Misunderstanding Between High and Low Context Cultures Abstract

MisunderstandingBetween High and Low Context Cultures


Inrecent years, the landscape of conflict throughout the world hasexperienced major changes. There are a lot of changes in the study ofconflict management and how to resolve it because many techniques ofresolving conflicts have emerged. This literature review examines themisunderstanding between high and low context cultures regarding workand more specifically time issues at work. The paper will firstintroduce the topic and will provide a review of literature. Thepaper will provide guidelines on how the research problem can beaddressed using the various methodologies. The paper will alsopresent various treatments of both quantitative and qualitativemethods to the analysis and design of the problems of conflict.Finally, the paper will conclude by offering the possibility resultsand implications.

Inthe twenty-first century the methods applied to conflicts are morebrutal than before and the methods used in resolving conflicts aremore sophisticated than in the past, leaving a gap between conflictand resolution of these conflicts[ CITATION Zar07 l 1033 ].Thepurpose of this paper is to examine the misunderstanding between highand low context cultures regarding work and more specifically timeissues at work. Culture is a collective programing of the mind thatdifferentiates members of a particular group from another, forexample, a member of one country from another.

Thereis always a misunderstanding in an organization when it comes to theissues of time because of the difference in culture. When people moveto foreign countries to start businesses, cultural collisions will beexperienced because people of that country have their own culturesthat are different from the foreigners’[ CITATION Kaf06 l 1033 ].Forexample, when a person from China that has a high context culturesstarts a business in the USA that has a low context culture, he willexperience problems and misunderstanding with his employees andclients because the Chinese and Americans have different cultures.Different cultures have their own ways of treating time, thusbecoming an issue in the workplace.


Themisunderstanding between high and low context cultures regarding workand more specifically time issues at work have always been a problemfor many businesses. Since the beginning of the 21stcentury, there has been an increased urgency to resolve culturalconflicts in the workplace. According to the recent researchconducted by Hofstede (2010), there are four dimensions of nationalculture difference and they are Power distance, uncertaintyavoidance, long versus short-term orientation, masculinity versusfemininity, and individualism versus collectivism. Power distanceinvolves the equality or inequality that exists between people in thesociety of a country. It establishes whether wealth and power arefree to grow within a society. Uncertainty avoidance focuses on thelevel of intolerance in relation to uncertainty and ambiguity in asociety. Masculinity versus femininity focuses on the degree asociety is able to reinforce the work of traditional masculine. Allthese determine the culture of individuals and will determine howthey work as employees.

Culturaldifferences influences organization in three different ways. First,people are attracted to working or contracting with organizationsthat they are familiar with in relation to beliefs, values, andattitudes: this will affect the functioning of foreign businesses ina country. Because people tend to categorize themselves into groupsthey will treat those in their group with favoritism and othermembers will be treated unfairly as they are believed to beoutsiders. This proves that misunderstandings caused by culturaldifferences affect businesses negatively because it makes the processof socialization more difficult, especially for outsiders[ CITATION Sta10 l 1033 ].

Culturaldifferences in the workplace if not taken care of will lead todemotivation of employees. This arises when employees are treatedunfairly because they are outsiders. The employees’ emotions willbe disrupted due to unfair treatment received and this will make themreduce their efforts in performing their activities. This will causeconflicts in an organization among employees because employees whoare treated unfairly may undermine the other employees and this canlead to violence. In order to ensure productivity of an employee ismaintained or improved, employers should treat all employees fairlyregardless of culture. This will motivate employees from differentcultures to put all their efforts in achieving the objectives of thecompany, thus improving the performance of the company[ CITATION Her11 l 1033 ].

Eachculture has a unique concept of time and the ways they manage theirtime is different. Different cultures treat them in different ways,such as past, present and future. This creates a misunderstanding inorganizations between high and low context cultures[ CITATION Edw90 l 1033 ].Recentinitiatives have proposed that one needs to close the organizationand start it in another place where there is no much difference inculture. In addition, one can remain in the country, but do notcooperate with other organizations. Should just be there and aim atachieving its objectives. Finally, the company can decide to remainin the community and accept all situations that a different culturebrings to the business. The first and the second solutions will makethe business to go out of operations. The best solution is the thirdone, which encourages businesses to accept the rules brought about bydifferent cultures.

Withrapid development in technology, transportation and global economythe world has become a small community. This increases interactionsamong people of different cultures. Successful businesses in thecontemporary society depend on effective globalization, whichinvolves treating employees fairly despite their different cultures.Employers should develop a trans-cultural vision and they shouldcommunicate these to other employees. This will attract investors andexperts to a country that embraces globalization thus improving theeconomic conditions of that country[ CITATION Tin12 l 1033 ].

Inchina the cultural misunderstanding, especially the one related totime has been eliminated because the country has improved on itscommunication efficiency both in work and in privacy. Employers areencouraged to discuss everything with their employees in advance. Thedecisions that are commonly agreed will be announced before a meetingin order to prepare individuals well for the meeting and keep timeduring the discussions. This makes outsiders feel fully accepted inthe country, thus contributing to the growth of the economy.


Thesubject of this research is conflict analysis and resolution inrelation to misunderstandings that exist between high and low contextcultures especially in issues of the time. The subject provides me asa researcher with an opportunity to produce a report concerning thisconflict and how the conflict can be resolved. The subject will actas a guideline on how I will develop research questions, and how thequestions developed will be addressed by various methodologies.


Aqualitative approach will be used to examine the situation ofcultural misunderstanding in relation to time in the workplace.Qualitative technique that will be used in this project is aninterview. This will help in exploring the extent these conflictshave affected organizations and henceforth providing solutions tothese conflicts. Through interviews method, data will be collectedthat will then be analyzed to arrive at a conclusion. Although theinterview method will be more time intensive, the individualizednature of the structured interview will be aimed at conflict analysisand resolution in relation to misunderstandings that exist betweenhigh and low context cultures especially in issues of the time.

Interviewmethod tends to yield more information that is considered detailedunlike questionnaires. Besides, certain types of confidentialinformation can be gathered through interviews that a person may notbe confident to put into writing[ CITATION Dru05 l 1033 ].Open-endedquestions will be applied because it is effective in identifying theframe of reference and priorities of the respondents. In addition,they will help in revealing the depth of knowledge of an individual.During the interviews, an audio recording will be done in order tofacilitate the analysis of the information after data collection isover.

Atotal of 12 questions will be developed for the purpose datacollection during the interviews. The questions are intended touncover conflicts that are related to time and which are broughtabout by differences in culture. During the interviews, everyparticipant will be allowed to express himself and providerecommendations of eliminating these conflicts. The participants willalso be allowed to decide if their identity should be revealed. Thisis critical in that it will make participants more willing tovolunteer in the provision of information. The questions that will bedesigned for the interview will be the same for all respondents. Theywill also be unbiased and will not imply to have a particularresponse. Finally, during interviews, neutral prompts will also beused in order to gain more specific responses when required.


Whenpeople move to foreign countries to start businesses, culturalcollisions will be experienced because people of that country havetheir own cultures that are different from the foreigners’. Inrelation to time in the work place, different cultures have their owndefinition of time thus creating conflicts between them. The likelyresults of the study are that the cultural conflicts affects abusiness negatively in that people from different cultures will betreated as outsiders because people tend to favor people they arefamiliar with in terms of culture. In addition, employees fromdifferent cultures from other employees will receive unfair treatmentthat will demotivate them and reduce their efforts. This will reducethe overall productivity of the business thus reducing itscompetitive strength in the industry. With rapid development intechnology, transportation and global economy the world has become asmall community and interactions among different people has increasedthus reducing the cultural differences. Organizations are urged toensure there is effective communication in the organization throughdiscussing an issue with employees in advance. This will improverelations between employees and employers, thus reducing culturalconflicts in organizations. Outsiders will feel motivated working insuch environments, thus improving the general performance of thecompany.


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