Multiculturalism and Human Resource Management Practices
ABSTRACT The globalization of business, increased mobility of labor across geographic borders is leading to multiculturalism among several countries. For instance, in countries such as Canada, US, UK, India, and Australia, multiculturalism is increasingly becoming an integral part of the national identity. In addition, cross-border mergers and acquisitions (eg. Arcelor-Mittal) and deployment of teams for certain projects, require organizations to draw from a pool of human resources from different countries.
The globalization of the business environment that is being driven by technological and economic factors is resulting in an ever-increasing number of cross-cultural interactions in the workplace. Recent estimates indicate that there are over 1000,000 firms with international operations, and they have annual revenues in excess of $3500 billion. Not surprisingly, the growth in the number of firms with international operations has been accompanied by an increase in the cultural diversity of their employees. Much of our personal and interpersonal interactions are guided by cultural values, expectations, and attitudes. Some values transcend cultural boundaries and are mutually reinforcing. Other cultural values create interactions with high potential for conflict, misunderstanding, poor performance, and ultimately, individual and organizational ineffectiveness or failure.
The multiculturalism in Indian firms may lead to substantial benefits, including increased creativity, improved decision making, and broader markets for products. However, more cultural diversity also may pose important challenges for these firms, whether or not they have multinational operations. For instance, as cultural diversity increases, firms may need to develop new strategies for managing and motivating their employees. Other cultural values create interactions with high potential for conflict, misunderstanding, poor performance, and ultimately, individual and organizational ineffectiveness or failure. Such problems are influencing HR practices in many organizations.
This paper aims to handle some of the issues pertaining to human resource practices with respect to multiculturalism that contribute towards the efficiency and effectiveness of organizations and the performance and well-being of their members.
Article: Biculturalism and self-construal[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Evidence on the dimensionality of self-construal points to the coexistence of both an independent and an interdependent self-image. Drawing on conceptualizations of the acculturation process, this study is a preliminary examination of the distinctiveness of four hypothesized self-construal patterns: Bicultural, Western, Traditional, and Culturally-alienated. Different types of individuals, having experienced varying amounts of cultural contact and having made different choices in adjusting to cultural groups, might portray distinctive self-construal patterns. Especially intriguing was the notion that those with a well developed sense of interdependence and a well developed sense of independence could be described as bicultural. To test this, persons from four a priori identified groups were selected to represent the four patterns of self-construal. We predicted that on a measure of self-construal, the mean scores of the respondents in the four groups would differ in strength with the bicultural experience group, in particular, exhibiting both a high independent and a high interdependent score on a measure of self-construals. Our hypotheses were supported. In terms of independent self-construal, the Bicultural and Western groups scored significantly higher than the Traditional and Alienated groups. For the interdependent self-construal, the Traditional and Bicultural groups scored significantly higher than the Western and Alienated groups. The bicultural group was the only group to score significantly higher on both types of construals. The availability of both types of self-construal would likely facilitate communication and adaptive behaviors for persons interacting in multiple cultures.International Journal of Intercultural Relations. 01/1999;
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ABSTRACT: To understand variations in citizenship behavior within a culture, we examine the relationship between citizenship behaviors and organizational justice in two studies in a Chinese context, using two cultural characteristics (traditionality and modernity) and one individual (gender) characteristic. In Study 1, we develop an indigenous measure of organizational citizenship behavior and explore the similarities and differences of this measure with its Western counterpart. In Study 2, we use this citizenship behavior measure to test its relationship to justice. Results demonstrate that organizational justice (distributive and procedural) is most strongly related to citizenship behavior for individuals who endorse less traditional, or high modernity, values. In addition, we found the relationship between justice and citizenship behavior to be stronger for men than for women. The studies are discussed in terms of the generality of citizenship behavior and its relation to organizational justiqe and cultural characteristics.ORG: Values, Attitude, & Perception (Topic). 08/2007;
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ABSTRACT: We asked 94 Japanese and 98 American students to report their recent experiences with interpersonal conflicts; they reported 476 episodes. The content analyses of these episodes were conducted in terms of desired and engaged conflict management strategies, effectiveness of chosen strategies, covertness of conflicts, and motives for covertness. Strategies other than simple avoidance were coded into four types, based on Falbo and Peplau's (1980) model. As a result, a particularly strong tendency to avoid conflict was found among Japanese subjects, who were motivated by both their desire to preserve relationships and their perceptions of shared responsibility. These findings were interpreted in terms of cross-cultural concepts of collectivism versus individualism (Triandis, 1989a) and independent versus interdependent self (Markus & Kitayama, 1991).Journal of Applied Social Psychology 07/1994; 24(15):1345 - 1366. · 0.83 Impact Factor
MULTICULTURALISM AND HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Dr Parag Arun Narkhede
KES’s Institute of Management & Research, Jalgaon
The globalization of business, increased mobility of labor across geographic borders is leading to
multiculturalism among several countries. For instance, in countries such as Canada, US, UK, India,
and Australia, multiculturalism is increasingly becoming an integral part of the national identity. In
addition, cross-border mergers and acquisitions (eg. Arcelor-Mittal) and deployment of teams for
certain projects, require organizations to draw from a pool of human resources from different
The globalization of the business environment that is being driven by technological and economic
factors is resulting in an ever-increasing number of cross-cultural interactions in the workplace.
Recent estimates indicate that there are over 1000,000 firms with international operations, and they
have annual revenues in excess of $3500 billion. Not surprisingly, the growth in the number of firms
with international operations has been accompanied by an increase in the cultural diversity of their
employees. Much of our personal and interpersonal interactions are guided by cultural values,
expectations, and attitudes. Some values transcend cultural boundaries and are mutually reinforcing.
Other cultural values create interactions with high potential for conflict, misunderstanding, poor
performance, and ultimately, individual and organizational ineffectiveness or failure.
The multiculturalism in Indian firms may lead to substantial benefits, including increased creativity,
improved decision making, and broader markets for products. However, more cultural diversity also
may pose important challenges for these firms, whether or not they have multinational operations.
For instance, as cultural diversity increases, firms may need to develop new strategies for managing
and motivating their employees. Other cultural values create interactions with high potential for
conflict, misunderstanding, poor performance, and ultimately, individual and organizational
ineffectiveness or failure. Such problems are influencing HR practices in many organizations.
This paper aims to handle some of the issues pertaining to human resource practices with respect to
multiculturalism that contribute towards the efficiency and effectiveness of organizations and the
performance and well-being of their members.
Keywords: Multiculturalism, Human Resource, Globalization, organizations, diversity
Culture is a hot topic these days. Among a number of public intellectuals, religious leaders, and social
activists, there is a burning conversation about the importance of cultural influence. A number of
significant initiatives are being launched nationwide. It is well recognized in studies of managerial
behavior that a manager’s effectiveness highly depends upon his/her success in dealing with
interpersonal relationships. Cultural differences often result in varying degrees of conflict and require
careful consideration. An effective manager should be able to “manage” not only his/her subordinates
and co-workers but also superiors. In other words, to effectively accomplish work through
interpersonal networks, managers must succeed in influencing the behavior of others, including their
superiors (Tong & Raltson, 2002). Likewise, given the increasing numbers of transnational and
multinational corporations in the global economy and the migration of workers from one country to
another, more and more managers, whether employed abroad or working domestically, have to work
with superiors and subordinates from other cultures. Developing a more informed understanding of
the dynamics of intra-organizational influence behavior from a cross-cultural perspective,
undoubtedly should help to improve organizational and managerial effectiveness in multinational
corporations (Tong, Raltson, 2002).
These days, Human Resource Management (HRM) is seen as a key function in developing and
implementing strategic issues and as a tool that delivers quality across organizations. However, these
practices vary across regions and depend on society, social culture, the nature of government,
regulatory framework, etc. To remain competitive, companies must have an understanding of HRM
practices and cultural diversities across the globe.
Multinational corporations(MNC’s) and the World Wide Web (WWW) play a special role, not only in
building cross-cultural bridges among home and host nations, but also in providing innovative
multicultural understanding through their informational and practical knowledge-based resources.
Multicultural expectation has brought people’s thoughts, efforts, and natural resources toward more
effective, efficient, and productive managerial outcomes. Because of the rapid growth of such
multinational e-commerce and the World Wide Web, people around the globe are becoming more
culturally interdependent. Global interdependence is no longer a matter of belief, ideology, or choice;
it is an inescapable reality. Multicultural synergy is a provocative effort by modern humans to create
innovative thoughts and methods through application of international value systems. Multiculturalism
is making possible all human efforts to create an understanding among all cultures. It is an effort to
move from bureaucracy to meritocracy (a process by which intellectual innovation and creativity can
meaningfully achieve synergy). Producers and consumers should not be victims of fate because of
their limited resources. They should focus their concerns on the variety of choices in their physical
features or intellectual ideas. People should share their efforts in making the history of humanity very
Culture refers to an organization's values, beliefs, and behaviors. In general, it is concerned with
beliefs and values on the basis of which people interpret experiences and behave, individually and in
groups. Cultural statements become operationalized when executives articulate and publish the values
of their firm which provide patterns for how employees should behave (Kotelnikov, 2007). Culture is
to society what memory is to individuals (Kluckhohn, 1954). It consists of what “has worked” in the
experience of a group of people so it was worth transmitting to peers and descendants. We can
distinguish material and subjective culture. The tools, dwellings, foods, clothing, pots, machines,
roads, bridges, and many other entities that are typically found in a culture are examples of material
culture. Subjective culture includes shared ideas, theories, political, religious, scientific, economic,
and social standards for judging events in the environment (Triandis, 1972). The language (e.g., the
way experience is categorized and organized), beliefs, associations (e.g., what ideas are linked to
other ideas), attitudes, norms, role definitions, religion, and values of the culture are some of the
elements of a cultural group’s subjective culture. Ideas about how to make an item of material culture
constitute subjective culture as well (e.g., mathematical equations needed to construct a bridge), so the
two kinds of culture are interrelated. Cultures emerge because ecologies (climate, geographic features,
ways of making a living) are different from place to place.
According to Parhizgar, (2002) Cultural diversity means the representation of majority and minority
groups in a society according to their historical family wealth and political influence. It makes a
distinction among ethnicity, race, color, gender, and wealth. It makes people different, with distinctly
different group affiliations of cultural significance. Cultural diversity emphasizes dissimilarities
among people; it emphasizes this notion that we are more different than we are similar. The difference
between cultural diversity and multiculturalism is the distinction between classes of people according
to their original sociopolitical and cultural ideologies. In cultural diversity, there are majority and
minority groups, but in multiculturalism there is no stratification of people on the basis of race, color,
ethnicity, and nationality. Cultural diversity must be viewed as a reality in international business
operations. Multicultural behavior is a phenomenon associated with accelerated novelty and creating
cultural synergy. It stands alone in its concern with contentious problems such as ethnicity, race,
gender, color, and religious faiths. In multinational environments, the most problematic issue is the
friction generated by organizational and operational functions, along with the consideration of and
integration of different cultural values and perceptions into the mission of an organization. Along with
these contradictions, we find a multitude of political ideologies, socioethnic perceptions, artistic
artifacts, and religious faiths, with a variety of beliefs, ideas, doctrines, and material and non-material
hierarchies Cox (1993). Clearly, knowledge is vital for the effective managerial integration within
such a complex environment. Understanding multicultural behavior and the global environments of
businesses is crucial to every manager who belongs to and leads a multinational organization
Organisations and Multiculturalism
Multiculturalism is a basic framework through which one views the world as a community of people.
The fundamental idea behind multiculturalism is that everyone is individual and that we are more
similar than we are different. This notion is based upon a civic ideology that all subcultures within a
society encompass all similar values and people from all ethnicities, religious faiths, political
ideologies, and traditions should be treated the same. Multiculturalism is color blind, gender blind,
race blind, and bias and/or prejudice blind. Multiculturalism does not view diversity issues as
hierarchical and/or class issues. Differences among individuals and classes of people are due to
individual characteristics, not due to their collectivistic historical and cultural background.
Multiculturalism means a healthy environment in which everyone has an appropriate place in that
particular society according to his or her personal qualifications. People respect each other regardless
of their differences and/or group affiliation. Therefore, multiculturalism is the means of collaborative
participation among multiple cultures in one social system to share their mutual understanding for
pacing the whole social system toward a meaningful achievement for all. (Parhizgar, 2002).
Culture provides a blueprint to show individuals how to perceive, think, and act in a social
environment. Klein (2004) argues that individuals from different cultures view the world around them
through different cultural lenses. The lens serves to filter and organize information received from
others and perceived in the environment, helps make sense of that information, frames social
interactions and communications, structures planning, and impacts adaptation to changing situations.
Members of the same national culture often share the same lens, thus providing a common ground for
social interactions (e.g., teams in organizations).
When members of multiple cultures are organized together, how they see the situation will differ; this
potentially leads to conflict, dissonance, and ultimately team process losses. For example, the
importance of understanding multiculturalism in the workplace has also been emphasized by Stone et
al.(2003), who state that individuals have differing work scripts (i.e., ideas about the appropriate
sequence of events within a given situation) and behavioral expectations based on cultural differences.
This will ultimately impact the organization in that goals may not be reached (e.g., loss of
productivity and profits, accidents in the workplace, failed mergers). In this context, training can be
applied to help individuals understand cultural differences that may be present in the work scripts and
to help smooth differences in organizational expectations.
To best understand the impact of multiculturalism on an organization let us consider the example of
Daimler-Chrysler. On May 7, 1998, it was announced that America’s third largest automobile
manufacturer, Chrysler Corporation, and Germany’s Daimler-Benz AG would merge to form
Daimler-Chrysler, thus becoming the fifth largest automobile manufacturer in the world (Schulten,
1998). With combined annual revenues of around $130 billion and over 420,000 employees, the
success of the merger was imperative. Successful integration of the two culturally different teams was
the responsibility of upper-level managers from both companies (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2001). The
process of becoming acquainted started across the waters, where in their homelands; each team began
to learn about the other’s culture. Teams took cultural awareness and language classes to better
understand the other’s language, business, and social behaviors. Initially, team meetings between the
companies were strained due to differences in work habits—Germans preferred to lay out detailed
plans before making decisions, and Americans preferred a quicker, trial-and-error method. From the
start, the two teams began to understand each other’s decision- making styles and even attempted to
try each other’s approaches. The merger of Daimler-Chrysler was, overall, a success. Credited to their
success was that the teams surrounded themselves with each other’s culture.
Comparative Cultural Advantages
Culture can provide tangible benefits and can be used competitively. As with individuals, nations
have developed particular competencies; skills and ways of working, in areas that they value and that
make sense in their environment. At the same time, as with individuals, they lose competencies in
areas that they do not value. In turn, individuals put greater value on things that they are good at,
reinforcing their particular competencies. Likewise, nations can offer unique competencies to global
organizations (Porter, 1990).
Past literature suggests that culture is partly responsible for the formation of a nation’s comparative
advantage since culture is formed and shaped by certain dominant (core) values necessary for
economic growth. The shared culture of Dragon societies (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong
Kong and Japan, “The Five Dragons”) such as greater collectivism and ethical roots have provided the
Dragons with particular advantages in increasingly complex and dynamic markets. Researchers
conclude that German’s are particularly good at building infrastructure whereas Americans excel at
For the vast majority of global organizations, an emerging managerial challenge becomes identifying
how particular cultures may offer advantages in terms of functional specialization, orientation of time,
and technical capabilities (Porter, 1990). Organizations can no longer be constrained by the
advantages or limitations of a single cultural orientation nor should they desire to be. By recognizing
the complexity and diversity of human cultures, it is possible to cultivate the best from each culture.
By identifying specific competencies of different cultures and applying their functional or procedural
expertise, an enormous source of competitive advantage can accrue to the MNC.
HRM as a Competitive Advantage
Porter (1990) has suggested that human resource management is seen as one of four important support
activities to assist all the primary value activities of a company to sustain its competitive advantages.
Dunning (1994) indicates that, in contrast with less value-added activities, subsidiaries with higher
value-added activities usually require more HR investment. As a consequence, Asian MNCs need to
build capabilities in USA which will require additional and specifically tailored strategic investment
in human capital, for the development of local managerial elite, as well as in the USA subsidiary. In
this way a subsidiary will capture a higher human capital investment as it assumes more complex
roles and higher value-added activities in the stream of regional integration.
Cultural adaptation is a social cognitive process that reduces uncertainty and an affective process that
reduces anxiety. To minimize difficulties in cross-cultural interactions, it has been commonly
recommended that one adapt to the norms and behavior of the foreign culture as much as possible.
The impact of cultural differences has long been recognized by managers in the MNCs. Rather than
simply consider the language and the behavioral differences, there are increasing attempts to
understand the underlying dimensions of behavior used by different as demonstrate the various habit
of their culture. Thus, globalism requires recognition of cultural differences while being flexible
enough to adapt to local needs.
Multiculturalism and HRM
It has been noted that many aspects of HRM are affected by differences in national culture. The
success of HRM activities across cultures is largely dependent on managers’ abilities to understand
and balance the dichotomy of various culture values and practices. If the practices and values of a
subsidiary do not fit locally, or expectations of local employees are incongruent with organization
practices, the results are often more destructive than constructive. While some research has focused
on adaptation to the norms and behavior of a foreign culture as much as possible (Tung, 1991),
normative integration is seen to be a useful means of exposing a subsidiary’s employees to the
corporate culture and to help them develop a corporate perspective (Dowling et.al 1999). At the level
of the subsidiary, it is clear that the subsidiary needs to align HRM practices such as election,
appraisal, rewards and compensation with organizational values. A subsidiary is a value-adding entity
in a host country which can perform a single activity (such as marketing) or an entire value chain of
activities (Dunning, 1994). The various approaches of the multinational subsidiary management
should depend on the different activities (roles) taken (assumed) by the subsidiaries (Birkinshaw &
Morrison, 1995). Various country (diversity in) cultures with different values may lead to different
strengths and capabilities (Trompenaar, 1993).Therefore, a multinational subsidiary should use
cultural differences problem solving styles to perform value-added activities and (hence) create
sustainable competitive advantages (Hoecklin, 1994). Therefore, at the level of subsidiary, MNCs
should compare the cultural advantages of home country with host country in terms of various value-
added activities to determine the dependence of subsidiary on parents’ resources or local cultural
A variety of forces are at work, in addition to culture, in determining the extent to which HRM
practices in a country conform more to a rational/analytic or the social/intuitive approach. Several
theorists propose multilevel models in attempting to explain variations across cultures in HRM.
Organizations can differ in the same ways as cultures. Some have a tight culture (many rules and
punishment for not doing what the rules specify) and others loose cultures. Some are collectivist and
others individualist. The other dimensions of cultural variation may also be present in organizations.
Of course, numerous positions exist between the two poles of each of these dimensions. In general,
national culture influences organizational culture. However, numerous additional factors reflecting the
macroeconomic environment, competition, the history of the organization, and the legal–political
environment will also have an influence. A major factor is the decisions of the management to have
an organization that will reflect universal norms or local norms.
Organizations have long been concerned with attracting highly talented employees. One reason for
this is that organizational performance is often influenced by the knowledge, skill, and ability levels
of their members. Another reason is that there is a growing shortage of highly talented employees in
the labor force, and organizations are increasingly competing to attract these individuals (Narkhede,
The selection of employees moves implicitly or explicitly through several stages. First, agents of the
organization identify the attributes (physical, intellectual, personality, temperament, appearance,
demographics) that define the requirements of the position and the ideal applicant. The second stage
involves the gathering of information about applicants to determine the individuals who best fit the
requirements of the job. In the third and fourth stages, applicants are judged on the requirements of
the position, and a hiring decision is made. The final stage of selection is the evaluation of the
selection process to determine whether it is effective (Ryan, 1999). A variety of criteria can enter into
this phase to guide the evaluation, including the validity, fairness, and the utility of the procedures.
Cross-national comparisons of the specific techniques of selection reveal large differences across
nations in the use of selection procedures to gather information about applicants. These studies show
that many of the standardized selection practices that are identified as “best practices” in Western
research are used infrequently in many other cultures. Some procedures seem almost universal in their
use. These include the application form and unstructured interviews. Among Western nations, France
seems to stand out as a country that makes less use of the interview than others with only 45 percent
reporting their use in one survey (Shackleton & Newell, 1994). Another exception is China, where
employers seldom use the interview (Von Glinow & Chung, 1989). Even among countries where the
use of the interview, application, and references is widespread, there are large variations in the
information asked of the applicants. Questions about personal background and family are allowed in
many countries like India but are often considered illegal or inappropriate in the United States.
Jobs will be designed for individuals in individualist cultures, but in collectivist cultures some job
assignments will be made to groups. Erez (1997) suggests that enriching individual jobs will be the
goals of managers in horizontal individualist cultures, and placing individual jobs in a hierarchy of
authority and responsibility will be the goals of vertical individualist managers. Horizontal collectivist
managers will emphasize autonomous work groups, self-managed teams, and quality circles, whereas
vertical collectivist cultures will emphasize team work controlled by top management teams but will
also use quality circles. House et al. (1997) reviewed some literature suggesting that role stress is
higher in vertical collectivist than in other kinds of cultures. In a study of the human resources
practices across four subsidiaries of a multinational organization, Robert et.al. (2000) hypothesized
that empowerment would be a more successful practice in horizontal rather than vertical cultures.
Their results indicated that empowerment was positively related to supervisor satisfaction in the
United States but unrelated to supervisor satisfaction (and even negatively related to job satisfaction)
in India. Contrary to expectation, empowerment was positively associated with supervisor satisfaction
for Polish and Mexican employees, whose work environments were also considered to be relatively
vertical. Robert et al. concluded that although certain vertical cultures may have a preference for
hierarchy, others may tolerate it but in fact prefer a less autocratic approach. Indeed, the degree of
verticality may have to be considered. India is unusually vertical because of its long tradition with the
The United States has often been referred to as a melting pot, consisting of individuals from numerous
cultures, backgrounds, and religions. With the expansion of over 10,000 companies worldwide to
global markets, a multicultural workforce is inevitable. This shift is demonstrated by the growing
popularity of new technologies such as distributed capabilities (e.g., telecommuting), which improve
the chances of interaction of employees from different national cultures. To add further complexity,
organizations’ use of teams as a means of improving organizational outcomes is increasing. As such,
the likelihood of multicultural teams (i.e., two or more individuals from at least two different national
cultures who must work interdependently to reach the team’s goals) being developed in organizations
is greater than ever.
Robert et al. (2000) predicted that training would be valued more by individualists, who would view
this practice as an opportunity for advancement in terms of job knowledge and, by extension, position
in the organization. However, their results showed that continuous training was positively related to
job satisfaction across the Indian, Mexican, and American subsidiaries. A major concern is how to
train expatriates to work in another culture. When collectivists and individualists come into contact,
those who are bicultural (have lived a long time in another culture) are high in both individualism and
collectivism, whereas Western samples tend to be high only on individualism and Eastern samples
tend to be high only on collectivism (Yamada & Singelis, 1999). Thus, the bicultural individuals will
require less training. Much training is required when there is a large cultural distance between the
culture of the trainees and the culture of the place they are assigned to (Phalet & Hagendoorn, 1996).
Indians are ready to work in any country all over the world compared to people in other countries. The
greater the cultural distance there is, the greater the culture shock from visiting another culture is
likely to be (Ward et al., 2001). Also, when there is a large discrepancy between the personality of the
visitor and the hosts, adjustment is more difficult and depression is more likely (Ward et al., 2001).
Research suggests there are different levels of conflict avoidance in different national cultures. For
instance, Ohbuchi and Takahashi (1994) found that the Japanese are much more likely than the
Americans to avoid conflicts. Similarly, Triandis et al. (1988) found that Japanese participants avoid
conflict in more situations than American participants. Gabrielidis et.al. (1997) also propose that
collectivists display more concern for others than individualists so that the conflict can be more
avoided. These findings, of course, are consistent with the view that collectivist cultures are more apt
to emphasize harmonious relations, at least with other in-group members, than individualist cultures.
The size of the in-group is an important variable. In many job relationships in East Asia, people see
members of the organization as in-group and behave toward them positively. However, if the
employees are strongly kin collectivists, unless they are working for family firms, they may actually
engage in counter-productive organizational behaviors that are to the advantage of their in-groups
(such as using the company’s equipment for activities that benefit their in-group). For example, Farth
et al. (1997) showed that protecting company resources emerged as an epic dimension of citizenship
behavior in the kin collectivist Taiwanese context. Workers in communalist cultures deal with conflict
with their managers by joining unions, but they do not confront their managers as much as do workers
in individualist cultures. Those with a communalist orientation are more likely to join a trade union
than those with an individualist orientation. In India we can find the situations.
Superior–Subordinate Relations and Employee Evaluation
Communalists often control the expression of unpleasant emotions in the presence of other people, so
as not to disturb the relationship. For example, Stephan et al. (1996) found strong support for the
proposition that people in collectivist cultures feel less comfortable expressing negative emotions than
do people in individualist cultures. The data came from Costa Rica and the United States. People in
Latino cultures, and possibly in all collectivist cultures, expect others to be “nice” during their
interactions and become upset when the other person is insufficiently supportive (Triandis et al.,
1984). Thus, supervisors in collectivist cultures may have to express their criticism indirectly.
Nevertheless, several studies suggest that vertical collectivists accept a critical supervisor more than
Rees and Porter (1998) analyze the relationship between participation and Hofstede’s cultural
dimensions. Corresponding to Hofstede’s five dimensions, employee participation is likely to be more
acceptable in low-power-distance cultures, in high-femininity cultures, in low-uncertainty-avoidance
cultures, in long-term orientation cultures, and employees are more likely to be integrated into groups
and participative mechanisms in collectivistic cultures.
Although the North American research has typically conceptualized costs associated with leaving an
organization as material or economic (such as losing pension benefits), evidence from collectivist
contexts underlines the relevance of normative costs of quitting. Such costs emerge out of a concern
to meet in-group expectations regarding appropriate behavior—a concern that becomes especially
salient when employment opportunities are procured through these networks—as well as a necessity
to maintain a reputation for loyalty, which is a crucial asset in these relationship-oriented societies.
Groups and Work Teams
Kirkman and Shapiro (2001) developed a model of cultural values and team effectiveness in the
context of self-managing working teams. Rather than tying cultural values directly to team outcomes,
they proposed two mediating variables: resistance to teams and resistance to self-management.
Specifically, they argued that collectivism would be negatively related to resistance to teams, power
distance and determinism would be positively related, but a “doing” orientation (which reflects being
goal-oriented) would be negatively related to resistance to self-management. Their study, which
involved samples from Finland, the United States, the Philippines, and Belgium (where values were
directly measured at the individual level and country was controlled for), supported the proposed
relations between collectivism and “doing” orientation.
Good leaders among collectivists are warm, supportive, and also production oriented. However, the
specific behaviors that are considered “warm” are not the same in every culture (Smith & Peterson,
1994). For example, criticizing an employee in Japan requires much greater concern for “saving face”
than it does in the West (Misumi, 1985). A warm supervisor does not criticize directly but rather
conveys the critical information though a trusted close friend of the employee to be criticized. Being
nurturing first and then demanding high production is the right way to lead in India (Sinha, 1996). The
similarity between leadership style and culture is critical for good performance by the leader’s
The ideal leader in horizontal cultures would be a resourceful democrat; the ideal leader in vertical
cultures would be the benevolent autocrat. Promotions from within will be more common in
horizontal cultures, and leadership appointments from the outside or from a high status group will be
more common in vertical cultures. In horizontal cultures leadership may rotate, and leaders may treat
subordinates as equals. In vertical cultures leadership reflects the cultural hierarchy (e.g., upper class
or caste results in leadership even when the individual does not merit the position). Leaders in
individualist cultures tend to focus on the behavior of individuals, whereas in collectivist cultures they
tend to focus on the behavior of groups. The distance between leader and followers is small in the
horizontal and larger in the vertical cultures. Erez, (1997) suggests that decision making will be
individual, and leaders will delegate authority in horizontal individualist cultures, whereas decisions
will be centralized and top-down in vertical individualist cultures. In horizontal collectivist cultures
there will be much group participation, whereas in vertical collectivist cultures decisions will be top-
down and centralized.
House et al. (1997) reviewed literature that indicates that in horizontal individualist cultures,
managers and employees pay much attention to their own experience, whereas in vertical collectivist
cultures, they pay attention to formal rules. They further suggest that authoritarian leadership is more
acceptable in vertical collectivist cultures than in other kinds of cultures. Collectivism has been found
associated with a high value on group maintenance, paternalism, in-group loyalty and harmony,
treatment of in-group members with dignity, face saving among in-group members, and non-
confrontational and peaceful methods of conflict resolution.
Marchese, (2001) notes that the outcomes associated with empowerment are quite different across
countries based on horizontality-verticality. For example, Robert et al. (2000) discuss the fit of
empowerment and national culture based in part on power distance and also on collectivism. They
argue that power distance should moderate the relationship between job satisfaction and perceived
empowerment. Employees in the United States, Mexico, and Poland were found to have more
favorable views of their supervisors when perceived empowerment is high, whereas Indian employees
rate their supervisors low when empowerment is high. However, the relationship in Mexico (like
India, a high-power-distance country) was weaker than in the United States and Poland (both low
power-distance countries). The reasoning is that workers in higher-power-distance cultures would be
less comfortable with acting autonomously and their superiors less supportive of empowerment
efforts, thus leading to conflict and tension. Satisfaction with coworkers was shown to have a negative
impact on coworker satisfaction in India, the most collectivist of the countries studied.
Influence of culture on Individual
Behavior is a function of habits plus behavioral intentions, multiplied by facilitating conditions. Some
behaviors occur without thought, automatically. Other behaviors occur because of the person’s self-
instructions to do something. Behavioral intentions are a function of norms, self-definitions, and the
perceived probabilities that good or bad outcomes will follow the behavior. The more positive the
outcomes are, the more likely the behavior is; however, if the probability of a good outcome is low,
this factor may not play an important role in determining the behavior.
Facilitating conditions reflect the situation. If the person feels able to do the behavior (self-efficacy)
and the situation permits the behavior to occur, then the behavior has a high probability of occurring.
However, there are situations where no matter what the habits or behavioral intentions are, the
behavior will not occur because facilitating conditions are zero (e.g., the person feels unable to do it,
the situation does not allow doing it). Culture has links with all those entities. The customs of the
culture shape the habits of individuals. The norms of the culture, the self-definitions found in the
culture, and the structure of rewards and punishments in the culture will shape the perceived
probabilities. Furthermore, in some cultures people have high self-efficacy and a good opinion of
themselves, and in others they do not.
As this paper indicates, there is much diversity within a given culture as well as across national
cultures. Multiculturalism of organizations has increased markedly in the past three decades. As a
result, organizations are facing a growing need to deal with the consequences of this increased
cultural diversity for various human resource management (HRM)-related processes and practices.
We tried to describe several dimensions along which cultures differ and impact of multiculturalism on
HRM-related processes and practices. Among the different HRM process training & negotiations are
found to be the most influenced due to multiculturalism. Much of our knowledge of human resource
management (HRM) practices in organizations is based upon research conducted in single cultures or
about diversity within a given country (e.g., United States, India, Japan or China). We believe that a
great increase in research effort is needed to develop a better understanding of the influence of
Multiculturalism on HRM processes and practices.
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