Employee Involvement in China, India, and Germany

Introduction

This report presents employee involvement strategy across cultures, namely China, India, and Germany. The report shows how to ensure that teamwork, motivation, employee involvement, and work performance are very high across all the locations. Following a global expansion in China, India, and Germany, new challenges and opportunities arise as the company with western cultural orientation strives to implement human resource practices for different cultures. Such challenges and opportunities in the new subsidiaries will definitely affect employee motivation, work performance, involvement, and teamwork.

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Notably, without understanding cross-cultural aspects of human resource management in a global context, it would be difficult for the head of the HR to realise expected opportunities for growth and overcome cross-cultural drawbacks, which depend on effective cross-cultural management of employee involvement strategies and new challenges and opportunities to ensure success of the company in foreign markets. This report by the head of human resource management for subsidiaries in China, India, and Germany shows how the proposed employee involvement strategy across cultures can result in enhanced teamwork, work performance, motivation, and employee involvement. These would ensure the highest levels of employee productivity to realise benefits of global expansion and competitive advantage in cross-cultural management.

Theoretical Exploration of Potential Opportunities or Challenges

Indian Work Culture

India is recognised as a country oriented towards high power distance in which junior employees rely on their superiors who are considered powerful in an organisation. This power distance has been attributed to the caste system that emanated thousands of year ago to define relationships in society. No doubt, Indians have transferred such practices to modern organisations to create hierarchies that define relations among employees. For instance, in Indian business firms, senior executives are responsible for decision-making. This approach is opposed to other cultures in which decision-making processes may be a collective process involving all employees (Boopathi 2014). In addition, in Indian firms, junior employees are expected to display utmost respect and show loyalty to their managers based on hierarchy.

The country is also considered as having a collective culture practices. In this regard, the interest of the group proceeds all other individual interests. Such practices are also largely observed in family practices. That is, the group is much more important than the individual is. In addition, Indians value personal relationships as compared to task relationships (Boopathi 2014). Indians also regard trust as a critical factor in work and business relations (Gupta & Bhaskar 2016). This implies that it is difficult to conduct business with strangers. A collectivistic culture promotes group or teamwork to accomplish a task. Thus, teamwork is extremely important in task assignment. Additionally, India is considered a masculine culture in which earnings, career advancement, challenges, and recognition are extremely important (Boopathi 2014).

Chinese Work Culture

China and India have almost similar cultural orientations i.e., they are both collectivism cultures. However, China displays out of normal ranges when compared to India (Hofstede 2016). The dominant cultural practices of Chinese are characterised by strong collectivistic, hierarchy, group-oriented, masculinity, and with relative tendencies to bend laws to suit specific circumstances.

Chinese believe that not all people are supposed to be equal. Hence, a stronger tendency to recognise junior-superior relationship is vital for human resource managers. Moreover, one juniors lack any protection from their superiors when excessive power is applied. Formal authority and sanctions work well in Chinese organisations. Furthermore, employees should not aspire to achieve new status beyond their ranks.

The interest of the group is extremely important for Chinese workers at the expense of their own. In-group considerations imply that family members are most likely to be hired, promoted and to get preferential treatment relative to outsiders. Chinese engagement with their organisations tends to be low, but not necessarily with individuals in an organisation. While Chinese advance cooperative relationships with in-group colleagues, they display rejection or even hostility towards outsiders. Further, Chinese consider personal relationships as extremely important relative to task and company relations. Employees’ commitments are directed towards families that support their own interests. Chinese prefer practices that support family, education, and self-advancement. High performers want to remain anonymous in a group, but personal relations drive work. In addition, highly cohesive workgroups where social fabrics are stronger tend to appeal to many Chinese workers. In such instances, they tend to display loyalty to companies and respect their managers.

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German Work Culture

Germany thrives on cultural practices defined by relative egalitarian, rule-based, challenge to leadership to demonstrate best performance, and high skills oriented. Punctuality is important, task schedules are adhered to closely, and quality, detailed information is required for effective decision-making. That is, Germans value professionalism (Kavalchuk 2011). In companies, laws are followed to protect employee and individual rights. Co-determination is practiced with regard to rights, and they significantly influence management decisions. In this case, employees’ inputs are collected for policy formulation and strategic decision-making for an organisation. Moreover, a systematic overview must be presented in order to proceed (Hofstede 2016). Hence, details are needed to ensure certainty and demonstrate that a specific task is sufficiently thought out to avoid uncertainty. Individual own decisions are important, and managers are not necessarily responsible for some individual decisions. In this case, Germans thrive on expertise to realise expected goals in uncertain environments.

Germans are individualistic people. Hence, individuals tend to believe in self-actualisation while relationships are restricted to parents and children. German workers tend to demonstrate loyalty purely on individual preferences, a sense of duty and responsibility. Hence, contracts between employees and employers are used guide relationships. Germans are good communicators and tend to be honest with the notion that honesty is key even if it hurts. At the same time, other individuals have fair chances to learn from their mistakes.

Germans are masculine and, therefore, they highly value their achievements. They tend to live to work and derive a sense of self-esteem and fulfilment from their jobs. Senior executives must be assertive and decisive, which implies that they must make critical decisions when required. Germans value their status and often use luxurious items, such as technical gadgets and cars to display it.

As demonstrated by cultural dimensions, China, India, and Germany obviously have diverse cultural practices, but with minimal exceptions. Hall had presented cultural research that drew a distinction between high-context and low-context cultures (Moser et al. 2011). In China, for instance, they are regarded as members of high-context cultures in which clues and gestures are highly used in communications. Hence, interpretation and conversion are used to decipher meanings in communication within Chinese cultural contexts.

As such, managers must understand that Chinese would communicate using non-verbal signals. On the other hand, low-context cultures relatively have limited use of non-verbal signs. Germany is considered as a low-context country in which employees from there could experience multiple communication challenges when they engage their Chinese counterparts. Thus, it is imperative for the new HR manager to comprehend why various cultures communicate in different fashions and why it is necessary to develop a thriving business by understanding fundamental aspects of cultures.

Employee Motivation

Employee motivation has been linked to increased work performance. Organisations focused on strategic execution of organisational goals would need satisfied and motivated staff in their workforce (Osibanjo et al. 2014). Motivation influences how employees respond to task performance, and employee motivation is seen as a challenge that managers face when they attempt to implement changes that would enhance performance (Manzoor 2012). A lack of employee motivation has been attributed to some challenges, including a loss of competitive advantage derived from expertise of workforce. In this regard, a multinational firm should assess cultural variations and understand how they can influence motivation strategies adopted for employees.

From a general perspective, most organisations have applied principles of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to motivate their staff. However, principles of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are not specific to unique cultures and individual differences. Employees in an organisation and from different cultures tend to have diverse needs. Employee satisfaction is seen as a function of motivation, irrespective of the fact that motivation will not always lead to enhanced performance.

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According to equity model, employees tend to seek for fairness and justice in their relationships. Further, they are motivated to search for social equity and in turn, they get reward and perform better. Expectancy-based model focuses on motivation and its related attributes and effects on employee attitude. The model covers three critical elements, namely expectancy, valance, and instrumentality. Expectancy demonstrates employees’ assumption that their initiatives influence work performance. Instrumentality shows that performance eventually influences results while valance is associated with possible rewards after exceptional performance. HR managers, therefore, should understand how various theoretical models are applied to motivate employees.

Employee Involvement

Employee involvement demonstrates certain aspects of human resource practices that appreciate individual contributions and uniqueness in an organisation. Involvement in organisational activities is seen as beneficial due to employee engagement, commitment, and collective behaviour that promote positive outcomes in their roles. Employee involvement is responsible for enhanced organisational success and realisation of strategic objectives. Involvement may include teamwork, participative activities, and other programmes that require collaboration.

Teamwork

Teamwork is a cooperative work by a group of employees in an organisation. In this case, individual inputs result in greater outcomes when delivered through teamwork. Teamwork is generally intended to enhance performance, problem solving, team cohesiveness, knowledge sharing, and decision-making to improve outcomes in a global context in which cultural diversity is a critical issue. Team formation may undergo different stages and experiences, but the most important aspect is effective management of each process to ensure that the team is cohesive and functional to improve effectiveness and efficiency in execution of tasks (Tarricone & Luca 2003).

In cross-cultural contexts, employees tend to communicate differently because of their diverse cultural orientations. In some cases, miscommunication usually arises. For instance, as previously pointed out, a manager from western culture must understand various non-verbal aspects of communications inherent in Chinese. In this regard, members of a cross-cultural team must comprehend and appreciate possible communication differences and other related cultural challenges that could cause conflicts in a team. Possible deep-rooted traditions, employee status, as well as societal practices related to individualism and collectivism are critical for consideration in a team environment.

Work Performance

In any organisation, employees are expected to work as a team in order to deliver exceptional performances. Thus, HR managers must pay attention to specific factors that influence work performance in their subsidiaries and the entire organisation. In this case, cross-cultural elements affect employee relations and eventually work performance (Congden, Matveev, & Desplaces 2009). Individualistic work group members tend to perform better on individualised roles relative to shared roles while collectivistic work group members have demonstrated higher work performances on shared roles. In addition, individualistic employees do not prefer group tasks because of group recognition rather than individual recognition, as well as opportunities for other members to free ride. Thus, failure to recognise personal efforts cannot work in such cultures. Work performance has been improved in some cultures by adopting techniques that reduce wastage and eliminate processes that do not add value to outcomes. In addition, employees can rely on their diverse experiences, skills, and knowledge to deliver better results for stakeholders.

The Company’s Employee Involvement Strategy

Employee Motivation: Opportunities and Challenges

It has been observed that cultural variations across China, India, and Germany require different approaches to employee motivation. However, similar motivation practices that relate to masculinity may apply to all these countries.

In China, the company motivational strategies should be culturally sensitive. In this regard, the head of HR should use a collective strategy to promote teamwork and work performance in a collective setting. Individual recognition is not encouraged to enhance harmony in the company. Intrinsic motivational approaches would help in strategy implementation because of traditions and loyalty to the organisation. Extrinsic motivation would be applied because of salaries and job security. These practices in the Chinese work setting will also apply to Indian subsidiary because they share some cultural practices. However, in the Indian subsidiary, application of both intrinsic and extrinsic techniques would be moderate to reflect different scores in cultural inclinations. Challenges are observed, however, in these two settings. Equity in motivation could be difficult for the entire subsidiaries. Thus, fairness is imperative to ensure job involvement and satisfaction.

In German subsidiary, employees will gladly embrace performance-based compensation. Thus, payment and reward systems linked to expertise and performance would boost performance and ensure success of the subsidiary. Moreover, individual recognition would also play a critical role in enhancing individualised task completion. However, employees may underperform in the German subsidiary, and they may challenge the motivation strategy. In this case, other employees should also be reward based on different performance criteria to ensure inclusion. Non-financial aspects of motivation, such as shares, flexible work schedules, health schemes, and other related benefits can motivate employees.

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Employee Involvement: Opportunities and Challenges

The HR manager will consider every employee as unique and contributes towards organisational goals differently. As such, the strategy should enhance individual recognition and commitment by assessing factors related to collectivism and individualism in cross-cultural subsidiaries.

In the Chinese subsidiary, opportunities for employee involvement could be derived from high power distance practices. This strategy would ensure that Chinese workers are loyal to superiors and demonstrate stronger commitment to the company and, thus, employees would not resist the strategy. Such opportunities exist when the the HR manager uses financial reward systems involving pension funds, pay increment, and bonuses to involve employees, which result in increased participation and decision-making abilities. Moreover, the HR manager will also introduce strategies that protect employment and guarantee job security through job contracts based on the employment laws and regulations of the country.

In addition to the above-mentioned engagement strategies, the Indian subsidiary will also require promotion and opportunities to experience other cultures in the German subsidiary, for instance (Nigam & Su 2013). However, one must recognise that this strategy may meet some forms of resistance because Chinese are always interested in families that focus on their own, implying that cases of nepotism would increase significantly at work while the caste system may block possible promotions. Moreover, the company must understand variations in expertise across Germany, China, and India subsidiary. This means that work quality and continuous improvement efforts will be required for enhanced productivity to meet standards of other subsidiaries. In fact, major issues arise from individual involvement and expertise, executive support, and favourable work environments for Indians and Chinese.

The German subsidiary will find opportunities in decisions that support individual involvements in work and decision-making processes. Germans would also embrace reward systems that recognise individual contributions. Such strategy focuses on employee commitment and loyalty to the company to avoid possible cases of losing highly talented workforce. Thus, profit and share schemes, individualised training for further skills acquisition and other individualised rewards, such as cars, could enhance involvement. One major challenge in the German subsidiary is associated with strict labour laws. Any related agencies can intervene and force the company to adjust its practices to meet certain uniform standards in a sector.

Teamwork: Opportunities and Challenges

The strategy would involve creating work groups that are more robust to enhance collaboration, knowledge sharing, and positive synergy. Employees will be expected to create cohesive functional teams that facilitate high performance. It is imperative to provide well-documented guidelines and performance goals to guide a team. Employee selection for a work group should be based on required skills and cross-cultural factors. Such a team would demonstrate its problem-solving capabilities, a sense of trust, and abilities to meet set targets.

Chinese subsidiary teamwork opportunities would be derived from high collectivist, communication driven by high-context, group conformity, and the practice that teamwork and team performance are important than individual performances. These approaches will also be applied in the case of Indian subsidiary to ensure that well-established practices are promoted for enhanced employee performance collectively. Within a work group, one must observe that communications within a high-context culture could be difficult. That is, it is indirect, requires interpretation, ambiguous, and modest and, thus, more time is necessary to create understanding. Thus, communication issues could derail teamwork in China and India.

In Germany, teamwork opportunities can be realised through attention to details, strict schedules, work ownership, diverse expertise, timely practices, and goal-oriented approaches. However, the German setting could present cultural conflict, particularly when employees from high-context communication cultures are a part of a work group due to misunderstanding and miscommunication. In addition, the German context is generally defined by individualism rather than collectivism. In this case, teamwork may be difficult to realise since employees would prioritise their individual tasks instead of work group. While employees in Germany may work hard, the same input may not be found in the other two subsidiaries.

Work Performance: Opportunities and Challenges

Work performance strategy focuses on elimination of waste and improving efficiency and effectiveness across all subsidiaries. Employees would also require training to improve cross-cultural awareness, tolerance, competencies, and motivation. Feedback will be required to determine effectiveness of ongoing changes. In China and India, employees would be assigned shared responsibilities and tasks to improve team performance. Training would ensure that employees become effective and reduce wasteful practices, which are constituents of non-added values. Any rewards should promote collective task performance and shared achievements to ensure moral motivation and enhanced employee commitment to the company. This strategy, however, will suffer the drawback of variations in levels of employee expertise.

In Germany, employees would find opportunities to excel in individualised tasks that ensure they are rewarded for their stellar performances. The HR manager should support such a strategy with a formal appraisal to ensure fairness in HR procedures and processes. For employees, an appraisal system that focuses on monetary rewards and promotion based on individual performance and task accomplishment would eventually increase work performance. One major drawback is the tendency of individuals to free ride when they work as a part of work groups because they believe that personal inputs are not recognised and appreciated.

Conclusion

In the global environment, employees are extremely important for multinational firms because of competitive advantage. Thus, the HR management must ensure employee motivation and satisfaction. The report is about employee involvement strategy in three different cultures, including India, China, and Germany. The HR manager should recognise opportunities and challenges for the company in Germany, India, and China. The report showed that the company should understand various cross-cultural aspects and then define the most suitable strategy in order to enhance positive outputs while minimising negative ones.

Recommendations

The report shows opportunities and challenges for the company in cross-cultural settings. Employee involvement strategy should account for variations in cultures and advance participatory practices. Different subsidiaries need different techniques for employee motivation, teamwork, and work performance to ensure productivity. Further, employee training on cross-cultural awareness, skills acquisition, and communication can enhance team cohesiveness, competencies, and performance.

The HR manager should develop contextual communication strategies and conflict management to reduce negative aspects of cross-cultural elements. High performance and work group should be promoted to ensure that all subsidiaries work towards a single goal of improving overall organisational performance. In addition, some cultures require specific strategies for skills development, quality improvement efforts, decision-making, productivity, and organisational commitment. It is imperative for the HR manager to understand the relevance of individualism, collectivism, power distance, low-context and high-context communications when they assign tasks to individuals and groups to ensure that intended goals are achieved.

Reference List

Boopathi, SN 2014, ‘A detailed comparison of Finland and India through Hofstede & globe study’, Global Review of Research in Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure Management, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 72-101.

Congden, SW, Matveev, AV & Desplaces, DE 2009, ‘Cross-cultural communication and multicultural team performance: A German and American comparison’, Journal of Comparative International Management, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 73-89.

Gupta, S & Bhaskar, AU 2016, ‘Doing business in India: cross-cultural issues in managing human resources’, Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 184 – 204. doi: 10.1108/CCSM-09-2014-0112.

Hofstede, G 2016, Cultural dimensions, Web.

Kavalchuk, A 2011, Cross-cultural management: How to do business with Germans, GIZ, Germany.

Manzoor, Q-A 2012, ‘Impact of employees motivation on organizational effectiveness’, European Journal of Business and Management, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 36-44.

Moser, R, Migge, T, Lockstroem, M & Neumann, J 2011, ‘Exploring Chinese cultural standards through the lens of German managers: A case study approach’, IIMB Management Review, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 102–109. doi: 10.1016/j.iimb.2011.02.002.

Nigam, R & Su, Z 2013, ‘Cross-cultural management of an Indian multinational in its western subsidiaries: An exploratory study’, Transnational Corporations Review, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 30-45.

Osibanjo, OA, Adeniji, AA, Falola, HO & Heirsmac, PT 2014, ‘Compensation Packages: A Strategic Tool for Employees’ Performance and Retention’, Leonardo Journal of Sciences, no. 25, pp. 65-84.

Tarricone, P & Luca, J 2003, Successful teamwork: A case study, Web.

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