Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cross cultural management: case study La Napoli

Introduction The cultural web of any organisation is made up of different elements which guide the operation of the given firm. The elements of the web include the symbols, routines and rituals, the structures in the organisation, power structures and dynamics, myths and stories that are passed down in the generations of the firm and the various control systems that are employed. Globalisation brought about by the rise in capitalism has contributed greatly to the presence of a diversity of cultures in various workplaces. According to Ritzer (2010), globalization refers to the diffusion of practices, the organisation of social life on global scales, increased relations across continents and the rise in global shared consciousness. In essence, globalisation has great impacts on the communities and the different cultures that are exhibited by people from different cultural backgrounds. Globalisation requires managers to be able to learn new information and also adopt new feelings, behaviour and way of thinking. McDonnell and Collings (2001) gave a consideration of the various competencies which characterise a global leader. The first dimension they discussed was the cross cultural relationship skills which require that the leader is able to appreciate the diversity of the different groups of people, ability to empower the employees and help in developing their cultural literacy. Finally, the leader must be able to be sensitive to the different cultures of the led. La Napoli is a new restaurant that is poised to offer exquisite Italian cuisine with some American touch in Hong Kong. The case study is an analysis of the different problems which were faced by La Napoli and the potential recommendations of how the problems could be solved. Cultural issues facing La Napoli La Napoli seems to have a lot of cultural issues affecting its operations. This can be attributed to the fact that the organisation does not have an effective cross cultural management practice with most of the activities of the firm being solely decided upon and run by Luigi Compio. The first cultural issue that is noted in La Napoli is the existence of ethnocentric and discriminatory sentiments (Padilla and Parez, 2003). Compio in most cases has assumptions that the Italian culture and cuisine is far much superior to those that have origins in other countries. This cultural issue also plays out greatly in the choice of the language which is used in the restaurant. Although there are a significant number of Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong, Compio insisted on the use of English with the proclamation that English is an official language of Hong Kong though there was a significant number of the populace who could only communicate in Cantonese (Trompenaars and Wooliams, 2003). Moreover, there was an abrupt change from the British and Chinese style of cuisine that of provision of Italian Cuisine. There was a noted existence of cultural shock in terms of the cuisines which were offered. This is shown by the fact that Compio hired two Chinese employees; on a chef and the other a baker. It is clear from the case that these to employees had no idea about Italian cuisine. The two employees were always confused and disoriented about the various tasks which they were expected to perform (Arnold et al., 2005). Another cultural issue that affects La Napoli is the role conflict which is hugely experienced in the organisation. Compio does not delegate a duty with its subsequent authority to the employees. This is characteristics of the high power distance and individualism which characterises the American society. In the “Compio society”, American, the focus is on the task and not the individual thus the notion of Compio to want to take credit for every achievement in the organisation. This is in stack contrast to the collectivism which is reminiscent of the Chinese society where the firm is more bent on increasing the satisfaction of the various employees of the firm (Hofstede and Hofstede, 2005). Compio has an individualistic mentality where majority of the decision that are made by shim are meant to satisfy his individual needs of making a mark in the field of Italian cuisine (Hofstede, 1994). Also, there is a low level of team work in the organisation with most of the employees of the organisation not being consulted about the major decisions that are made by the firm (Di Cesare and Sadri, 2003). As is pointed out in the case, Compio does not consult the assistant managers especially regarding the purchases of the items that are needed in the restaurant. This led to significant delays as there was a high return rate for the items that were impulse purchased by Compio. The employees were also increasingly frustrated as most of their ideas and contributions were not implemented. A case in point is Angela who was charged with the task of translating the names of the dishes that were to be offered in the restaurant from English to Italian. The suggestions by Angela were in most cases overturned by Compio who wanted a touch of his own genius in everything that was done in the restaurant (Morgan, 1997). There was also a distortion of the employees’ orientation and attitude to time as in most cases, especially during the training; they were left idle as the managers who were to train them were embroiled in ensuring that the restaurant could get the licence to operate in Hong Kong. This initial distortion led to a myriad off problems during the two banquets as the various guests who were invited were kept waiting for very long times. The day had been personally cultivated by the management staff as in most cases; they left the employees without proper direction (Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck, 1961). Also, there was a general lack of skills in interpersonal communication and a general poor value system. Values refer to the host of preferences about the bad and the good in the society and what is desirable in the organisation (Johnson and Scholes, 2002; Hatch, 1997). The reaction of Compio at the store to the offer by the old man to call a taxi for them was both shocking and unfortunate (Ward, Bochner and Furnham, 2001). These fits of outbursts and constant irritation strained no only the relationship with the employees but also with the society whose good will was important for the success of the business. There was also a case of cultural bias as it was always stressed that Italian was better (Watson, 2002). The Italian hostess was greatly accepted by Compio just due to the fact that she was Italian. This was in spite of the fact that she had the requisite skill for the management o the restaurant. There was also a noted inconsistency in the various practices of the firm as rules that were set down were in some cases bent to accommodate some people who were perceived by Compio as important. The staffing rules which stated that employees had to have good spoken English were bent to allow for the hiring of a woman to work in the Paticeria, although she had very poor spoken English (O’Reilly, 1989). In addition, there was high culture of masculinity where men were considered as high achievers and given a considerable amount of power. The roles that were given to the different employees of the firm were clearly gendered with majority of the female employees working in the Paticeria while majority of the men taking up the management and the non management roles in the restaurant (Hofstede, 2005). Key managerial problem facing the management The key managerial problem that the management of La Napoli is facing is the high employee turnover. Turnover is considered a key problem due to the fact that in most cases it can lead to significant losses to the organisation. The costs include those associated with the rehiring of employees to fill the vacancies. The costs can be broken down to include those that are spent in the adverts which are used to attract potential employees to the vacancies. There are also costs associated with expenses incurred in administrative duties during pre-employment period. Moreover, there are costs associated with the actual job interviews, costs associated with medical, aptitude and drug tests and the meetings which are meant to come up with the hiring decisions. There are also costs associated with the training of the new employees who are hired by the firm; in the form off the inductions and the varied literature that the employees are provided with to help them acclimatise and understand their new job postings. The high turnover also brings costs to the firm in the form of the lost productivity. Due to the gravity of the effect of high employee turnover on the firm, it will be discussed a major management problem at La Napoli (O’Reilly, 1989). The high turnover at La Napoli can be as a result of various factors. The first is the employment of employees who are not skilled in their areas of operations. There is where the problem begins as majority of the employees who are hired by La Napoli are supposed to learn the skills of their trade on the job. Campio management process of hiring employees without the required skills has led to little job satisfaction of the employees, as in most cases they are not allowed to carry out the duties which they are highly skilled in (Schein, 2010). Part of the reason is that the firm did not use all the avenues through which they could attract employees to the firm. The firm only used English medium advertisement outlets although it was clear there were some people who were better in Cantonese and other languages but held the requisite skills for the particular jobs which were on offer. Compio also sometimes bent the hiring rules to suit his perception and thus coming up with employees who did not have the required skills. The commitment of the employees in La Napoli is also low as most of the decisions are arbitrarily made by Compio. This was specifically evident regarding the various decisions that were made during the purchase of decorative objects. The employees did not feel appreciated as they were not involved in the decision making (Schneider, Brief and Guzzo, 1996). Also, there was a lack of promotion from within as most of the employees who filled the vacancies which came up were filled by persons from external bodies. This led to low morale levels among the employees as they saw no prospects of professional development. Rather that promote from within, Karl a friend to Peter is given the head Chef Job, although there were other employees in the firm who could take the position. The culture that was exhibited by the manager was foreign to that which was held by the employees. This can be evident from the shock that characterised the faces of the employees when Compio abused and cursed the doorman who had offered to call a taxi for them. Also, there was a noted flop in the training and the development of the employees. There was a noted lack of time o train the employees thus their level of expertise was not brought to the levels of the job demands. This contributed to non satisfaction of the employees with the jobs that they were undertaking. The staff were always kept waiting without them being given any noteworthy training. The bashings that the employees received from Compio due to their inability to effectively serve the guests was also a major contributor to the high employee turnover (Hofstede, 2005). The high turnover was also contributed to by unclear instructions which were given by Compio to the employees. This played out greatly with the various recipes which were supposed to be used by the Chefs. The bakery chef was no able to withstand the occasional tantrums and criticisms which were directed at him by Compio. High power distance also contributed to the high employee turnover as Compio was so hands on. The employees did not feel appreciated by the firm as they were always under the watch of Compio. He even ate into the authority of his subordinates by constantly supervising their tuffs. The employees became seriously discouraged by the happenings thus most of them opted to move away from the firm (Handy, 1985). The channels of communication were also poor thus the employees were not able to voice their concerns freely without feeling intimidated. The employees were just waiting for the situations to explode before they could walk out on the firm. Wai-Ming the bakery chef took off with the whole of the bakery unit as all of them were not satisfied with the way the organisation was being run and particularly the way they were being treated sin the organisation (Handy, 1985). The poor interpersonal relationship between the employees and the members of staff was also a major contributor to the high turnover. Employees left due to the constant arguments which they faced in the course of their operations in the firm. The employees also left due to overworking as the total number of employees that the firm had could not successfully carry out the various tasks that the firm was faced with (Handy, 1985). This led to longer working hours for majority of the employees leading to their demoralisation. Unclear scope of authority also led to problems in the firm as some employees were not sure of what their duties in the firm were. There was also a lack of corporation between the different employees, as some employees frustrated the efforts of the other employees of the firm. There was a very constrained relationship between the head chef and the bakery chef as anything that the bakery chef received from the head chef was like a favour. No level of dysfunction would go beyond this in a firm that is to realise an increased profitability (Gordon, 1996). There was also an issue of poor remuneration of employees with Compio insisting that he needed employees who could be paid low amounts of money without complaining. This ideology worked against the firm as they had to spend an increasing amount off money in hiring new employees who could take up the posts which had been left vacant by the exodus of the employees to greener pasture (Peters and Waterman, 1982). Remuneration has been the greatest motivator of human beings to work and its absence can lead to very poor performance among the employees of the firm. Finally, the unclear official days of duty as the manager required the employees of the firm to be ready for duty on all days of the week even though it was clear that the employees were to have an off on Sundays. This discouraged employees as they felt they were sin bondage and thus could be used as the top manager of La Napoli wished (O’Reilly, 1989). Recommendation(s) to address the problem Due to the high costs of turnover to the firm, the main issue that needs to be deal with is the turnover. The reduction of the employee turnover is thus important to the firm. The employment process including all the process of hiring must always be geared at attracting the most qualified employees for the positions. Qualification should not be sacrificed at the expense of the amount of salary that will be paid to the employee when they are hired. Changes should therefore be made regarding the remuneration of the employees so that the firm can have the expertise that they greatly need. The firm should also be that which is geared towards continuously developing the skills of the various employees of the firm. Moreover, regarding the skills, the employees who are hired should bee those that are highly inclined towards enabling the achievement of the various goals of the firm. This calls for a change of the goals, principles and values that are held by the management so that the low level employees can imitate this practices and values. The training and continuous development of the employees will lead to creation of loyalty among the employees and thus in most cases lead to an increase level of employee retention (Peters and Waterman, 1982). To reduce the turnover further, the firm must continuously be employee oriented where the involvement and the input of the various employees of the firm are appreciated and implemented. Even if the ideas are not implemented, the employees will increasingly be more attached to the firm. This therefore will call for a change from the current practice where ideas by the employees are given a wide berth by the management; the ideas of the employees are currently not implemented if they are not given a final touch by Compio. The employees should be accorded the necessary trust so that they can have the feeling of being treasured members of the firm. The employees thus should not be micro-managed. Reward systems should also be introduced so that the employees can feel appreciated by the firm which employs them. Moreover, clear avenues for recognising the efforts of the employees should be created. Also, the firm should increasingly encourage open communication where nothing goes on behind closed doors (Gordon, 1996). Even though the issue of reward has been mentioned in the above point, it can be implemented by itself rather than as part of the firm becoming employee oriented. The firm should develop a strategic compensation package for the employees of the firm. To begin with, pay scales and base rates should be established so that the employees can be remunerated at rates commensurate with the employees of other industry players. The employees should also be promised bonuses and other gain sharing formulas so that their commitment to the firm can be promoted. The benefits which are given to the employees should also contain elements of welfare and health benefits to the employees including other non cash perks and rewards. This will ensure that the commitment of the employees to the organisation is at the zenith (Gordon, 1996). Apart from increasing the rate of employee retention, the firm should also focus on creating an organisational culture which will support the various activities of the restaurant. These should include elements of the interpersonal relationship, the values and the aspirations of the firm. All this should be in line with the culture of China, and not an import from Italy (Watson, 2002). Conclusion La Napoli would have performed exceptionally well if the management of the organisation would have considered the welfare and the individual aspirations of the various employees of the firm. 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