Bjornstad, A. A. & Ulleberg, P. (2017). Is established knowledge about cross-cultural differences in individualism-collectivism not applicable to the military? A multi-method study of cross-cultural differences in behavior. Military Psychology, 29(6), 477-490
Apart from globalization demanding organizations to send their employees to work overseas, there are those ones that demand workers to work in international teams to handle foreign issues. In this regard, some theories that focus on the personal characteristics of the members of such a team and how the members interact become relevant. Cultural differences among the members of the team can influence the performance of the team and even though the differences can be used for the benefit of the team, levels of conflict among the members can be high with weaker coordination efforts (Troster, Mehra & Knippenberg, 2014). Singh (n.d) points out that parochialism, individualism, ethnocentrism, culture shock, and cultural distance are some of those barriers that challenge people when working multicultural teams in a foreign environment. The barriers are claimed to be there because, the selection criteria used to recruit people for international projects are mostly focused on their work performance at the local level and their technical expertise. Cultural differences are not considered and their impacts on how the individual is able to work with others as a team are usually assumed. The article by Bjornstad & Ulleberg (2017) seeks to establish how the military people sent to work as global teams are prepared to manage cultural differences that affect teamwork. The authors examine the individualism and collectivism cultural orientations that mostly influence how people collaborate. Using Hofestede’s and Soeters models, the article establishes whether military contexts are different from the civilian contexts in terms of how cultural differences affect their global operations. The article is found at the Ashford University’s library. Anne Lise Bjornstad is a researcher in the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment in Kjeller, Norway and Pal Ulleberg is a senior lecturer at the University of Oslo, Norway.
An introduction to the field of International Military Operations, Global Cultural Differences, and Cultural Orientations Model
Just as globalization is appreciated to be a phenomenon that is after creating a global society building a common economy, it seems cultural differences are no longer important as they are supposed to disappear. That is, the dominant cultures are making the minority cultures become extinct. Thus, in the global environment, everyone is expected to speak the language that is most preferred professionally and any cultural difference should not be given much attention (Sheng, 2016). Lindberg (1996) informs that the international military operations are failing today because; the wars they are to end are mostly within countries and not among countries as it were in the past. Therefore, the military are usually shocked to find the influence of the local cultures on their task. In Vietnam for example, the military failed and the American leaders that were in charge of the project accepted that the failure was because of not taking interest to find out the force of the local culture there. To them they established the importance of first performing a cultural analysis of the country targeted and preparing the military accordingly. The cultural orientations model discussed by Walker (2017) can be of much help to the leaders that develop the strategies the military are supposed to use in their endeavors in foreign countries. That is, the tactics or the techniques the military are supposed to be using now are those that are compatible with the various cultures they are to encounter when working as an international team and the local culture of the host/targeted country. Thus, the use of the cultural orientations model enables one to identify what is culturally different, establishing how the difference can be positively managed to have the desired outcome.
The contents of the article by Bjornstad & Ulleberg (2017)
From the Hofstede’s study, it has been established that the military also are challenged with cultural differences just as the civilians do. At the global level, the military from different countries are sent to form an international team and the leaders need to establish how the individualism and collectivism differences can be well managed to make the team effective. Thus, when there is the presence of those cultures that have high individualism, the leaders can organize work to be done individually and if there are those cultures that have high collectivism, work can be done in teams. In this regard, there will be those tied to group work and there will be those engaged more to their work. Thus, the effort of preparing an international military team also involves performing a cultural analysis of its members in regards to how they are going to perform the task.
Review of the ideas and concepts of the article
Bjornstad & Ulleberg (2017) underscore that the military are not different from the civilians and the efforts the civilians employ in their businesses, workplaces, socialization, and others that are affected by cultural differences are required in their international operations. According to Walker (2017), the cultural orientations model is a framework that can be used by everyone, that is, a person, a group leader/manager, or people as a team. The framework addresses the complex nature of a foreign culture and a multicultural environment. In that it helps, people navigate how they act and interact with others from a different culture to make the environment conducive for everyone. The technique of how the international military team can accommodate individualistic and collectivistic cultures can be said to be one of those steps taken following the cultural orientations model. What is gathered from this is that rather than assuming the cultural differences, the leaders have established how the differences can be used to make the team perform better.
The reviewed article has discussed an approach that has a close relation to what the uses and aims of a cultural orientations model are. From it, it has been established that every person, a team or an organization needs to take time to be familiar with the model and apply it technically to respond positively to cultural differences. The application is a strategy to create a favorable environment for everyone and valuing the differences presented to have better outcomes.
Bjornstad, A. A. & Ulleberg, P. (2017). Is established knowledge about cross-cultural differences in individualism-collectivism not applicable to the military? A multi-method study of cross-cultural differences in behavior. Military Psychology, 29(6), 477-490.
Lindberg, M., B. (1996). Culture…a neglected aspect of war. Retrieved< http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/usmc/lindberg.htm>.
Sheng, E. (2016). How to manage cultural differences in global teams. Retrieved< https://www.fastcompany.com/3054879/how-to-manage-cultural-differences-in-global-teams>.
Singh, D. (n.d). Managing cross-cultural diversity: Issues and challenges in global organizations. IOSR Journal of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, 43-50.
Troster, C., Mehra, A. & Knippenberg, D. (2014). Structuring for team success: The interactive effects of network structure and cultural diversity on team potency and performance. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Process, 124(2), 245-255.
Walker (2017). Doing business internationally 2nd ed.: Global environment: The cultural orientations model. New York: McGraw-Hill Education
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