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Cultural case study
Read the case study at the end of Chapter 8, “Culture.”
Please answer the following questions, spending about 1-3 paragraphs per question. Please use full sentences and proofread to make sure your grammar and spelling are correct.
Submit to Professor Ong via the Blackboard link in Module 3. Note that there will be a plagiarism check run on your submission, so please do your own work. Thank you!
- How could Stoyan conduct his meeting with Ace?
- How should Stoyan separate Ace’s culture from his character as an individual?
- What should Stoyan do to correct the situation? What should Ace do?
- What other questions might you ask, given the situation? What additional information do you wish you had?
- Describe a cross-cultural conflict you have had (it doesn’t need to be big). How did you solve it then? Now that you’ve read this chapter, would you do anything differently? If so, what?
A Cultural Challenge in Managing Ace Adams
MSI had a small office in Bulgaria because one of its clients had moved there to manufacture skis. However, once the company realized the potential to consult with a growing set of foreign and domestic information technology (IT) companies that were capitalizing on the high levels of education and IT specialization within the country, it decided to set up a permanent office. As a U.S.-based consulting company, MSI was good at managing its consultants in the United States and allowing its foreign offices quite a bit of autonomy. The situation was no different for its Bulgarian office. The team in Bulgaria consisted of the country manager, a Bulgarian named Stoyan, and a group of ten other Bulgarian consultants. Stoyan had received his MBA from Temple University in the United States and gone back to help MSI start up a consulting branch in his home country.
Once Ace arrived in Bulgaria, reporting to Stoyan, he started a large-scale project with a cluster of IT companies based in Sofia. These companies had collectively hired MSI to provide benchmarking data about the local IT market. The project first required Ace to collect survey information about the different companies. He spent a couple of weeks interviewing managers from the different companies and then quickly developed and sent out a survey.
Stoyan soon received an email from one of the companies asking whether it was a legitimate survey and, if so, why there were so many spelling and grammatical errors in it. Moreover, why did it come from someone named Ace, and not from Stoyan himself? Stoyan couldn’t understand why Ace had sent the survey without checking with him first. He felt he understood how to manage Americans, but this incident came as a bit of a shock to both him and the other Bulgarian colleagues. He wondered why Ace had done what he did.
Stoyan began to reflect on his understanding of the cultural differences between Bulgaria and the United States. After all, Bulgaria does seem to differ from the United States in terms of cultural dimensions. For one, Bulgaria ranks 70 on power distance, whereas the United States ranks 40. This means employees in Bulgaria tend to accept a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place. Subordinates usually expect to be told what to do, and the ideal boss is one who is kind but makes most of the major decisions. U.S. employees tend to bristle at hierarchy and prefer to be treated as equals. This means they don’t like to be told what to do by their boss. Rather, they like to be “supported” and “empowered” by their bosses and be allowed to make some major decisions on their own.
Moreover, in the United States, employees are highly individualistic, ranking 91 on the individualism index. This high score in individualism combined with a low score in power distance (40) means U.S. employees and their managers tend to share information openly with one another. It also means employees are likely to look after themselves and take the initiative. Their managers often expect them to be self-reliant.
Stoyan wasn’t sure whether he had to handle a cultural misunderstanding or whether Ace simply didn’t realize the significance of his actions. He needed to talk to Ace about this, but he wasn’t sure what to say.
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