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Cultural Dimensions Affect Negotiations In The Film Business Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 2580 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In this highly globalised society in business, numerous global firms are struggling to produce profits and to maximise efficiency. It leads changes of many aspects in structural systems such as production, logistics customer service and so forth. One of derived system to maximise efficiency is outsourcing. A precise definition of outsourcing has not defined clearly yet, it is often viewed as involving the contracting out of a business function to an external provider (Overby 2007)

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India, where has big scale of population and suffers great population explosion, provides low-priced labour power to global companies, so that makes they create effect of cost reduction. It is clearly portrayed in the movie “Outsourced (2006)”. An American company decides to outsource its call centre to India and an American director, Todd Anderson, is dispatched and commands his Indian employees. In the process, the movie shows that Toad repeats trials and errors and makes a goal achievement through negotiation and motivation for employees. In this paper, it will be analysed how director has done for negotiation in terms of cultural dimension and the way he has motivated employees in the view of motivation theories.

Cultural dimensions affect negotiations in the film

There have been shown a few negotiation scenes in the film. First of all, according to Hofstede’s framework (1980), power distance is the extent to which less powerful members of organisations accept the unequal distribution. The negotiation scene between David and Todd shows that they negotiate in small power distance environment. A small power distance society is less comfortable with power differences such as class distinction organisational ranking than a large power distance culture (Hofstede 1980). It is shown in a liberated conversation between David and Todd while conversing about Todd sent out to India irrespective of rank. Todd could obviously express what he thinks that he does not want to travel to India, whereas it is hardly possible in large power distance culture where a person in a high-level position treats those at lower levels with dignity, but the differences in rank are always clear (Hofstede 1980). In addition, this negotiation is occurred in an American company. According to Hofstede (2001), an index of U.S.’ power distance is 40 which means American society has relatively small power distance compared to countries has a large power distance such Japan, Venezuela and India. This index supports that they are like to have a small power distance dimension.

Another cultural dimension can affect the negotiation is masculinity. In a masculine society, the “tough” values – including success, money, assertiveness, and competition – are dominant (Hofstede 2001). While negotiating each other, Todd exposes his assertiveness about going to India and David also menaces Todd with immediate dismissal if he does not move. It can be seen that U.S.’ index is 62 in the Hofstede’s uncertainty avoidance index, which means U.S. is quite a masculine society.

Furthermore, it can be seen that they are in a low-context culture. Hall’s high and low context cultural framework (1976) explains differences in communication styles among cultures. As stated by Hall (1976), a high-context communication or message is one in which most of the information is either in the physical context or internalised in the person, while very little is in the coded, explicit, transmitted part of the message and a low-context communication is just the opposite. The way Todd exposes his opinion is straight, precisely conveys what he feels like the situation rather than utilising means of tones of voice, timing and facial expression which are considered as major means in high-context culture. U.S. is classified as low-context country by Hall as well (Hall 1976).

In this negotiation, it is also seen that Todd seeks after the dimension of affective autonomy. On the word of Schwartz (1992), affective autonomy focuses on individuals independently pursuing positive experiences that make them feel good, and value is put on pleasure and an exciting and varied life. Before he moves to India, the level of his cultural dimension is exactly at the level of only understanding his own culture, not that of understanding others, which means his home country is the only place where can fulfil him affectively. At last, he moves to India and has suffered from unlike culture and atmosphere at the adjustment period. For instance, he really wanted to have a beef burger, but he could not get it at last (he actually got one, but it was not a ‘Beef’ burger), which can be easily found everywhere in U.S. He also feels pain when he rings girl friend, checks that she is with another guy.

Second negotiation is observed in the scene when Todd gets to India and is in process of discord with Indian employees, especially his assistance, Puro, due to cultural differences. Firstly, there is a scene that shows glasses which is located between his office and employees’ area in the call centre. What he asks Puro is not delivered on time and Todd is not able to understand this situation and annoyed. This can be comprehended in terms of difference of sequential time and synchronous time. According to Trompenaars’ dimensions of culture (1993), people in sequential time cultures do one thing at a time, make appointments and arrive on time, and generally stick schedules, while people in synchronic time cultures do several activities simultaneously, the time for appointments is approximate, and interpersonal relationships are more important than schedule. Todd, who is from a sequential time country, thinks that every procedure is supposed to be made on time and cannot understand the way Puro deals with the task and audaciously reacts against his inquiry. Puro also does not recognise why Todd is upset since Puro is from more synchronous time culture. He just believes that it is acceptable regardless of timing, if delivery is achieved at certain point of time. In addition, Todd desires to secure his territory in the office. According to Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck’s variations in values orientations (1961), in a society that values privacy such as the U.S., employees think it is important to have their own space. Because privacy is highly valued, higher-status members of an organisation often have larger, more private space (Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck 1961). It seems that Todd thinks he needs his own private territory to control loose and unorganised environment by securing it.

Secondly, difference of cultural dimension is shown in the scene that Indian employees take some refreshments at some point of work hour. Puro brings some to Todd, but it irritates Todd as he regards it as an unnecessary action. Puro says that he just wants to care him. Puro’s behaviour in this scene is able to be considered in perspective of femininity. Feminine cultures place importance on “tender” values such as personal relationship, care for others, the quality of life, and service (Hofstede 1980). People in masculine society like Todd are difficult to understand to an opposed society and think masculine “tough” values such as success, money and competition are much more important rather than caring for others (Hofstede 1980). Finally Todd grasps Puro’s real intention and apologises to him.

Todd also negotiates with Indian culture itself. At his beginning period in India, he only sticks to his way and shows intention not to admit and accept Indian cultural dimensions. He also argues Indian employees to learn American culture. However, He has changed his mind after some happenings such as Holi, a celebration of colors, and accepting Asha’s advice. His behavioural change indicates the dimension of harmony. Schwartz (1992) says that the harmony value type emphasises understanding and fitting in with the environment, rather than trying to change it. Since Todd has accepted this dimension, he wins the public confidence from the locals including his employees and he could makes satisfaction for his life as well.

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Theories of motivation to Todd’s experiences throughout the film

Motivation is a crucial organisational concept and is undoubtedly needed to run a company properly by inspiring each business constituent member. Robinson defines motivation as the willingness to exert high levels of effort toward organisational goals, conditioned by the effort’s ability to satisfy some individual need (1996, p.212). There are two kinds of motivation theories, content and process. Content theories focus on the “what”, identifying factors that cause people to put effort into work and process theories concern the “how”, the steps an individual takes in putting forth effort (IBUS 2012 reader, p. 125).

It is seen that there are a few scenes to motivate some players in the film. First of all, David tries to let Todd go to India but he resists the offer. In this process, David suggests him to allot stock option as the reward in case of he reaches the goal proposed, otherwise he must quit his job. Todd, in fact, does not want to work aboard, but has to follow David’s suggestion as he has a need to maintain his current status. Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1954) suggested that human beings’ five basic needs form a hierarchy: from physiological, to safety, to social, to esteem, to self-actualisation needs. If Todd decides not to go to India, he would suffer from financial shortage. That is, two bottom needs of Maslow’s model, physiological and safety and security needs, would be threatened due to it. It is similar in case that he does not accomplish the offered objective unless he travels to India. However, in this case, Todd can struggle to make the goal so that he is able to stay plus even get reward. These goal and reward provide him motivation for his needs. This situation is connected with goal setting theory as well. According to Locke and Latham (1990), goal setting theory focuses on the effect that the setting of goals has on performance. The theory is based on the idea that people are motivated by intentions to work toward a goal (Locke 1968). Goals motivate employees to satisfy higher performance level. In the film, Todd has done everything he can do in order to decrease MPI (Minutes Per Incident) to six, which seems impossible at the beginning stage of the movie. However, he finally achieves the goal and goal setting affects his work process to some extent.

On the other hand, Todd could achieve the aimed MPI goal at the end of the film and one of the motive powers, could accomplish it, is from Indian employees’ support. It could be attained since Todd has begun to understand their inherent culture. When he holds fast to his view at the beginning, he is just a stranger and the whole team could not be as one. By the time he harmonises with employees, MPI index has started to drop off. It can be explained in view of McClelland’s learned needs theory (1966, 1985). McClelland proposed that three major needs influence people’s behaviour and these needs are not instinctive desires as in Maslow’s theory, but learned. The need that Todd learned in the film is need for affiliation. It is a concern for establishing and maintaining social relationships, people who have a high need for affiliation like close, friendly relationships with others and prefer cooperative rather than competitive situations (McClelland 1966, 1985). By developing and motivating relationship with employees, the whole team could reach the goal in cooperative way.

Motivation for Indian workers and affection of cultural dimension

Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory (1968; Mausner, and Snyderman 1959), often called two-factor theory, is that satisfaction and dissatisfaction represent two separate dimensions rather than opposite ends of single dimension. Herzberg (1968, 1959) believed that the resulting two factors, hygiene and motivation, have differential effects on motivation. The hygiene factors, also called extrinsic or context factors, are factors outside the job itself that influence the worker. They include company policy and administration, supervision, relationship with a supervisor, work conditions, salary and security (Herzberg 1968, 1959). In the film, Todd provides employees conditions they want, such as allowing them to wear traditional clothing and to place their personal stuff on the own desks. These are usually used to meet desires for low class worker. The motivation factor, also called intrinsic or content factors, are aspects of the job itself including achievement, recognition, interesting work, responsibility, advancement, and growth (Herzberg 19689, 1959). Todd, as a supervisor, makes a deal that the worker with the best MPI will get to pick the product of his choice from the treasure box. By doing so, it increases achievement and makes employees’ interesting work and the team accomplishes growth by approaching intended MPI index which is six at last. Todd motivates workers by handling these two factors effectively in ways above. Reinforcement theory also can be applied in the similar way. Skinner (1971) stated that reinforcement theory is that the environment determines people’s behaviour. If individuals receive a reward or reinforcement for what they do, it is likely that they will repeat it. If workers struggle to be the best MPI guy and once he makes it and gets reward, it will motivate workers to repeat hard-working to get to pick the reward. It is feasible because Todd has formed environment workers are able to earn incentives depending on their work achievement.

Secondly, the expectation theory can be applied to the way they progress operation. It is the theory of motivation makes several important assumptions about people’s behaviour (Vroom 1964). It is largely broke into three parts; Effort-to-Performance expectancy, Performance-to-Outcome expectancy and Outcome Valence (Vroom 1964). Todd specially concentrates on putting effort into virtual operations and gives proper feedback for employees to increase efficiency. And by introducing reward system, it makes employees’ expectancy high so that it leads satisfactory level of outcome. Todd brings in appropriate method at each operation stage and it turns out positively.

By analysing several negotiation and motivation situations, it has been able to be seen that different dimensions and theories can be applied, depends on every individual, individual to individual and country to country and higher to lower hierarchy. Especially the level of cultural difference in the film between India, where is high power distance and collectivism society, and U.S., where has opposition oriented society, is quite high and it could be happened in the real business world. When negotiate with someone has different background, it would be important to figure out counterpart’s cultural dimension. Also, it can be said that it is significant to have a precise diagnosis of subordinates to run company effectively by motivating and understand its cultural dimensions.


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