Intercultural Issues in Business Management- Case scenario

INSTRUCTIONS

You are required to write a 1,200-case study (±10%) on one of the five topics / scenarios below. You will find guidelines and a template on pages 3-5. 

If you choose No 5 – write a case-study on your own topic, you need to have the topic approved by Katerina Strani (Edinburgh students), Steven Glasgow (Dubai students) or Agnes Tan (Malaysia students).

Case-study scenarios

Scenario #1:

John is a UK manager who has been tasked to lead a team on a new and exciting project, starting in September. Team members are located in Australia, Malaysia and the UAE (Abu Dhabi). The team is quite diverse, with colleagues from India, Germany, the US and Poland. John is preparing thoroughly to lead this new team. He consults the relevant cultural guides for expats and notes down the characteristics of each culture, trying to anticipate the cultural issues that may arise in managing this team. He learns that Polish and German employees don’t like small talk, as opposed to Americans, and that employees from India are used to hierarchies and transactional, top-down leadership styles. On the basis of this information, he is planning his first Skype meeting with them in August, and he is going to set the rules early on, give everyone precise instructions and monitor the project’s development closely. He has already set out the targets and deadlines and plans on sticking to them strictly to ensure consistency.  

Do you think John’s approach will be successful? What advice would you give John for his August meeting, and in preparing to manage the new team? Please use relevant academic literature, refer to the case study guidelines and follow the given template.  

Scenario #2:

Wei is Chinese and works for a large company in Guangzhou. The company is in the process of negotiating a business deal with a potential partner in the US. The initial meetings took place in Guangzhou, but the actual negotiation and signing of the deal would take place in the US company’s headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Wei speaks English, which is why his boss decided to send him on the trip. 

Wei arrived for the meeting tired after a very long flight. The American colleagues were very friendly but keen to start the meeting, as they were operating on a strict schedule and agenda. Wei had brought gifts for the team and made sure he handed each gift to each colleague individually with both hands. He was surprised to see that the US colleagues did not have a gift for him. They introduced themselves with a handshake and went in the boardroom. During the negotiations, Wei listened attentively to the proposals put forward by Ben who was leading the US team, but did not make any comments. Ben was explaining their position over and over again and Wei would nod but say nothing. They stopped for lunch and Wei noticed that the US team discussed other work matters. In the end, Ben was frustrated at Wei’s prolonged silences and lack of engagement and Wei was put off by the fact that Ben didn’t seem to care about him, but only about the deal. The partnership did not materialise.  

What went wrong?  Please use relevant academic literature, refer to the case study guidelines and follow the given template.  

Scenario #3:

Recepee Co. is a trading company in Malaysia with more than 100 employees. The recent staff survey of Recepee Co. shows that 50% of employees are dissatisfied with the company, and 30% of them intend to leave the company in near future.  One of the company’s largest projects is seriously behind schedule as a result. Samira is recruited as a project manager to resolve the situation. Samira calls the first team meeting and notices that the team is diverse in terms of gender, age, ethnicity and religion. She emphasises that despite people’s difference in cultural backgrounds they must all work together to deliver the project. She sets ground rules by setting hard deadlines and micromanaging people to make sure that they understand tasks and deliver them on time. Two team members inform her that one of the deadlines falls within a Hindu festival that is celebrated in their community and they cannot deliver the tasks on that week. Samira dismisses this and says that the company cannot accommodate individual requests (these are the only Hindu colleagues in the company), and will only respect national holidays. Another team member complains that she cannot work with her colleague because he constantly undermines her and asks her to do all the menial tasks, keeping the important tasks for himself. When asked about it, he says that, as a young woman, his colleague cannot possibly have the experience to take on important tasks and it’s best if she sticks to simple tasks for this important project. A third team member complains that she is always asked to write the minutes of meetings, but she has already declared that she is dyslexic (HR are aware of this). Samira reprimands the team for making excuses and urges everyone to pull themselves together to deliver the task, or there would be penalties.  

The team disengage from the project, ignore Samira’s requests for meetings and updates, and two of them quit. In trying to replace the colleagues who have left the project, Samira misses every single deadline and the project fails.  

Identify the problem(s) and analyse the contributing factors to the problems in this case. Suggest solutions using relevant academic literature, refer to the case study guidelines and follow the given template.  

Scenario #4:

A luxury fashion retailer in France wants to negotiate a new business deal in Japan. They start the conversation by email in English, but they quickly realise that they’d rather speak their own languages, as the lingua franca brings disadvantages to them and there are frequent misunderstandings. They agree for the French delegation to fly to Tokyo and negotiate with the help of interpreters. The French manager, Delphine, calls for a meeting and she is informed by the Finance team that hiring a professional French<> Japanese interpreter for three days together with flights, accommodation, expenses and their fee would cost EUR 4,000 in total. Gabriel, one of the French employees, completed a Japanese elective course during his final year at university, and offers to interpret during the negotiation. Delphine, agrees to use Gabriel as the interpreter to lower the cost and they fly to Tokyo. When they meet the Japanese delegation, Delphine gives her hand to the Japanese manager, Mr Nakamura, for a handshake. Mr Nakamura bows instead and gives Delphine his business card with both hands. Delphine takes it and gives it to Gabriel. Mr Nakamura looks offended. During the negotiation process, Gabriel is unfamiliar with some of the business terminology and has to ask for clarifications constantly. Mr Nakamura’s interpreter has to step in and clarify important information. Gabriel is confused and feels out of his depth. Delphine points to some charts and graphs that show the company’s performance, hoping to save the deal, but Mr Nakamura ignores it. Delphine is also frustrated because Mr Nakamura is mostly silent and it is not clear to her whether he is interested in the deal at all. Mr Nakamura is not impressed with the French delegation and their lack of respect, and does not sign the deal.  

What went wrong in this scenario? Identify and analyse the problem(s) with references to relevant academic literature. What advice would you give Delphine for future cross-cultural and multilingual negotiations? 

Scenario #5 (student topic):

Write a case-study on any topic of your choice, based on a real situation (from your own experience, for example). An example of such case-studies submitted by students in previous years can be found on Vision.

If you choose this option, you need to have the topic approved by Dr Katerina Strani (Edinburgh students), Dr Steven Glasgow (Dubai students) or Dr Agnes Tan (Malaysia students). You still need to refer to the case study guidelines and follow the given template.

Guidelines for this assignment (case study scenario)

  • For this assignment, if you choose topics 1-4, the scenario has already been given to you. You simply need to follow the template provided on pp. 4-5, and as a separate file on Vision, to produce a report that highlights particular intercultural communication phenomena and provide an analysis of how and why they occur.

In your analysis, it important to relate your data to theory. How do the key concepts introduced in this course apply to your case?

  • If you choose topic 5, you need to provide your own scenario, based on a real event, ideally from your own experience (although this is not necessary). It needs to be relevant to the topics covered in class and it needs to highlight particular intercultural communication phenomena, as well as providing an analysis of how and why they occur. You need to have your topic approved by Katerina Strani (Edinburgh students), Steven Glasgow (Dubai students) or Agnes Tan (Malaysia students) to make sure it is appropriate for this assignment.
  1.  Recommended structure
Length: (1,200 words) Please state the word count on your title page.

Use this requirement to gauge the level of detail, and degree of coverage that is expected. Being able to extract what is important about a particular paper, and summarise it, is an invaluable skill that can be applied in all kinds of real-world situations (to use the jargon, it is a “transferable skill”). Note that markers will penalise essays which are too long or too short. Keeping to the limit tells the marker that you understand what is important in your argument.

Your case study assignment should include the following parts:

  1. Cover page (use template on Vision), with student name, Programme, ID no, assignment details, including case study topic, word count.
  • Introduction (~200 words): A contextualisation of the case, which includes an overview of the setting, the problem, the scope and any limitations. What is the problem, or problems? What are the likely causes you’d like to examine? Provide an outline of your assignment.

Make sure the transitions between these points are smooth. Avoid presenting them as if they were bullet points. 

  • Theoretical framework and Analysis (~ 1,000 words):
  • Define the problem(s). On the basis of your description above, what are the problems that you identify in the given scenario?
  • Identify the relevant theories linked to the topic under discussion and clarify the meaning of the concepts involved. How do the key concepts introduced in this course apply to your case? Provide definitions of the concepts you are using – do not use dictionaries for definitions, but academic sources. Your course reading list and the extra resources on Vision should be your first port of call.
  • Critically examine and analyse the contributing factors of the problem with references to relevant academic literature. In your analysis, it important to relate your observations to theory. Focus on the cultural dimension.

Make sure the transitions between these points are smooth. Avoid presenting them as if they were bullet points. 

  • References (not included in the word count):

Lastly, you should provide a list of references at the end of the essay. This list is not included in the word count. The list of references presents all the in-text citations in alphabetical order by author’s last name.

There is no set number of references you need to use (although 10-15 would be appropriate), but you need to use a combination of books, academic journals and other relevant and reliable sources. Please see the additional referencing information below.

A list of all the works who have cited in your case study in alphabetical order by author, e.g.

Ashton, B. (2017) The title of the book. London: XYZ publications.

Black, R. (2006) A title of a journal article. Journal of Business, Volume 12, Issue, 4, pages 324-360.

Smart, C. (2014) Another book title. Edinburgh: AB publications

 …

Do not include works that you have read but not cited in your report!

Please use academic sources in your case study report (no MindTools, Wikipedia, BBC bitesize, online expat guides etc).

  • Common mistakes
·         Orderly progression: A well-structured academic piece of writing should consist of a series of paragraphs which progress logically through the series of points that you intend to cover. Make sure there is logical progression of argument in your work and avoid weak transitions between points.
  • Explain and analyse your arguments. Make sure you have selected the appropriate sources for your arguments and make sure you reference them properly.
  • Critically evaluate. You must take into account conflicting ideas, evidence and information, in order to be critical. Critical evaluation is crucial for your assignment. Give evidence for your point of view, but also demonstrate why opposing views are flawed. Imagine a reader, then try to predict their objections to your argument, and then demonstrate why they are wrong. You may not be the first to make these connections, but that doesn’t make them any less valid or interesting. This shows the person reading your essay that you have engaged with the topic, and really thought about it, rather than just regurgitating what you read in a paper.
  • Quotations: Don’t quote for the sake of quoting. You should only use a quotation when you are unable to say it better, not just because you can’t be bothered to summarise a point of view! For example, if an author has summed up their argument in one pithy phrase, then it might be worth repeating. If you do use quotations, they should be enclosed in quote marks “like this”. Longer quotations – if absolutely necessary – may also be set off from the main body of the text, slightly indented and perhaps in a slightly smaller type size. All quotations should always be referenced by author, date and page number.

It is a good idea to read widely, so that you can state whether anyone else has already made an argument which you believe you have been the first to work out.

Reading through some other books/papers, in addition to the two or three that everyone else is using, is also likely to help you to gain a wider perspective on the question you are studying. All published academic works contain bibliographies which can point you to other papers. Use the online library catalogue to search for the books held by the University Library. In some areas, the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), now available from the University Library on-line (via Web of Knowledge, for example), will allow you to search for any publication mentioned in the bibliography of any journal article. It will also let you search for any publication citing your target article in its bibliography. The Librarians will be happy to advise you.

At a 2nd-year-level essay you should use academic sources (books, journals or published case-studies), and avoid popular accounts of ideas, including those appearing on unofficial websites (such as Wikipedia, MindTools, BBC bitesize etc, which are fine for school but not university-level work).

 

3.    Presentation and Style

Presentation

  • Please submit your case study in typewritten form (Font size 11 or 12; Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana or Calibri are fine). The text should be double-spaced and there should be a 6-point space between paragraphs.
  • Remember to use the template available on Vision.
  • Remember the recommended length (1,200 words, ±10%).
  • Make sure you proofread your case study for spelling, grammar, syntax and stylistic errors. Such errors have no place in an academic piece of work.

Style

You are writing an academic essay, and as such, this requires a reasonably formal style of writing. This does not mean that you should be obscure, or use impossibly long sentences with multisyllabic words, but you should avoid being overly colloquial. Your tests should be ‘Would I read this in an academic paper’, ‘Does this sound awkward?’ and ‘Is my meaning clear?’

More importantly, you should:

  • Be explicit. Remember that you should be writing your essay for someone who has a general background in the general subject area, but doesn’t necessarily specialise in that particular topic. Also, don’t leave the reader to infer your conclusions: state them explicitly.
  • Use signposts. Make your essay easier to read by being explicit about your essay structure, e.g. ‘As it has been argued previously…’
  • Avoid long sentences. Be wary of convoluted syntactic structures, which can be difficult to read. Go for short sentences: if you have a sentence more than three or four lines long, then it probably needs to be broken into simpler structures.
  • Avoid long paragraphs. Try to avoid writing paragraphs more than 15 lines long. Long blocks of text have a negative subconscious effect on the reader. Of course, sometimes points take more space to make, but if you find yourself writing a long paragraph, ask yourself: Should I break this point into sub-points? You could then connect the sub-points with linking sentences at the beginning and/or end of each of the smaller paragraphs.
  • Masculine Generic Terms The use of masculine generic terms such as man and he to refer to both males and females is now avoided in most academic writing. A useful alternative to generic he is to use plural constructions that will permit the use of they.
  • Poor spelling and typos reasonably or not, this gives the impression of carelessness.  Your essay will be word processed, so use the spell checker.  But don’t rely on it exclusively – many common typos (such as that for than) can slip through if you do. Take the time to proofread your essay carefully as well. Allowances will be made for students with learning profiles.
4.    Referencing

Referencing is most important in academic writing. Here are some pointers that can help you understand why academic referencing is important:

Credit the work: When an idea is taken from the text of any other writer or author then you must cite the source to provide credibility to that author’s work. Through referencing you could easily credit the work of authors.

Proof: References provide proof that allows the readers to consult the sources in case of confusions or further discussion. By referencing you allow the readers to verify the information that has been taken from the source.

Plagiarism: You will develop your opinions by researching about the topic of the assignment. The ideas which are taken from the work of other writers and authors must be cited accurately. Submitting the paper without adding citation to the main body of the paper may result in plagiarism. To keep yourself away from plagiarism you must cite the sources accurately. Please note that Heriot-Watt favours Harvard system of referencing. A short video that explains how to reference in Harvard style is available here.


Heriot-Watt students now have access to Cite Them Right Online – a web-based citing & referencing resource from Palgrave MacMillan Higher Education. Use it to find out how to reference sources ranging from a printed book to a live performance in a number of different styles (Harvard, APA, MLA, Vancouver). Please note that Heriot-Watt favours the Harvard style of referencing.

The site also has information on the  basics of referencingtop 10 referencing tipsunderstanding plagiarism and lots more. An accompanying textbook called ‘Cite Them Right’ is also available in the library. For more information, see: 

https://www.hw.ac.uk/services/information-skills.htm

http://www.citethemrightonline.com /

Please cite all information properly and do not present other people’s ideas as your own. The latter constitutes plagiarism and is a disciplinary offence. It is perfectly acceptable (and expected) to draw on secondary sources for your work, you just need to acknowledge these sources appropriately. A detailed guide to plagiarism can be found here:

https://www.hw.ac.uk/students/doc/plagiarismguide.pdf

Further resources can be found here:

  • Submission

All essays should be submitted via Turnitin before the deadline stated on Vision. Please note that you can only submit once, and your submission is final. Make sure your submission receipt and similarity report are generated before you log off, and make sure you receive confirmation that you have submitted.

Late submissions (up to 5 working days after the deadline) will receive a 30% late penalty, unless Mitigating Circumstances apply, and these have been accepted by the relevant board.

Any work submitted beyond the 5 working days post-deadline will automatically receive a 0 mark, regardless of Mitigating Circumstances, according to School policy.

You will receive your marks and extensive feedback three weeks after the submission date, through Turnitin. Please look at the feedback carefully, as these will include suggestions for improvement.

  • Need help with planning ?
  • Read the case study scenario carefully and make sure you understand what you are required to examine in your assignment
  • list the points you intend to cover; make sure they respond to the case study question
  • make a list of references you need to include in your assignment and start reading; start small – you will build your reference list as you read and write
  • read relevant journal articles and books
  • revisit your assignment plan and make sure there is logical development of argument throughout; get the structure right
  • start writing; consult references and read more sources as your writing develops
  • read the first draft, make changes and re-write as appropriate
  • leave the introduction and conclusion until you’ve written the rest of the essay
  • when you’ve finished your first draft, leave for a day or two and get back to it with a fresh mind

Relevance: Although this may sound obvious, many assignments lose marks for containing material that is simply irrelevant. While you are reading, bear in mind what sort of material you are looking for in order to address the assigned topic. Even if you do come across a lot of interesting material when researching for your essay, be selective. Interesting material won’t gain you extra marks unless it is relevant.

Remember that relevance does not only apply to the material you use, but also the way that you use it. Summarising each relevant research area for an essay does not constitute an answer: you have to orient the material you use towards the assigned topic. Part of what you need to learn consists of relationships among ideas.

It is also a good policy to check your final draft with this in mind. Read each paragraph and ask yourself whether it addresses the topic. It is all too easy to drift away from the point.

If you are struggling with planning or writing your assignment, please book a one-to-one academic skills consultation with an academic writing specialist  https://www.hw.ac.uk/study/international/english/one-to-one.htm 

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