By Irina Budrina
Over the past few years our exposure to other cultures has increased enormously be it in business or in our personal lives. Many people leave their homes to go on a voyage of discovery and learn about other cultures that subsequently affect their own original cultural identity. Thus, the logical question of where and how do cultures meet? This is the central question of my book, “Multiculturalism: United in Diversity. A Romanian Perspective”, published last month.
Having lived in Romania for 14 years I took this country as my main “battlefield” to demonstrate how different cultures deal with Romanian people in a variety of different situations.
What does the management culture look like here and what about the specifics of negotiations and time management? Is it necessary to conduct cultural due diligence before buying a business in Romania? What about the “Women in business” phenomenon and gender issues for different cultures living here in Romania? Business networking and cultural behavior patterns? National culture and corporate culture, are they united in diversity? All these questions as well as many others are covered in my book “Multiculturalism: United in Diversity. A Romanian Perspective”.
Culture and cultural differences have a greater influence on business effectiveness than we think and it is important for companies to develop the Cultural Intelligence (CQ) of their employees – both for locals and for those coming from abroad. Why? Because Intercultural Communication (IC) can be a “battlefield” where doubts and misunderstandings arise because parties from different cultural backgrounds have different views and expectations of what should and shouldn’t happen. The response one gets may be different from the one that is expected and make the other party’s intentions uncertain. If a cross-cultural environment is to be constructive and fruitful, both parties must bring their cultural intelligence (CQ) into play. Cross-cultural management and cultural due diligence is the next step in this process.
But first – let’s start with ourselves with our own self identity! Let’s learn who we are! Let’s start with our own core cultural values and personal national identity.
The situation for Intercultural Communications between Romanian culture and cultures from all over the world is described in 33 chapters and they are neither positive nor negative. They are taken from real life and are unique in this sense. These cases can be used to learn more about Romanian culture, can be studied as examples for students attending business schools or used for cross-cultural and cultural adaptation trainings.
The book is written in English as the initial target group was – and still is – foreigners coming to Romania to work. The next stage is to publish this book in Romanian.
Excerpts from: “Multiculturalism – United in Diversity – A Romanian Perspective”
Where the cultures meet
Let’s imagine that somebody has asked you to dance and you are moving on the dance floor with your partner in the belief that you know this dance. But it takes you a few steps to realize that something is wrong. Your movements do not match your partner’s movements and, as a result, you both do not follow the music and each other’s expectations. Your partner’s rhythm is different from yours and you feel that you are often about to step on each other’s toes.
But you do want to dance together, and neither of you leave the dance floor and you both take the initiative to find a solution. Your body is super-attentive in the attempt to find steps that will allow you to move together with the music. Finally you both succeed in creating a pattern of a joint dance. It isn’t the dance that you both first expected and probably not the one that your partner imagined either.
This situation on the dance floor is very similar to the Intercultural Communication where doubts and misunderstandings arise because parties have different views and expectations of what should happen. The response you get may be different from the one you expect, and it makes you uncertain about the other party’s intentions. If a cross-cultural environment is to be constructive and fruitful, both parties must bring their cultural intelligence into play and this is very similar to what happened during dancing.
Intercultural communication has become a very important part of our life. Globalization is rapidly breaking down our vision of a world with well-defined national, cultural and linguistic boundaries. Not surprisingly, Intercultural Competence has taken on an importance that no one could have imagined even 20 years ago. We’ve shifted into a new mode of living where transnational contact is almost a daily occurrence. The very nature of Intercultural Communication — different languages, behaviour patterns and values — pushes us to avoid assumptions of similarity and to stimulate appreciation of differences.
Thus, intercultural skills – the ability to understand the values and beliefs behind behaviour and reconcile them with your own – are basic, necessary tools in today’s world.
Romania has often been labeled as one of history’s greatest survivors. A past of invasions and occupations, Romania has recently undergone dynamic social and economic changes and joined the EU in 2007. While the country attempts to leave behind its communist past, present day attitudes and traditions still reflect this part of its turbulent history. Modest attitudes and behaviors coupled with Orthodox Christian beliefs reflect their simple-minded and down-to-earth mentality that has been shaped by years of hardship.
Though they may appear abrupt or unreceptive at first, Romanians are considered among the friendliest and hospitable people in Europe with big hearts, a unique sense of humour and a strong cultural heritage. Understanding this is the first step towards successfully doing business in Romania.
Cultural diversity in business
Culture and cultural differences have a greater influence on business effectiveness than we think and it is therefore important for companies to develop the Cultural Intelligence (CQ) of their employees and develop the system of Cross-Cultural Capital Management. As organizations become more global, mergers and strategic alliances become more common, developing the skills to get the best from different cultures become a necessity rather than an option.