Benefits of Cross-Cultural Communication

his article defines cross-cultural communication and explaines the its benefits to organisations.A full text of this article is 1049 and 7 pages long.Formal organizations are becoming bigger and bigger. Organizations that used to trade in a single cultural society are now spreading their wings internationally thereby demanding that they study the science of cross-cultural communication. In this paper the author is going to discuss the importance of cross-cultural communication in formal organizations.

Cross-cultural communication by definition is "A form of communication between people from different culture; both an interactive process whereby we refer back to our culture when in contact with another, and a source of misunderstanding stemming from the different meanings given to a particular massage, be it verbal or non-verbal" According to cross-cultural communication " a field of study that looks at how people from different cultural backgrounds communicate, in similar and different ways among themselves, and how they endeavor to communicate across cultures"

Cultural influences are an inherent aspect of all communications. The term 'culture' refers to the sum of language, values, beliefs, habits and practices shared by a large group of people. These characteristics comprise the cultural context of communication. Cultures sometimes correspond with political boundaries of nations, but this is not always the case. For instance, countries like the USA and Soviet Union are pluralistic societies, meaning more than one culture exist within their boarders. That means organization working in these territories need to use cross-cultural communication.

According to Vengesai [1993:52] the biggest cross-cultural communication method used by organizations is advertising. It has been proven that organizations that advertise maximize their profits due to the promotion and broadening of their customer basis. Vengesai says advertising is a cross-cultural communication because it originated in western consumer societies where advertising can be seen as information as well as a producer of symbolic meaning. Advertising had the capacity to bring foreign life-style and development to primitive and underdeveloped societies by changing people's beliefs, norms, inclinations and attitudes. Golding [1974:43] suggest '...that static societies are brought to life by outside influences, technical aid, knowledge, resources and by diffusion of ideas.'

Cross-cultural communication encourages international team working which is a key to the promotion of the principles of formal organizations. For example, it promotes the sharing of information and experiences as well as assisting in the dissemination of methodologies adopted by the organizations. Furthermore, the heterogeneity of cross-cultural teams had been found to encourage innovation

Cross-cultural communication benefits formal organization in sharing common goals. It ensures that everyone remain focused on the same goals and objectives keeping up- to-date. Encouraging individuals to collaborate internationally, rather than working only within their home country, helps the organization ensures that all of its members are sharing knowledge. Access to this wide range of information helps everyone to keep their work up-to-date and of high quality.

Members in a formal organization benefit experience from others through cross-cultural communication. Chen[2006] says:
There are potentially many sources of diversity in teams
[Milliken/Martins1996] but one of the clearest distinguishing features
of global teams is that team members are drawn from different
countries and will often speak different languages...One of the most
common reasons for global teams is to leverage the knowledge and
skills of diverse team members [Lagerstrom/Anderson2003].In skilled
tasks, a team with diverse skills will generally outperform teams that
lack certain skills or are unable to coordinate them successfully. For
instance in decision making, research suggests that diversity in
membership increases the number of solutions offered and alternatives
considered. Chen S. Management International Review Dec 2006

Members in a formal organization help each other to avoid duplication and maximize economy of effort. Having people from different backgrounds working together on projects and reviewing each other's work helps to minimize bias.

Research shows that heterogeneous groups are more creative than homogenous groups. Heterogeneous groups tend to consider issues from a broader range of perspectives than homogeneous groups and so generate wider range of ideas. Hence cross-cultural communication promotes greater creativity in organizations.

Cross-cultural communication promotes continuous improvement. Heterogeneous groups often question each other more than homogenous groups; frequent challenge of the status quo helps to ensure that opportunities for improvement are always considered.

Cross-cultural communication is not only important to an organization but to its clients as well. Research has shown that cross-cultural communication promotes team working and helps to increase the flexibility and responsiveness of the organization. International teams should help to ensure that the organization is focusing on the most appropriate products at an international level, and that appropriate considerations are given to local needs and requirements. They also help to ensure that these products are addressed and presented in a way that is relevant to people-thus cross-cultural communication make organizations improves greater relevance of its products to its clients.

Cross-cultural communication or international team working promotes the work of an organization at an international level that has a direct impact on dissemination of the organization's output. Not only is it likely to influence availability of information, it is also likely to impact on the way in which information is presented. In short, cross-cultural communication promotes access to organization information.

Despite the benefits of cross-cultural communication people of different cultural backgrounds are likely to have different attitudes toward hierarchy etcetera. However, it has been proved that the advantages of cross-cultural communication far outweigh the setbacks. Organizations are developing strategies to counter these setbacks. For example, to counter the lack of a common language between societies, a lingua franca is used as a means of communication between different communities. This is to prove that cross-cultural communication is important in formal organizations.

1- Rosenbaum T. 'Effective Communication Skills', Cornell Local Roads Program 2005
2- 'The Guide to Employee Communication' Pitman ,1990
3- Kuhudzai 'Introduction to Communication' ZOU 1999
4- Fiske,J 'Introduction to Communication Studies' London: Rout ledge 1982
5- Holliday, M.A.K 'Language as Social Semiotic: The Social Interpretation of Language & meaning .' London: Edward 1978

Etiwel Mutero holds a  Bsc Honors Degree in Records and Archives Management through the Zimbabwe Open University. You can contact Etiwel on His Mobile phone 263913614293 or email

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