CHALON LEADING ACROSS CULTURES AT MICHELIN 4
CHALONLEADING ACROSS CULTURES AT MICHELIN
Thepaper discuses cross-cultural theories Olivier Chalon and how heshould adopt in order to adapt to Michelin Group work environment inNorth America and ensure that he has an outstanding relationship withhis American staff. According to Hofstede there isn’t a collectiveway in which management can be done universally (Hofstede, 2009).There are six dimensions upon which national culture can be definedas will be illustrated all through the paper. Geert Hofstedecross-cultural management theory states that culture can becategorized through different dimensions at a national level, forinstance these dimensions include masculinity-femininity, log-termverses short-term orientation, power distance, uncertainty avoidanceand individual collectivism. Chalon must therefore learn differentdimensions that exist at Michelin Group (Hofstede, 2001).
Chalonshould take a keen look at these dimensions so as to help himunderstand the cultural differences between people of differentnationalities (Hofstede, 2009). They will also help him inunderstanding that despite having a vast experience working overseas,he needs to apply his management principles in a different way to fitthe different cultural contexts. Americans have a different culturecompared to Europeans. Chalon has worked a lot of years and hereasons that since his management style worked well in Europe it willbe taken just as well in America (Hofstede, 2009). Such thinking iswrong, and it is through the use of Hofstedes six dimensions ofculture that he can restructure his management style to ensure thatit fits the culture of his American staff (Hofstede, 2009).
Twodriving inquiries of a multifaceted administration have been directedby Geert Hofstede  and Fons Trompenaars . Both designs suggesta preparation of social capacities whereby overwhelming worthstructures can be sought. These worth frameworks influence humanconsideration, emotions, how we act, and the general ways in whichassociations conduct themselves in ways that are not surprising(Ailon, 2009). The two measurements show the important issues thatany general populace needs to aquire to adapt for which arrangementscontrast. For this case, Chalon needs to reconsider his rigid standin the manner he associates with the subordinate staff and hiscolleagues which has caused them to complain about his leadershipapproach (Littrell, 2008).
Themeasurements are compared with a few regards and diversity in others.The measurements can be congregated into a few classifications: 1)Associations between different individuals. Two key social contrastshave been identified. Hofstede recognizes independence and community(Ailon, 2009). Trompenaars discerns this qualification into twomeasurements: universalism versus particularism and independenceversus communitarianism (Littrell, 2008). 2) Social orders identifyways to adapt to the inherent instability of living. In thisclassification Hofstede recognizes three measurements: manlinessversus gentility, measure of vulnerability shirking, and powerseparation (Littrell, 2008). 3) Attitudes toward time. Hofstederecognizes a long haul versus a transient introduction. Trompenaarsdistinguishes two measurements: successive versus synchronic andinward versus external time (Littrell, 2008).
Thesecross-cultural theories reflect the underline cause of Chalondifficulties in his attempt to implement a new strategy at Michelingroup. Therefore, Chalon needs to apply these cross-cultural theoriesin order to adapt his leadership style to American context and thusattain effective interaction with his employees.
Asa manager, the important elements that must be given properconsideration while managing a given company is cultural aspects,especially when a manager is leading a multicultural or a foreigncompany (ELO, 2012). To Transition smoothly, Chalon must learn thevarious cross-cultural management theories advanced by differenttheorist such as Mildred Hall, Fons Trompenaars, Geert Hofstede andEdward T. Hall. According to Hall an important element for having asuccessful cross-cultural management system by managers is theadoption of an efficient cultural communication (Jackson, 2002). Inorder to foster openness and proper communication, Chalon ought toestablish open avenues for the employees to communicate efficiently(Ailon, 2008).
Inaddition, Hofstede’s dimensions include power distance which isrelated to how people are accepting of the differences in power. Thesecond dimension is collectivism versus collectivism which basicallydescribes the extent to which people feel they are supposed to handleresponsibility (McSweeney, 2002). Thirdly is the dimension ofmasculinity versus femininity which is pretty much people in asociety value male values such as assertiveness and competitivenesspitted against feminine aspects such as harmony and being more caring(McSweeney, 2002). The fourth dimension is uncertainty avoidancewhich is basically the lengths to which an individual or groups arewilling to take on a risky situation. The fifth element is referredto as the long term versus the short term orientation whose focusdepends on how different societies have a view on life and a concernfor past and present. The last dimension is indulgence versusrestraint which is a way to classify people on how they allow freegratification like having fun or their restraint for gratification ofsuch needs (McSweeney, 2002).
Thetheory established by Fons Trompenaars highlights seven dimensions ofculture that are crucial to relationships between the management andthe employees or any other personnel within an organization(Hofstede, 2002). The seven dimensions include individualism versescollectivism, specific verses diffuse, Linear verses circular,Neutral verses emotional, internal verses external control anduniversalism verses particularism. Such factors must be considered byChalon in order to be effective in managing cultural diversities(Hofstede, 2001).
TheFrench value systems verse the American value systems
Asa French National, Chalon has become used to working under theirvalue system without much difficulty. But since moving to NorthAmerica to work for Michelin, Chalon faced a challenge oftransitioning to the American value system (Bing, 2004). Thisultimately saw the backlash in the implementation of a new strategyto turn around fortunes in the divisions he was assigned to head(Bing, 2004).
Thisshows that most of the employees coming from American soil had aparticular way of life which differs with that experienced in Europe. Therefore, Chalon’s management style, leadership style and hisemployee relationship in the new company was a smooth one (Wiechmannet al., 2003). According to Hofstede, an important study whichascertains the impact of culture on management practices conducted asurvey involving 116,000 employees in 40 different cultures (Bewster,2014). Hofstede studies used six cultural dimensions to accessculture these dimensions are Masculinity/Femininity, uncertaintyavoidance, power-Distance Tolerance, collectivism/individualism,long-term orientation/ pragmatism and Indulgence verses Restraint(Bewster, 2014).
Inthe French value system, employees often view themselves as a grouprather than as individuals, the collectivism spirit in thisenvironment facilitate easy implementation of a pragmatic form ofleadership style that demands more results, and the employees areloyal and devoted to implement the laid down decision (Dowling andWelch, 2004). This enabled Chalon’s leadership and management stylegoes with greater success while in France and Europe, but the case isdifferent in the United States whereby culture is principallygrounded on individualism (Dowling and Welch, 2004).
Frenchworkers to a great extent avoid taking risks that is they likepredictability, highly routinized, procedural and stable work places.It contrast sharply with the American value system that exhibit a lowlevel of unpredictability and uncertainty, marked by non-complianceto procedures, low level of personal risks taken to achieve moreresults. Also in the American culture, conflicts, ambiguity andcompetitions are often witnessed in the work place (Murphy, 2006).Chalon’s policy implementation requires stable work environmentwith a high level of adherence to rule, routine and procedures, thisis significant limitation in the United States work environment(Dowling et al., 2008).
Thepower distance tolerance dimension implies that the magnitude towhich the least powerful group of individuals within an organizationaccept and expect that the power is being distribute without anyequality (Murphy, 2006). A high level of tolerance is witnessed inthis paradigm when a sound hierarchy is developed and implementedclearly within an organization. The French workers have a great dealof respect to authority and the manner with which power isdistributed, a feat that differs significantly in the Americanenvironment (Wiechmann et al., 2003). The American workers have atendency not to respect the established hierarchy and in essenceoften would question the authority and the means with which the poweris dispersed (de Mooij and Hofstede, 2010).
Accordingto long-term orientation verses the short-term orientationdimensions, a candid comparison is made which sets a connection ofthe past with the current and the future challenges and actions(Harris et al., 2003). The long term orientation has been termed aspragmatic or pragmatism. Different societies maintain the two linksof the past and the future challenges differently, the societies witha normative approach of operation score low on short term orientationand have a great tendency to keep time-honored norms and traditionswhile perceiving societal changes with suspicion. American valuesystem adopts a long-term orientation and in effect views any newchanges with suspicion (Harris et al., 2003).
Onthe other hand, the society exhibiting a high level of this indexaligns itself and value adaptation, pragmatic and circumstantialproblem solving approach. This is the kind of value systemimplemented in France (Wiechmann et al., 2003). The workers valuethrifts and exertions in contemporary education as the best means toget ready for the future (Review Article: Geert Hofstede: Culture`sConsequences: International Differences in Work Related Values: 1980,Beverly Hills/London: Sage. 474 pages, 1983). Since moving toMichelin Group Chalon instituted a package of policies to completelyoverhaul the prevailing culture in the work place, this was hispragmatic form of leadership which had excellently worked in Europe.But to his amazement, most subordinates and colleagues resisted thisform of leadership on the ground it is fully based on new values thatcontravened the prevailing traditions (Howarth et al., 2003).
Theworkers within this American context in a sense view the new changeswith a great of suspicion. Therefore, in order for Chalon toimplement this new strategy, a thorough study of the American workersculture should be conducted to ascertain the effective balance ofacceptance while replacing the existing strategies within the companywithout causing any backlash (Howarth et al., 2003). His style ofdemanding monthly performance reviews that was detailed and meetingthe acceptable level of standard contradicted the workers traditionswithin the organization (Marcus and Gould, 2000).
Theindulgence verses restraint dimension entails basically the measureof happiness. A society regarded as indulgent is demarcated as “asociety that allows relatively free gratification of basic andnatural human desires related to enjoying life and having fun”(Review Article: Geert Hofstede: Culture`s Consequences:International Differences in Work Related Values: 1980, BeverlyHills/London: Sage. 474 pages, 1983). The American system of valuesholds up to this kind of culture where workers both the high rankingworkers and the subordinates staff often break the distance throughinteraction at a personal level (Leopold et al., 2005).
ChalonKept distance from his colleagues and subordinates, as he made apoint to frequently make constant movement around the office buttalked informally. He acted just in the same way as he did whileworking in Europe, knowing from experience it works effectively bymaking subordinates press to initiate more results (Leopold et al.,2005). He wondered about the intrusiveness of the American culturewhich sharply differed with that of France which value restraint asociety that reins a fulfillment of desires and regulates it bymethods of stern social normalities. (Review Article: Geert Hofstede:Culture`s Consequences: International Differences in Work RelatedValues: 1980, Beverly Hills/London: Sage. 474 pages, 1983), a culturehe had known to believe in other factors to control them other theirown life and emotions.
Inthe new environment, Chalon learnt that people complained about thedistance he kept in the work place. The American culture expectspeople to ask each other personal questions even at the work place,Chalon was surprised when the people he knew little about had a gutto ask personal questions concerning his wife or his kids somethinghe considered inappropriate (Ozbilgin, 2005). In his career, he wasnot used to sharing such level of personal information at the workenvironment, from this understanding Chalon got surprised that thepeople he worked with were not impressed with the distance he kept(Lucas et al., 2006).
Theshortcoming of cross-cultural theories
Theadvocacy of cross-cultural theories to help new managers adapt to adifferent organizational setting will not always be an effectivemeans to bring new changes to improve performance of an organization(Mendenhall et al.3, 2003). Because a manager is required to adjustto the employee’s needs implies that the manager will have tochange significantly his leadership approach hence unable toimplement a new system of doing things (Ryan et al, 2003).
Forthe case of Chalon situation at Michelin, it is imperative theemployees complained about Chalon demanding gesture and setting veryhigh standards that are intended to mobilize them achieve the desiredresults (Storey, 2001). Chalon is a tough and fair manager whosemain interests is discipline, results and complete accountabilityfrom his team, an important experience that Michelin needed to turnaround their fortunes. It apparent the cross-cultural theoriesrequire an individual to accommodate the employees needs even thoughthose needs may become an impediment to the implementation of aneffective strategy (Storey, 2001).
Foran appropriate implementation of his new strategy which targets toturn around the company sloppy performance, Chalon has to read andunderstand the cues his colleague’s exhibit. It means that, inorder for him to regain the loyalty and the trust of the employees,Chalon have to access his interaction level and comply with theAmerican culture appropriately. His fluent English and a ten yearlong experience working in a global environment which wasmulticultural is not enough to guarantee him success while managingan American operation (Tayeb, 2005). Though the division he handlesis a French based company, he ultimately has to learn the newAmerican value system of deep level of interaction to be able tooffer effective motivation to his team (Tayeb, 2005).
Inconclusion I would say that organizational heads should not assumethat their management principles are capable of being acceptedanywhere. Society has a wide spectrum of definitions and it varies insize. Different groups have different cultures and to lead them oneshould take their management principles with consideration thedifferent dimensions explained and restructure them so as to ensurethey are well accepted. This also ensures that people cooperate wellwith you as a manager.
Beforewielding a greater level of demand to his employees, Chalon shouldtake time to familiarize himself with the rest of the group and mustbe able to sell his new strategy to both the subordinates and hiscolleagues to attain a common level of operation. Failure to bridgethe much needed interaction in the American value system wouldfurther complicate Chalon assignment at the helm of his career in theUnited States.
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