Problem Identification and Situational Analysis ECL is a multi-national corporation that continues to expand its core business as well as create opportunities for foreign divisions to influence the direction of the company in addition to bringing cohesion and unity throughout the workforce. ECL developed a division in China that allowed the company to integrate into the Chinese market but also presented it with issues it would need to manage successfully in order to progress in this venture.
There are various cultural issues facing ECL in China. The first is the qualities not often seen in American industries and those are the obedience and humility among the Chinese workers. In the Chinese culture this is viewed as proper workplace etiquette, however many American counterparts may view these qualities as a lack of being proactive or even a level of laziness.
Communication also varies widely between the countries as the direct communication style exhibited by American workers can be misinterpreted by the Chinese workers, which creates detrimental effects for ECL. “The Chinese attached greater value to indirect communication than to direct communication as it was seen as more tactful.” (Ho, 2001) It’s the simple things that may get someone in trouble.
Americans love to use criticism as an improvement tool in the workplace, but Chinese workers certainly aren’t accustomed to this managerial style and may think that this criticism is disrespectful and embarrassing. The lack of teamwork capability is another cultural issue present in ECL China.
The Chinese are educated in a system that places a strong emphasis on individual performance, not teamwork or group performance and as Engleberg & Wynn (2010) point out, “Groups that share the workload can perform better and accomplish more than individuals working alone.” The Chinese self-driven view and work ethic is evident in the workplace and may be perceived by Americans as a sign of selfishness or that they’re working towards their own goals or their own agenda. The personal relationship, also known as the
“Guanxi”, is very common in Chinese organizations versus American companies. Chinese workers believe that close personal relationships are imperative to effective communication. American companies don’t share the same views and some organizations have even related this to workplace fraternization, which can result in disciplinary action. Since we don’t believe that these relationships are necessary, or even appropriate, we don’t form them and this could affect a bi-national workplace and possibly even carry over to business dealings outside of the company. The Chinese believe that, when conducting business with other people, a relationship must first be formed to gain the trust of business partners.
American companies rely heavily on systems and processes, which is viewed as highly efficient by the American standard while the Chinese workers with ECL aren’t accustomed to this and believe that it’s not always necessary to establish a system to follow in order to complete a task. The difference in views on this could also present some serious problems for ECL, as the Chinese workers may view the American management style as inefficient or sluggish. Recommendations
ECL manages cultural diversity by having “Constant respect for people” and “Uncompromising integrity”. (Wo, 2001) A significant number of companies that have ventured into international business did not attempt to adjust to the foreign culture and rather tried to take the ‘business as usual approach’, and more often than not it has dug a hole instead of building a mountain. ECL tends to hire executive managers from within the company, which shows loyalty to their own. They want to keep to some of the traditional aspects of the Chinese culture for their employees but also want to teach them a little about US culture.
This creates a team, a dynamic one and as the PMBOK points out that in order to develop a successful team an organization should “create a dynamic and cohesive team culture to improve individual and team productivity, team spirit, and cooperation, and to allow cross-training and mentoring between team members to share knowledge and expertise.” (PMBOK, 2008)
“Groups provide a creative multiplier effect by tapping more information, more brainpower, and more insights.” (Engleberg & Wynn, 2010) Creating a group environment through cultural understanding and training will drive the company farther by integrating its corporate culture with the country culture and values of its Chinese workers. The cohesion that this will create can drive not only this division but create a viable model for future international endeavors. From the article it states that “ECL relied upon a combination of training and systems to mould Chinese workplace behavior.” (Ho, 2001)
This seems to me while they have done things to infuse Chinese culture that there is also an attempt to maintain the culture of the society while keeping the values of the company. This is the underlying idea that would best fit the company and if they were able to succeed at that idea than they will be better at managing cultural diversity.
References Engleberg, I.N. and Wynn, D.R (2010). Working in groups (5th Ed.). New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company. Ho, M. (2001) Establishing an ‘ECL’ Culture in China: Organizational Difference or National Difference?” Centre for Asian Business Cases, University of Hong Kong. Project Management Institute (2008). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK Guide) (4th Ed.). Newtown Square, Pennsylvania: Project Management Institute.