfer of meaning from subordinate to superior.

Non-Verbal Communication - The transfer of meaning through means such as body language and the use of physical space.

Kinesics - the study of communication through body movement and facial expressions.

Oculesics - The area of communication that deals with conveying messages through the use of eye contact and gaze.

Haptics - Communicating through the use of bodily contact.

Proxemics - The study of the way people use physical space to convey messages.

Intimate distance - Distance between people that is used for very confidential communications.

Personal Distance - In communicating, the physical distance used for talking with family and close friends.

Social Distance - In communicating, the distance used to handle most business transactions.

Public Distance - In communicating, the distance used when calling across the room or giving a talk to a group.

Chronemics - The way in which time is used in a culture.

Monochronic Time Schedule - A time schedule in which things are done in a linear fashion.

Polychronic Time Schedule - A time schedule in which people tend to do several things at the same time and place higher value on personal involvement than on getting things done on time.

Chromatics - The use of colour to convey messages.

Negotiation - Bargaining with one of more parties for the purpose of arriving at a solution acceptable to all.

Distributive Negotiations - Bargaining that occurs when two parties with opposing goals compete over a set value.

Integrative Negotiation - Bargaining that involves cooperation between two groups to integrate interests, create value and invest in the agreement.


There are a great number of problems in the international arena regarding communication that can result in the failure of to transfer meaning correctly.

The means and modes of communication have changed dramatically in recent decades.

On the plus side we have many more opportunities to communicate rapidly without delays or filters and often can incorporate rich content such as photos and links to other information in our exchanges.

However, some are concerned that these devices are rendering our communication less meaningful and personal.

"We enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking and superficial learning" - Nicholas Carr

Communication, verbal and otherwise remains an important dimension of international management.

Verbal Communication Styles

One way of examining the ways in which individuals convey information is by looking at their communication styles.

It has been noted by Hall that context plays a key role in explaining many communication differences

Indirect and direct styles o

In high context cultures messages are implicit and indirect.


One reason is that those they are communicating with tend to have both close personal relationships and large information networks.


As a result each knows a lot about others in the communication network; they do not have to rely on language alone to e communicate.



In low context cultures people often only meet to accomplish adjectives.


Voice innonation, timing and facial expressions can all play roles in conveying information.

Since they do not know each other very well they tend to be direct and focused in their communications.

Elaborate to succinct styles o


In high context societies the elaborate style is often very common. There is a great deal of talking, description includes much detail and people often repeat themselves.


The exacting style focuses on precision and the use of the right amount of words to convey the message. If a person uses too many words this is considered exaggeration. If the individual relies on too few the result is an ambiguous message.


The succinct style is where people tend to say few words and allow understatements, pauses and silence to convey meaning. In particular in unfamiliar situations, communications are succinct in order to avoid risking a loss of face.


The elaborating style is more popular in high context cultures that have a moderate degree of uncertainty avoidance.


The exacting style is more common in low context, low uncertainty avoidance cultures.


There are three degrees of communication quantity - elaborate, exacting and succinct.

The succinct style is more common in high context cultures with considerable uncertainty avoidance.

Contextual and personal styles o

A contextual style is one that focuses on the speaker and relationship of the parties. As a result, in an organisational setting, speakers will choose words that indicate their status relative to the status of others.


A personal style focuses on the speaker and the reduction of barriers between the parties.


The contextual style is associated with high power distance, collective, high context cultures.


The personal style is more popular in the low distance, individualistic, low context cultures.

Affective and instrumental style o

The affective style is characterised by language that requires the listener to carefully note what is being said and to observe how the sender is presenting the message.


Quite often the meaning that is being conveyed in nonverbal and requires the receiver to use his or her intuitive skills in deciphering what is being said.


The part of the message that is being left out may be just as important as the part that is being included.


The instrumental style is goal orientated and focuses on the sender. The individual clearly lets the other party know what he or she wants the other party to know.


The affective style is common in collective high context cultures.


The instrumental style is more commonly found in individualistic, low context cultures.

Interpretation of Communications

The effectiveness of communication in the international context often is determined by how closely the sender and receiver have the same meaning for the same message.

If this meaning is different, effective communication will not occur.

COMMUNICATION FLOWS Downward Communication

The primary purpose of the manager initiated communication flow is to convey orders and information.

Managers use this channel to let their people know what is to be done and how well they are doing.

The channel facilitates the flow of information to those who need it for operational purposes.

Communicating with subordinates can be both challenging and difficult especially if the manager delivering the news does not believe in the decision.

Harris and Moran have noted that when communicating downward with non-native speakers it is extremely important to use language that is easy to understand and allows the other person to ask questions.

Upward Communication

The primary purpose of this subordinate initiate's upward communication is to provide feedback, ask questions or obtain assistance from higher level management.


A number of common communication barriers are relevant to international management. The more important barriers involve language, perception, culture and nonverbal communication.

Language Barriers

Knowledge of the home countries language is important for personnel placed in a foreign assignment.

If managers do not understand the language that is used at headquarters, they will likely make a wide assortment of errors.

Additionally many MNC's now prescribe English as the common language for internal communication so that managers can more easily convey information to their counterparts in other geographically dispersed locales.

Language education is a good beginning but it is important to realise that the ability to speak the language used at MNC headquarters is often not enough to ensure that personnel are capable of doing the work.

Written communication has been getting increased attention because poor writing is proving to be a greater barrier than poor talking.

Cultural Barriers in Language

Geographic distance poses challenges for international managers but do so cultural and institutional distances.

Distance is a multi-domestic construct which includes economic, financial, political, administrative, cultural, demographic, knowledge and global connectedness as well as geographic distance.

Nowhere does such cultural distance show up more vividly than in challenges to accurate communications.

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