Orientation: The Essential Ingredient in Cross-Cultural Management

By Al-Lamki, Salma M. | International Journal of Management, December 2002 | Go to article overview

Orientation: The Essential Ingredient in Cross-Cultural Management


Al-Lamki, Salma M., International Journal of Management


A major feature of the twentieth century and continuing into the twenty first century is that increasing numbers of people, sometimes during their lives, will have extensive interaction in cultures other than their own. Given the desire to prepare people to live and work in other cultures, the obvious question becomes, `what is the best approach to, and content for managing cross-cultural orientation programs?" Numerous models have been designed for cross-cultural orientation programs. The purpose of this article is to share with the readers orientation programs and practices. Five basic types of programs are discussed, These include: Cognitive Training, Behavior Modification, Experiential Training, Cultural Self-Awareness and Attribution Training. The article concludes with the author's proposal for an "Cognitive Training" orientation program for the cross- cultural educational setting of the Sultan Qaboos University in the Sultanate of Oman.

Introduction

Cross-cultural orientation programs refers to "all kinds of programs that train people to live, work, study or perform effectively in a cultural setting different from their own" (Hoopes & Pusch, 1981, p.7). Brislin and Pederson (1976) explained that "cross-cultural orientation programs are designed to teach members of one culture ways of interacting effectively, with minimal interpersonal misunderstanding in another culture" (p.1). Bennett (1986) defined orientation as the basic "who, what when and where" of the preparation for across-cultural sojourn experience. Paige (1986) submitted the following definition, "crosscultural orientation refers to those intercultural programs that are designed to prepare specific groups of learners to reside in specific target cultures for specific purposes' (p.2). The general goal of cross-cultural training programs is to prepare people to live and work in a culture other than their own.

The need for cross-cultural orientation constitutes an integral component in bridging the multinational gaps for prospective sojourners. Brislin and Pedersen (1976) are among the first leaders to address the issue of cross-cultural orientation and its significant role in the preparation, training, and support provided to that ever increasing variety of clienteles, some of the most frequent being international students who are preparing to live and study abroad, business persons who will be stationed overseas, diplomats and international fullbright scholars preparing to work in foreign universities.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to share with prospective sojourners orientation programs and practices. This is concluded with a proposal for a site specific orientation program for the cross-cultural academic setting of Sultan Qaboos University in the Sultante of Oman.

Methodology

This study is concerned with the systematic planning and design of a faculty orientation program for the cross-cultural academic setting of Sultan Qaboos University (SQU). The researcher pursued the Cognitive Training Program (Brislin et al., 1983) as the basis for the proposed orientation program.

Rationale for Cross Cultural Orientation Programs

One major feature of the twentieth century and continuing into the twenty first century is that increasing numbers of people, sometimes during their lives, will have extensive interaction in cultures other than their own (Brislin, Cushner, Cherrie, and Yong, 1986). Our world of today has been referred to as a "Global Village," a world that has become more international, interdependent, and intercultural. In the words of Harry Triandis (1972), "the world is fast becoming a global village where we feel more and more keenly that we are sharing Spaceship Earth' (p. ix). Saunders (199 1) pointed out that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift, a shift from explaining how nations relate as power politics to new ways of comprehending international relationships in a highly interdependent world. …

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