Multinational corporations (MNC)s, also termed international corporations, transnational or stateless corporations (Voorhees, Seim, &. Coppett, 1992) are organizations that develop, own, provide, and produce their services or goods in more than one country other than their home base. Operating across various countries presents challenges in terms of managing employees from afar. With this in mind, the purpose of this paper is three-fold. First, the paper will discuss multinational teams and the ways in which MNC leaders monitor and manage their members. Second, some typical barriers to communication of MNCs teams in comparison to local teams are discussed. Third, best practices used by MNCs to mitigate the barriers to communication are examined.
Multinational corporations face challenges in terms of cross-cultural communication (He & Liu, 2010). Communication, accordingly, is the method in which employees and managers can work together toward the overall goal or vision of the organization. For this working relationship to exists, it is necessary that team leaders have the understanding of the overall goals of the company and be able to ensure their followers understand these goals. This presents a challenge in determining how to get people to understand each other when they do not share a common culture, or in some cases, a common language. Managing cross-culturally diverse teams is a difficult issue. The cultural experiences of individuals influence communication between peoples of other cultures. In the same vein, leadership style is also influenced by individual culture (He & Liu, 2010).
Communication system – or a system to communicate the informal and formal rules – is very important in international knowledge transfer in MNCs. This requires a shared meaning of these rules so that every member has an in-depth understanding of the rules (He & Liu, 2010). This requires a number of methods to ensure shared understanding. Flexibility is important to MNCs as belief systems may not conform. In this way, it is important that individuals are not judged on basis of race or religion. It is also important that leaders gain a good understanding of the cultural differences and values. It is also important that leaders do not impose their individual values or beliefs on their team members or followers. In a team working situation, it is vital that there are no communication gaps as this will cause suffering for the whole team. It is beneficial, therefore, to come up with communication system that is effective. Leaders should also be mindful of gestures and how they may not have a shared meaning.
Communication is vital to competent management. Communication, however, requires a shared language or level or understanding. Due to globalization, intercultural communication presents with challenges to managers in MNCs (He & Liu, 2010). Culture is the “software of the mind (Hofstede, 1997, p.4). Culture influences individual’s patterns of thinking. Multinational corporations face a challenge in cross-cultural communication. To overcome these barriers, it is vital that managers understand cross-cultural communication and diversity. These barriers may include differences in language or methods of communication or simply the meaning prescribed to certain words of phrases. Research identifies best practices specifically for addressing multinational corporation leadership (Goldman, 2000). These best practices involve employee development, building rapport and emotional bonds, and sharing a vision to embrace change.
A team is comprised of individuals whose purpose it is to accomplish a common purpose (Stewart, Manz, & Sims, 2000). Providing clear direction and maintaining good interpersonal relationships are characteristic of successful functioning teams. Providing clear direction is vital so each team member understands the requirements of the position. Teams are only valuable if each individual member has the knowledge and skills needed to complete the task. Successful teams go through five stages: forming, norming, storming, performing and adjournment (Stewart, et al., 2000). Forming is a time for the team to get acquainted and assess the rules, identify goals and determine conflict resolution strategies. Storming is a stage in which conflicts arise and some members will become passive. Norming is the stage in which members start to become cohesive. Performing happens when there is a channel of energy toward the task or goal. Adjournment happens after the goals are successfully completed.
To summarize, MNCs face challenges in communication due to cultural differences. These cultural differences influence how communication is interpreted. Managers in MNCs must emerge themselves in the culture to gain a better understanding of the nuances in communication styles and gestures. Best practices for team engagement involve employee development, building rapport and emotional bonds, and sharing a vision to embrace change. Providing clear direction and maintaining good interpersonal relationships are characteristic of successful functioning teams. Providing clear direction is vital so each team member understands the requirements of the position. Teams are only valuable if each individual member has the knowledge and skills needed to complete the task. Successful teams go through five stages: forming, norming, storming, performing and adjournment (Stewart, et al., 2000).
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