These days due to the companies’ hiring foreign employees, the necessity of proper knowledge in cross-cultural management is ever more increasing. Cross-cultural management studies “potential value differences between people from diverse societies and can help them use reasonably accurate stereotypes to form their expectations to each other” (Tjosvold & Leung, 2003, p. 5). “The recognition that culture in the context of international business operations creates challenges and problems for firms and their management has given rise to a sub-discipline of international management studies called cross-cultural management” (Holden, 2002, p. 19). Thus, for instance, the articles “Managerial Behaviors and Job Performance: a Successful Manager in Los Angeles May not Succeed in Hong Kong” by J. Stewart Black and Lyman W. Porter, and “Fitting in: Surface- and Deep-Level Cultural Differences and Expatriates’ Adjustments” by Annelies E. M. Van Vianen, Irene E. De Pater, Amy L. Krostof-Brown, and Erin C. Johnson are dedicated to managerial behaviors of expatriates and their adjustment to new working environment. The articles are similar in content because they explore one and the same subject but different to some extent because the article by J. Stewart Black et al is aimed at defining whether different managerial behaviors affect job performance and the article by Annelies E. M. Van Vianen et al views cross-cultural management from a slightly different perspective dealing with psychological aspect of employees’ adjustment rather than with influence of adjustment on their job productivity. It is necessary to compare these two articles in order to find out similarities and differences between them.
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To begin with, the authors of the article “Managerial Behaviors and Job Performance” compare managerial behaviors applied in the Unites States and Hong Kong. In general, the purpose of the article is to find out whether those managerial behaviors which proved to be efficient in the U.S. will be effective in Hong Kong as well. When conducting research among the expatriates, the authors of the article were interested in: “(1) overall performance, (2) ability to get along with others, (3) completing tasks on time, (4) quality (as opposes to quantity) of performance, and (5) achievement of work goals” (Black et al, 1991, p. 104). The article discovered that managerial behaviors of American and Hong Kong managers were almost alike but managerial behaviors that were used in the U.S. turned out to be not effective in Hong Kong. At this, the study concluded that managerial behaviors did not influence the performance of Hong Kong managers, but did affect the performance of their U.S. colleagues.
As far as the article “Fitting in: Surface- and Deep-Level Cultural Differences and Expatriates’ Adjustments” is concerned, the study discussed in it deals with cross-cultural adjustment of employees. The article examines “how deep-level differences in values, in addition to surface-level cultural differences, influence expatriates’ adjustment to their host countries” (Van Vianen et al, 2004, p. 697). The authors of the article inform that surface-level differences include those which differentiate a person from the others visually, for example age or gender, whereas deep-level differences can sometimes be unnoticeable at the first glance; they are constituted by person’s values and beliefs. The study concluded that interaction with host country nationals facilitates cross-cultural adjustment. The researchers discovered that when cultural differences of new environment are easily visible (if they consist mainly of surface-level differences), it takes the employees less time to adapt to new living conditions. However, deep-level values were discovered to be more problematic for adjustment; they make it difficult for the expatriates to adapt to new environment.
Comparing these two articles, it is should be noted that the most evident similarity between them lies in their turning attention to the need of conducting research in the sphere of cross-cultural management with the purpose of making working conditions for foreign employees more beneficial. Nevertheless, the differences between the articles are more numerous. First of all, it should be noted that the article “Managerial Behaviors and Job Performance” compares managerial behaviors of two countries, namely Hong Kong and the United States, whereas the article written by Van Vianen et al. conducted its research in four multinational companies, which means that more than two nationalities were explored. Moreover, the article by Black et al. deals only with the issues of cross-cultural management, namely with managerial behaviors, and the studies in the article by Van Vianen et al. deal with an issue of cultural shock and explore the behavior of expatriates not only within the company they are working but within a society they have to live in.
Though both the articles are relevant and educational, it can be stated that academically the article by Van Vianen et al is better. Firstly, it has fewer limitations than the article “Managerial Behaviors and Job Performance”. It explored the behaviors of people who have been on international assignments more than once and considers it a limitation because it is “difficult to infer causal relationships between perceived cultural differences and cross-cultural adjustment” (Van Vianen et al, 2004, p. 706). The article “Managerial Behaviors and Job Performance”, in its turn, has more serious limitations since it has contrasted managerial behaviors of only two particular countries and used Leadership Behavior Description Questionnaire (LDBQ) which “does not measure all cross-culturally relevant managerial behaviors” (Black et al, 1991, p. 109); this means that the obtained results can not be fully objective. The authors of the article “Fitting in: Surface- and Deep-Level Cultural Differences and Expatriates’ Adjustments” did a thorough laborious research utilizing a number of relevant sources on acculturation, international adjustment, immigration, socialization tactics, personal characteristics of expatriates, surface-and deep-level diversity, cultural dimensions, etc. The collected data was analyzed precisely and was presented in two tables. The results were interpreted logically and then related back to literature. Both the articles analyzed are still up-to-date but the article by Van Vianen et al is more useful for managers because it pays attention not only to management alone but to a psychological aspect of cross-cultural adjustment. However, it seems that the studies missed out the research on whether the cross-cultural adjustment depends on gender, that is, who live through cultural shock more painfully, men or women. And another point is that additional studies should be carried out in order to find out whether the position an employee occupies in the company facilitates or aggravates his/her adjustment to new working and living conditions.
Taking into consideration everything mentioned above, it can be concluded, that profound knowledge in cross-cultural management is indeed important for multinational companies because it will help to create a good atmosphere for foreign employees and facilitate their adaption to working environment. When discussing two articles describing the studies of cross-cultural adjustment it was pointed out that the article “Fitting in: Surface- and Deep-Level Cultural Differences and Expatriates’ Adjustments” is academically better and valuable because the research carried out by its authors is more thorough and the information presented in the article is more objective.
Black, J.S., & Porter, L.W. (1991). Managerial behaviors and job performance: A successful manager in Los Angeles may not succeed in Hong Kong. Journal of International Business Studies, 22, 99-113.
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Holden, N. (2002). Cross-cultural Management: A Knowledge Management Perspective. Pearson Education.
Tjosvold, D., & Leung, K. (2003). Cross-cultural Management: Foundations and Future. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Van Vianen, A.E.M., De Pater, I.E., Kristof-Brown, A.L., & Johnson, E.C. (2004). Fitting In: Surface- and Deep-Level Cultural Differences and Expatriates’ Adjustment. Academy of Management Journal, 13(2), 697-709.