As the world around us gets smaller, globalization will be in more areas and impact organizations. Organizational behavior is impacted by globalization and in this lesson we will discuss that aspect.
Globalization and Organizational Behavior
The term globalization has been a buzzword now for many years. It's one of those words that is easier to describe than it is to define. However, the generally accepted meaning of globalization is the integration of world politics, economies and cultures from one country or countries with another country or countries. This integration also includes and is not limited to countries' educational, and perhaps religious views. In practical terms it can also refer to the relinquishing of any trade barriers or tariffs that results in uninhibited economic development across all countries. Globalization in this context often refers to the idea that instead of having many different markets, all the world is one gigantic market.
In plain English, what we are talking about is the impact of one culture and all its aspects (economy, religion, etc.) on another culture. Let me give you some examples:
- We might see a child walking down the street in Dubai wearing a Michael Jordan jersey, which is an effect of globalization.
- There are countries working with other countries to minimize carbon emissions thus reducing pollution, which is an effect of globalization.
- Having two companies from different parts of the world come together to develop a product - that too is globalization.
I hope that you're seeing a pattern here. Globalization is not a one-dimensional term. Any time aspects of one country influence another (economically, culturally or politically), globalization is usually at play. Many people look at globalization from just a business perspective, but there are underlying issues in how globalization relates to organizational behavior.
Challenges Managers Face
As one could imagine, there are unique challenges that arise when a manager must deal with globalization. You see, due to the diversity that is inherent in globalization, managers now must deal with a more expansive list of issues and challenges, many of which are unique.
Organizations that have operations around the world pose a unique problem to the organizational behavior. Each location has its own view of observed holidays, communication, organizational change and gender and a manager must consider all these aspects. All of these aspects, and more, make up a country's economy, culture and politics. While it is true to some extent these issues are present in a local environment, this issue has more complexity to it when there are overseas operations involved.
For example, how does a manager deal with attendance of employees when there are different religious and historical holidays around the world, all on different days and for different lengths of time? Think of the unique challenge a manager would have in scheduling work to be done, when different offices overseas observe different holidays at different times. How does a manager bring together a team of individuals from around the world, when one country could be feuding with another?
Maybe individuals from the feuding sides have knowledge or resources the manager needs to complete a task, and he or she has to determine how to make that work. These are all real-world issues a global manager must work with, and as globalization spreads, the influence of countries upon countries will spread as well.
Communication issues are present and pose a unique challenge as well. I'm not just referring to talking to individuals but also how communication between a manager and employees differs from country to country. In India, for example, a manager is never challenged when he or she gives direction, whereas in the U.S., many companies and organizations allow managerial decisions to be challenged.
If a manager in Nebraska is unaware of this issue, he or she might not get honest feedback from his or her subordinates working in the division in New Delhi. It's important to be aware of these differences and account for them when managing a company with worldwide locations. Other questions are worth asking as well: Does the manager entering the market change the structure and workflow of the overseas business unit? And if so, will that change work for the culture present?
Look at it from the perspective of an American walking into the offices of an overseas company and beginning to change the organizational structure of that location. There are different viewpoints present as to how organizations should be structured, and imposing the American way on an overseas location may not be the right answer.
Finally, there may be gender issues to deal with. There are countries around the world where women are looked at as inferior to men in responsibility or even ability. Therefore, when a manager sends an American female executive into one of these markets to conduct business, it comes with a unique set of challenges that are not present here in the United States.
Challenges are present in all forms of management and business. However, as the world gets smaller and globalization spreads, there is more interaction between different cultures and viewpoints.
The positive side of this is that the world, as a whole, learns. We learn other perspectives, thoughts, and ideas, which help shape our own world. However, there are challenges that relate to globalization as well and a manager must be aware of them in order to have a functioning organization. Communication, gender, holidays and change are all issues that take on a different perspective when globalization is present.
When this lesson is over, you should be able to:
- Describe globalization
- Discuss issues managers face with different cultures