Academic journal article Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal

An Exploratory Cross-Cultural Analysis of Communication Apprehension between French and American Managerial and Non-Managerial Employees

Academic journal article Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal

An Exploratory Cross-Cultural Analysis of Communication Apprehension between French and American Managerial and Non-Managerial Employees

Article excerpt

Introduction and Review of Literature

Communication is an important aspect of superior and subordinate relations within an organization, and the culture of the interactants will color the nature of the communication. France and the United States share some cultural roots, and have valuable political and commercial ties. However, studies by anthropologists such as Hofstede (1997) and Storti (2001) have pointed out important differences between the cultures. Therefore, a deeper understanding of the similarities and differences between the two cultures in terms of organizational communication merits our attention.

Over the past few decades, a great amount of research has been done regarding communication apprehension (CA). The majority of this research has been based on McCroskey's view that CA is an individual's level fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communication with another person or persons (McCroskey, 1977a, 1978). The original conceptualization of CA was advanced by McCroskey in 1970, and focused CA exclusively on oral communication. Much of the research done on CA has treated this construct as trait-like, but there has also been significant research directed at situational (or state) CA. For instance, the Personal Report of Communication Apprehension (PRCA) developed by McCroskey (1978) measures a person's CA over four situations, public speaking, meetings, small groups, and dyadic communication. Research has been done examining communication apprehension across different cultures, and research has been done on communication apprehension within organizations, but to our knowledge no one has attempted to compare the communication apprehension of managers and non-managers in France and the United States.

Previous studies have compared the apprehension about communication between Americans and many other cultures. For example, Watson did a study comparing American and Swedish children's apprehension about communication (1984). The results show that the Swedish children overall showed more apprehension. Zhang, Butler, and Pryor (1996) compared apprehension between Americans and Chinese. Using a translated version of the Personal Report of Communication Apprehension, the Chinese sample, as compared to an American sample, yielded a significantly higher mean score on apprehension about communication. These findings contradicted earlier findings (Klopf & Cambra, 1980) which compared a Chinese sample to Americans elsewhere and uncovered no significant difference. The reason for the discrepancies could be explained by the fact that Klopf and Cambra did not translate the Personal Report of Communication Apprehension scale, where the latter study (Zhang, Butler, & Pryor, 1996) translated the scale into Chinese.

A comparison of apprehension about communication between Koreans and Americans (Yook & Ahn, 1999) found that tests given to Koreans in English reported a difference in responses, only when the test was translated into Korean. After the translation into Korean, the Korean sample showed significantly higher apprehension about communication than the American sample. The authors report "that a careful translation is a vital step in administering a scale to persons who speak a different language" (Yook & Ahn, 1999). Although seemingly obvious, as more studies are conducted across cultures and languages, ensuring quality translation of the items is critical to ensuring validity of the results.

As can be seen in the studies mentioned above, CA levels can differ across cultures. Culture is a factor that impacts people's orientation toward communication; communication norms are a function of culture. In other words, one's communication norms and competencies are culture-bound. When an individual is placed in contrast to other cultural groups, the differences may be salient, but when the same individual is within their culture, they may have many more group similarities than individual differences. …

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