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The Riches of the Multi-cultural Enterprise

Doing business in this era of globalisation requires that enterprises be aware of the influences involved and the focus required when operating in a “world without borders”. And it’s not only about being able to keep track of many more business and financial variables. A global enterprise must also take account of aspects of a much more “human” nature, such as the creation of a multi-cultural workplace.

This was the focus of a paper by Jessie Kooyers at Grand Valley State University (Michigan, USA) entitled “The United States and Spain: A Comparison of Cultural Values and Behaviors and Their Implications for the Multi-Cultural Workplace”. The author compares American and Spanish culture, particularly as it applies to the workplace, to the system of relationships that arise there, and what happens when individuals from these two nations have to interact for work.

Kooyers begins with the observation that globalisation is becoming increasingly relevant and is giving rise to settings that are more culturally diverse than they once were. One of the effects of this is that “[e]thnic diversity in the workplace provides many opportunities for enrichment”. The study then focuses on the fact that “many managers and employees remain ill-equipped for the task of evaluating, understanding, and maximizing the power of a multi-cultural workforce”. Kooyers’ objective is to close this knowledge gap and make it possible to appreciate the positives that can come out of a multi-cultural workplace.

After exploring the cultural differences between the US and Spain (looking at aspects such as competitiveness, the types of social hierarchy and how they are created, models of education, the degree of individualism within their societies, and short-term versus long-term orientation), Kooyers turns her attention to aspects more closely related to work, analysing greeting habits, punctuality, preparation for and behaviour during meetings, number of hours worked, and interpersonal communication.

Kooyers’ paper both serves as a useful guide to better understanding how one should act in intercultural settings and is a good example of how to present study and analysis in a clear and simple manner.

The United States and Spain: A Comparison of Cultural Values and Behaviors and Their Implications for the Multi-Cultural Workplace

Jessie Kooyers (Grand Valley State University), 2015