July 15, 2011
School of Business, Coimbatore
Globalization has united people from around the world.
Geographic barriers have dissolved making communication, transportation and trade possible between every nation and all cultures.
In order to succeed in global markets and multicultural workplaces, understanding how to interact in diverse cultural situations is essential.
Providing that deeper understanding, Shobhana Madhavan from Coimbatore’s Amrita School of Business, details the dimensions of management in a multicultural environment.
Her new textbook, Cross-Cultural Management – Concepts and Cases, explains what the corporate world requires to effectively manage cultural diversities in today’s interconnected world.
The book was published by Oxford University Press in May 2011.
Madhavan’s book, designed for postgraduate business management students and practicing managers, discusses popular management theories and models, detailing necessary communication, negotiation, organizational behavior and human resource management skills required for effective international management.
It answers questions like: “How did LG and Samsung emerge as market leaders in India?”
LG and Samsung, two Korean companies, captured the largest share of the $6 billion Indian market in consumer durables, electronics and appliances in just ten years, leaving Japanese companies far behind.
The book provides the answer: “Adaptation for local Indian consumers was a key factor contributing to this success.”
Elaborating further, the book explains how the two Korean companies conducted consumer research that indicated Indians preferring loud bass sounds. “Sound systems of LG and Samsung TV sets were adapted to this requirement. Moreover, products were designed to handle the erratic power supply conditions in India.”
In addition, the two companies made other enhancements and innovations. Samsung added a sari cycle to its washing machines so that saris would not get tangled with other clothes. In many households, domestic maids cannot read, so LG added speech technology to its washing machines which gave instructions in local languages.
The book also explains why cultural adaptation is a determining factor in the success or failure of international business commerce.
Providing an example, it mentions that when Lenovo, the Chinese personal computer manufacturer, bought IBM’s ThinkPad computer business for $1.25 billion in 2005, there was a lot of turmoil before performance was stabilized. Much of the turmoil came from cultural differences.
Americans liked their employees to brainstorm and suggest ideas. During meetings, Americans would talk all the time and the Chinese who did not like interrupting and arguing would keep silent. Many efforts were made to build bridges between cultures. Finally, during executive meetings, Westerners were restricted to five minutes of talking and Chinese executives were allowed to speak without interruption.
Providing important information about business etiquette and culture in countries ranging from Brazil to Nigeria, the book covers many more topics including barriers to cross-cultural understanding; culture and marketing; culture affecting motivation and leadership; and advantages and disadvantages of diversity.
Each chapter covers current topics and provides numerous original examples such as the ones detailed above to allow for easy assimilation of popular cross-cultural management concepts.
The book also addresses major challenges of global management and virtual teams.
Shobhana Madhavan holds a Master’s in International Development from Cornell University where she was awarded the prestigious Sage Graduate Fellowship. She is an alumna of IIM Ahmedabad and Delhi College of Engineering.