Helping managers lead an international workforce
In an increasingly global marketplace, many businesses face the challenge of integrating workers from diverse cultural backgrounds into a single company.
Business professor Berrin Erdogan studies the factors that can lead to success in that effort, and has authored two books that teach managers how to help individuals fit well into organizations.
Erdogan has studied textile manufacturers in Turkey, miners in Hungary, and grocery store employees in the United States in search of ways to create a satisfied, motivated, and innovative workforce, and a fair and inclusive workplace.
The answer has a lot to do with the management's leadership style. When workers trust their supervisors, and feel supported by them, their motivation stays high. "But what gets someone in China to trust their leaders seems to be different from in the United States," she says. "Employees in collectivistic cultures do not distinguish between fair treatment of their peers and fair treatment of themselves. As a result, managers will need to consider the feelings of an entire group." In competitive cultures, meanwhile, rewards based on the contributions of individuals matter more.
From top to bottom of an organizational structure, high-quality relationships with leaders, based on trust and fairness, help individuals work effectively within the business as a whole. "People in all cultures care about fairness," she says, "but there are differences in how that is achieved. To help global businesses be successful, we have to understand the culture before we can export our theories of management."
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