Globalization and Technological Advancements

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What are types of operational conflicts that occur in an international context because of different cultural attitudes?

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Steph Müller eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Thanks to globalization, people are increasingly working with people from the other side of the world from different cultures and ways of life. It is not simply language barriers that one has to consider in such circumstances—breakdowns in intercultural communication are becoming increasingly commonplace.

Timing is a great example of something that could cause an intercultural operational conflict. African people are famous for operating on what is called "African time," which essentially means that being 20 minutes late for a meeting is nothing out of the ordinary. Additionally, one has to consider the use of phrases to describe time. In South Africa, for example, the phrase "just now" is commonly understood to mean "in a short while" or "a little later," whereas in many other countries the words "just now" would be taken literally to mean right this second.

Another great example is how people greet each other. In certain cultures, it is considered disrespectful to look somebody in the eye when you greet them, while in other cultures, this is expected. It would therefore be very easy to misconstrue someone's well-meaning actions as disrespectful.

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thanatassa eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The increasingly globalized and international nature of business means that culture differences often lead to conflicts within the business environment, as people from different cultures must deal with different ways of doing business. In some cultures, standard practice in meetings and dealings with colleagues involves "getting right down to business" as quickly and directly as possible, while in other cultures this is seen as rude. What in some cultures is seen as being polite, including small talk, face saving, and indirection in others is seen as time-wasting and obstructive. In some cultures, there is a premium on promptness, and in others a greater premium on work-life balance leading to potential conflicts over deadline issues.

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