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A global corporation is a company that has operations in more than two continents. Global organizations manage or own the manufacture of products or services in their home country as well as two or three other countries. The benefits of expanding a company's operations to many countries are many. However, the expansion brings with it new obstacles, which can also contribute to the organization's demise. For decades, managing a multinational company has become a significant obstacle for administrators. Some multinational organizations, such as Starbucks in Asian countries, have failed to adapt in some countries. Some companies such as IBM have been successful in foreign countries or rather worldwide (Geppert, Matten and Williams, 2016, p. 23). Unilever is another company that has managed to stay afloat globally. The success of the global organizations is the effectiveness or adaptability of the managers in the different countries that the organization has its operations. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the contemporary challenges that face managers in a global organization and its effect on the company.
One of the main challenges that face managers in global organizations is communication barriers and cultural differences. Communication is the backbone of a company's wellbeing in a foreign market. The day-to-day operation of an organization requires an individual to be adept with the local language of that particular place. Many countries in the world use English as their first language. However, some do not use English which has come to be a standard language globally. Such countries can include most Asian countries, Southern American countries, and most countries in Europe. However, some of these countries have incorporated English as their second official language. For a manager, mastering the language of a country that the business has its operations is essential to the success of the organization.
Communication does not only involve the language but also other non-verbal cues. The non-verbal communication is essential as the language itself. American people and Britain use English as their first language. However, their nonverbal communication is slightly different. A manager should always understand these nonverbal cues to relate with the locals better. Due to the nature of the global organization, operations may exist in different countries that have different language and nonverbal cues (Cummings and Worley, 2014, p. 89). Some of the managers are not dynamic, and as such, they do not relate to the different countries. Some will only be excellent in communication in two or three countries but fail miserably in the rest of the countries that the organization runs its operations. This is the biggest challenge for global organization managers due to the nature of learning a new language. Accent plays a big role, and most of the time the managers may fail to grasp the accent itself resulting in a broken language. In some cases, this hurts the relationship between the managers and the clients or customers in such a country.
Cultural differences are another challenge that most managers of global organizations face. Understanding the ethic and traditions norms of a particular country is essential for a manager. Having a good grasp of these elements helps a manager to avoid misunderstandings with the locals or conflicts. For instance, in most Asian countries, rather than shaking hands, bowing is a more suitable form of greetings. In other countries, bowing can be considered disrespectful while in Asian countries, shaking hands is considered as being rude. Modaff, Butler, and DeWine (2016, p. 56) explain that Bata Shoe Company executive once faced a problem when communicating with a woman. The women workers when talking to a male were required to sit on the floor while facing the other side. A woman talking to a man while standing was considered as being disrespectful. Managers face this problem often in countries that have strict laws or have a common religion such as Islamic countries.
Cultural norms are also essential not only for communication but also some of the products that the company makes. For instance, selling pork in Islamic countries is considered very disrespectful or rather an abomination. In some parts of India, selling beef is atrocious. The managers have to learn the cultures of the people. Managers face challenges understanding these cultures in detail. Some of the cultural rules are deeply embedded in the tradition to the point that the manager cannot ascertain its true meaning. One misstep by the manager can lead to the company facing a big court proceeding and in the worst case scenario, closure of the company in such a country. Understanding a culture takes time, and this is also a big problem. In most instances, the most work is the initial set up of the organization. During that time, the manager has little information about that culture or tradition. Running into problems is easier at such a time than later when the manager has already learned the language.
One of the ways of solving these challenges is by installing a foreign manager in the first year of the company's operations. The foreign manager will only act as a public figure, but the decisions are made by the real manager who is supposed to run the company. The local manager from the company has a better understanding of his people and the country's culture and language. This solution is not foolproof but if a good local manager is chosen for the global organization. For instance, Starbucks tried to install local Chinese managers in their coffee shop in China (Shen and Xiao, 2014, p. 101). The managers failed to run the coffee shop because of their lack of experience in the coffee shop business. As such, an organization should only find the managers that have the expertise in the field that they are dealing. Another solution can be to send a local manager to understand the operations of the company while sending the real manager to that country to understand its traditions and the language. The two can help one another during the initial stages of the company. After the real manager has grasped the language of the people and the traditions, the local manager can be given a different role.
Translators can be used as a solution for the issue of the communication barrier. A global organization that is in many countries that have different languages will require translators. There can exist one manager but two or more translators that can help with the understanding or rather communication with the local clients. The main problem with translators is that they sometimes do not give the information the way it is intended. Translators do not capture the tone or rather mood of the information itself. A global manager may be expressing sadness or is angry with an employee. Translators will fail to deliver these non-verbal cues. The translators can, however, be trained properly so that they can deliver the message the way it is intended.
One example of a company that has used translators is McDonald's in Asian countries. For instance, it took Chinese nationals to look at the way McDonald's is run in the United States so that they could transfer that kind of leadership to its operations in China (Hill, Cronk and Wickramasekera, 2013, p. 125). In Germany, the baristas in Starbucks coffeehouse lacked the basic etiquette of smiling while serving. Most of the workers engaged little in smiling because of the German culture. People only laugh at each other or smile when they have something in common or something funny happened. It is rare to meet strangers smiling at each other without any reason. As such, Starbucks sent the baristas to the United States to look at the way the business is run. The managers were also taken to see how baristas should conduct themselves while serving clients.
In conclusion, global organization managers have many challenges that can only be solved by time. One cannot solve the issues in a few days. Communication and cultural differences are only some of the challenges that take the time to mend. Slight solutions exist for these kinds of challenges. The solutions are costly and sometimes ineffective. However, it offers the best solution compared to other means. Global organizations need a manager that is dynamic and can withstand the different challenges that they face. Starbucks and McDonald's have proved that foreign companies can be successful in other countries as well. Proper planning and a determined management can withstand the challenges and make the organization successful.
Cummings, T.G. and Worley, C.G., (2014). Organization development and change. New York: Cengage learning.
Geppert, M., Matten, D. and Williams, K. eds., (2016). Challenges for European management in a global context: Experiences from Britain and Germany. Chicago: Springer.
Hill, C.W., Cronk, T. and Wickramasekera, R., (2013). Global business today. Sydney: McGraw-Hill Education
Modaff, D.P., Butler, J.A. and DeWine, S.A., (2016). Organizational communication: Foundations, challenges, and misunderstandings. Los Angeles: Pearson.
Shen, Q. and Xiao, P., (2014). McDonald's and KFC in China: Competitors or Companions?. Marketing Science, 33(2), pp.101-307.
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