INTERCULTURAL MANAGEMENT Emily M Brown 23 - 27 June 2009
Intercultural Communication: A Challenge • To become a successful intercultural communicator or manager, requires skills and knowledge • The world into which your parents were born, and the world in which you find yourself, is undergoing continuous change.
Intercultural Communication: A challenge cont. …. • To function successfully especially in the world of work, we need to be able to communicate with people whose backgrounds, the way they see the world, may differ completely from ours. • This is the challenge we will face head-on through this course.
Culture: What is it? • Samovar, et al, quote Clifford Geertz who defined culture as “a historically transmitted pattern of meaning embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men (humankind) communicate, perpetuate and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life.” (1973:89)
Culture: What is it? Cont. ….. • Definitions of culture commonly mention shared values, attitudes, beliefs, behaviours, norms and material objects. • The many and varied definitions of culture show the complexity of this social concept called ‘culture’. • Samovar, et al’s definition of culture is more applied in nature.
Culture: What is it? Cont. ….. • “Culture is the rules for living and functioning in a society.” • Put differently, “culture provides the rules for playing the game of life.” (Gudykunst, 2004 and Yamada, 1997).
Intercultural Communication Defined • It pertains to the situation in which people from diverse cultural backgrounds are engaged in communication. • Another way of stating this is to say that it refers to communication between people who belong to different cultures. • Of importance is that the difference in cultural background and experience could make communication very difficult.
Important elements in the above definitions • It alludes to the impact of culture on communicative behaviour. • Culture helps us to determine our beliefs, values and world views; our use of language; non-verbal behaviour and how we relate to others. • It shapes our relationships with family and friends.
Important Elements in Definitions cont. … • It teaches us how to raise our children • Through culture we are provided with prescriptions for forms of communication appropriate to a variety of social situations • Culture, therefore, constitutes a complete pattern of living. • Aspects of culture are enacted each time members of different cultures come together to share ideas/information.
Forms of Intercultural Communication • Words (labels) such as race, ethnic groups and co-cultures often come up in discussions on intercultural communication. • Interracial Communication: It refersto a situation where the source and the receiver exchanging messages are from different races.
Forms of Intercultural Communication cont.. • According to Macionis “People classify each other racially based on skin colour, texture of the hair, facial features and body shape”. • Let’s think of Namibia, is race distinct enough to warrant separate categories? • Do you agree that race influences human communication?
Forms of Intercultural Communication cont.. • Inter-ethnic Communication: Ethnicgroups usually form their own communities in a country or culture. • Such groups usually share a common origin or heritage that would influence common ancestors, family names, religion and values.
Forms of Intercultural Communication cont.. • What is unique about ethnicity is that ethnic groups share the “same social environment” with members of the dominant culture and with other ethnic groups. • Think of the German nationals in Namibia.
Forms of Intercultural communication cont.. • Co-cultural Communication: Samovar, et al prefer to use the term co-culture rather than sub-culture. • The reason for using co-culture is because people often hold dual or multiple memberships. Such affiliations have specific behaviours and perceptions that are learned.
Forms of Intercultural communication cont.. • The term sub-culture connotes better and worse or superior and inferior. • Samovar et al use the term sub-culture “when talking about groups or social groups or social communities exhibiting communication characteristics, perceptions, values, beliefs and
Forms of Intercultural communication cont.. and practices that are significantly different enough to distinguish them from the other groups, communities and the dominant culture”. • Members of co-cultures, however, because they live within the dominant culture, also share some patterns and perceptions with the larger population.
Forms of Intercultural communication cont.. • Co-cultures as culture Co-cultures have distinct patterns of communication. Think for example of the deaf-culture - their rules for behaviour. What does it mean being woman, disabled or gay in Namibian society? • Gender as a co-culture • Women and men, especially in Namibian society, grow up in two distinct communication cultures
Forms of Intercultural communication cont.. • Even though men and women share common environments such as the judicial system, home, school and the media, the messages they receive from these institutions are often quite different. Years ago, male children would be allowed to do math, while female children had to opt for subjects such as domestic science or Needle Work. In many cultures women have to take the name of the man when getting married.
The Influence of Culture • When the sky is red at night or in the morning, do we provide scientific reasons for it? In some cultures young women sleep on a piece of wedding cake (under their pillow) so that they would dream of the man they would marry. This is so because of Perception.
What is Perception? • Perception has been defined by Samovar and Porter (2001) as the means by which we make sense of our physical and social worlds.The novelist, Hermann Hesse says “There is no reality except the one contained within us”. This has in part been lodged within us because of culture.
What is Perception? • The world inside of us includes symbols, things, people, ideas, events, ideologies, and even faith. • It is perception that gives meaning to all of these external forces. • Gamble and and Gamble define perception as “the process of selecting, organising and interpreting sensory data in a way that enables us to make sense of our world’. (1996:70)
Perception and Culture • You would agree that your individual make-up (personality, education, emotions, beliefs, values, attitudes, motives) has much more impact on how you perceive your environment, and how you behave in regard to it, than does your physical handling of incoming stimuli.Once you bring the outside world inside, you begin to put your own personal touch and interpretation on what you’ve taken in.
Perception and Culture • Caucasian mothers tended to interpret as positive those aspects of their children’s speech and behaviour that reflected assertiveness, excitement and interest. However, when Navajo mothers observed the same behaviour in their children, they reported them as being mischievous and lacking in discipline.
Perception and Culture continued… • To the Navajo mothers assertive speech and behaviour reflected being discourteous, restless, undisciplined and self-centred. • Personal Credibility is also a perceptual trait which is influenced by culture. • People who are perceived as being credible inspire trust, know what they are talking about, and have good intentions.
Perception and Culture continued… • For example, for the North Americans expressing one’s opinion as openly as possible, is an admirable trait. Therefore, they would perceive someone as being credible if s/he is articulate and outspoken. • For the Japanese, however, someone who is quiet and who spends more time listening than talking, is perceived as credible, because they regard constant talking as a sign of shallowness.
Perception and Culture continued… • How we perceive the elderly is also affected by culture. In the USA a culture exists which focuses on the value of youth and rejects growing old. In fact, “young people view elderly people as less desirable interaction partners than other young or even middle-aged people”. (Gudykunst, W.B. 1994:67)
Perception and Culture continued… • Considering the American and Japanese examples, where would Namibia be placed - if on a continuum from zero to 10 - between these two countries? • Culture strongly influences our subjective reality and there are direct links among culture, perception and behaviour
Perception and Culture continued… • Perceptions are stored within each human being as (i) beliefs, (ii) attitudes, (iii) values, and (iv) cultural patterns. • Knowledge of these four elements will help us interpret our own communication behaviour as well as the actions of people from different cultures.
Impact of Beliefs on Intercultural communication • Samovar and Porter (2001) quote Antonio Machado, the Spanish poet, who said that “Under all that we think, lives all we believe, like the ultimate veil of our spirits”. According to Rogers and Steinfatt, “Beliefs serve as the storage system for the content of our past experiences, including thoughts, memories and interpretations of events. Beliefs are shaped by the individual’s culture.” (1999:81)
Impact of Beliefs on Intercultural communication cont.. • Beliefs originate as one grows up in a culture. • As one grows up in a culture, one is required to believe what that culture deems worthy and true. • Beliefs influence intercultural communication because they affect one’s unconscious mind, as well as the manner in which one communicates.
Impact of Attitude on InterculturalCommunication • An attitude has been defined as “a state of mind or accumulation of opinions about a subject” (Bittner, R. 1985: 32). Bittner (1985) has also described it as a “support mechanism” for our values because they often reflect those values. This is especially true when we begin to interact with other people. For example, if a main concern of ours is the care and protection of children, we would probably vote for a political candidate who would fight to implement laws that would safeguard the child.
Impact of Attitude on InterculturalCommunication cont…. • Attitudes, therefore, are “learned tendencies to act or respond in a specific way to events, objects, people or orientations” (Samovar, L. et al. 2009: 13). Beliefs and values which are instilled through our culture exert a strong influence on our attitude. Because of this people tend to embrace what is liked and what is disliked. Therefore, someone from a culture (e.g. Hindu/Indian) where the cow is sacred, will hold a negative attitude toward eating a Big Mac/Hamburger.
Impact of Values on Intercultural Communication • Values can be described as those aspects/things we consider important in life. Values are used in order to distinguish between what is desirable (acceptable) or undesirable (unacceptable). According to Samovar et al (2009), each person has a set of unique personal values and a set of cultural values. For example Muslim culture or Oshiwambo/Otji-Herero/Damara-Nama culture – discuss. Cultural values are iseen as the motiv