(P075)

Cultural diversity and multiculturalism in enterprise (Commission on Enterprise Anthropology)

Location Convention Hall A
Date and Start Time 17 May, 2014 at 08:30

Convenor

Tomoko Connolly (College of William and Mary) email
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Short Abstract

This session will analyze culturally-distinct segments of enterprise (due to ethnicity, gender, race, religion, language, sexual-orientation, and disability) and enterprise multiculturalism. The panel will discuss theoretical issues of cultural diversity in enterprise anthropology.

Long Abstract

This session will analyze cultural diversity either as a demographic-sociological issue (studies of culturally-distinct segments of enterprise, and their interaction in society) or that of ideological nature (multiculturalism). Multiculturalism in enterprise acknowledges that members are culturally diverse because of perceived and historically-conditioned attributes such as ethnicity, gender, race, religion, language, sexual-orientation, and disability. Multiculturalism advocates that individuals and groups of diverse backgrounds should have the rights to retain their cultural heritage and identity while having equal and full access to commonly-shared resources and values prevailing in that enterprising community. The policy implementation of multiculturalism frequently involves multi-vocal processes of decision-making among varied stakeholders and dissimilar cultural groups. Cultural-diversity debates also involve issues of the human rights of the under-privileged, against the backdrop of cultural domination, inequality, harassment, exploitation, conflict, and discrimination. In addition, "globalization" is often said to have a negative effect on the world's cultural diversity. On the other hand, others stress that enterprise is a purposeful entity with specific territoriality that values integration, assimilation and hierarchical divisions of tasks for specific goal-attainment. Drawing from empirical and ethnographic cases, the panel will jointly explore theoretical issues of cultural diversity in enterprise anthropology.

Chair: Tomoko Connolly
Discussant: Mitchell W. Sedgwick

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

"Never from the horse's mouth": the problem of corporate internal communication in a multiethnic corporation in Hawai`i

Author: Kyung-Nan Koh (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies)  email

Short Abstract

This paper discusses various corporate internal communication practices of a multilingual corporation in Hawai`i; and specifically how different communication methods and language use shaped patterns of information circulation, which, in turn, was reevaluated as a problem of corporate groupness.

Long Abstract

In theories of corporations, we often read that corporate internal communication is a matter of corporate hierarchy; information necessary to perform one's job duty is communicated top-down along the chain of command, which is diagrammed out in the organisational structure chart. However, ethnographic research reveals that corporate internal communication is more than the giving and receiving of orders and requests. Corporate internal communication is also a matter of information sharing among group members; and the employees often view effective communication—or the lack of it—as linked to the broader problems of employee morale and corporate culture. Then, what happens when the corporation in question is multiethnic, multilingual, and multicultural? In this paper, I discuss corporate internal communication practices of a corporation I call Hawaiian Lands Company and specifically the way employee communication was mediated by concerns as to how to relay information as to what is happening overall at the level of the corporation. I examine how uses of (a) different communication mediums, (b) different languages and registers of languages, and (c) different traditions of knowledge transmission (e.g., oral vs. written), in sum, created the unforeseen effects of the unequal distribution of knowledge and the resentments among the multilingual employees who feel left out. The analysis focuses on how the methods and the languages employed for corporate communication purposes shape the pattern of information circulation; and how information circulation is ideologically and socio-relationally reevaluated as a problem of teamwork and thus corporate groupness.

Corporate women: challenges to the promotion of female managers in a Japanese multinational firm

Author: Jacqueline Romero (College of William and Mary)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores the current organizational climate for diversity within a largely male-dominated Japanese multinational firm, with a focus on challenges to the promotion and representation of women in Japanese business.

Long Abstract

Gender equality is essential for achieving effective, sustainable, and participatory development, in addition to being a goal in its own right. Among surveyed OECD countries, Japan currently ranks very low for gender equity in business despite ranking near the top in women's education. To address this issue, an opinion survey among managers and employees of a Tokyo-based Japanese food company will be used to quantitatively analyze the increasing presence of female executives in the Japanese workforce and gain a native perspective on the gender gap within the context of their social relations, aspirations, challenges, and strategies for success. In particular, this paper will address challenges to full-time career women such as balancing work-home life, inadequate daycare facilities or child-care support, salary-inequity, lack of promotional opportunities, and other barriers. This research will help identify key variables at play in the present and future conditions for diversity in Japanese business.

Cross-cultural issues in international business communications: an anthropological perspective

Authors: Guang Tian  email

Short Abstract

This paper probes some key elements of cross-cultural issues in international business communication and provides a framework for creating competitive advantage for firms engaged in international business.

Long Abstract

Cultural factors have long been known to influence the communication and success potential of competition. Cultural awareness shapes how business firms behave in cross-culturally reflected international markets. It is broadly recognized that cultural factors act as invisible barriers in international business communications. Understanding cultural differences is one of the most significant skills for firms to develop in order to have a competitive advantage in international business. This paper probes some key elements of cross-cultural issues in international business communication and provides a framework for creating competitive advantage for firms engaged in international business.

Enterprise anthropology and multiculturalism: a case of a Japanese multinational

Author: Tomoko Connolly (College of William and Mary)  email

Short Abstract

The present paper discusses managerial policy-implementation for diversity in a Japanese multinational and analyzes the complex processes of organizational fission and fusion. It will offer anthropological perspectives.

Long Abstract

Multinational companies embody among their members, diverse identities of ancestry, nationhood, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and socio-political backgrounds. The present paper analyzes the process of managerial decision-making and policy-implementation of a Japanese multinational company, and investigates the complex processes of organizational fission and fusion for and against multiculturalism in this company. Over the last two decades, the author has been conducting an ethnographic study of this food manufacturer and its international operations in different parts of the world. The corporate head office has recently experienced the death of the founder, the retirement of a long-governing CEO, a personnel turn-over of key executives, as well as several M&As and plant openings. The current senior management is trying to introduce a new diversity policy in order to accelerate the company's rapid growth, competitive advantages, and personnel needs. Inside the firm, however, some managers criticize that the new policy will destroy the firm's 'DNA.'

This author will identify several key 'process-related' prerequisites for introducing such policy, and will offer anthropological perspectives.

Language and power in a multinational corporation: a case study of a Korean company in Indonesia

Author: Yoonhee Kang (Seoul National University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores the issues of language and power in a multinational corporation, by analyzing a case of a Korean company in Indonesia. It discusses how Korean managers' use of the local language reveals their conflicting ideologies of efficiency and cultural diversity in this manufacturing plant.

Long Abstract

In this paper, I explore the issues of language and power in a multinational corporation, by analyzing a case of a Korean company in Indonesia. Based on my ethnographic field research in a Korean manufacturing plant in Indonesia, this paper addresses the following three questions. First, how do Korean managers communicate with Indonesian workers in the company? Second, what ideologies mediate in this specific type of language use and communication? Third, how are these ideologies related to power relations between Koreans and Indonesians? By answering these three questions, this paper identifies the characteristics of Korean managers' usage of the Indonesian language called "factory talk" ( Gongjang-Mal), and discuss how "factory talk" contributes to reproduce and reinforce their power relations in this manufacturing plant. More specifically, I discuss how Koreans' "factory talk" would both reflect and shape the Koreans' conflicting and ambivalent ideologies of efficiency and cultural diversity that once acknowledge the local workers' cultural diversity, yet still devalue their cultural traits as being less efficient for high productivity. Therefore, this study reveals that such 'factory talk' may appear to index the company's successful 'localization,' while its underlying ideologies still feed and reconstitute the ideas of discrimination and unequal relations between Koreans and Indonesians in this company.

The diversification of culture through the inclusion of other languages in the margin: a case of a Japanese transnational organisation in indonesia

Author: Yukimi Shimoda  email

Short Abstract

This study examines cultural diversity, particularly its relations to language standardisation, through the everyday experiences of those who work in a Japanese overseas office in Indonesia. This study suggests the necessity of more nuanced analysis on languages in international business activities.

Long Abstract

Discussions about diversity and multiculturalism in international business settings often contrast sharply with language standardisation, for instance English as lingua franca, in the course of globalisation. In practice, however, neither expatriate nor host national employees use English as their sole language of communication with each other, especially when neither are from English-speaking countries. This study examines cultural diversity, particularly in relation to language use, by exploring the experiences of those who work for transnational organisations and corporations, and move across national boundaries. Data is drawn from in-depth interviews and participant observation at an overseas office of a Japanese transnational organisation located in Indonesia.

This ethnographic study focuses on the way in which Japanese expatriate employees communicate with host national employees and local counterparts within and outside the overseas office. Japanese expatriates and host nationals, neither of whom consider English as their first language, use English as an official language but occasionally use other languages to complement their imperfect English and/or to show respect towards other cultures. Mixing multiple languages enhances their understanding of other cultures and helps (or sometimes does not help) construct personal relationships across cultures. The everyday usage of languages in a transnational workplace reveals some reality of cross-cultural communication in international business activities and the complexity of intercultural dynamics. Consequently, this study suggests that it is necessary to apply a more nuanced analysis on language issues in considering relations between cultural diversity and language standardisation.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.