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Communication Across Cultures: An Annotated Bibliography

A Scenario
A North American company, Spot On, has remained a fledgling
enterprise across international borders, most notably in Asian and
European countries, while very successful in the U.S. Upper
management has avidly sought solutions to what appears to be
impenetrable barriers of cultural differences, though theyve always
remained unspoken. Meetings with Asian businessmen have
proven especially fruitless, with seemingly little accomplished at
each meeting. Furthermore, the upper management of Spot On
desires to hire local managers from each foreign region to help
manage operations in the international countries, aided by U.S.
employees sent to train and co-manage the operations. Yet, they
realize this collaborative effort will never come to fruition without
more effective communication. Fortunately, a notable business
consultant

revealed

understanding,

to

training

Spot
and

On

managers

strategy

the

in

need

for

cross-cultural

communication and international business etiquette. The research


department of the consulting firm has uncovered and suggested
numerous articles and the related resources that follow.
Aritz, J. & Walker, R.C. (2009, May). Group composition and
communication styles: An analysis of multicultural teams in
decision-making meetings. Journal of Intercultural Communication
Research, 38(2), 99-114. Retrieved from
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17475751003787346
Co-authors Aritz & Walker analyze multicultural teams in
decision-making meetings and use discourse analysis and
observational methods to study how member participation in

meetings changes when teams are comprised of multicultural


members (p. 99). Aritz & Walker launch their study with a review
of previous research findings on culturally diverse teams and use
these previously explored theories and concepts as a template for
study and analysis. This two-member research team conducted a
comparative analysis, studying 16 groups, composed of native
speakers of East Asian languages and native speakers of American
English (p. 103), in an effort to dissect and analyze discourse in
culturally diverse groups. Introducing an arsenal of new
communication jargon, Aritz & Walker discuss means of
measuring and tracking member contribution in group discourse
through the use of conversational overlaps, backchanneling,
latching, and turn-taking styles (p. 101-102). Aritz & Walker
present a thought-provoking study which supplements and
compliments previous studies, all of which provide insightful
findings to improve communication in diverse groups.
Barnum, C.M. (2011). What we have here is a failure to communicate:
How cultural factors affect online communication between east and
west in St. Amant, K. & Sapienza, F. (Eds.), Culture, Communication
and Cyberspace (pp. 131-141). Amityville, N.Y.: Baywood
Publishing.
This chapter, authored by Carol Barnaum, presents an analysis
of rhetorical differences in communication between Asian and
North American writers (p. 131). Citing the supporting research of
notable anthropologists, Hall and Hofstede, Barnaum looks at the
importance of low-context and high-context cultures and explores
the concept of face, a familiar and highly esteemed practice in
Asian countries. The author also explains the concepts of
individualism, collectivism, achievement culture and affiliation

culture. These and other underscored terms lay the groundwork for
the authors research, and she devotes significant coverage to
these cultural differences and their impact upon communication
styles. Rounding out this chapter is a discussion of email as a
format for business correspondence and the difficulties associated
with its use, from an international perspective. In addition,
Barnaum provides examples of actual email correspondence from
Asian writers, as she provides insightful strategies to manage the
complexity of communication in electronic format and the
implications for mismanagement of delicate international
communication.
Chang, Wei-Wen. (2009). Perspectives: Cross-Cultural adjustment in the
multinational training programme. Human Resource International,
12(5). doi: 10.1080/13678860903274331
Wei-Wen Chang focuses on training curriculums of global
corporations and their cultural appropriateness when training
beyond international borders in the study Perspectives: CrossCultural Adjustment in the Multinational Training Programme. The
author emphasizes the need for cross-cultural implementation of
training programs, citing, specifically, this study investigated the
adjustment process of a US-based multinational training
programme in Taiwan and explored programme stakeholders views
of the influence of the adjustment on programme implementation
(p. 562). Reflecting on contributions by previous researchers,
Chang acknowledges that little literature has addressed the
practice of custom-fitting training for international
implementation. According to Changs study, the most notable
impact of Taiwans cultural implementation strategy was the
translation of the entire training program into Chinese and the

favorable impact upon learners. In addition to discussing the


effect of language and translation changes, the author also
examines the aspects of ambiguity in silent language, cultural
buffers, empowerment and localization, as they pertain to
accommodative adjustments in multinational training programs
(563).
Congden, S.W., Matveev, A.V. & Desplaces, D. E. (2009). Cross-cultural
communication and multicultural team performance: A German
and American comparison. Journal of Comparative International
Management, 12(2), 73-89. Retrieved from Business Source
Complete, EBSCO. Retrieved from
http://eastcarolina.summon.serialssolutions.com
Against a backdrop of Matveev & Nelsons research using Russian
and American managers, this study examines the impact of
national culture on German and American subjects (p. 73). This
trio of authors opens their introduction with a probe into the work
of Matveev and Nelson, with intense focus on cross-cultural
competence and multicultural team performance. Next, they reveal
The Cross-cultural Communication Competence Model and its four
dimensions, comprised of interpersonal skills, team effectiveness,
cultural uncertainty, and cultural empathy (p. 75). Further, a
careful comparative analysis of German and U.S. culture is
formulated through five essential concepts of Matveev and Nelson,
including power distance, individualism, communication context,
uncertainty avoidance, and performance orientation (p. 77). Not
surprisingly, the study found a positive correlation between
competence in cross-cultural communication and performance of
multicultural teams. The study concludes with a summation of the
comparison and contrast of the two nations, and unearths the

surprising revelation that the differences between Germans and


Americans in cross-cultural communication skills are actually few
(p. 83).
Dong, K. & Liu, Y. (2010). Cross-cultural management in China. Cross
Cultural Management: An International Journal, (223-235) 17(3). doi:
10.1108/13527601011068333.
The thrust of Dong and Lius study, Cross-Cultural Management in
China is to summarize the major research that has been
conducted regarding cross-cultural issues in China, and show the
current practices on cross-cultural management in China (p. 223).
Don & Liu initiate their study with the supporting research of
Hofstede and Adler, and discuss the shift in Chinese innovation to
an international platform. Beyond their introduction, the authors
plunge into their study with an analysis of cross-cultural
management research in China and compile this information into
four research domains, including the essence of Chinese culture,
and the effects of individual characteristics on organizational
outcomes, among others (p. 225). Dong and Liu conclude their
assessment of cross-cultural management in China with an expose
of current practices in China and the strategies companies can
employ that extend beyond language acquisition to include
cultural sensitivity and cultural immersion. In closing, the
authors summarize that the most important strategies of crosscultural management in China are development of cultural
management human resources; propaganda of Chinese culture;
and cross-cultural communication through exchange (p. 235).

Keith, K.D. (2011). Introduction to cross-cultural psychology. In K.D. Keith,


(Ed.), Cross-Cultural psychology: Contemporary themes and
perspectives. (pp. 1-16). West Sussex, UK: Blackwell Publishing.
The author introduces the concept of culture as defined by leading
theorists Cohen, Matsumot, Heine, and others. Comparatively,
Keith also defines for the reader what culture is not, with a
surprising assertion, It is important to note what culture is not.
Perhaps, most importantly, culture is not synonymous with
nationality or race(p. 4). The author proceeds to define and
discuss the concept of cross-cultural psychology and to explore the
roots of its origin. Kagitcibasi and Berry define cross-cultural
psychology as the study of similarities and differences in
individual psychological and social functioning in various cultures
and ethnic groups (p. 8). The author uses this introductory
chapter to lay a structural foundation of basic principles or tenets
upon which he builds sequential chapters and topics in the book,
noting, People view and evaluate other cultures from the
perspective of their own (p.12), and despite the many cultural
differences identified by cross-cultural researchers, people in
various cultures share more commonalities than differences
(p. 12).
Keith, K.D. (2011). Ethnocentrism. In K.D. Keith, (Ed.), Cross-Cultural
psychology: Contemporary themes and perspectives. (pp. 20-33).
West Sussex, UK: Blackwell Publishing.
In the chapter Ethnocentrism, Keith introduces and defines the
concept of ethnocentrism, and posits we are all prone to elevate
our own place in our own culture as the standard against which
we judge others and to see our own as superior to others (p. 20).
Keith follows this defining introduction by exploring the

characteristics of ethnocentrism both from a classic and


contemporary view, and discusses the universal tendency of all
humans to be ethnocentric to some degree, and uncovers in this
discussion the tendency of even scientists and researchers to
practice ethnocentricity as well. Ethnocentric bias exists, not only
at levels of the individual and intergroup relations, but also, at the
level of the scientists, who study psychological phenomena across
cultures(p. 22). Finally, Keith concludes his thorough expository
of ethnocentrism by considering the psychological and biological
origins, and examines solutions to ameliorate this universally
human phenomenon. Can we reduce ethnocentrism? This
expository reveals mixed results in the effort to reduce
ethnocentrism through education and intergroup exposure.
Krajewski, S. (2011). Developing intercultural competence in multilingual
and multicultural student groups. Journal of Research in
International Education, 10 (2), 137-153. doi:
10.1177/1475240911408563
Krajewski asserts in the article Developing Intercultural Competence
in Multilingual and Multicultural Student Groups, that in times of
accelerating globalization, intercultural competence emerges as
one of the most desirable graduate capabilities for those who are
likely to work in international environments (p. 137). Grounding
thesis with a case study, the article focuses on the development of
intercultural skills with mixed groups. Intercultural competence is
a main resource for successful and effective communication and
exchange. How much can intercultural competence be learned,
and can it be learned prior to the actual experience? (p. 138).
While the author believes that intercultural competence can be
learned to a degree, the author insists that this competence must

be developed over time through real life cross-cultural experiences.


This article astutely maintains that ideally foreign language
competence should be paired with elements of emotional
intelligence and intercultural competence (p. 150), and
emphasizes the increasing need for internationalization and
intercultural competence in higher education.
Lillis, M.P. & Tian, R.G. (2009). Cross-cultural communication and emotional
intelligence: Inferences from case studies of gender diverse groups.
Marketing Intelligence & Planning, 27 (3), 428 438. doi:
10.1108/02634500910955272
Authors Lillis and Tian, define emotional intelligence as a set of
abilities that includes the abilities to perceive emotions in the self
and in others, [to] use emotions to facilitate performance, [to]
understand emotion and emotional knowledge, and [to] regulate
emotions in the self and in others (p. 431). In this study, the
authors build upon previous research in the area of emotional
intelligence, with an emphasis on leveraging these skills for
success in the global marketplace. With data collected from a
study employing 32 multicultural undergraduate students, the
authors examine the relationship between emotional intelligence
and gender. The case studies measured personality traits such as
conflict management, self-confidence, adaptability, and optimism,
among others. Clearly, not all emotional intelligence competencies
have a positive impact on group performance, and gender diverse
groups proved to be more negatively impacted than gender
homogenous groups by certain emotional intelligence
competencies. Lillis and Tian offer an interesting and insightful
study on emotional intelligence and its potential impact on diverse
groups, as they conclusively posit that emotional intelligence can

allow for a more effective exchange between members with


divergent stylistic tendencies. (p. 435).
Livermore, D. (2011). The cultural intelligence difference: Master the one
skill you cant do without in todays global economy. New York, NY:
Amacom.
Livermore introduces a new concept, CQ, or cultural intelligence,
and he defines it as the capability to function effectively in a
variety of cultural contestsincluding national, ethnic,
organizational, and generational (p. xiii). He prefaces his book
with a brief personal narrative which reveals his travels and
subsequent cultural immersion and realization. From this
juncture he proceeds to address the topic of cultural intelligence
through the succeeding seven chapters of his work, defining the
concept further, providing assessments, strategies and more.
Livermore expounds upon the concepts of CQ Drive, CQ
Knowledge, CQ Strategy and CQ Action (p. 6-7), with a chapter
devoted to each new concept. Chapter seven amplifies the Power of
CQ and includes personal success stories along with the initiatives
of military, academic, non-profit and for-profit organizations to
implement CQ strategies. Livermore puts a new spin on an old
concept, christening it CQ, with a simple yet intelligent writing
style infused with optimism and enthusiasm.
McIlwain, Charlton. (2005). Cross-cultural communication: How culture
affects communication [DVD]. United States: Insight Media.
In the video production Cross-cultural Communication: How Culture
Affects Communication, author Charlton McIlwain, Associate
Professor of New York University, explains through actor portrayals
and narrative the concept of cross-cultural communication. Joined

by McIlwain are fellow NYU professors Cynthia Miller-Idris, Sue


Collins, and Deborah Borissette, who all lend their expertise and
credibility to this production. The video production focuses on
universal dimensions of culture such as time, power, public
spaces, and cultural taboos, contrasting and comparing their
impact in different cultural settings. Both familiar and unfamiliar
terms are explained, as the subjects of primary and anticipatory
socialization are introduced, in addition to the concepts of highcontext and low-context cultures. Professor Miller-Idris provides
insight into the process of cultural assimilation through
socialization. She further espouses that cultural differences can
exist within cultures in the form of gender, age and generational
differences. Actor portrayals and vignettes contribute to the video
production and aid the transmission of ideas and concepts both
new and familiar to the viewer. McIlwains production concludes
with an emphasis upon the importance of increasing levels of
communication across cultures and eliminating cultural noise
and static that often hinder messages between sender and
receiver.
Moore, A.M. & Baker, G.G. (2012, July). Confused or multicultural: Third
culture individuals cultural identity. International Journal of
Intercultural Relations, 36 (4), 553-562. Retrieved from Science Direct
Database. Retrieved from
http://dx.doi.org.jproxy.lib.ecu.edu/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2011.11.002
Moore and Baker introduce a relatively new concept, third culture
individuals or TCIs (p. 553) in their study Confused or
Multicultural: Third Culture Individuals Cultural Identity. They
further define these individuals as people who lived outside their
passport country during their developmental years (p. 533). In

their study, the authors weigh the magnitude of such intercultural


exposure during developmental years and challenge previous
assumptions which suggest that such early multicultural
experiences impact individuals negatively. The concepts of cultural
identity, biculturalism, intercultural literacy and cultural adaptation
are explored, as the authors proceed to unravel and challenge
previous theories presented about third culture individuals. Their
[TCIs] accounts of shifting among multiple identities closely
correspond to the alternation model described by La Fromboise et
al., which suggests that it is possible for an individual to fully
participate in two different cultures (p. 558). Clearly, the findings
of this research reflect an emphasis upon the positive
consequences of early intercultural immersion and its potential
impact on an increasingly globalized world, as thusly noted, The
main benefits of the TCI lifestyle articulated by these TCIs include
adaptability, cultural awareness, fluency in multiple languages,
and open-mindedness (p. 560).
Ochieng, E.G. & Price, D.A. (2009). Framework for managing multicultural
project teams. Engineering, Construction and Architectural
Management, 16(6), 527-543. doi: 10.1108/09699980911002557
Authors Ochieng and Price, deconstruct the construction industry
to assess the impact of multicultural issues on communication and
project completion. The authors preface their study with a
startling revelation, disclosing that the construction industry has
a long-standing reputation for being adversarial, demonstrated by
poor relationships between the client and project teams, which in
turn lead to numerous problems including poor project
performance (p. 528). Ochieng and Prices work is documented
through research conducted to study the relationship between

Kenyan and U.K construction firms. Before plunging into their


research methodology and findings, the authors provide a solid
introduction into the context of engineering construction and
multicultural topics, considering the impact of ethics, language,
currency, and even customs and import duties. In their probe of
multicultural issues in construction and engineering, the authors
uncover and address eight essential categories, among which are
leadership styles, cross-cultural communication, cross-cultural
trust, and cross-cultural uncertainty. According to Ochieng and
Price, the truly successful construction firms will be those who
employ changes through the acknowledgement and application of
these eight essential concepts.
Okoro, E. (2012). Cross-cultural etiquette and communication in global
business: Toward a strategic framework for managing corporate
expansion. International Journal of Business and Management,
7(16), 130-138. Retrieved from
http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/ijbm.v7n16p130
Ephraim Okoros study, Cross-cultural Etiquette and
Communication in Global Business: Toward a Strategic Framework
for Managing Corporate Expansion, provides a constructive
evaluation and analysis of global etiquette and cross-cultural
communication for managers of global assignments (p. 130). With
supporting studies contributing to his research, Okoro initiates his
discussion of cross-cultural etiquette in global business and
communication by emphasizing the importance of training for
global managers. Okoro builds his argument further by
underscoring key differences in American and Asian
communication styles in business, highlighting significant yet
often overlooked rules of etiquette which often lead to ineffective

communication for the global manager. The author introduces the


concept of cultural convergence, and stresses the need to eliminate
negative perceptions, cultural imperialism, ethnocentric
predispositions, and parochialism in order to achieve effective
international leadership and management. Okoro concludes his
study with a comparison and contrast of various corporate
communication styles by country, and a discussion of current
issues and trends in global management.
Reeves, D. (2011, October). Cross-cultural communication: A critical
competence for planners. Planning Practice & Research, 26 (5), 597613. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02697459.2011.627006
In Cross-cultural Communication: A Critical Competence for
Planners, author Dory Reeves examines cross-cultural
communication, and in particular, the five habits, as an approach
to avoiding discrimination and to critically reflect on its application
in planning (p. 597). Reeves emphasizes the significance of
competence in cross-cultural communication, not only as a means
to avert discrimination between planners and clients, but also to
avoid the over-identification which results when planners and
clients share similar backgrounds. Planning professionals have
their own value system and experiences and initially may use this
as the reference point to interpret and navigate their way around a
situation (p. 600). The author outlines each of the five habits, as
developed by Bryant and Peters, which entail a structured fivestep approach to help professionals reflect on and question the
assumptions underlying their personal approach (p. 601). Reeves
concludes the article with adaptive steps for applying the habits to
planning and planning education, and further punctuates his
conclusion with supportive case studies. Reeves presents a well-

researched article which introduces a little-known concept


essential to effective communication across unseen and unspoken
cultural borders.
Stringer, M. & Cassiday, P. (2009). 52 Activities for improving cross-cultural
communication. Boston, M.A.: Intercultural Press.
Stringer and Cassidy, authors of 52 Activities for Improving CrossCultural Communication, present practical hands-on activities to
foster understanding and communication across cultures. Before
delving into the exercises, Cassidy and Stringer introduce and
define the subjects of culture, cross-cultural communication, and
notably, cross-cultural miscommunication. Beyond these concepts,
the books introduction explains the purpose for the manual and
instructions for usage to achieve optimal results. The manuals
communication themes include Conflict, Decision-Making, Gender,
Gestures, and Style Differences, among others. More specifically,
some of the exercises focus primarily on interpersonal
communication, [while] others focus more on team or
organizational communication issues (p. xiv). Each exercise is
prefaced with detailed specifics such as Time Required, Objectives,
Materials, the Process, along with Debriefing Questions and
Debriefing Conclusions, to facilitate discussion and deeper
understanding. Charts, handouts, and checklists also accompany
the 52 activities constructed by the authors. Stringer and Cassidy
provide an array of activities certain to enlighten, educate, and
even surprise some exercise participants, as they discover hidden
stereotypes and preconceived notions about race and culture
common to all people.