What is intercultural management and why is it important?

Read on to learn more about intercultural management and how it can benefit you.

what is intercultural management
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What is intercultural management?

Intercultural management attempts to examine explicitly the interactions of employees marked by national cultures and / or different organizational cultures.

In describing and comparing the characteristic behaviors of a culture, heoreticians have the ambition to reduce misunderstandings in order to contribute to better collaboration even greater business productivity.

In this context, intercultural management is seen as a management form capable of knowing the existence of different cultures, to integrate the values on which these crops in the performance of different business functions and combine taking culturally sensitive with the overall strategic imperatives.

As the world gets interconnected through technologies, and intercultural communication and collaboration rises up, organizations face the opportunity to manage diversity.

Intercultural management has the awareness of the differences that exist among the different persons and group, and out from those differente conjugate them up to bring up the desired results.

Specially international businesses have to properly manage the cultural diversity that is intrinsic in their DNA with assertive intercultural management skills.

Group of young intercultural colleagues having fun at break
Group of young intercultural financiers in formalwear

Why is intercultural management important?

The importance of intercultural management comes from the moment we understand that we do not all think alike. Even when we are from the same country, we may have different values instilled in us due to our education, or the way we grew up and the environment we know.

If we add to that the possibility that many people within the organization come from other cultures, then we are facing a barrier where we are not allowed to go beyond the vision of the people who are in charge. And this can become a very serious problem.

Keep in mind that what matters most within any organization is to create a work environment where everyone feels an important part of the process, understands the values of the company, and fulfills their work day after day to achieve the same goal.

This is even a problem that many companies may experience when they migrate from their headquarters in the hope of expanding their products or services to a new market. This is one of the main problems why they fail to position themselves outside their comfort zone.

Keep in mind that cultural management not only works to understand what is inside, but also what can happen outside when launching a product or service to a new target audience. In this way, we avoid generating a rejection that could be our undoing.

And, in the case of directing your goals to another country, if you are not able to respect their values, enhance their culture, and merge with them, what you will generate is a rejection of the population because they do not really want to feel that they must adapt to what you offer, but that you are mixing with them.

Advantages of intercultural management

In order for you to understand this concept a little more, we will talk about a series of advantages for intercultural management that will surely make you want to establish yours in the shortest possible time, in case you don’t have one.

Pay attention to the following:

1. It is a key element in winning the talent war.

Today we must see companies for what they are, a wide cultural and social range, which makes the war for talent increasingly complex, making it sufficient to question the knowledge of basic technical skills.

For the market, a person becomes more attractive if he or she has a broad and complex cultural background.

This will help you face the challenges of the new era, recognizing as a necessity to have a comprehensive and global vision that will create the basis for sustained development.

2. Diversity equals innovation

When we embrace change we are also opening a window to transformation and innovation.

The current environment demands the redefinition of paradigms, new ideas, and open workplaces where the competitive advantage of companies is reinvented.

It is then where we find another advantage of intercultural management, since when differences are taken advantage of, collaboration between work teams is enhanced, opening the window to reach solutions that are not only complex, but also innovative.

3. Diversity adds, not only divides

When differences of perspective are embraced, they can lead to the development of ideas, or solutions, outside the box.

It is known that cultural difference can cause conflicts, but everything can be saved as long as people are united towards a common point.

Intercultural management seeks to focus on what synergy can be generated, rather than what a couple of differences can detract from.

The aim is to shift the perspective to a simple win-win thinking.

Intercultural delegates

What is intercultural management in a company?

With the globalization of the economy we can find results that translate into important effects on the internal organization of companies.

And not only in those that are internationally active, but also in small and medium-sized companies that operate in local markets.

What all this has achieved is that they have had to make changes in their organizational structure, so that they can adapt to the new global trends.

With this multiculturalism that is occurring in many organizations, a group of frictions may arise in the internal functioning due to the differences in values that may exist between personnel and managers.

This is where we find intercultural management, since it has been taken as an approach to management in order to improve the understanding between the workers of a company, regardless of its size or scope.

As a direct consequence of this, we find ourselves with the promotion of what is the understanding of different cultural values, where solutions are also proposed to the different practices and ways of working that may exist between a culture, regardless of where it is, or another.

Now that you know what intercultural management in a company is, it is important that you also understand that it can help you on your way to success.

That’s why you should always keep in mind to include, accept, and respect, rather than impose and try to change.

5 Intercultural management skills

As we have defined in our intercultural skills article, there are 5 management skills that can help along the cross cultural management in an organization.

Learning about intercultural management skills is essential to develop a mindset that can work across international organizations with awareness and respect of the differences that exist. 

That understanding and respect is what will help individuals to conduct in a manner that is able to resolve issues that might came across due to the different point of views in a multicultural group. 

Therefore, working on the development of the followings skills is how intercultural management helps to know what to do in crucial moments within an international and culturally diverse environment.

Here we briefly mentioned intercultural management skills.

1. Speaking several languages

Senior level managers must know more than one language, especially if they are at an international business.

Yes, it is pretty common and comfortable to talk in the native language, but when the company already has a presence in multiple countries, then it is required for an effective intercultural communication to be able to have a good dialogue in a common language.

English can be considered a base language to do business WorldWide, but still businesses are located around the world, and so the language will be different.

A manager or business owner improves his intercultural competence by speaking different languages, especially when they deal with his or her customers native language.

2. Open mindset

Intercultural business management requires an open mindset due to the differences that cultures will have.

Customs and behaviours vary from country to country, and businesses must understand that they can’t fully impose their practices in other regions.

Having an open mindset of how to solve problems can help a business to find alternatives to improve their operations.

3. Empathy, tolerance and respect

Having the intercultural management skills of empathy, tolerance and respect will help managers to understand how to work with other cultures.

Of course business managers will prefer top performing employees, but acknowledging the differences and respecting them will create a better atmosphere for a proper intercultural communication.

4. Cultural Awareness

When a business unit decides to be set abroad from their headquarters, they must study the culture where they are going.

The day-to-day of normal life in a foreign country is where intercultural management skills are improved by getting to understand how the system and culture works.

As more time passes in another culture, especially if they don’t speak your language, the intercultural communication skills are forced to be improved.

The language structure also described how the culture is created.

5. Critical thinking

Among the intercultural management skills, critical thinking is required to be able to identify, evaluate, analyze and interpret the situations that happen around international business.

Critical thinking can support an intercultural competence that will help to take the proper decision in an international context for a better cross cultural management.

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