Cross-cultural communication through the internet has dramatically changed our society. In A Deweyan Perspective, Youzhong speaks about how this change in communication is a foundation or precondition of a global democracy. Is a global democracy even possible? Well if it is, digital based communication will definitely support it.
Linkedin is a great example of how this change has made life better for many people. Linkedin is a great networking site if you are looking for a job, or just want to be connected to colleagues or people you have done business with in the past or present. It is a professional forum for communicating. Not only can you stay connected to people and companies, but you can also join groups of a certain industry, and get great advice and stay up to date on what is happening in that particular area of business. Linkedin goes on further to Help Bridge the communication gap for people who are looking to relocate, and subsequently need to find work in their prospective new home town. Someone may be living in an isolated community, yet is very well educated and has tremendous experience in his/her field and is looking to relocate. Linkedin provides a platform for this. One can sign up, and commence connecting with professionals in their field, and look for opportunities in another country. Some people say what is the difference between Linkedin and another site like Workopolis or Monster? Well the difference is the ability to actually connect with real live people. Job sites only allow you to search and apply, but on Linkedin you can connect with people and actually communicate with them, anywhere in the world. There are also a lot of head hunters on Linkedin, which is also a great means of finding a job. International companies search for candidates all over the world, and hire and place people across the globe, 20 years ago this was not even a forethought for someone who was not well connected. Linkedin has changed that.
I work for a Pharmaceutical company, and early last year we were looking for Quality Assurance Associates for some of the warehouses. We had posted the position on our company website, with recruiters and also on Workopolis. But we just could not find the right fit, so the position remained open. Then our VP of HR decided to comment about the need for QA Associates on her news feed. This one little comment brought a flood of emails to her inbox on Linkedin. People who were QA Associates in Globally recognized Pharma companies were sending their resumes to her. She was actually overwhelmed by the response. Even students who were recent graduates with their Bachelor in Science were applying. Being a graduate right out of University, often times employers will not give you a chance because you have no actual work experience, and you end up in a catch twenty-two situation. This influx of applications actually showed how extensive this network of connections is, and its ability to cross-cultural barriers with ease. Applications from Europe, Asia and Africa were being sent in. Our company thought why would individuals from other continents want to apply for this role? Turns out that there were people who had already applied for Immigration to Canada based on their education and work experience, (The Points System) and were proactively seeking a role while their immigration papers were being completed. Since my company is very much a multi-cultural organization we looked at this as a great opportunity to continue to diversify our work force.
Our HR VP enlisted one of our Human Resources Managers to begin the recruiting process with the qualified people who had sent in their resumes. We used skype to interview people who had reached that stage, and were able to experience something so different in the hiring process, that initially we never even thought to try. In the early chapters of Interplay, we learned how communication differs in different cultures and communities, and also how face to face versus behind a computer can change how the communication happens, which although true, Linkedin has shown how that challenge can be bridged. We ended up offering a contract to someone from Nigeria. This individual was extremely well qualified both from a work experience point of view and an educational background. They had already been given their visa to begin their move to Canada, and was hoping to find a job upon arriving, but through Linkedin, they were able to secure a job before even leaving their home country.
The impact that cross-cultural communication has via the internet is limitless. The potential to break barriers and move towards working on common problems around the world is a big task, but all the little steps we are taking currently with social media like Facebook, Twitter and then what I call career networking sites like Linkedin, the ever so changing world we live in today, continues to evolve and move forward. There have been many arguments on the bad sides of social media, and all the issues it can lead to, yet this is a great example of how digital communication is helping break down walls of isolation, and bring us towards a cosmopolitan society.
Sun Youzhong.(2011). Intercultural Communication and Global Democracy: A Deweyan
Perspective. Intercultural Communication Studies, Vol. 20 Issue 1, p17-26.
Adler; Rosenfeld; Proctor; Winder. (2012). Interplay: The Process of Interpersonal Communication, Third Canadian Edition
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The purpose of communication is to fulfill physical, identity, social, and practical needs that human beings present (Adler, Rosenfeld, Proctor & Winder, 2006, p. 2-6). Digital communication tools, including blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc., have allowed individuals exchange information with others, without the limitation of physical boundary. Internet has not only opened up a new communication ear, it also reveals the challenge for communicators to interact with one another from different culture.
In 1999, Dr. Rafael Capurro funded International Center for Information Ethics in Germany; he proposed with his idea of developing standards of information ethics, in order to ensure when cross-cultural communication take place via internet, it is more beneficial than harmful to human beings (Froehlich, 2004). Indeed, as internet is the platform where cross-cultural communication is simulated to its maximum, proper use of digital communication tools such as social media can effectively blend different culture towards to building a new belief.
A recent event, Sunflower Movement, took place in Taipei, Taiwan on March 18, 2014, can be used as a demonstration of how cross-cultural communication can be achieved through the use of digital communication tools. The Vancouver Sun news distributor, Peter Enav (2014), describes the cause of the Sunflower student Movement was the protesters’ resistance to the controversy service trading agreement that the Taiwanese government intended to sign with the Chinese government. The opponents were concerned that signing the trade deal will lead to a greater economic loss for the Taiwanese because small businesses will be unable to compete with mostly state-owned Chinese companies. Enav (2014) further analyzed this student movement as “the most serious challenge to date” to President Ma, whose policy intends to bond Taiwan economically closer to the power politics China. Due to protesters’ demand, signing of the trade deal has been postponed for further discussion; this ended the movement on the day 23 since it started, on April 10, 2014.
Other than the mainstream mass media, social media were used as live broadcasting platforms by protesters. For instance, not only pictures and videos were lively shared using Facebook status updates, but also all the movement’s official statements and press releases were announced through Facebook posts (Sunflower Movement Facebook page, 2014). Other social media such as Instagram and YouTube were also broadly used in terms of information sharing and attention gaining in this event (English, 2014 & Vice, 2014). Letters from foreign supporters were posted on the Facebook page as encouragement to the people involved, is another example of how modern political organizations are associated with digital communication outlets to create boundaryless cross-cultural communication. A strong sense of community can be found among communicators through the movement’s official Facebook; movement leaders, protesters, and followers directly communicate with one another via Facebook posts, hoping to reach their ultimate goal, that is, gaining local and global attention in supporting their action.
According to Williams and Trammell (2005), internet has become a dominant medium for civic communication; citizens commonly utilize internet as their primary source to obtain political information that is relevant to them.Consequently, the role social media participate in relation to political communication has attracted substantial public attention and discussion. Additionally, Wiklins (2000) suggests that the level and direction of political participation can be influenced by selecting different medium formats (as cited in Zhang, Johnson, Seltzer, & Bichard, 2010). In other words, as social media offer highly interactive space that promotes communication, when the forum discussions are effective and sufficient, collective consciousness will likely to be formed and they can be further developed into a sense of social community.
Looking back to the Sunflower Movement event, it apparently had gained enormous local and international awareness using Facebook as their communication platform. March 19, on the Facebook topic billboard of Yahoo Japan site, information concerning Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement was the top news of the day and the majority Japanese Facebook users who commented on the related topics were supportive of the Sunflower Movement (Next Media, 2014). In conclusion, it is fair to say that with the help of technology, Sunflower Movement demonstrated an example of how cross-cultural communication can influence individuals’ belief from local level to international level.
Although there are countless opinions all over the internet, not all of them are the truth or worth paying attention to. Thousands of the same opinion does not make it the right opinion automatically, just like a horrible behaviour should not be tolerated even if it’s from a powerful culture. I think there should be more policies in place, given the condition that these policies are there to encourage communication, respect, and diversity, so that all races and cultures can live under harmony with the benefit that digital communication tools are meant to bring for human beings.
Adler, R.B., Rosenfeld, L.B., Proctor, R.F., Winder, C., (2006) Interplay. The Process of Interpersonal Communication. Ontario: Oxford University Press.
Evav, P. (2014, March 19) Taiwan protest decries government plan to tighten economic binds with China. The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved from http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Taiwan+protest+decries+government+plan+tighten+economic+binds+with+China/9636210/story.html
English, A.J. (2014, March 31) The stream – Taiwan’s “sunflower movement” wary of Chinese ties. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r63KWDbRSNQ
Froehlich, T. (2004) A brief history of information ethics. Retrieved from http://bid.ub.edu/13froel2.htm
Shuter, R. (2012). Intercultural new media studies: The next frontier in intercultural communication. Journal Of Intercultural Communication Research, 41(3), 219-237. doi:10.1080/17475759.2012.728761 Retrieved June 09, 2014, from Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost.
Williams, A.P., & Trammell, K.D. (2005) Candidate campaign e-mail messages in the presidential election 2004. American Behavioural Scientist, 49, 560-574. doi: 10.1177/0002764205279438
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With increasing globalization business are having to interact across cultures at all levels with employees, customers, suppliers etc. One of the key steps any business can take to ensure effective communication is give its staff cultural sensitive training. This will help their employees understand, learn, appreciate and appropriately respond to the unique cultural nuances from the culture they belong to the one they will interact with. In addition to this companies can even employ people from the cultural background they will be interacting with. This is like acquiring the employee who already has skill sets need to interact with other cultures. They can also create socialization events where employees get a chance to interact with others from different cultures. This would build personal relationships and help the communication process among colleagues of different cultures.
Companies can also set feedback mechanism form their customers and suppliers from different cultures. This in turn could be used as a tool to learn, understand, improve and implement what they can do better in terms of communication and service for these folks from different cultures.
Thank you, Vinny
Vinny’s idea of cultural interpreters is a good one. Perhaps it is the only really effective one. Why might it be much more effective than teaching people to be cross-culturally sensitive?
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A great way for companies to ensure they are communicating effectively with different cultures is to research about the different cultures and study them before sending off any communications. Here is an example of a web page that explains Canadian culture (cyborlink.com). It gives a brief introduction to Canada including fun facts as well as a Geert Hofstede evaluation. There is a link to the Geert Hofstede analysis that gives information about individualism, masculinity, indulgence and many more (which are specifics of its culture). Cyborlink continues by explaining our different religions, appearance (clothing tips), behaviour and communication. Examples of communication are give firm hand shakes with good eye contact. This site has many different other countries that you can look up to help with ensure what you are trying to communicate with different cultures.
For example, in Venezuela, small talk is minimal. Therefore, when communicating to them, would not be a good idea to include what you did over the weekend. In some cultures this would be a sign of friendship (to be able to talk about things on the side) but in Venezuela, it would not be seen the same and your message can get side tracked. (http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/venezuela.htm)
Cyberlink.com (n.d.) Canada Business Etiquette and Culture. Retrieved june 11, 2014 from http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/canada.htm
The Hofstede centre (n.d.). Geert-Hofstede. Retrieved june 11, 2014 from http://geert-hofstede.com/canada.html
The Hofstede materials are fascinating and widely used. Looking at the Canadian example, can you find how using it might lead to problems relating to a Canadian?
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