Cultural Differences Influences On Communication, Job Satisfaction, And Organizational Commitment
In the same manner as other countries in the Middle East, the UAE experiences positive economic growth. Mostly, positive GDP growth is “attributable to having the world’s largest deposits of easily extractable oil, but the petrochemicals, aluminum, banking, and tourism
sectors have also been important to the economic health of the region”. Therefore, it is not surprising that the domestic business sector is rapidly expanding. Besides, the UAE is a valuable destination for multinational corporations. This situation induces cultural diversity that has a significant impact on the performance of enterprises that operate in this area. Scholars emphasize multiculturalism, claiming that “ethnic groups that live in the U.A.E. include Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, European, African, and Emirati”. In addition, it is necessary to clarify that the prevailing number of workers are foreigners. Besides, most employers of the contemporary Middle East are younger or close to 25 years old. Without a doubt, when cultural differences ,that are possessed by locals, blend at work with the cultural peculiarities of the international employees, it affects the general organizational behavior of companies. To explore the accompanying processes and outcomes in detail, this paper will study the case of the AIS company that operates in Abu Dhabi. It is natural to presume that a merger of two businesses, the Emirati company AIS and an international firm that operates in a similar field, stipulates the occurrence of both positive and negative implications. The prospected outcomes are expected to emerge as a result of employees’ cultural differences that will affect their communication, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. In this regard, it is necessary to underscore that the AIS is presently a thriving company. The success implies that organizational behavior of the staff is benevolent and contributes to the AIS’s competitiveness. Therefore, it is a suitable case to be explored to enhance the understanding of how the plausible challenges that stem from cultural diversity can be addressed in order to assure employees’ productive communication, high job satisfaction, and organizational loyalty.
Purpose of the Study
Considering the growth of cultural diversity in the today’s Emirati society, this paper aims at studying the impact of multiculturalism on the workflow. It is appropriate to identify to what extent the diverse cultural attitudes shape the inner relations between a worker and his/her job. Specifically, one should survey how employees’ needs correlate with their working environment, and respectfully, how it can be used to satisfy own psychological needs. In these terms, such notions as communication, job satisfaction, and organizational loyalty will be studied under the conditions of multiculturalism. It is hypothesized that cultural diversities will be manifested through language, values, attitude, as well as social organizational, culture, law practices, and aesthetes. Besides, it is presumed that multiculturalism can be a positive driving force that engages the development of tolerance and cultural sensitivity of workers. What is more, leadership style is expected to be critically important for anticipating and resolving culture-related issues.
As it is known, employees constitute the organization becoming its major assets. Scholars accentuate that “to make these assets work at their optimal capacity, strength and dedication it should be checked that they are satisfied with their organization and are continuously motivated to achieve the organizational goals”. In general, people are motivated to do their outmost when they believe that their efforts can help lessening the gap between where they are presently and where they want to be. In other words, workers are motivated to perform well when they are sure that their related to job needs will be satisfied. It goes without saying that comfort and safety at work are crucial biological needs that must be met in the first place. In this regard, a great role is devoted to the organizational culture, which is especially relevant under the condition of a cultural diversity that is typical for contemporary business of the UAE.
To survey the impact of cultural differences at the workplace, it is appropriate to refer to the term culture. It is defined as “a product of the group of people living at the same place and having similar attitudes and behavior. Sharing the same culture presumes maintaining “analogous norms, history, religion, values and artifacts which distinguish them from others”. Without a doubt, being gathered under the same denominator (culture) has its costs and benefits. On the one hand, enjoying one culture results in the improved interpersonal communication, which serves the purpose of maintaining the fruitful socializing process. It assists in taking a decent social niche (developing career and personal connections). On the other hand, in the conditions of the modern cultural globalization, cultural differences may inhibit the development of productive connections between the representatives of diverse cultures. Given the above-mentioned, one can rightfully suggest that cultural dissimilarities affect communication between employees, which may shape the level of their satisfaction with the job positions they occupy. Respectfully, the corresponding attitudes will be manifested in organizational commitment of these workers. That is why, aiming to conduct the necessary improvements, it is critically important to survey the organizational culture.
Scholars state that organizational culture “refers to a system of values, beliefs and behavior shared among employees”. At the same time, they point to the term normative commitment, which is the adherence towards the local legislative norms that are adopted either at a state or at companies’ levels. Normative commitment differs from organizational commitment because employees cannot occupy their job positions when they violate the set normative regulations. In contrast, low organizational commitment does not lead to such drastic outcomes, even though it significantly deteriorates the quality of work and, as a result, the entire businesses may be negatively affected. This difference implies that the organizational commitment is less tangible than normative; therefore, it is more voluntary than obligatory. Nevertheless, in the circumstances of employees’ poor loyalty, a company will experience the negative implications.
Comprehending the role of culture in the organizational behavior, it is appropriate to clarify that, apart from multiculturalism, cultural differences are reinforced by the rapid technological development. A well-known, scholar, Hofstede reveals that “when technological developments continue to take place in a society, the change towards an individualist culture cannot be inhibited”. As was identified above, the UAE became the one of the global centers for technological development; thus, managing its cultural diversity with the aim to ensure businesses’ sustainability is a significant approach for the managerial staff’s success. To succeed with this goal, it is logical to identify cultural peculiarities of the locals and anticipate how these particularities may correlate with cultural attitudes of the international workers.
The cultural context in the UAE is greatly shaped by the religious faith. Specifically, the natives are Muslims, and the life of people who live in Abu Dhabi is significantly affected by the need to adjust to the society that heavily depends on the religious dogmas of Islam. To understand the nature of cultural differences, one should comprehend that “Muslims do not perceive a separation between their faith and the rest of their lives”. That is why, “showing disrespect of Islam is a serious and punishable offense” in the Muslim world. Consequently, international workers who profess other religions are supposed to accommodate their lives and views in a way that will show respect and tolerance towards their Muslim co-workers and corresponding time-table of working days and leisure. It is appropriate to state that organizational behavior of workers is predefined by the Arab culture norms that define the five main duties.
To accept and recite a religious oath on a daily basis, say prayers five times a day, don ate a portion of their income to the poor, participate in a daily fast during the month of Ramadan, and make at least one pilgrimage during their lifetime to the city of Mecca. These pillars of Islam are deeply rooted in the daily performance of the Muslim workers. In other words, these rules constitute an important part of organizational culture of businesses that operate in Abu Dhabi and other cities of the UAE. Moreover, Arab culture forms a hierarchy in the society. For instance, it is claimed that “status is important and the most senior person in the group is always greeted first”. Undoubtedly, the above-discussed cultural distinctive features are manifested in the leadership style. Nevertheless, acknowledging the need to comply with the demands of the cultural diversity, presently the leadership style in the local firms varies between the “hierarchical and consultative”. This insight suggests that managers are expected to be culturally sensitive and implement a leadership style with the view of the prevailing cultural attitudes of workers.
Continuing to observe the typical cultural features that affect businesses conducted in the UAE, one should point to a group-oriented culture of the Arabs. Collectivism is predefined by religious influences. Specifically, one of the key beliefs of the Muslims is that sacrificing personal needs and interests for the sake of their community is a noble deed. Group-oriented culture presumes that the locals should be outstanding team-players and, thus, must be ready to work in the conditions of cultural diversity, displaying tolerance and friendly attitude to international co-workers. Nonetheless, the latter is possible only if the organizational culture of a firm is properly constructed with the elements of cultural sensitivity and strongly emphasized common mission, values, and goals.
What is more, an important cultural dimension is the gender identity (masculinity vs. femininity). This attitude strengthens the differences between the East and the West because in Arab culture women are not raised to be career-oriented; instead, they are prepared to be good wives, mothers, and home-keepers. As a result, presently, only about 14% of female population work. It means that by surveying organizational behavior of AIS, this research involuntary addresses the cultural diversity in a male-based working environment.
In addition, one should clarify that time as a cultural dimension has its significance in the Arab world, particularly, in the UAE. Consider the example, “Arabs tend to have less urgency about immediate achievement. This insight reveals that the locals are more oriented towards the medium and long-term goals. Moreover, they are presumably less skilful in maintaining high productivity in the circumstances of deadline pressures. Without a doubt, the difference in time variable may affect interpersonal communication between the representatives of different groups. As a result, there is a great probability that the detected cultural diversity will lead to the decrease of organizational commitment and overall job satisfaction.
Not less important is the level of inner control. For instance, Arab culture includes the notion of fatalism. In particular, Arab Muslims “believe that the events of their life are in the hands of God”. Presumably, the concept of fatalism will affect the locus of control, defining that the natives will possess the low locus of inner control. Simply put, it may impact employees’ sense of responsibility for their own misconducts and failures.
Another cultural characteristic that should be considered by a culturally sensitive leader is language. Culturally predefined communication of the Arab people assumes emotional speeches that are used to convince the audience/communicators. The expressiveness is supported with eloquent language, as well as with active mimics and gestures. To be understood and taken seriously, the foreign workers who are used to follow calmer communication patterns should adjust their interaction techniques accordingly. Simultaneously, comprehending the importance of collaboration with foreign associates, investors, and customers, the Arabs often use English in a business world, even though the official language in the UAE is Arabic.
Finally, it is necessary to state that the cultural differences are manifested through aesthetics of the working place. For instance, the design of offices is used in such a way that in the best possible manner addresses employees’ needs for communication. This approach is implemented to enhance the positive implications of multiculturalism. Besides, due to the immense role of the religious faith in the lives of the Arab Muslims, offices are equipped with special places for praying. What is more, “public sector companies and multinationals with over 50 employees must provide separate praying places for men and women. Undoubtedly, the international workers who do not practice Islam and are not used to separating men from women should do their best to adapt to these cultural peculiarities of the natives.
Methods and Materials
In order to verify to what extent cultural dissimilarities impact organizational behavior of the AIS’s employees, an anonymous questionnaire was conducted. The size of sample was 72 responders. The prevailing part of a sample consisted of males (58 men and 14 women) with an average age of 27. Most responders were international workers (40 people) who have been employed within the last two years. Given the small amount of time they spent working for the observed company, it is appropriate to suggest that they were capable of noticing cultural differences more explicitly than their co-workers who spent much time working for the AIS Company. Besides, a manager was involved in the research in which he was proposed to estimate the ratio of own cultural sensitivity. In addition, the manager was asked to assess the level of the cultural diversity and its impact on the productivity of the workflow. Moreover, the research was aimed at identifying the implementing approaches and leadership styles that were used to address the adverse impact of cultural contrasts on workers’ communication, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. In this way, an individual analysis was conducted in the form of written anonymous interviews of employers; whereas, group analysis was done by means of combining the answers of employees with the manager’s report.
Discussion and Conclusions
The results reveal that, despite the considerable cultural differences, both local and international employees manage to facilitate respectful and fruitful communication. In addition, the level of their job satisfaction is high because safe and comfortable environment fulfills the basic human biological needs. Therefore, the observed company is characterized by the high level of employees’ loyalty. As result, the benevolent organizational behavior becomes an important factor of success for the AIS. In this regard, the premise that cultural diversity can be a driving force of progress is in compliance with the obtained data. In particular, it creates moderate challenges that engage both native and foreign employees to search for the ways of using cultural discrepancies for increasing the productivity of the workflow. For instance, some responders claim that learning the new culture at the workplace has a positive impact on their understanding of customers’ needs. In practice, it helps developing professional sensitivity regarding the ways in which communication with other groups of stakeholders should be conducted so as to achieve the best possible results.
What is more, as was hypothesized, cultural differences are manifested through language, the system of values and organizational culture, law practices, and aesthetics. These components form the organizational behavior patterns of employees. In the environment of multiculturalism, these aspects become similar denominators that encourage individuals of a diverse social background tolerate the distinctions and use them to their advantage. Moreover, it was detected that with time manifestation of cultural diversities through highlighted components of the organizational behavior were lessening. This insight allows predicting that the process of formation of a team means that employees tame personal cultural features that may inhibit the effectiveness of working process. In this way, they protect their own as well as the interests of their company.
In this regard, the manager’s report reveals that cultural sensitivity is essential in the conditions of multiculturalism since it helps choosing a proper leadership style and corresponding approaches of anticipating and lessening the negative implications of cultural differences. Specifically, in AIS the manager implements consultative leadership style, which complies with the staff’s demand (since the prevailing part of employees are foreign, they are more perceptive about consolatory leadership style than about the strict hierarchy). Besides, it is stated that a productive approach towards addressing cultures diversity consists of organizing the aesthetic aspects of the working environment. In particular, Muslim people should have the space to pray in accordance with their gender. At the same time, leisure areas must be organized in a way that encourages employees’ interaction.
Identifying the limitations of this research, one should point to the following aspects. Firstly, the prevailing number of the sample consists of males, which leaves the impact of the cultural diversity on females understudied. Thus, the results can hardly be applicable in a case where there is an approximately equal amount of men and women and working environment is characterized with gender equality. Secondly, the amount of sample is relatively small to make conclusions (the results have a rather suggestive nature). Detecting the obstacles, it is possible to point to the low interest of participants in the conducted survey.
Summarizing the acquired results, it is appropriate to state that the need to properly address multiculturalism becomes an important task of the modern managerial staff. To succeed in this goal, a manager should develop a sense of cultural sensitivity, which should be used for adjusting his/her leadership style (strategies and approaches) that is effective in mitigating the probable negative implications of the cultural diversity. This issue is especially relevant in the UAE because this rapidly developing state attracts foreign businesses and investors, creating the multicultural society. The studied AIS Company reveals that cultural differences are manifested and carried through employees’ language, as well as through the system of values and attitudes, along with the organizational culture, law practices, and aesthetes of the workplace. Besides, cultural diversity can become a considerable driving force for improvement if it is properly studied and correctly addressed by the firm’s manager.
Therefore, it is recommended for leaders not to be adverse of multiculturalism, but rather be ready to study psychological environment background of their staff with the purpose to identify the current and prospected costs and benefits of the cultural diversity. Moreover, it is necessary to remember that cultural discrepancies directly affect communication styles, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. Consequently, to increase positive indicators with respect these variables, a manager should figure out to what extent the cultural diversity can be used in order to achieve the above-mentioned goals.