Communication in a multicultural workplace: as easy as 1, 2, 3?

Curtis, Hannah and Cachia, Moira ORCID: (2014) Communication in a multicultural workplace: as easy as 1, 2, 3? In: UWL Teaching and Learning Conference 2014, 24 Jun 2014, London, UK. (Unpublished)

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Communication takes place between two or more people, and is deemed an interpersonal relationship (DeVito, 2014). Therefore one person’s actions will influence another’s. When this process takes place within one culture, it can be considered difficult, however when communication is used in a multicultural setting, it can be considered nearly impossible (Lanier, 2010). The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (Hussein, 2012) indicates that speakers of different languages have different cognitive and perceptive abilities, thus suggesting that each language has its own worldview. Indeed, Quine (1960) conceded, and argued that language can affect culture. However, “…it is just as important to learn the non-verbal communication of a culture as it is to learn the language.” (Perkins, 2008: 169).
Evidence shows that people are moving between cultures for various reasons such as work or studies (Office for National Statistics, 2013), thus individuals will take their cultural communication styles with them. As culture varies across regions, verbal and non-verbal communication differs (Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 2010). A homogenous sample of four participants were interviewed using in-depth semi-structured interviews where participants were encouraged to explore their experiences of communication in a cross-cultural work setting. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) (Smith & Osborn, 2011) was used to analyse the participants’ accounts of their experiences.
The results of this study found that the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis has an active role in communication, as though one may be fluent in English, there are deficiencies in understanding social protocols, language etiquette and social customs. Non-verbal communication is also key, as relationships, dress code, body language, and time are all factors. Consequently, implications are evident for multi-cultural organisations, specifically towards management, who need to ensure there is a constant and consistent level of communication to enhance their employees’ effectiveness and efficiency.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Subjects: Social sciences > Communication and culture
Business and finance
Depositing User: Moira Cachia
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2015 07:47
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:18


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