BUSM4688 – Cross-Cultural Management
The increase in diversity at schools, working environment and other social settings necessitate awareness of how to interact with people of diversified cultural background. This module allowed students to discuss around the topic of culture concept, its impact on people as well as contrasts regarding norms, universals and identities. The lectures helped me to acknowledge my culture as part of my identity. For example, one of my weaknesses when it comes to intercultural communication is being reserved and sometimes lack of self-confidence, which leads to my fear of speaking up in group discussion or meeting. These characteristics, I have realized, are parts of my personality as a result of the social context and culture that I was brought up.
The difference in personal identities which we have researched were collectivism vs individualism. The clear distinction between these can be stated as while individualism tends to be more self-oriented while the concept of collectivism features group-orientation (Darwish and Huber 2003). Studying these identities, I can distinguish cultural differences between the Australian/European and Asian region. Under this consideration, Vietnamese culture in which I grew up leans towards collectivism rather than individualistic culture where most of my peers in university belong to (Earley 1993). In my opinion, this implies the challenges that I have to cope when immersing myself into new form of culture, especially the current international environment.
- Reflection & Interpretation
I was born and raised in Vietnam where social identity is well aware as collectivism. In my country, people regard loyalty to community, extended family, extended relationships or the society you live in as key values to achieve. It is quite common that children from low to middle-class families are expected to be responsible for supporting their parents, siblings or relatives after their school time in household chores and other appropriate tasks in their capacities. I strongly believe that my family has substantial influence on my current personality. In addition, the people that I have encountered or circumstances I experienced also affect my point of view in a wide variety of aspects.
I spend my entire childhood in one of the most populous neighbourhood in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. As my parents were always busy with their businesses, most of the time I was taken care of by my strict grandmother. I also have a brother who is 5 years older than me. Back then, I was regularly told by adults that we children had a moral obligation to obey our parents, teachers or those who brought us up. In my community, this concept of obedience has been instilled into most children’s mind (Xiao 1999) and can be interpreted as the acts of behaving as you are told no matter what is right (Markham 2017). According to Markham (2017), an obedient child is likely to grow into obedient adult. The possible consequence is that these individuals are prevented to stand up for themselves and tend to form habits of following order without critical questioning, sometimes they even avoid taking responsibility for their actions.
One year ago, I had opportunity to come to Melbourne, Australia to obtain higher education. During my time living here, I have noticed major differences compared to my hometown in terms of communication and social interaction. People regardless of ages or social background tend to be more open-minded in various aspects of life. Having been brought up in a more conservative culture, I was amazed by this open and direct way of communicating between people and found it rather difficult to adapt. Besides, English is not my mother tongue, which to some extents makes it a challenge for me to freely express myself with people who come from different cultures and do not speak the same first language. My low confidence and fear of outspoken in intercultural environment, as I realize, stem from fear of being wrong or possibility of speaking out something that is not approved by others. These issues not only restrict myself to benefit from the shared learning environment but also result in my missing out on opportunities to broaden my mind. From lectures’ perspectives, they are not able to provide further necessary support if their students’ needs and opinions are not raised. When members of a group are not willing to express their thoughts, it would be a challenge to the team to achieve optimal result.
- Action plan
With the constant development of technology and social media, it is now easier than ever that people can immerse themselves in other cultures. However, it if often not simple to re-establish the values and identities embedded no matter where an individual comes from (Ujang and Zakariya 2015). Thanks to the module, I now can understand the concept of diversity among cultures and identities thus get to the point where I learn to embrace all of those identities. I consider this as key for personal growth and since at the moment I live and study in an international environment, the diverse norms that I come across can expose myself to new knowledge which I can apply to my own cultural identity.
The most important method to overcome my fear of outspoken is to share it out. When my struggling with communication is brought out to other students, particularly those are experiencing the same situations, it would be normal and no longer my own problem. In circumstances where language barriers become an obstacle, it is useful to combine both verbal and non-verbal communication in order to make people understand my thought and feeling. To appreciate my own cultural identity means that I do not have to change my core characteristics for mere purpose of fitting in or being accepted in the new environment. After all, it is of significant importance that people’s unique tradition and value deserve great respects and appreciation.