The effect of cultural awareness on accommodation in an international business context.

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The present study aimed to investigate whether participants with a higher level of education were able to accommodate better to their Chinese colleague before and after following cross- cultural training. Business between China and the U.S. is worth billions of dollars and communication was identified to be the most important difficulty these two countries have. For this reason, this study was conducted to attempt to improve communication between American and Chinese people by giving with cross-cultural training. The experiment was conducted through an online survey in a between-subjects design with only American participants. The subjects were categorized in two groups: lower level of education and higher levels of education. Moreover, the participants took part in one of two conditions. The first condition included six messages from a Chinese colleague, each message was about a different topic: a compliment, asking for a favor, asking for a deadline extension, asking for feedback, personal relations or an apology. Then participants were asked to choose from two possible responses the one they thought to be more appropriate for the situation. The responses were written in a high-context and a low-context response style. The second condition was similar to the first with the exception that it was preceded by cross-cultural training in the form of raising awareness about cultural differences between America and China. The results showed that the level of education of the individual had no effect on the frequency of accommodating responses chosen. However, following the cross-cultural training did prove to have a positive effect on the frequency of accommodating responses. These results could imply that accommodation can be taught to individuals regardless of education level. Therefore, multinational organizations might consider allowing employees to follow cross-cultural trainings so they can better adapt and learn to communicate with Chinese colleagues.
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