Interpretation Across Culture in on Line Communication Research Paper

Pages: 12 (4205 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 31  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Communication

Cross Cultural Communication

Interpretation across Culture in online communication

Effective communication goes beyond the words that are used and encompasses a broader range of communicative skills, such as body language and gestures. Like, words, these gestures can have a different connotative meaning depending on cultural and contextual clues that surround them. These cultural and contextual clues are the basis for misunderstandings, particularly when two people from different cultures attempt to communicate. When two persons from the same culture communicate, contextual and body language can help to enhance the meaning of the message. They can provide a greater depth of understanding among the two parties. The following will explore current literature on cross-cultural communication in regards to the importance of culturally significant contextual clues.

Electronic Communication and Context

"The inability of firms and their managers to adjust to the demands of the international business environment has been advanced as a primary cause of international business failures" (Johnson, Lenartowicz, & Apud, 2006, p. 525).

The importance of cross cultural communication and its effect on organizational learning in the business environment cannot be emphasized enough.

Organizational learning can be divided into two types of knowledge: declarative (know-what) and procedural (know0-how) (Borgatti & Cross, 2003). A formal model of information seeking was developed that suggested that the probability of information seeking depended on four conditions: knowing what the person knows, placing value on what the person knows, being able to gain timely access to the person's thoughts, and perceiving that thinking seeking information would not be a costly endeavor (Borgatti & Cross, 2003).

Shaw, B., Scheufele, D. And Catalano found that the ability to instant message colleagues improved productivity and decreased the use of email and phone tag. Using IM, workers were able to see of other employees were online, reducing the need for repetitive attempts to reach them. This study did not address the human aspects of this communication.

Creativity is a key to deriving meaning in an online world. Students in an online environment were asked to engage in a project. Creativity was a key component in the ability to create new knowledge and to avoid misunderstandings (Patakarin & Visser, 2003). Innovation is increased with the volume of different perspectives and domains to which one is exposed (Ixchel, Faniel, & Majchrzak, 2007).

Means of comfort differ between Westerners and Asians. In a western society that stresses independence,

"the individual is the sole agent in the coping process. In contrast, there is increasing evidence that individuals from collectivistic societies, such as Asians, engage in coping

that reflects their interdependent tendencies," (Kuo, Roysircar, & Newby-Clark, 2006

These cultural differences are supported by the educational systems within these countries. In American, creativity and different intelligences are supported. However, in China creativity is squelched. "conformity is emphasized significantly more in Asian schools than in America. Inflexible rules, standard routines and an emphasis on conformity are just the right tools to squelch creativity" (Zhao, 2008, p. 20).

The ability to acquire speech and language are universal. However, although the process is the same for everyone, the meaning and content that are derived from the messages are almost entirely environmental. We learn how to interpret words and phrases from those around us (Hwa-Froelich, 2004). When asked how we are, we do not always tell the entire truth, but will respond in a manner that is consistent with our teaching to that point. We will not always provide detailed information.

The response that we give when we are asked how we are depends on many factors. For example, it depends on closeness and familiarity of the persons that are speaking, It depends on the formal relationship that exists. For instance, if a boss and an employee are the two communicators, then the response may be more vague than if the question is between two friends. In some cultures, it may be inappropriate for a manager to ask an underling how they are. In Middle Eastern countries, it is traditional to respond with information about one's family rather than oneself. This answer may appear to be strange to a westernized communicator. It could even appear to be an evasive or an unresponsive insult. These types of misunderstandings plague electronic communication on a daily basis. The westerner's response to "How are you?" may seem to be short and terse to someone from a different culture.

Electronic communication offers new pathways for the exchange of information. Communicators in the online world depends on the individual's tendency to seek knowledge and the willingness to share information (Mergel, Lazer & Binz-Schart, 2005; Woudstra & Van Der Hooff, 2008;Boh, 2007). Employees used a variety of tools in their quest for knowledge. Among them directories and personal networks were the most widely used (Ehrlich & Shami, 2008).

One example of this is software known as SmallBlue. This software is a social context-aware expertise search system that uses privacy to infer content and socially dynamic network from email and chat log information (Ehrlich, Lin, & Griffith-Fisher, 2007). Searching has social implications. The mechanisms that lead to seeking social help are not fully understood at this time (Evans, Kairam, & Priolli, 2009). Technology based information seeking and seeking information from a social group are not psychologically interchangeable actions (Gray & Meister, 2006).

In an experiment that involved communication between American and Russian students, differences in communication were found. For instance, Russian students were much more likely to address their professor as "their dear teacher" or to sign their letter with "love" (Stevens, 2001. p. 59). These same forms of emotional expression were not found among American students (Stevens, 2001). Cultural differences such as these set he stage for cultural misunderstandings and miscommunication.

Trust Building in an Online World

Trust is an essential part of the online world. Coppola et al., 2004 found that virtual teams functional similarly to temporary teams in the traditional work environment. Virtual team members must be self-driven and must have a significant amount of trust between them (Suchan & Hayzak, 2001). Gross (2002) found that humans need the interaction with other humans in order to form strong bonds. This same study also found that is it necessary to be aware of cultural differences in order to avoid misunderstandings.

Subgroups emerge in global virtual teams as a result of misunderstanding that caused the teams members to create boundaries (Panteli & Davison, 2005). Team members must be willing to take ownership of their faults in an electronic group in order to maintain team cohesiveness (Panteli & Davison, 2005). Virtual organizations are dynamic and continually going through changes (Burn & Barnett, 1999). Those that experience the greatest success are those that treat communication as an integral part of their infrastructure (Burn & Barnett, 1999). Trust is essential in a virtual world. The virtual organization depends on trust more than an organization that engages in face-to-face contact (Judith, 2005).

A new agenda is needed to further research into trust in the online environment. For components will make up this new agenda including the nature and role of trust, antecedents of trust, moderators of trust, and empirical methods for the examination of trust (Gefen, Benbasat, & Oavlou, 2008).

Social factors are more important for women in the ability to build trust than for men (Awad & Ragowsky, 2008). Men depend more on the information and women tend to seek the opinions of others more as an antecedent to trust (Awad & Ragowsky, 2008). This makes women much more likely to depend on a rating system than men in their online decisions. Developing techniques that help to diffuse intentional bad ratings will help to diffuse their effects in a trust-based system.

Cultural diversity within an organization that relies on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) had a positive impact on decision making and a negative impact on communication (Shachaf, 2008). This study also found that culture had an impact on the selection media used for the communication. For instance, some cultures tended to use email more than teleconferencing to other forms of media (Shachaf, 2008).

Zhou and Zhang (2005) explored speech patterns among deceivers, as opposed to truth tellers using IM. Distinct differences could be found when the person was engaging in deception. This is similar to clues that occur in face-to-face communication. Deception was easily distinguished in a study that involved the linguistic behavior of deceivers in an online scenario (Zhou, 2005). This indicates that linguistic clues may replace contextual and social clues in some cases. Technology such as PRIDE uses a self-certification process to help identify peers in a P2p network to establish trust (Dewan & Dasgupta, 2004). This is similar to SDSI certificates, only for private users.

Arriving at a Global Consensus of Word Meaning

Instant messages can be divided into four different categories according to meaning and intent. The most common is the assertive, followed by the expressive and commissive. The rarest form of message was the directive (Nastri, et al. 2006). - There is a need to understand how the meaning of word may vary between… [END OF PREVIEW]

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