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Chapter 7 Empirical Research Findings in:

Fungai B. Chigwendere

Towards Intercultural Communication Congruence in Sino-African Organisational Contexts, page 139 - 224

1. Edition 2018, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4234-2, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-7121-2, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783828871212-139

Tectum, Baden-Baden
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139 Chapter 7 Empirical Research Findings Intercultural communication awareness in Sino-African organisational contexts Introduction The primary purpose of this chapter is to report on perspectives of African and Chinese experts with regard to IC awareness in their own and the other’s culture. This is in response to IC challenges and the need for a context-focused approach to enhance IC congruence in Sino-African organisational contexts, The findings are not limited to individual interview questions; instead, they are integrated statements arising from the interviews in totality. By exploring and reporting on African and Chinese expert’s views on IC awareness, this chapter in part contributes towards the main research aim of developing a hybrid IC congruence (HICC) framework for Sino-African organisational contexts. Specifically, the empirical objectives addressed in this chapter are as follows: E-1 Describe perspectives on “own” IC awareness in the Sino-African organisational context: a. African experts b. Chinese experts E-2 Describe perspectives on “other” IC awareness in the Sino-African organisational context: a. African expert b. Chinese experts E-3 Identify and describe the similarities and differences in IC awareness in African and Chinese cultures in the Sino-African organisational context. 140 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS E-4 Identify and describe new categories of IC awareness that emerged from the data (RQ-E1 to RQ-E3). The chapter begins by detailing the biographical information of the 15 participating experts, followed by a presentation of the findings. The findings from both African experts and Chinese experts perspectives are juxtaposed to highlight their similarities and/or differences. Verbatim extracts from the interviews are provided in support of the inferred conclusions. After identifying and describing IC awareness perspectives, categories are developed from the data. 7 .1 Biographical Information of the Sample The biographical information provided below, in Table 7.1, gives details of the nationality, gender, age, ethnic group, marital status, occupation or position, industry sector, number of years of experience and the highest level of educational qualification of the respondents. 141 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs Ta bl e 7.1 : B io gr ap hi ca l i nf or m at io n of re sp on de nt s Re sp on de nt Na tio na lit y Ge nd er Ag e Et hn ic gr ou p M ar ita l St at us Ho m e la ng ua ge Po sit io n In du st ry Se ct or M on th s in jo b Hi gh es t e du ca tio na l q ua lifi ca tio n A1 So ut h A fri ca n Fe m ale 40 Co lou re d M ar rie d En gli sh M an ag em en t a cco un ta nt M an uf ac tu rin g 36 Ba ch elo r’s de gr ee A2 So ut h A fri ca n M ale 44 W hit e M ar rie d En gli sh M an ag ing di re cto r Pr of es sio na l 24 0+ Ph D A3 So ut h A fri ca n M ale 34 Bl ac k M ar rie d En gli sh Se nio r e xe cu tiv e M an uf ac tu rin g 36 M as te r’s de gr ee A4 Ca m er oo nia n M ale 37 Bl ac k Sin gle Fre nc h La wy er Le ga l 24 0+ M as te r’s de gr ee A5 So ut h A fri ca n Fe m ale 26 W hit e M ar rie d Af rik aa ns Cli en t r ela tio ns offi ce r Le ga l 12 0 Ba ch elo r’s de gr ee A6 So ut h A fri ca n M ale 55 W hit e M ar rie d En gli sh Se nio r e xe cu tiv e Pr of es sio na l 24 M as te r’s de gr ee A7 Zim ba bw ea n M ale 35 Bl ac k M ar rie d Sh on a En gin ee r ICT * 48 M as te r’s de gr ee C1 Ch ine se M ale 50 + Ch ine se /S A M ar rie d Ch ine se Ge olo gis t M ini ng 26 4 Ph D C2 Ch ine se M ale 35 Ch ine se M ar rie d M an da rin M an ag ing di re cto r ICT * 14 4 M as te r’s de gr ee C3 Ch ine se M ale 46 Ch ine se M ar rie d Ch ine se Bu sin es s o wn er M an uf ac tu rin g 18 0 No t g ive n C4 Ch ine se M ale 50 Ch ine se M ar rie d Ch ine se Bu sin es s o wn er M an uf ac tu rin g 16 8 No t g ive n C5 Ch ine se Fe m ale 50 Ch ine se /S A Sin gle Ch ine se Se nio r a na lys t Fin an ce 25 2 M as te r’s de gr ee C6 Ch ine se M ale 31 Ch ine se /S A Sin gle M an da rin Bu sin es s o wn er Le ga l 25 2 M as te r’s de gr ee C7 Ch ine se M ale 29 Ch ine se Sin gle M an da rin Inv es tm en t m an ag er Fin an ce 30 M as te r’s de gr ee C8 Ch ine se M ale 37 Ch ine se M ar rie d M an da rin Hu m an re so ur ce s m an ag er St at eow ne d en te rp ris e ( SO E) 24 M as te r’s de gr ee IC T* In fo rm at io n an d C om m un ic at io ns T ec hn ol og y So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 142 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 7 .1 .1 Distribution of cultural grouping There were eight experts representing the Chinese cultural group and seven experts representing the African cultural group. Of the African sample, five were South African citizens of South African origin. Two were permanent residents of South Africa, one being of Cameroonian and the other of Zimbabwean origin. The cultural groupings are illustrated in Fig. 7.1. Fig. 7.1: Distribution of cultural grouping Source: Author’s own contribution 7 .1 .2 Distribution of gender Of the total number of interviewees, three are female – two of South African origin and one of Chinese origin. The remaining 12 respondents are male, as illustrated in Fig. 7.2 below. Fig. 7.2: Distribution of gender Source: Author’s own contribution 7 .1 .3 Distribution of age The distribution of age is provided in groups as shown in Fig. 7.3. Six of the experts were aged between 30 and 39 years, four 50 years and older, three between 40 and 49 years of age, while the fewest (2) were between 20 and 29 years. 143 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs Fig. 7.3: Distribution of age Source: Author’s own contribution 7 .1 .4 Distribution of ethnic group The Chinese sample is represented as all Chinese (8) with no ethnic distinctions made. The South African sample was comprised of three Black, three White and one Coloured expert(s) as illustrated in Fig. 7.4. Fig. 7.4: Distribution of ethnic group Source: Author’s own contribution 7 .1 .5 Distribution of position and education The position index shows a range of senior level positions, namely management accountant, managing director, senior executive, lawyer, client relations officer, engineer, geologist, business owner, senior analyst, investment manager, and human resources manager. The highest qualification is a doctorate degree held by two experts. Nine experts hold a master’s degree while one holds a bachelor’s degree qualification. Three of the experts did not disclose their level of education. 144 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 7 .1 .6 Distribution of industry sector Four experts were from the manufacturing sector, two from the professional services sector, three from the legal sector, two from the ICT sector, one from the mining sector, two from the finance sector and one from an SOE. The distribution per industry sector is illustrated in Fig. 7.5. Fig. 7.5: Distribution of industry sector Source: Author’s own contribution 7 .1 .7 Distribution of experience in months Of the experts interviewed, nine had more than 60 months (five years) of experience interacting with those from the other culture, followed by three who had up to three years of experience, as illustrated in Fig. 7.6. Fig. 7.6: Distribution of experience in months Source: Author’s own contribution 145 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs 7 .2 Presentation of Findings The findings from interviews with A1 to A7 and C1 to C8 are now presented. The chapter sections are aligned with the empirical research questions as introduced in Chapter 1 section 1.3.3.2 (Table 1.2), which refer to both deductive and inductive findings. The full extent of all transcribed interviews is attached in Annexure 6.8. African and Chinese experts as representatives of their respective cultures report a range of communication experiences in Sino-African organisational contexts. Through content analysis, as described in the previous chapter (section 6.4.5), the various IC awareness perspectives of respondents are presented in an integrated manner from section 7.3 to section 7.7. In so doing, the research questions RQ-E1 to RQ-E3 are addressed. Sections 7.3 and 7.4 each initially offer a tabular summary and a graph representing perspectives of own IC awareness of African and Chinese culture as inferred from interviews with African and Chinese experts respectively. Second is a presentation of IC awareness perspectives of other for both African and Chinese cultures. Third is a comparison of own and other IC awareness perspectives for African and Chinese cultures respectively. This process brings forward potential similarities and differences between how African and Chinese people view themselves and how they are viewed by others. In the first three stages, all identified IC awareness perspectives are listed regardless of the number of occurrences. This is done in order to show the breadth of such issues in Sino-African organisational contexts. Importantly, a distinction is made between IC awareness perspectives identified through a deductive process (sections 7.3 to 7.6) largely informed by findings from the study of theory (Chapter 5), versus inductively emerging perspectives. The emerging IC awareness perspectives of both African and Chinese experts are then presented together in section 7.7. In section 7.5, own IC awareness perspectives of African and Chinese experts are juxtaposed to highlight the similarities and/or differences between how these people potentially view themselves. Then in section 7.6, other IC awareness perspectives for both African and Chinese experts are juxtaposed to show the similarities and differences between how these people potentially view each other. The emerging inductively identified IC awareness perspectives are presented in section 7.7. Finally in section 7.8, IC awareness categories – based on the data presented in 7.3 through to 7.7 – are developed. It can be observed that the experts make many cultural and contextual references as opposed to pure communication references, in the sense of information exchange. This observation validates the assertion that culture and communication cannot be separated, as expressed by anthropologist Edward Hall, that “communication is culture” and “culture is communication” (Hall, 1959, p. 169). 146 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 7 .3 Perspectives of Intercultural Communication Awareness – African Culture In this section, IC awareness perspectives of African culture are first presented in tabular form. The first column in the tables lists the interviewees from whom the IC awareness perspective is inferred. The second column identifies the perspective and the last column indicates the frequency (the number of times the characteristic was inferred in the indicated interviews). Following each data table and graphical illustration, quoted extracts of interviews are provided in support of the most frequently cited perspectives. At times, a quote may be presented in more than one instant in as far as it reflects a different IC awareness perspective. In addition, to avoid restricting the discussion, no cut-off point on the number of frequently cited perspectives to be discussed in each instant was set. A brief summary recaps the findings of the section. 7 .3 .1 Own perspectives: African experts RQ-E1: What are the perspectives of African and Chinese experts on IC awareness in their own culture? a) African experts Perspectives of African experts on own IC awareness as inferred and coded from the interview transcriptions are presented in Table 7.2 and illustrated graphically in Fig. 7.7. 147 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs Table 7.2: IC awareness of African culture – African experts’ perspectives Interviewee IC awareness perspective (fi) A1; A5; A6; A7 Human centredness 12 A1; A4; A6; A7 Consensus-seeking 10 A1; A3; A4; A5; A6 Respect 10 A1; A3; A4; A7 Direct manner 7 A1; A3; A6; A7 Humble 7 A1; A5 Showing emotions 7 A1; A4; A5 Accommodating others 6 A1; A4; A3; A7 Communalistic 6 A1; A3; A6 Following rules and protocol 6 A1; A4; A6; A7 Family orientation 5 A1; A3; A7 Social etiquette 5 A3; A7 Hierarchical 3 A3; A7 Individualistic 3 A2; Logical thinking 3 A1; A2 Rebellious 3 A4; A5 Interconnectivity (humans and spirit) 2 A7 Keep their own culture 2 A3;A7 Loud 2 A4; A5 Open-minded 2 A1 Pursuit of harmony 2 A3 Abrupt 1 A2 Achievement-focused 1 A3 Arrogant 1 A1 Confrontational manner 1 A1 Curiosity 1 A1 Honour 1 A7 In-group focus 1 A3 Lots of talk 1 A3 Status-driven 1 *Scores indicate frequencies Source: Author’s own contribution 148 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Fi g. 7. 7: IC a w ar en es s o f A fr ic an cu ltu re – A fr ic an ex pe rt s’ pe rs pe ct iv es So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 149 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs As reflected in Table 7.2 and Fig. 7.7, the perspectives of own IC awareness of African people inferred from interviews with African experts, is that African people are largely human-centred, consensus-seeking, respectful, humble, speak in a direct manner, show emotions, are accommodating, communalistic, follow rules and protocol, and have prescribed ways of demonstrating good social etiquette. Quoted extracts supporting the most frequently cited perspectives are now provided and briefly discussed. 7 .3 .1 .1 Human centredness In African culture, the human being and good human relations are central to life and communication, as reflected in the comments of A1, A5, A6 and A7. A7 speaks of the primary definition of people as human beings remaining in whatever context they find themselves, as reflected below. Because what defines us as human beings, never changes. So your primary definition as a human being remains, even though you have changed the context or the environment in which you work. A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT The human centredness of African culture appears not to be well understood by Chinese colleagues, as shown in A1’s reflection on the Chinese lack of understanding of protocol for events such as death, in African culture. The Chinese don’t understand when someone dies, that you need to go to the funeral. No, they want you to take leave and deduct it from your pay. That makes me angry because where I come from, if a mom dies or a dad dies or sibling, it’s very serious. We would organise a taxi and we would go as a team for those two hours and come back. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing This finding is indicative of the Chinese position where business is potentially put ahead of human relations, or of the in-group versus out-group nature of Chinese culture, where concern is for the immediate family (Chen, 2002; 2015; Chen and Starosta, 2003). It is further suggested that the human centredness of African culture extends to empathic behaviours, such as being accommodative of others and showing warmth to others in communication and everyday life. For example, in trying to communicate better with her Chinese counterparts, A1 says, I have realised that I need to smile more, be a little calmer around them and put them at ease. 150 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing Offering another perspective, A6 suggests that being human-centred also reflects in a concern for others and their well-being. I think, and this is something I have learned having worked in Africa for many years – and when I say worked in Africa, I am talking about not in South Africa but in the subcontinent – is, a conversation starts off with a kind of “tell me how your family is, talk to me about how your children are” and showing positive interest in the person you are speaking to. And that is very important in the African culture. A6 South African Male 55 White Professional The values expressed by A6 are embodied in the Ubuntu philosophy discussed in Chapter 5, section 5.1.2.2. 7 .3 .1 .2 Consensus-seeking The consensus-seeking nature of African culture is reflected in the views of African experts who comment that Chinese people are not consultative (A1, A4, A6, A7). For example, A1 shows exasperation at the Chinese colleagues’ reluctance to discuss business issues or to negotiate. They don’t understand this negotiating, I don’t understand. Their views are so clear, in terms of the workforce actually doesn’t have a leg to stand on, and “now you guys have rights, what is this rights thing? You are here to work, I’m not making money, why would I give you a bonus?” A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing The frustration felt by A1 suggests that negotiation and discussion in order to arrive at a consensus likely form an important attribute of African culture. The valuing of consensus is further seen in A4’s conviction regarding the need for compromise in bringing together different viewpoints to arrive at a solution acceptable to all. Being adaptable and accepting others doesn’t mean you have to give up your views but it’s a matter of not insisting that one of you is right. It’s about finding ways to work together using each other’s differing viewpoints to arrive at a better solution, if possible. A4 Cameroonian Male 37 Black Legal 151 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs 7 .3 .1 .3 Respectful The importance of showing respect in communication in African culture, is evident at different levels, as reflected in interviews A1, A3, A4, A5 and A6. Disrespect for elders is frowned upon (A3); we respect our parents (A5); women (A6); and those heading … delegations (A6). Highlighting the importance of being respectful in African culture, A3 draws parallels between the respect shown in Chinese culture with that shown in African culture. They are very respectful in terms of the way they address their elders. They know their place and I find it very common amongst Black people as well … You don’t talk back and you can’t be opinionated just because it’s offensive to the elders. A3 South African Male 34 Black Manufacturing 7 .3 .1 .4 Humble As is reflected by A1, A3, A6 and A7, African experts see African people as being humble. This is expressed in their views on general approaches to communication where, for example, A7 compares the Chinese practice of acknowledging title and rank to the humility of African people, where rank or title are not emphasised in communication. When they interact with you as well, they expect you to defer in a specific way, acknowledging those ranks that they defer to amongst themselves. But then you find that we don’t operate like that. For example we don’t call each other “Mr” in SA, if it is C7 it is C7, if it is Fungai it is Fungai, if it is Janet … that is not how we interact, regardless of rank, right? A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT While A7’s views may hold true in the organisational context, it may also be Western practice, given that in traditional African culture, honorific prefixes are used when addressing the elderly and those of higher ranking. For example in Zimbabwean Shona culture, a manager Mr Edward Jones would not normally be addressed as “Edward” but rather as “Va- Jones”. Also highlighting humility in interaction, A6 suggests that it is part of African culture when he says, This is not about “I am big and powerful and you need to do what I tell you to do”. You can’t do that, you have got to show that you understand and that you are patient. 152 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS A6 South African Male 55 White Professional Finally, in referring to how IC could be improved A1 shares an African perspective where humility is a key factor, as expressed below. I am willing to learn from you. I think humility must not be missed in any of this. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing 7 .3 .1 .5 Speaking in a direct manner African experts on IC awareness suggest that communication in African culture is direct, with people preferring to state facts as they are, rather than “beating about the bush”. Examples are A3’s description of how she presents a financial issue to her Chinese manager, A1’s description of how her Chinese manager responds to direct communication, and A7’s approach to matters concerning etiquette. Supporting quotations are given below. For example, there is a situation or problem that needs to be assessed, we (South Africans and business White South Africa) tend to be very direct about a situation: “You messed up, these are the consequences,” etc. But this is completely different with the Chinese culture. A3 South African Male 34 Black Manufacturing We present a budget where we are saying we will have a break-even point in March. In order for us to have a break-even point in March we would have to change a few products. The result in changing these products is that they are going to lose money in China. They didn’t have to say much, or they did say it in Chinese, but you could see in the body language – no eye contact – that it’s a “no”. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing These extracts suggest a direct manner of communication where all facts and issues are put on the table, a perspective confirmed by A7 below. So it is simple. You just tell them “Ah chaps, here in Africa or in SA, we don’t actually do this. It is considered impolite”. You tell them. Or “It is considered disgusting”. A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT 153 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs 7 .3 .1 .6 Showing emotions A5 paints a picture of Africans who easily show emotions when she expresses how Africans are, overall friendlier than the Chinese, warmer [and comfortable with high contact as they] easily hug each other … As Africans, we are warmer people. A5 South African Female 26 White Legal 7 .3 .1 .7 Communalistic The communalistic nature of African culture is inferred from A1’s description of how Africa people band together and support each other when events such as funerals occur. All else stops for the moment, as this is this considered an important communal occasion. The Chinese don’t understand when someone dies, that you need to go to the funeral. No, they want you to take leave and deduct it from your pay. That makes me angry because where I come from, if a mom dies or a dad dies or sibling, it’s very serious. We would organise a taxi and we would go as a team for those two hours and come back. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing 7 .3 .1 .8 Following rules and protocol The following of rules and protocol in African culture is supported by statements made by A1 and A3, mostly relating to interaction with elders and seniors as reflected below. So there are a lot of do’s and don’ts in terms of when very senior people come in. And that is very key for them. Which is the exact same in Black culture. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing You shouldn’t be rude, sarcastic and loud. These are all Western ideas that are taught to us and it is foreign to the elders. A3 South African Male 34 Black Manufacturing 154 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 7 .3 .1 .9 Family orientation The value ascribed to the family is seen in A7’s view that local African people find it difficult to reconcile the Chinese practice of working very long hours at the expense of spending time with their families. You will find that locals do not understand why you should work eighteen hour days and neglect your family, you know? A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT Further supporting the African experts view of strong family orientation in African culture, A4 says We have very strong filial piety whereby we respect our parents. A4 Cameroonian Male 37 Black Legal 7 .3 .1 .10 Etiquette In the context of the present findings, etiquette is related to behaving appropriately and is expected in both business and social contexts. Good etiquette is expected of all. A3’s negative view of the Chinese practice of playing with their cellular phones and engaging in separate conversations during meetings, emphasises the importance of good etiquette in African culture. The biggest culture shock going into meetings was that in a meeting with Africans, there is usually one conversation, generally one person speaks but in the Chinese culture you have five conversations occurring at once even though you should be listening to one person. It’s completely surprising. And they love cellular phones in meetings. Generally, it’s rude for us to be on our phones. A3 South African Male 34 Black Manufacturing 7 .3 .1 .11 Summary In summary, the own IC awareness perspectives of African experts are that African people are human-centred, consensus-seeking, humble, respectful, speak in a direct manner, show their emotions, are communalistic, follow rules and protocol, and value good social etiquette. During interviews, to a lesser extent, some African experts also suggested that African people view themselves as status-driven, confrontational, arrogant, abrupt, ingroup focused and talk a lot. 155 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs It seems that a straightforward approach of seeking to understand African people in the Sino-African organisational context purely on the basis of what is known of traditional African culture, may be flawed. This is because of the occurrence of perspectives normally associated with Western cultures emerging in African experts’ views of themselves. In the next section, IC awareness perspectives of African culture from the perspective of Chinese experts are presented. 7 .3 .2 Intercultural communication awareness of African culture: Chinese experts’ perspectives RQ-E2: What are the perspectives of African and Chinese experts on IC awareness in their counterparts’ culture? b) Chinese experts Chinese experts’ IC awareness perspectives of African culture as inferred from the transcribed interviews with C1 to C8 are presented in Table 7.3 and illustrated graphically in Fig. 7.8. Table 7.3: IC awareness of African culture – Chinese experts’ perspectives Interviewees IC awareness perspective (fi) C1; C2; C4; C7; C8 Human centredness 20 C1; C3 Arrogant 6 C1; C3; C8 Direct manner 5 C5; C7; C8 Humble 5 C1; C2; C5 Family orientation 5 C1; C3 Curiosity 4 C7; C8 Show emotions 4 C2; C3 Lots of talk 4 C8 Communalistic 3 C1; C2 Confrontational 2 C3; C7 Following rules and protocol 2 C2; C7 Individualistic 2 C5 Gender roles 2 C1 Relationship focus 2 C3 Optimistic 1 *Scores indicate frequencies Source: Author’s own contribution 156 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Fi g. 7. 8: IC a w ar en es s o f A fr ic an cu ltu re – C hi ne se ex pe rt s’ pe rs pe ct iv es So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 157 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs As is reflected in Table 7.3 and Fig. 7.8, Chinese experts’ IC awareness perspectives of African culture include the views that African people are largely human-centred, arrogant, direct, humble, family-orientated, curious, showing of emotions, talkative and communalistic. Quotes supporting the most frequently cited perspectives are now provided. To avoid restricting the discussion, no cut-off point on the number of frequently cited perspectives to be discussed was set. 7 .3 .2 .1 African people are human-centred Chinese experts report that African people are patient, kind and easy to get along with. They are also described as demonstrating patience, tolerance and an accommodating spirit. Support for this view is in C4’s statement about the reception he received on his first arrival to South Africa. But South Africans were very kind and had a lot of patience with me. C4 Chinese Male 50 Chinese Manufacturing C2 alludes to Ubuntu and the collectivistic nature of African people. Black and African culture also have collectivism-orientated behaviour, hence Ubuntu. C2 Chinese Male 35 Chinese ICT C7 paints a picture of the spontaneous African who easily opens up to strangers, is non-judgmental and accommodating. African people are very easy-going and outgoing, you can basically bump into each other and sort of have a conversation on the road and joke around with strangers … I think from a cultural perspective, I think African people are generally very friendly and very easy to talk to and they are very easy to make friends with and they don’t have a condescending sort of attitude towards other societies or other races. C7 Chinese Male 29 Chinese Finance 7 .3 .2 .2 African people are arrogant Some Chinese experts view White and Black African people as being arrogant; for example, C1 says, The White people say they are happy with what they have now, so they don’t need to understand more. 158 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS C1 Chinese Male 50+ Chinese/SA Mining The comments of C3 further illuminate the perceived arrogance of African people. He describes his working relationship with a Black employee and his general attitude towards South Africans. Unfortunately, he had an arrogant nature and the quality of his work was poor. This young man thought highly of himself and believed himself to be smarter than other people. In my experience, many South Africans believe themselves to be exceptionally smart … South African locals are boastful and lack credibility, so I couldn’t take their words too seriously and couldn’t keep their company, let alone have deep fellowship with them. C3 Chinese Male 46 Chinese Manufacturing 7 .3 .2 .3 African people are direct Chinese experts see African people as communicating in a direct manner, with no ambiguity. CI and C8 speak of the “straightforward” Africans, while C3 sees South African people as being too direct. To the White South Africans, the so-called Afrikaners, my first impression was that they are very straightforward, very frank … The Black people and people in the Western environment tend to speak more openly, straightforward and put everything on the table. C1 Chinese Male 50+ Chinese/SA Mining They are more straightforward than the Chinese people. They don’t like to beat about the bush. C8 Chinese Male 37 Chinese SOE South African locals are too direct in their communication in contrast to Chinese people who are always “veiled” in their communication. C3 Chinese Male 46 Chinese Manufacturing 7 .3 .2 .4 African people are humble Inferences made from the interviews with Chinese experts are that African people are humble, to the extent that they see themselves as inferior to other races (C5). The humility ex- 159 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs tends even to those in high office (C8), citing the example of a South African minister who received a Chinese delegation with great humility. I think for a short distance in their mind, the Black African mind, they still see themselves not number one, they are always thinking negatively, they are behind someone. C5 Chinese Female 50 Chinese/SA Finance Even if they are in high position they are still friendly and humble. In this regard they are better than the Chinese people. Even the South African minister when he receives us he is very humble. Yes that is a good point. C8 Chinese Male 37 Chinese SOE 7 .3 .2 .5 African people are family-orientated In their view of African culture, Chinese experts report the existence of strong affiliation to families (C1, C2), that are largely patriarchal (C5). It would appear however that Chinese experts believe that value assigned to the family interferes with work in the organisation, as African people seem to place family before the organisation. C2 comments, They will take holiday or look after their family at weekends, even they talk that they will do so, they will work harder together; but in reality they don’t fulfil that task completely. In my experience. C2 Chinese Male 35 Chinese ICT 7 .3 .2 .6 African people talk a lot Chinese experts point out that the talkative nature of African people is problematic, as in most instances it is seen as a case of “all talk no action”. C2 and C3 articulate this view. So they don’t like that the South African Black people who talk more than actions, you know? C2 Chinese Male 35 Chinese ICT South Africans have a sweet mouth with a “multitude of fine words”, but they seldom do what they say … South African locals don’t talk much about themselves. Instead, they always tell stories about other people or talk about news in the media. C3 Chinese Male 46 Chinese Manufacturing 160 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 7 .3 .2 .7 African people are curious An interesting aspect associated with African people by the Chinese experts (C1, C3) is curiosity, suggesting that African people are likely to be open and inquisitive in communication. This assumption is understandable, in view of the perception that African people talk a lot and are human-centred and accepting of all, including strangers. For the Black Africans, I work with them in the mining environment, underground, on the surface, etc. My impression of them is that they are very curious about Chinese, especially. They want to know more about Chinese and what’s beyond Africa. C1 Chinese Male 50+ Chinese/SA Mining 7 .3 .2 .8 African people show emotions The “very friendly” nature of Africans (C7), ability to joke around with strangers and show gratitude and affection (C8) as enunciated by Chinese experts reflects African people who show emotion. The South African people are very friendly. Even if they are in high position they are still friendly and humble … African people also thank you for the things that you do [gratitude]. They are not like Chinese people. C7 Chinese Male 29 Chinese Finance You find the South Africans saying “How are you?” “I am good” too much, hypocritical. And then they laugh and hug and each other [affection] – oh my goodness, wasting time. If you are too friendly Chinese people have doubt. C8 Chinese Male 37 Chinese SOE 7 .3 .2 .9 Summary Chinese experts’ IC awareness perspectives of African culture are that African people are human-centred, arrogant, direct, humble, family-orientated, talkative with little action, curious and display emotions. Arrogance and humility are contradictory, suggesting an area for further investigation. In addition, though not to a large extent, inferences from interviews were that Chinese experts view African people as optimistic, confrontational, following rules and protocol, individualistic, emphasising gender roles and having a relationship focus. In the next section, African own and Chinese IC awareness perspectives of African culture are compared. 161 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs 7 .3 .3 Intercultural communication awareness in African culture – own and other perspectives RQ-E3: What are the similarities and/or differences in IC awareness perspectives in African and Chinese cultures in the Sino-African organisational context? a) African culture The IC awareness perspectives of African experts and Chinese experts regarding African culture are juxtaposed in Table 7.4 and illustrated graphically in Fig. 7.9. Only those characteristics with a count greater than 3 in each cultural group are included in Table 7.4. However, to show the contrast between own and other perspectives in some instances where one cultural group scores greater or equal to three, the other cultural group may score zero as is depicted in the graphical illustration Fig. 7.9). Supporting quotations for the IC awareness perspectives have been given in sections 7.3.1 and 7.3.2. As reflected in Table 7.4 and Fig. 7.9 below, the areas of agreement regarding IC awareness of African culture by both African and Chinese experts are: • human-centredness • a direct manner • being humble • showing emotions • family orientation • communalistic There is however a divergence, in that Chinese people potentially view African people as: • arrogant • talkative • curious 162 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Ta bl e 7.4 : I C a w ar en es s i n A fr ic an cu ltu re – o w n an d ot he r p er sp ec tiv es A FR IC A N O W N P ER SP EC TI V ES CH IN ES E PE RS PE CT IV ES O F A FR IC A N S In te rv ie w ee IC a w ar en es s pe rs pe ct iv e (fi ) In te rv ie w ee IC A w ar en es s pe rs pe ct iv e (fi ) A1 ; A 5; A6 ; A 7 Hu m an ce nt re dn es s 12 C1 ; C 2; C4 ; C 7; C8 Hu m an ce nt re dn es s 20 A1 ; A 4; A6 ; A 7 Co ns en su s-s ee kin g 10 C1 ; C 3 Ar ro ga nt 6 A1 ; A 3; A4 ; A 5; A6 Re sp ec t 10 C1 ; C 3; C8 Di re ct m an ne r 5 A1 ; A 3; A4 ; A 7 Di re ct m an ne r 7 C5 ; C 7; C8 Hu m ble 5 A1 ; A 3; A6 ; A 7 Hu m ble 7 C1 ; C 2; C5 Fa m ily or ien ta tio n 5 A1 ; A 5 Sh ow ing em ot ion s 7 C1 ; C 3 Cu rio sit y 4 A1 ; A 4; A5 Ac co m m od at ing ot he rs 6 C7 ; C 8 Sh ow ing em ot ion s 4 A1 ; A 4; A3 ; A 7 Co m m un ali sti c 6 C2 ; C 3 Lo ts of ta lk 4 A1 ; A 3; A6 Fo llo wi ng ru les an d p ro to co l 6 C8 Co m m un ali sti c 3 A1 ; A 4; A6 ; A 7 Fa m ily or ien ta tio n 5       A1 ; A 3; A7 So cia l e tiq ue tte 5       A3 ; A 7 Hi er ar ch ica l 3       A3 ; A 7 In div idu ali sti c 3       A2 ; Lo gic al th ink ing 3       A1 ; A 2 Re be llio us 3       *S co re s i nd ic at e fr eq ue nc ie s So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 163 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs Fi g. 7. 9: IC a w ar en es s i n A fr ic an cu ltu re – o w n an d ot he r p er sp ec tiv es (A fr ic an a nd C hi ne se ex pe rt s’ pe rs pe ct iv es co m pa re d) So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 164 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 7 .3 .3 .1 Discussion There is agreement between African and Chinese experts that African people are largely human-centred. This involves observing the values of Ubuntu including caring, reciprocity, sharing, compassion, hospitality, cohabitation, cooperation and tolerance (Mbigi and Maree, 1995; Bell and Metz, 2011; Praeg and Magadla, 2014; Metz, 2014; 2015). It is therefore fitting that African and Chinese experts share the view that African people show their emotions and are generally not condescending towards other races (A7). However, while Chinese experts view African people as human-centred, they do not always view this characteristic in a positive light. C8 believes that African people, at times, use human centredness as an excuse for poor performance, as illustrated in the extract below, from an interview with C8. For example when Mandela died, the interpreter he made a mistake. In China it would have been a very big thing. You would be fired and you would have to apologise in the newspaper to the whole country. But here, they are too relaxed. They just say we are human beings, we make mistakes. That is why when a Chinese boss say, “Can you do this better?” they say, “I am a human being, of course I make a mistake.” (C8) It is still a point of agreement between African experts and Chinese experts that African people are family-orientated and humble. However, while one would expect the humility of African people to translate into humility in communication, it is surprising that Chinese people in fact see Africans as being arrogant (C1, C3). Being arrogant and direct can be associated with Western values and behaviour, where theory suggests that Western people are individualistic, independent, autonomous, ego-driven, complete and self-sufficient (Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998; Eaton and Louw, 2000; Miike, 2002, p. 6; Kim, 2007). Furthermore, although arrogance may not be an accepted trait in Black African culture, the view that the self is flexible and variable, changing between contexts and relationships (Myer, 1987; Eaton and Louw, 2000; Faniran, 2014) could provide an explanation for the differences in business and social contexts, as will be discussed in section 7.7. Furthermore, the influence of the West comes into consideration as articulated by C1 when he says, Just remember that the so-called Western way is from America and Europe, then there is Africa with the culture of the Black people. So the modern development is now combined. So in terms of the big organisations in South Africa, there is the so-called Western way and the influence from America and Europe. But things are changing in Africa. (C1) What these findings imply is that any attempt at developing some sort of intervention that will result in greater IC awareness and enhanced IC congruence should take into consideration the potential for multiple influences on African culture and communication. The Chinese experts’ views of the talkative African perpetuate the stereotypical view of the African who “talks at length, for the purpose of simple enjoyment and not necessarily to 165 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs reach any particular conclusion” (Matondo, 2012, p. 43). It is likely, however, that this results from not understanding what constitutes the human centredness of African culture, where interaction with others whose intrinsic worth, dignity and effort are valued (Jackson, 1999; Kigongo, 2002; Igboin, 2011, p. 99; Faniran, 2014, p. 151). Vigorous talking and interaction are therefore likely part and parcel of African life, whether in business or in a social context. The challenge, in IC Sino-African organisational terms, is that talking a lot is associated with non-delivery as expressed by C2 in his statement: South Africans have a sweet mouth with a “multitude of fine words”, but they seldom do what they say. (C2) The findings suggest that it is important for Chinese people to understand and acknowledge the foundation of what it means to be African, if IC congruence is to be achieved. Likewise, this expectation holds for African people regarding their Chinese counterparts. Finally, the findings suggest that Chinese people do not necessarily view Africans as consensus-seeking, respectful rule-followers with good social etiquette – as the African people view themselves. A possible explanation for the differences in understanding could be that consensus is not a consideration in Chinese culture because strict rule-following is the norm (Gan, 2014); notions of consensus might not come to mind at all for the interviewees. Furthermore, Chinese people may not be aware of the rules and protocol in African culture, therefore they are not in a position to comment as such. For IC congruence therefore, it may be helpful if Chinese people were more aware of the rules and protocols of African culture. In conclusion, it is possible that a lack of knowledge and understanding of African cultural, behavioural and social norms affects Chinese people’s perspectives on African people. 166 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 7 .4 Perspectives of Intercultural Communication Awareness – Chinese Culture In this section, IC awareness perspectives of Chinese culture are presented, beginning with Chinese experts’ views of themselves. The first column in the tables indicates the interviewees from whom the IC awareness perspective is inferred. The second column identifies the perspectives and the last column indicates the number of times the perspective was raised in these interviews. Following each data table and graphical illustration, a brief summary and supporting quotations from the interviews are provided in respect of the most often cited perspectives. 7 .4 .1 Own perspectives: Chinese experts RQ-E1: What are the perspectives of African and Chinese experts on IC awareness in their own culture? b) Chinese experts Own IC awareness perspectives of Chinese experts as inferred and coded from the interview transcriptions are presented in Table 7.5 and illustrated graphically in Fig. 7.10. 167 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs Table 7.5: IC awareness of Chinese culture – Chinese experts’ perspectives Interviewee IC awareness perspective (fi) C1; C2; C3; C4; C5; C6; C7; C8 Following rules and protocol 23 C1; C3; C5; C7; C8 Face giving/saving 13 C1; C3; C4; C6; C7; C8 In-group focus 13 C1; C2; C3; C4; C5; C6; C7; C8 Indirect manner 13 C1; C2; C7 Pursuit of harmony 9 C1; C2; C7; C8 Hierarchical 6 C2; C7; C8 Little talk 5 C1; C4; C5; C6 Nonverbal communication 5 C1; C3; C7 Relationship focus 4 C5; C6; C7 Respect 4 C1; C8 Arrogant 3 C3; C4 Calm manner 3 C2; C6; C7 Collectivistic 3 C5; C7; C8 Human centredness 3 C2; C8 Sceptical 3 C1 Keep their own culture 2 C4; C6 Low-contact culture 2 C4 Accommodating others 1 C1 Adaptable 1 C2 Authoritative 1 C3 Curiosity 1 C2; C4; C6 Direct manner 1 C8 Show emotions -1* C7 Honour 1 C3 Humble 1 C1 Reciprocity 1 C7 Sense of urgency 1 C2 Sincere 1 C4 Status-driven 1 *Scores indicate frequencies *Minus sign denotes a negative of the perspective Source: Author’s own contribution 168 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Fi g. 7. 10 : I C a w ar en es s o f C hi ne se cu ltu re – C hi ne se ex pe rt s’ pe rs pe ct iv es ** M in us si gn d en ot es a n eg at iv e of th e pe rs pe ct iv e So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 169 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs As is reflected in Table 7.5 and Fig. 7.10, the perspective of IC awareness of Chinese culture inferred from interviews with Chinese experts is that Chinese people are largely rule-and-protocol followers, concerned with maintaining face, in-group focused, indirect, guided by the pursuit of harmony and are hierarchical. Quoted extracts supporting the most frequently cited views are provided. To avoid restricting the discussion, no cut-off point on the number of frequently cited perspectives to be discussed was set. 7 .4 .1 .1 Follow rules and protocol Chinese experts attest to strict rule-following adherence to protocol, where employees follow the orders of their superiors and communicate according to the demands of the context. In addition, words are chosen carefully to ensure that communication is appropriate. Quotes from interviews C1, C4 and C7 illustrate this. Yes, yes. The Chinese colleagues, employees, they are just following their superiors’ orders and firmly. C2 Chinese Male 35 Chinese ICT For good communication to take place, “words should flow from the mouth as from the pen of a master” and dirty words shouldn’t be used. Good communication should be “neither humble nor pushy”. [Appropriateness] C4 Chinese Male 50 Chinese Manufacturing When you are talking to people there is a rule for like talking to your peers and you is talking to someone older than you that is more senior than you. C7 Chinese Male 29 Chinese Finance 7 .4 .1 .2 Face-giving and face-saving – mianzi Chinese experts suggest that face-giving and face-saving is an inherent part of Chinese culture where one should avoid putting others in situations where they can be embarrassed. An illustration given by C1 highlights how face works in Chinese culture. If you are working together as a team, if your boss is Chinese and he says, “We need to buy this property for x amount dollars as it can produce x amount next year” and you are the team leader who has more technical background who says, “No, if you believe this project will bring in fifty million next year then it’s no way, it’s impossible.” You can’t say that. You will probably be fired if you say that. You basically saying he is weaker and that’s an insult to the Chinese boss. You could have said “yes, you are right, that’s wonderful. Maybe we need to do more work and investigate further, let me help you 170 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS gain more information”. So in this way you did not say you agree with him but also you did not say he is wrong. C1 Chinese Male 50+ Chinese/SA Mining The desire to save and give face also extends to situations where untruths are told to ensure face maintenance. C6 expresses how in the endeavour to maintain face, untruths may be told and that this is perfectly acceptable when he says, Telling the truth doesn’t mean it is appropriate. Being appropriate doesn’t mean it is a lie or truth. C6 Chinese Male 31 Chinese/SA Legal 7 .4 .1 .3 In-group focus Chinese experts also raise the in-group focus of Chinese people where concern is mainly for the in-group, interpersonal relationships, and the family (C1). By the natural way, the Chinese culture and African culture, you do find that association in family values, traditions and interpersonal relationships. C1 Chinese Male 50+ Chinese/SA Mining Chinese are very open with their friends. C3 Chinese Male 46 Chinese Manufacturing The fact that C3 emphasises that Chinese people are open with their friends implies that they may not be as open with outsiders, or those from outside their culture. There is also a suggestion in the findings that an in-group focus extends to the business context as evidenced by the reaction of C4 to unexpected assistance rendered by out-group members when he was looking for car parts. Sometimes when I went to buy motor parts, the owner of the motor spares shop didn’t stock a particular item, but they were always kind enough to refer me to another spares shop that did have the part that I needed. This way of doing things is different to Chinese culture because Chinese business people won’t refer you to another shop if they don’t have stock of something. C4 Chinese Male 50 Chinese Manufacturing 171 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs 7 .4 .1 .4 Indirect manner An indirect manner of communicating in Chinese culture, as raised by Chinese experts, is associated with implicitness in communication. One almost always needs to find hidden meanings in communication, as articulated below. The Chinese take an indirect approach, even for day-to-day conversation, you won’t put things very straightforward. If there is a point that you want to make comes up where it may create some conflict to these values, you try to avoid it or try to use different expressions … In Chinese we have a saying: Something that you can comprehend but you cannot see. You can only guess or try to comprehend but people won’t say straightforward to you. C1 Chinese Male 50+ Chinese/SA Mining The Chinese are not direct. When they speak they imply something. Also they will watch your mood. If you are not very happy they can change what they say. C7 Chinese Male 29 Chinese Finance Chinese people who are always “veiled” in their communication. C3 Chinese Male 46 Chinese Manufacturing 7 .4 .1 .5 Pursuit of harmony C1 and C2 suggest that pursuit of harmony is a guiding principle in Chinese culture. To provide an example, C1 narrates a story about an argument with White African managers about dead wood for a braai. C1 and his colleagues had wandered off at night to search for dead wood, much to the displeasure of their White African hosts. The argument was very discomforting for C1 who only found peace the next day when the issue was resolved. So we went out to search for other dead wood and when we came back, they were not happy with that. They shouted at us and we had a big argument. The next day when we explained everything, it was okay, we all became very relaxed … For the Chinese community and organisation, it is important to maintain that kind of harmony, comfort and happiness. C1 Chinese Male 50+ Chinese/SA Mining Further emphasising the importance of harmony in Chinese interactions, C2 states, Yes, so generally speaking in the Chinese organisations, business organisations or public organisations, so they also normally put a focus on harmony. They don’t like people 172 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS making trouble with each other. So superficially everyone is in a smooth relationship within the organisation. But in reality … [laughs]. C2 Chinese Male 35 Chinese ICT 7 .4 .1 .6 Hierarchical Chinese experts describe the Chinese way of life as hierarchical; this is associated with respect for authority and leaders as well as following protocol. People lower in the hierarchy are expected to show respect to those above them in the hierarchy as shown in the extracts from interviews with C2, C6 and C7. So Chinese society, Chinese organisations are more hierarchical than in the African communities and organisations. C2 Chinese Male 35 Chinese ICT So the leadership goes first. Ladies or not ladies, leadership goes first. So you shake the leadership’s hand first. C6 Chinese Male 31 Chinese/SA Legal But in East Asian countries culturally that is a little bit different, people still sort of, there is still a sort of a top-down hierarchy that people who are more senior you have to sort of show a certain kind of respect for them in the Chinese and the East Asia societies. C7 Chinese Male 29 Chinese Finance 7 .4 .1 .7 Little talk Contrasting with African people who are seen to talk a lot, IC awareness perspectives of Chinese experts suggest that the Chinese are people of few words, who prefer to act than to talk. This characteristic also extends to emails where few words are used. The Chinese don’t talk a lot, they prefer action more. C2 Chinese Male 35 Chinese ICT Also in the email. Chinese will not say many words. People think that email is rude and like a command. But for us it is normal, nothing wrong. 173 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs C8 Chinese Male 37 Chinese SOE The use of few words in communication is not just a cultural phenomenon for the Chinese people, but is also an effect of their limited vocabulary. C3 says he would like to be indirect in an appropriate way, but does not have enough vocabulary. It is therefore unsurprising that Chinese people are at times labelled as abrupt or rude. 7 .4 .1 .8 Nonverbal communication Apart from verbal communication, the use of body language, symbols, colour and silence in communication is mentioned by C1, C4, C5 and C6. Mere appearance is also a form of communication as seen in C4’s statement. For good communication, neatness and cleanliness of appearance and clothes needs to be appropriate to one’s position or suited to the occasion. C4 Chinese Male 50 Chinese Manufacturing 7 .4 .1 .9 Respect Associated with hierarchy, following rules and protocol, showing respect and being respectful are behaviours highly rated by the Chinese experts. I think so, I think in the East Asian countries there is some sort of a norm where the younger people were told when growing up to respect the elderly and respect the authority. C7 Chinese Male 29 Chinese Finance This young generation, because of their inexperience they have to listen to the old generation and the old generation carries a very strong mind and they don’t want change, they [young generation] misbehave themselves, but you still have to say yes boss. That mistake I hope will be getting less and less. C5 Chinese Female 50 Chinese/SA Finance C5’s comment suggests that things may be changing with the emergence of the new younger generation of Chinese people who may more easily question the way things are done. Despite this change, however, C5 sees the old ways prevailing. 174 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 7 .4 .1 .10 Relationships – guanxi Chinese experts view relationships as facilitating easier communication in Chinese culture. This perspective is supported by the comments below. For Chinese people, guanxi is the most important value when communicating. C3 Chinese Male 46 Chinese Manufacturing If you have good guanxi and if you are comfortable in your clothes, then it is easier to communicate. If you don’t have a good guanxi, its will be very awkward to talk to each other, even though you are talking about pure business. C1 Chinese Male 50+ Chinese/SA Mining I think in the Chinese business context, the Chinese people are relying on relationship-building. C7 Chinese Male 29 Chinese Finance 7 .4 .1 .11 Showing emotions Although only inferred from the comments of one Chinese expert there is a suggestion that Chinese people are not showing of emotions. In reference to his African colleagues C8 comments that, African people are more friendly. They are more easy to handle… C8 Chinese Male 37 Chinese SOE The above suggests a greater display of emotions by African people in comparison to their Chinese counterparts. For this reason the showing of emotions is reported in the negative in Table 7.5 and Fig. 7.10. 7 .4 .1 .12 Summary The own IC awareness perspectives of Chinese experts are that Chinese people are protocol- and rule-followers, practise face-giving and face-saving behaviours, are in-group focused, indirect, guided by the pursuit of harmony, hierarchical, prefer less talk and more action, communicate nonverbally, are respectful of elders and seniors, and are guided by the nature of relationships in communication. In addition, although not to a large extent, Chinese experts suggest that in some instances Chinese people see themselves as accom- 175 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs modating of others, adaptable, authoritative, curious, direct, not showing of emotions, honourable and humble in communication. In the next section, IC awareness perspectives of Chinese culture from the African experts’ point of view are presented. 7 .4 .2 Intercultural communication awareness of Chinese culture: African experts’ perspectives RQ-E2: What are the perspectives of African and Chinese experts on IC awareness in their counterparts’ culture? a) African experts African expert perspectives of IC awareness of Chinese culture as inferred from the transcribed interviews are presented in Table 7.6 and illustrated graphically in Fig. 7.11. 176 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Table 7.6: IC awareness of Chinese culture – African experts’ perspectives Interviewee IC awareness perspective (fi) A1; A3; A4; A5; A6; A7 Following rules and protocol 20 A1; A2; A4; A5; A6; A7 In-group focus 12 A1; A3; A5; A6 Keep their own culture 12 A1; A4; A6; A7 Nonverbal communication 11 A1; A6 Abrupt 8 A1; A6; A7 Insincere 8 A1; A6 Authoritative 7 A1; A3; A7 Do not show emotions 7 A3; A5; A7 Status-driven 7 A3; A4; A7 Calm manner 6 A1; A7 Do not say “no” 6 A1; A4; A5; A6; A7 Face-giving/saving 6 A3; A4; A6;A7 Hierarchical 5 A1; A7 Honour 5 A4; A6 Indirect manner 5 A1; A5; A7 Little talk 5 A1; A6 Family orientation 4 A3; A7 Relationship-focused 4 A3; A5 Respect 4 A1; A3; A6 Rude 4 A1 Pursuit of harmony 3 A1; A6 Gender roles 2 A1 Humorous 1 A5; A7 Low-contact culture 1 *Scores indicate frequencies Source: Author’s own contribution 177 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs Fi g. 7. 11 : I C a w ar en es s o f C hi ne se cu ltu re – A fr ic an ex pe rt s’ pe rs pe ct iv es So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 178 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS As is reflected in Table 7.6 and Fig. 7.11, IC awareness perspectives of Chinese culture, as inferred from interviews with African experts, suggest that Chinese people largely follow rules and protocol, are in-group focused, keep their own culture, communicate nonverbally, do not show their emotions and are abrupt, insincere and authoritative. Quotations supporting the most frequently cited perspectives are now provided. To avoid restricting the discussion, no cut-off point on the number of frequently cited perspectives to be discussed was set. 7 .4 .2 .1 Chinese people follow rules and protocol A1 speaks of a Chinese manager’s lack of tolerance for ill-discipline, such as having dirt around the plant and not switching off the lights at the end of the day. There are set rules and these must be followed through, otherwise the consequences are: Very firm. Discipline, discipline, discipline. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing It is conceivable that such a structured approach within the organisation as reported by A1 translates into communication behaviour which is bound by many rules, as seen in the comments made by A3. So there are a lot of do’s and don’ts in terms of when very senior people come in. And that is very key for them. A3 South African Male 34 Black Manufacturing Furthermore, as reported by A7, it would appear that even in general day-to-day interactions, once Chinese people have been given guidelines, they will conform. A7 speaks of his experiences with his Chinese colleagues’ use of public spaces such as bathrooms in his organisation, which differs from that of local African people. As a solution and way of modifying the behaviour, A7 found that simply guiding Chinese people in what was expected of them in these spaces, led to immediate compliance. But otherwise they adhere to rules and regulations very well; they tend to instruction very well. So as soon as they get guided, they conform. A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT With reference to protocol, African experts A5 and A7 report observing the strict conventions followed in seating arrangements and other organisational procedures, as reflected in the extracts given below. 179 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs I’ve seen it, many a time, where protocol is very strict on how people sit, in front of you and in negotiations they are quite formalistic in terms of their working patterns … Therefore, what normally happens when you have negotiations, the big person who speaks the most will sit in the middle and that should be adopted because it makes sense that the most influential must sit in the middle. A5 South African Female 26 White Legal Not following protocol has its consequences, as reported by A7. Failure to adhere to protocol when communicating with Chinese people may result in failure to achieve desired goals. A7 illustrates this point in an example of an employee seeking a pay increase. So if I want a raise from the manager, or the boss for example, the big boss – I am talking about maybe the project director – I am a line manager level or whatever employee, and I need to go to the big, big boss: I need someone to take me to the big, big boss. He is going to say “Okay, this is A7, he is the one who is doing this and this and this” – he will explain. And then the boss is like “Oh yeah, yes, yes, that one”. And he will say A7 is a very good chap, he does his job very well, blah, blah and he deserves a raise. Then I will get a raise. If I just go directly to the boss, you will not get anything. A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT 7 .4 .2 .2 Chinese people have an in-group focus African experts hold the view that Chinese people have a collective sense of self (A4) mostly keep to themselves, eating their own food and not being overly concerned about what happens outside their inner communities (A6). A1 comments on how Chinese colleagues do not seem to understand why one would need to take time off to attend a funeral of a colleague’s relative. The following quotations highlight the in-group focus of Chinese cultures. The Chinese do have the same sort of sense of collective, a sense of self, responsibility and togetherness. A4 Cameroonian Male 37 Black Legal They don’t eat the local food, they bring in Chinese chefs, and they live these isolated lives you know? Not going in and understanding the culture of Africa. A6 South African Male 55 White Professional And they keep to themselves, they don’t integrate in the local community 180 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT The Chinese don’t understand when someone dies, that you need to go to the funeral. No, they want you to take leave and deduct it from your pay. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing 7 .4 .2 .3 Chinese people keep their own culture Related to having an in-group focus is the African experts’ view that Chinese people keep to their own culture. Reportedly, the Chinese are patriotic, preferring to speak their own language and honour their cultural occasions such as the Chinese New Year. The African experts see the Chinese ways as not having been Westernised. They have kept a lot of their own culture. Very much so. They encourage that by mainly interacting with one another only to some extremes. They organise their own social gatherings. My understanding is that they go to each other’s houses. So they have their own social interaction and there’s just this huge migration that happens, obviously during the Chinese New Year. So they are very in touch with their culture. And they are very patriotic like that. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing From my interaction with the Chinese, there is no Westernisation of their communication. A3 South African Male 34 Black Manufacturing But no matter how good the Chinese are at English, they always conduct their meetings in Mandarin. So Mandarin is very strong, their roots are of utmost importance. A5 South African Female 26 White Legal Yes, look I mean I will give an example: the CEO or chairman of the company could not speak … I mean he said he couldn’t speak in English, I think he actually spoke more English than he liked people to believe, but it was interesting. A6 South African Male 55 White Professional 181 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs 7 .4 .2 .4 Chinese people communicate nonverbally African experts report a prevalence of the use of nonverbal communication by their Chinese colleagues. The use of eyes, body language and silence are particularly evident, and this gives support to the old adage “action speaks louder than words” or, in the words of Hall (1959), “silence speaks”. Even the colours worn convey some sort of meaning in Chinese culture. Regarding the use body language in communication, A1 tells of a nonverbal response to a financial proposal she had put forward to her Chinese boss. They didn’t have to say much or they did say it in Chinese, but you could see in the body language [no eye contact] that it’s a no. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing The Chinese people’s use of body language is also see in A3’s narration of the response to the bossy approach of White South Africans. White South African males, generally, get their point across by being loud, demanding and bossy. You can see the body language from the Chinese, they are not as open. You just see them closed off to the idea. A3 South African Male 34 Black Manufacturing Body language is also believed to be reflective of a person’s character as pointed out by A7. And when you are speaking to them, if you stand with your hands behind your back looking very firm and strong, it shows you are very stable. Also with the Chinese you don’t necessarily have to look a boss in their eyes, it shows that maybe you undermine his authority or something. So you learn those things so that you also don’t offend the other people. A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT The final nonverbal aspect of communication mentioned is the use of colour. This aspect is highlighted in A1’s advice that people interacting with Chinese people should put some thought into the colours they wear. Please look at the colours you wear to work. They don’t like bright colours. Greys, blues, black – they wear very dark colours because they see that as professional. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing 182 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 7 .4 .2 .5 Chinese people are abrupt An interesting characteristic of Chinese people inferred from the interviews with African experts is that they are abrupt in manner. This inference contrasts with the notion of face-giving and face-saving, where politeness, respect and avoiding offence and embarrassment are advocated. A1 reports on the Chinese feedback in a performance appraisal: We do reviews and we come up with KPAs [key performance areas] and if you have not met them – what’s the problem? Are you competent, are you stupid? … They will speak with brashness. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing A6 clearly articulates the abrupt manner in which Chinese managers spoke to staff and some of his colleagues. I used to sometimes feel very uncomfortable about the way that my staff were treated by other members of staff, in a very, very abrupt, sometimes rude way. And that is just the way that Chinese work … I witnessed the COO (Chief Operating Officer); okay he was on the same level as I was, he was a VP, but he assumed the role of COO, and he was absolutely shredded in front of all of his colleagues, and people who were his subordinates – which you just don’t do in Western culture! A6 South African Male 55 White Professional 7 .4 .2 .6 Chinese people are insincere The IC awareness perspective that the Chinese are insincere covers a broad range of issues. The issues include lying, “playing to the gallery”, being ambiguous and generally not being straightforward and honest, as perceived by the African experts. The extracts below provide a number of examples of Chinese insincerity as defined in the context of the present study. They can be very brash or they would be unbelievably thankful. Ok, so I give them financials, as an example, and they say “thank you so much”, “thank you, thank you thank you,” “we thank you for your good work.” They seem to be over-grateful when you give them something [researcher inferred insincerity]… The problem I have is that a big part of Chinese way of doing business is that lying is a normal part of business and I think it really frustrates things. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing You know they see themselves as being in a very similar situation, you know, which is great! I think it is good for Africa to have a friend in China, I think it is good, but on 183 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs the other hand it is actually watching how the Chinese actually treat Africans, and that I had a problem with. I felt very uncomfortable with it in many circumstances. I made it clear that I wasn’t happy with the way that Africans were being treated. So it was a case of talking out the side of your mouth, on the one hand “oh you know we are all brothers” and then on the other hand treating Africans with complete disdain – which made me very uncomfortable … The whole issue of saving face and the whole issue around being polite, I find that kind of only skin deep. I get a feeling that there is quite a lot of two-faced kind of activity that goes on – you know saying one thing but actually believing another. A6 South African Male 55 White Professional I don’t know if it’s just our holding company or a generalised Chinese culture, but they change easily. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing 7 .4 .2 .7 Chinese people are authoritative In contrast to the reported consensus-seeking nature of African cultures, African experts view the Chinese as authoritative. The way they spoke, it was very authoritative, authoritarian and it would take a great deal to shift their opinion, very stubborn – so you know lots of challenges, a hell of a lot of challenges! A6 South African Male 55 White Professional A7 likens communication in Chinese culture to a military setup. That is one thing that is very clear. It is like a military type of setup you know – where you have a major and a colonel and a sergeant and that sort of thing – that is how they relate. A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT 7 .4 .2 .8 Chinese people do not show emotions African experts find Chinese people are always calm and that it is difficult to read their emotions. Quotations from interviews with A7, A1, and A3 support this perspective. They are very impersonal in their relations with other people – even amongst themselves. 184 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT His management style is very calm and when he gets upset, it’s also still very calm. And you do get CEO’s like that. They so calm, but those words are so sharp … When he speaks, it doesn’t sound like it’s very harsh but when she [Chinese translator] tells us, it sounds harsh. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing They don’t raise their voices, they don’t become animated, they are not rude at all but they can make a point by being calm and serene but they aren’t afraid to embarrass you in front of a group of people. That’s the Chinese culture. Whereas we want to be all brash, loud, insulting and vocal. They don’t do that, they will embarrass you if you do something wrong but in a very calm, serene manner. A3 South African Male 34 Black Manufacturing 7 .4 .2 .9 Status-driven communication According to IC awareness perspectives of Africans, one has to earn the right to speak, titles are used and there is deference to rank in the manner in which communication takes place. The aforementioned viewpoint is supported by the narrations of A3 and A7 where, If you haven’t achieved a certain status in your life, you can’t address an elder, you can’t be part of a conversation … So as much as you might be having conversations, when they address the CEO, they always use full names and a Mr or Mrs. They will never address you by the first name. A3 South African Male 34 Black Manufacturing They defer mostly to rank. So if someone is high-ranked they interact with them in a different way and then if they are on the same level they also interact with them differently. A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT 7 .4 .2 .10 Chinese people are calm in manner The manner of communication demonstrated by Chinese people is reportedly calm. A3 believes that approaching communication with Chinese people in a clam manner makes for better communication, as this is a disposition that Chinese people are used to. 185 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs So it’s important to understand not to be loud, forceful, brash or offensive, to always remain respectful no matter how angry or upset you are. That will facilitate better communication especially with the Chinese. A3 South African Male 34 Black Manufacturing A7’s views on the need for adaptation when communicating with Chinese people also point to their perceived calm and quiet manner. And we do also adapt to them, because they can be barely or hardly audible when you speak to them. A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT 7 .4 .2 .11 Chinese people do not say “no” A perhaps bewildering aspect of Chinese people’s communication, pointed out by African experts, is that Chinese people do not say “no”. Not saying “no” may be viewed as a lack of straightforwardness, suggesting that appearances may not always represent reality. It is also plausible that not saying “no” could be for face-maintenance reasons, not wanting to show weakness or incapacity. Extracts from interviews with A1 and A7 provide examples. In a business sense, I think it has less to do with the communication and more to do with the way business is done and the culture is … there’s no such word as “no” … There’s no such word as “no” and there’s no such word as “not possible.” So we have to come in line and find the hidden meaning. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing Okay, what I am going to tell you, straight through, is that the Chinese do not say “no”. They will not say “no” to anything. They don’t believe that anything is impossible. They have a favourite word that I call a Chinese invention, called “no need”. You know “no needa!” – and when they say that … [laughs] those guys will not say “no” and they will deliver! Trust me! A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT 7 .4 .2 .12 Strong concern for face-giving and face-saving – mianzi African experts report a concern for giving and saving face in Chinese culture as reflected in the following quotations. The image they portray is very important. 186 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS A5 South African Female 26 White Legal The face is meant to be high or represent a person’s dignity and it’s about not offending … I mentioned indirectness and one of the reasons why that exists, especially in face-to-face interactions or group interactions, is because of the concept of face, or in Chinese, mianzi. A4 Cameroonian Male 37 Black Legal 7 .4 .2 .13 Communication is hierarchical As is expressed by A3, A4, A6 and A7, when people communicate in Chinese culture, hierarchy is taken into cognisance. The greatest respect is accorded to those higher up the hierarchy. So it’s very hierarchical and about respect. A3 South African Male 34 Black Manufacturing While A4 expresses his observation on the hierarchical interactions in the business context. I have realised in a business context that certain things do pop out, such as, their interactions are very hierarchical. A4 Cameroonian Male 37 Black Legal 7 .4 .2 .14 Chinese people are honourable A7 refers to Chinese people as honourable people who keep their promises and do not steal. They are very honourable, the Chinese. If they say this, they will do this. Because they have got a strong sense of … their moral fibre … not moral fibre but more the high moral ground, they try to uphold it mostly. So they are very honourable … The second thing, the Chinese do not steal. Like I told you, that moral high ground that they use. A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT To explain why Chinese employees had been excluded as suspects in a recurring theft problem, A1 exclaims, What do you mean “stealing?” The concept is foreign! [to the Chinese]. 187 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing 7 .4 .2 .15 Chinese people do not talk much African experts also believe that Chinese people are people of few words, preferring to talk only when necessary. They put forth what they want you to see and that is about it. Or they only tell you what they feel you need to know and nothing more. A5 South African Female 26 White Legal A7 adds that, unlike African people who prefer to chit-chat when they have their meals in the work canteen, Chinese people do not talk much. When they are eating they don’t talk much, they just leaning into their plate of food and eating and eating. A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT 7 .4 .2 .16 Chinese people are rude A perspective raised by some African experts is that Chinese people are rude. Reportedly, Chinese people neither greet nor say “thank you”. The Chinese don’t seem to believe in greeting. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing The not-greeting nature of Chinese people is corroborated, in this case, by Chinese expert C4 who, on commenting on interaction between African and Chinese people in organisations, says, South Africans have a good cultural trait of always greeting people, while Chinese don’t. Very few Chinese say “good morning” and “good evening”. C4 Chinese Male 50 Chinese Manufacturing This relates to etiquette, in that A3 had earlier noted how the Chinese engage in smaller discussions in a meeting, instead of listening to the main speaker. Although this was perceived to be rude by A3, it appears to be normal for the Chinese people. 188 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 7 .4 .2 .17 Chinese people value relationships – guanxi A2 and A7 attest to the importance of relationships when communicating with Chinese people by alluding to the close-knit nature of Chinese society. I think the second thing is relationships. When you engage in Chinese organisations, it is absolutely imperative to have a friend on the inside, anywhere. Not for reason that are surreptitious but just to know what’s going on. It’s so thick from the outside, you need to understand what’s going on internally, why is decision-making taking so long, why is your organisation not aligned to this outcome, what’s the problem there, who’s this guy or who’s that girl. That’s what’s needed. A2 South African Male 44 White Professional A7 speaks explicitly of guanxi and trust, which makes for potentially easier communication. They have something they do called guanxi that the Chinese use. Guanxi is they can only trust a person that has been introduced to them by a person that they trust. So for you to earn absolute trust from a Chinese person, you must have been introduced by someone that they know. It is called guanxi. It is key to the Chinese. A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT 7 .4 .2 .18 Chinese people are indirect African experts are of the view that Chinese people are direct. For example A6 points out that when interacting with Chinese people it is easy to lose out on the content of communication if one misses the nuances and how things are said. I think there are so many nuances, so many things which can be lost. Just the way you say things. A6 South African Male 55 White Professional In addition, A4 shares his experiences on how he missed the subtle message embedded in a conversation with his manager. A4 preferred to work from home, but his manager preferred him to work in the office. Rather than directly informing A4 of his expectations, the Chinese manager used an indirect expression whose meaning A4 missed, but only came to realise much later. There is something I should have picked up on, that his subtle comments were extremely important. He was saying that “freedom is overrated” or something like that. Those weren’t his exact words but something along those lines. I couldn’t sense that he was 189 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs telling me something very important around how he works. So it’s very important to be mindful of those comments or cues, verbal or body language cues when you are speaking with a Chinese person in business. A4 Cameroonian Male 37 Black Legal 7 .4 .2 .19 Summary African experts’ IC awareness perspectives of Chinese culture are that Chinese people follow rules and protocol, are in-group focused, keep their own culture, communicate nonverbally, are abrupt, insincere, authoritative and do not display emotion. African experts further view Chinese people as status-driven, calm in manner, not saying “no”, concerned with face maintenance, hierarchical, honourable and communicating indirectly with few words. Although not to a large extent, additional inferences from these interviews are that African experts find Chinese people to be family-orientated, relationship-focused, harmony-seeking, observing of gender roles, low contact, rude, and at times humorous. In the next section, Chinese own and African IC awareness perspectives of Chinese culture are compared. 7 .4 .3 Intercultural communication awareness in Chinese culture – own and other perspectives RQ-E3: What are the similarities and/or differences in IC awareness perspectives in African and Chinese cultures in the Sino-African organisational context? b) Chinese culture. The IC awareness perspectives of Chinese and African experts on Chinese culture, citing only those occurring more than three times in each cultural group, are juxtaposed in Table 7.7 and illustrated graphically in Fig. 7.12. However, to show the contrast between own and other perspectives in some instances where one cultural group scores greater or equal to three, the other cultural group may score zero as is depicted in the graphical illustration Fig. 7.12). Supporting quotations for the IC awareness perspectives have already been given in sections 7.4.1 and 7.4.2. As is reflected in Table 7.7 and Fig. 7.12 below, the areas of agreement for Chinese and African experts regarding IC awareness of Chinese culture are the following: • following rules and protocol • face-giving/face-saving • in-group focus • indirect manner • hierarchical 190 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS • little talk • communicating nonverbally • relationship focus • respect There is however a divergence, in that African people also view Chinese people as: • keeping their own culture • abrupt • insincere • authoritative • not showing emotion • never saying “no”. 191 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs Ta bl e 7.7 : I C a w ar en es s i n C hi ne se cu ltu re – o w n an d ot he r p er sp ec tiv es CH IN ES E O W N P ER SP EC TI V ES A FR IC A N P ER SP EC TI V ES O N C H IN ES E In te rv ie w ee IC a w ar en es s pe rs pe ct iv e (fi ) In te rv ie w IC a w ar en es s pe rs pe ct iv e (fi ) C1 ; C 2; C3 ; C 4; C5 ; C 6; C7 ; C 8 Fo llo wi ng ru les an d p ro to co l 23 A1 ; A 3; A4 ; A 5; A6 ; A 7 Fo llo wi ng ru les an d p ro to co l 20 C1 ; C 3; C5 ; C 7; C8 Fa ce gi vin g/ sa vin g 13 A1 ; A 2; A4 ; A 5; A6 ; A 7 In -g ro up fo cu s 12 C1 ; C 3; C4 ; C 6; C7 ; C 8 In -g ro up fo cu s 13 A1 ; A 3; A5 ; A 6 Ke ep th eir ow n c ult ur e 12 C1 ; C 2; C3 ; C 4; C5 ; C 6; C7 ; C 8 In dir ec t m an ne r 13 A1 ; A 4; A6 ; A 7 No nv er ba l c om m un ica tio n 11 C1 ; C 2; C7 Pu rsu it o f h ar m on y 9 A1 ; A 6 Ab ru pt 8 C1 ; C 2; C7 ; C 8 Hi er ar ch ica l 6 A1 ; A 6; A7 In sin ce re 8 C2 ; C 7; C8 Lit tle ta lk 5 A1 ; A 6 Au th or ita tiv e 7 C1 ; C 4; C5 ; C 6 No nv er ba l c om m un ica tio n 5 A1 ; A 3; A7 Do no t s ho w em ot ion s 7 C1 ; C 3; C7 Re lat ion sh ip fo cu s 4 A3 ; A 5; A7 St at us dr ive n 7 C5 ; C 6; C7 Re sp ec t 4 A3 ; A 4; A7 Ca lm m an ne r 6 C1 ; C 8 Ar ro ga nt 3 A1 ; A 7 Do no t s ay “n o” 6 C3 ; C 4 Ca lm m an ne r 3 A1 ; A 4; A5 ; A 6; A7 Fa ce gi vin g/ sa vin g 6 C2 ; C 6; C7 Co lle cti vis tic 3 A3 ; A 4; A6 ; A 7 Hi er ar ch ica l 5 C5 ; C 7; C8 Hu m an ce nt re dn es s 3 A1 ; A 7 Ho no ur 5 C2 ; C 8 Sc ep tic al 3 A4 ; A 6 In dir ec t m an ne r 5       A1 ; A 5; A7 Lit tle ta lk 5       A1 ; A 6 Fa m ily or ien ta tio n 4       A3 ; A 7 Re lat ion sh ip fo cu s 4       A3 ; A 5 Re sp ec t 4       A1 ; A 3; A6 Ru de 4 *S co re s i nd ic at e fr eq ue nc ie s So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 192 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Fi g. 7. 12 : I C a w ar en es s i n C hi ne se cu ltu re – o w n an d ot he r p er sp ec tiv es * * M in us si gn d ep ic ts a n eg at iv e of th e pe rs pe ct iv e So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 193 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs 7 .4 .3 .1 Discussion The similarities and differences between Chinese own and African experts’ IC awareness perspectives of Chinese culture have both positive and negative implications for IC congruence. Agreement in perspectives suggests that people from an African culture are aware of the stated aspects of Chinese culture. Therefore, given that knowledge, the IC encounter can be approached from a position of understanding. Despite this knowledge however, it is evident that there is a need to understand exactly which behaviours constitute the communication norm (Koester and Olebe, 1988). For example, while face-giving and face-saving (Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998; Luo, 2008; Huang, 2010; Gan, 2014) may, on occasion, involve the telling of untruths (C6), this may be unacceptable in African culture where truth is valued (Maomeka, 1989). In fact, the equivalence of face maintenance in African culture could easily be respect and behaving like a human being, as articulated by Mutombo Nkulu-N’Sengha (2009 cited in Metz, 2015, p. 85). The fact that African people are aware of the indirect manner of Chinese people means than African people should be careful not to always infer literal meaning, but rather be sensitive to potentially hidden meanings in communication. A possible strategy could be to ask when in doubt. Nonverbal communication is another area in which much could be done to educate African people on the meanings implied. For instance, silence used in different contexts could have different meanings. It could mean not agreeing, as experienced by A1 on presenting financial figures to her Chinese manager: They didn’t have to say much or they did say it in Chinese, but you could see in the body language (no eye contact) that it’s a no. (A6) Furthermore, silence is a sign of humility and does not necessary imply ignorance as expressed by C1: As I said, in the Western world if you don’t speak out then the people just interpret that you don’t know. You don’t need to say anything but in your heart you want to say something. They cannot just work everything out straightforward, then they suffer. For instance, if they say or see something wrong in the office then they don’t like to speak out or if they see some decisions from the leaders which aren’t correct then they won’t speak out. Then people ask later why didn’t they say anything? So here in the Western organisation, the Chinese has to take the blame. (C1) Interestingly Chinese experts do not comment on their patriotism or propensity to keep their own culture. They also do not comment on their tendency not to show emotion – which suggests that these are norms in Chinese culture. The patriotism, strict following of rules and protocol, as well as keeping of own culture by Chinese people observed by African experts, suggests an underlying influence guiding behaviour – potentially Confucianism (Wah, 2001; Tang, 2014, p. 77). Strong patriotism may have implications for achieving IC congruence in that Chinese people may find it more difficult to adapt and to accommo- 194 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS date others outside their culture. Chinese experts also do not comment on the fact that they never say “no”, perhaps suggesting pride or reluctance to disappoint. Such behaviours may have implications for IC congruence, as African people may imagine a response to be positive, when in fact it is negative – or vice versa. In the area of divergence in perspectives, where Chinese experts view themselves as being sincere, African experts view them as otherwise. The insincerity of Chinese people as perceived by African people is in behaviours such as lying, playing to the gallery, being ambiguous and generally not being straightforward as highlighted in section 7.3. A1 labels Chinese people as prone to lying when she says, The problem I have is that a big part of Chinese way of doing business is that lying is a normal part of business and I think it’s really frustrates things. We would sit in a normal meeting and a price would be agreed and the meeting is minuted, then when the minutes have to be signed off, they don’t want to sign off the minutes. To the extent that I wanted the meetings to be recorded. (A1) The perceptions of A1 could be a result of a lack of understating of the nuances of Chinese culture, in which trust is important. It is possible that the Chinese manager’s reluctance to sign minutes could be an indication that enough trust has been gained, hence no need for formalities. It is these nuances that need further investigation and that could constitute a big part of training provided to African managers on the road towards IC congruence in Sino-African organisational contexts. The abrupt and authoritative nature of Chinese people, as perceived by African experts, could be a result of a lack of understanding of the Chinese culture in which talk is minimal. It could also be that a limited vocabulary causes the Chinese to use words that are seemingly harsh and curt. For example, A1 reports that feedback on failure to meet performance targets in a performance review could include questions such as “Are you competent? Are you stupid?” Such communication is perceived as rude in African culture, and is also in opposition to the face-giving and face-saving behaviours expected of Chinese people. In summary, the contradictions between Chinese own, African IC awareness perspectives and theoretical perspectives as established in Chapter 5, point to the presence of contextual and other considerations influencing IC interactions. These emerging perspectives or influences are presented in section 7.7. 7 .5 Intercultural Communication Awareness: African Own and Chinese Own Perspectives Compared While own and other IC awareness perspectives in each of African and Chinese cultures have been described and compared in sections 7.3 and 7.4, in this section, own IC awareness perspectives of African experts and own IC awareness perspectives of Chinese experts are compared. Although not addressing any specific empirical research question, this sup- 195 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs portive analysis is aimed at further illuminating the similarities and differences between IC awareness perspectives of African and Chinese cultures by comparing how African and Chinese people view themselves. Presented in Table 7.8 and graphically illustrated in Fig. 7.13 below, are African and Chinese perspectives on IC awareness in each of their own cultures. Supporting quotations for the IC awareness perspectives have already been provided in sections 7.3.1 and 7.4.1. Table 7.8: IC awareness – African own and Chinese own perspectives Interview IC awareness perspective African experts’ own Chinese experts’ own A1; A5; A6; A7; C5; C7; C8 Human centredness 12 3 A1; A4; A6; A7 Consensus seeking 10 0 A1; A3; A4; A5; A6 Respect 10 4 A1; A3; A4; A7; C2; C4; C6 Direct manner 7 1 A1; A3; A6; A7; C3 Humble 7 1 A1; A5; C8 Showing emotions 7 -1 A1; A4; A5; C4 Accommodating others 6 1 A1; A4; A3; A7 Communalistic 6 0 A1; A3; A6; C1; C2; C3; C4; C5; C6; C7; C8 Following rules and protocol 6 23 A1; A4; A6; A7 Family orientation 5 0 A1; A3; A7 Social etiquette 5 0 A3; A7; C1; C2; C7; C8 Hierarchical 3 6 A3; A7 Individualistic 3 0 A2; Logical thinking 3 0 A1; A2 Rebellious 3 0 A1; C1; C2; C7 Pursuit of harmony 2 9 A3; C1 Arrogant 1 3 A7 In-group focus 1 13 C3; C4 Calm manner 0 3 C2; C6; C7 Collectivistic 0 3 C1; C3; C5; C7; C8 Face giving/saving 0 13 C1; C2; C3; C4; C5; C6; C7; C8 Indirect manner 0 13 C2; C7; C8 Little talk 0 5 C1; C4; C5; C6 Nonverbal communication 0 5 C1; C3; C7 Relationship focus 0 4 C2; C8 Sceptical 0 3 *Scores indicate frequencies Source: Author’s own contribution 196 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Fi g. 7. 13 : I C a w ar en es s – A fr ic an o w n an d C hi ne se o w n pe rs pe ct iv es co m pa re d So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 197 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs As reflected in Table 7.8 and Fig. 7.13, the top IC awareness perspectives on African culture, as inferred from the interviews with African experts based on frequency counts are: • human centredness • consensus-seeking • respect • direct manner • humble • showing emotions • accommodating others • communalistic • following rules and protocol. As is reflected in Table 7.8 and Fig. 7.13, the top IC awareness perspectives on Chinese culture as inferred from the interviews with Chinese experts based on frequency counts are: • following rules and protocol • in-group focus • face-giving/face-saving • indirect manner • pursuit of harmony • hierarchical • little talk • nonverbal communication. 7 .5 .1 Summary Based on frequency counts, own perspectives of African experts suggest that a focus on consensus (10), human beings in the community at large (12) as well as respect (10) is of high importance in African culture. Furthermore, humility (7), accommodating others (7), being communalistic (6), being family orientated (5) and following rules and protocol (6) is a way of life. There is no shame in showing emotions (7). In Chinese culture on the other hand, the following of rules and protocol (23), an in-group focus (13), face giving and face saving (13), an indirect manner (13) and the pursuit of harmony (9) are of prime importance. Furthermore, observance of hierarchy (6) is the norm. Essentially, an indirect manner with limited talk (5), nonverbal communication (5) and a desire to maintain face, is preferred in the pursuit of harmony. Emotions largely are kept in check (-1). In the next section, African and Chinese IC awareness perspectives of each other are compared. 198 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 7 .6 Intercultural Communication Awareness: African and Chinese Perspectives of “Other” Compared Similar to the comparison of own IC awareness perspectives in the previous section, here a comparison is made between African IC awareness views of Chinese culture, and Chinese IC awareness views of African culture. It is suggested that perspectives of other are likely to be more realistic and accurate, therefore potentially indicating areas of challenge or opportunity for IC congruence. Presented in Table 7.9 and graphically illustrated in Fig. 7.14 are African and Chinese IC awareness perspectives of other. Supporting quotations for the IC awareness perspectives have been given in sections 7.3.2 and 7.4.2. As reflected in Table 7.9 and Fig. 7.14, the top IC awareness perspectives on African culture inferred from the interviews with Chinese experts based on frequency counts are: • human centredness • arrogant • direct manner • family orientation • humble 199 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs Table 7.9: IC awareness – African and Chinese perspectives of “other” Interview IC Awareness perspective Chinese on Africans African on Chinese C1; C2; C4; C7; C8 Human centredness 20 0 C1; C3 Arrogant 6 0 C1; C3; C8 Direct manner 5 0 C1; C2; C5; A1; A6 Family orientation 5 4 C5; C7; C8 Humble 5 0 C1; C3 Curiosity 4 0 C2; C3 Lots of talk 4 0 C7; C8; A1; A3; A7 Show emotions 4 -7 C8 Communalistic 3 0 C3; C7; A1; A3; A4; A5; A6; A7 Following rules and protocol 2 20 C1; A3; A7; Relationship-focused 2 4 A1; A6 Abrupt 0 8 A1; A6 Authoritative 0 7 A3; A4; A7 Calm manner 0 6 A1; A7 Do not say “no” 0 6 A1; A4; A5; A6; A7 Face giving/saving 0 6 A3; A4; A6; A7 Hierarchical 0 5 A1; A7 Honour 0 5 A1; A2; A4; A5; A6; A7 In-group focus 0 12 A4; A6 Indirect manner 0 5 A1; A6; A7 Sincere 0 -8 A1; A3; A5; A6 Keep their own culture 0 12 A1; A5; A7 Little talk 0 5 A1; A4; A6; A7 Nonverbal communication 0 11 A1 Pursuit of harmony 0 3 A3; A5 Respect 0 4 A1; A3; A6 Rude 0 4 A3; A5; A7 Status-driven 0 7 *Scores indicate frequencies Source: Author’s own contribution 200 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Fi g. 7. 14 : I C a w ar en es s – A fr ic an a nd C hi ne se p er sp ec tiv es o f o th er co m pa re d So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 201 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs In addition, in Table 7.9 and Fig. 7.14, the top IC awareness perspectives on Chinese culture as inferred from the interviews with African experts based on frequency counts are: • following rules and protocol • in-group focus • keep their own culture • nonverbal communication • abrupt • sincere (-8 ) implying that Chinese people are seen as being insincere • authoritative • showing emotions (-7) implying that Chinese people are seen as not showing their emotions. 7 .6 .1 Summary While Chinese people view African people as largely human-centred (20), African people see Chinese people as principally protocol- and rule-following (20). Both African and Chinese experts view each other as family-orientated and relationship-focused. While Chinese experts view African people as arrogant, African experts view Chinese people as abrupt, authoritative, insincere and rude. Furthermore, Chinese sincerity and showing of emotions were extremely negatively viewed by the African experts. All in all, it would appear that they share far fewer perspectives – each of the other – than those characteristics viewed as unique to each culture. In addition, while it would appear that that Chinese experts were less critical of their African colleagues there remains need for understanding of the unique aspects arising and reconciliation of potential differences towards IC congruence. In the next section, findings on emerging IC awareness perspectives of African and Chinese experts are presented. 7 .7 Emerging Intercultural Communication Awareness Perspectives (African and Chinese Experts) The findings discussed in this section relate to research questions RQ-E1 and RQ-E2. As stated in section 7.2 regarding the findings on IC awareness perspectives, a distinction is drawn between those informed by findings from the study of theory in Chapter 5 (sections 7.3 to 7.6), and inductively emerging perspectives as presented in the current section. Emerging IC awareness perspectives from interviews with both African and Chinese experts are presented in Table 7.10 and illustrated graphically in Fig. 7.15. The table and figure are organised in terms of three types of category to distinguish the perspectives from each other; these are “variations”, “expert observations” and “influences”. 202 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Ta bl e 7.1 0: E m er gi ng IC a w ar en es s p er sp ec tiv es – A fr ic an a nd C hi ne se In te rv ie w s Em er gi ng IC A pe rs pe ct ive Va ri at io ns O bs er va ti on s In flu en ce s Ch in es e pe rs pe ct ive Af ric an pe rs pe ct ive Ch in es e pe rs pe ct ive Af ric an pe rs pe ct ive Ch in es e pe rs pe ct ive Af ric an pe rs pe ct ive C1 ; C 5; Ag e 4           C3 ; C 4; C7 ; A 3; A5 Bu sin es s a nd so cia l c on te xt s 5 4         C6 Cla ss 2           C4 ; C 6; C7 ; A 7 Le ve l o f e du ca tio n 3 1         C2 ; C 7; A2 ; A 5 Or ga nis at ion al ty po log y 3 4         A2 ; A 3; C1 ; C 3 Ra ce 3 3         C1 Se nio rit y 1           A7 ; C 1; C7 ; C 8 Sim ila rit y o f A fri ca n a nd Ch ine se     3 2     C1 ; C 2; C7 ; C 8; A5 M ix of W es te rn an d A fri ca n     3 1     A1 ; A 2; A5 M ot ive fo r in te ra cti on           4 A2 ; A 7 No in te ra cti on           2 A6 Pe rso na l c irc um sta nc es           1 A1 Pr ec on ce pt ion s           3 A1 Pr eju dic e           1 A1 ; A 4; A6 ; C 2; C3 ; C 8 St er eo ty pe s         11 6 C2 ; C 3; C4 ; C 7; C8 ; A 1; A5 ; A 7 W or k e th ic         7 6 C8 ; A 1; A5 A6 Et hn oc en tri sm         1 3 *S co re s i nd ic at e fr eq ue nc ie s So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 203 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs Fi g. 7. 15 : E m er gi ng IC a w ar en es s p er sp ec tiv es – A fr ic an a nd C hi ne se ex pe rt s So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 204 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS “Variations” refers to particular characteristics which may vary in terms of perspectives of IC awareness. For example within a cultural grouping, differences in IC awareness perspectives may exist based on the typology of the organisation to which they are affiliated. An example is the distinction between IC awareness perspectives of people affiliated to an SOE and those in a private organisation. Other variations include those between business and social contexts, across the racial groups, age, class, level of education and seniority. “Expert observations” refer to the comments made by both African and Chinese experts, for example, regarding similarity between African and Chinese ways of communicating – suggesting cultural proximity between African and Chinese people. Another observation made is that of a mix of Western and African ways in the African manner of communicating – suggesting Western influences. “Influences” refer to factors that appear to play a role in the IC encounter, hence inadvertently influencing IC awareness perspectives. A few examples of influences are ethnocentrism, prejudice, work ethic, and motive for interaction, as reflected in the findings presented in Table 7.10. In reading Fig. 7.15 it is important to note that the perspectives of each of the African and Chinese experts are distinguished by a colour as denoted in the key directly below and imbedded within the figure. Emerging IC awareness perspectives as inferred from interviews with African and Chinese experts will now be presented, together with supporting quotations. First, emerging perspectives regarding variations in IC awareness perspectives are presented. 7 .7 .1 Variations The quotations provided in this section indicate the different levels at which IC awareness and IC perspectives may vary within a cultural group. Chinese experts cite, age, business vs social contexts, class differences levels of education, organisational typology race and seniority as causes of variations in IC awareness within a cultural group. African experts on the other hand cite differences between business and social contexts, level of education, organisational typology and race as causes of variations. Perspectives of both African and Chinese experts are discussed below, with supporting quotes provided. 7 .7 .1 .1 Business and social contexts A3 reports that in response to the Westernisation of urban Africans, there are many communicative behaviours that are seen as unacceptable when one is at home and not in the business space. This is because “leisure is completely different from the business perspective because business is a formal occasion” (A5). These views suggest that the way in which Africans communicate in the organisational context will differ from how they communi- 205 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs cate in the more natural settings of their homes. This view implies that it may not be adequate to develop an understanding of IC awareness of African colleagues in the Sino-African context if it is based purely on known cultural values. My father’s family is from Limpopo and if I go back home it’s very much akin to the Chinese way of respect. We are so Westernised in the urban areas that there is a massive difference between the two … Just like I have mentioned about the Westernisation of urban Africans, that doesn’t fly when you back at home. A3 South African Male 34 Black Manufacturing Leisure is completely different from the business perspective because business is a formal occasion. A5 South African Female 26 White Legal 7 .7 .1 .2 Organisational typology A2 emphasises the differences in behaviour that exist in SOEs and entrepreneurial operations. While both organisation types may be staffed with Chinese people, the communication behaviour displayed in the organisations may differ. A two character or general stereotypes would be, state capitalists and secondly, micro entrepreneurs. Those are the two generics. Both those conversations and engagements are very, very different. A2 South African Male 44 White Professional This point of departure highlights the need for a specially targeted and context-focused approach in developing IC awareness, particularly of Chinese colleagues. 7 .7 .1 .3 Race Further complexity is added to understanding IC awareness of African colleagues in the Sino-African organisational context when the different races are considered. For instance, A3 puts forward the view that White South African males are more aggressive than their Black counterparts; this is in agreement with the views expressed by C1 that they are viewed as frank and straightforward. White South African males, generally, get their point across by being loud, demanding and bossy. 206 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS A3 South African Male 34 Black Manufacturing To the White South Africans, the so-called Afrikaners, my first impression was that they are very straightforward, very frank. C1 Chinese Male 50+ Chinese/SA Mining 7 .7 .1 .4 Level of education Highlighting the IC awareness variations that can exist among Chinese colleagues, A7 reports that in his line of work, he experiences minimal communication difficulty because the people he interacts with are well educated. The kind of Chinese they bring to SA, mind you, I think they go through a separate English assessment or training before they come into Africa to work. That is one. And the second thing is they are not just ordinary Chinese in terms of experience and expertise: they are more experts in their own fields. A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT The above quotation suggests that greater challenges and more difficulties are likely to be experienced at the lower levels of the organisation where the level of education is also low. 7 .7 .1 .5 Class An interesting IC awareness perspective raised is the influence of class in communication where C6 suggests that the higher the class, the more amicable the communication. A lot of difference in behaviour comes with classicism, and not race, not gender. It is the class of people. So obviously that elite class Chinese/elite local African, their cultural clashes will be less because they have more understanding, more exposed, more aware, more respect. C6 Chinese Male 31 Chinese/SA Legal The above perspective gives support to the view that increased knowledge and understanding enhances IC as people are more exposed to each other. 7 .7 .2 Expert observations Chinese and African experts make general observations that may help further the understanding of IC hence contributing to the achievement of IC congruence. Included in the 207 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs general observations are seeming mix of Western and African ways in African communication as well as instances of similarity of Chinese and African ways in communication. Quotes supporting these views are provided below. 7.7.2.1 Mix of Western and African ways Chinese experts attest to a degree of similarity in the Western and African ways, suggesting that IC awareness of their African colleagues should not be based on African values alone, but should rather be understood in context. The following quotations extracted from an interview with C8 support the notion of a blending of Western and African ways. For me, White people, Black people, Coloured people are all the same. They behave like Western. We see them as having something in common. Indian people are different. We see them as Asian. C8 Chinese Male 37 Chinese SOE 7 .7 .2 .2 Similarity between Chinese and African ways A7 and C1 report potential similarity between African and Chinese people. A7 remarks that both African and Chinese colleagues tend to converge in groups or cliques who partake in friendly banter and gossip. The quotations provided validate the IC awareness perspective that posits similarity between African and Chinese ways. You find that Eastern way of doing things and the African way of doing things, there is a thin line there. A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT C1 suggests a similarity in the value ascribed to the community where achievements are jointly celebrated. Chinese people often converge within their community as well. If one of you in the community does something outstanding, all the people in the community are proud of you and I think it’s the same in the African culture. In terms of culture, the Chinese people and African people are closer. C1 Chinese Male 50+ Chinese/SA Mining In spite of the appearances of similarity, however, there may also be instances of difference, such as the Ubuntu focus on the community at large in African culture (Bell and Metz, 2011) and a more in-group focus distinguishing between insiders and outsiders in Chinese culture (Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998; Salo-Lee, 2006). 208 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 7 .7 .3 Influences African and Chinese experts directly and indirectly allude to various influences on the IC encounter and these include stereotyping, differences in work ethic, ethnocentrism, motive for interaction, preconceptions, prejudice and personal circumstances. Perspectives on IC influences raised by African and Chinese experts are supported with quotes in the below discussion. 7 .7 .3 .1 Stereotypes The issue of stereotypes arises in a number of instances, eleven times in the Chinese interviews and six times in the African interviews. Examples of stereotyping are when it is implied that Africans are lazy, untrustworthy and liars. The quotations given below reflect these perspectives. South Africans are extremely lazy and make no effort to seek progress. C4 Chinese Male 50 Chinese Manufacturing A comment by A6 that African executives were not given similar responsibilities to their Chinese peers in his organisation, highlights a lack of trust of Africans on the part of the Chinese. They were not given the respect, they were not given the same responsibilities – especially when it came to money – there seemed to be almost a distrust of Africans [laughs]. A6 South African Male 55 White Professional C3 makes a generalisation that South Africans are liars: South African locals say [speak] lies too easily, and their business relations are dishonest. C3 Chinese Male 46 Chinese Manufacturing C4 views African people as irresponsible, and is somewhat patriarchal in his management approach to them. I couldn’t pay my staff one month’s salary all at once, otherwise they will use up all their money in one week and won’t come in to work. For this reason, I have to pay them wages on a weekly basis. C4 Chinese Male 50 Chinese Manufacturing 209 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs 7 .7 .3 .2 Differences in work ethic Fundamental differences in work ethic that may influence people’s attitude towards each other (and by extension, how they communicate) are corroborated by quotations provided in this section. A1’s comment below shows that African people are not accustomed to working a seven-day week; this is viewed as a sign of laziness by their Chinese colleagues. Very difficult to get that through sometimes because they [Chinese] just see it as you being lazy. They don’t understand why we [Africans] don’t work on a Saturday; they don’t understand why the [African] managers don’t leave late at night. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing Offering a Chinese perspective, C2 observes how his African colleagues give their families precedence over their jobs, and there is an indication that C2 views this in a negative light. They will take holiday or look after their family at weekends, even they talk that “they will do so”, they will work harder together, but in reality they don’t fulfil that task completely. In my experience. C2 Chinese Male 35 Chinese ICT C8 talks of the ill-discipline of African people who are not punctual in coming to work and who refuse to work overtime. African people like to be late all the time. From a Chinese point of view I don’t think that African people work very hard. The Chinese like to work overtime but the African people no. It is a difference of culture I think. C8 Chinese Male 37 Chinese SOE Finally, also related to work ethic, A7 differentiates between the levels of sacrifice shown by Chinese and African people. Chinese people give maximum commitment to their jobs which seemingly take precedence over their families. The opposite appears to hold true for their African colleagues. A7 also highlights a sense of urgency displayed by Chinese colleagues that contrasts with the laid-back nature of African colleagues where schedules can be broken when matters of community interest arise. The following quotations from interviews with A7 illustrate the Chinese work ethic in Sino-African organisational contexts. I think there can be a lot of misunderstandings you know, for example in China a lot of people are willing to sacrifice their personal lives for work, right. They keep to themselves, they only speak when it is necessary. I know why I call them “simbi dzebasa” [iron men] – that is what I always say to my wife, these guys work like 210 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 16 or 18 hour days. They take naps after lunch, they go for lunch for an hour, exercise for 30 minutes and then take a nap for an hour. So their lunch is 2.5 hours, but then those guys are prepared to work until tomorrow morning. In China people would want to proceed things rather quickly because the time is developing very quickly and the pressure is high so they expect that you know, after work you have to work and maybe weekends you have to put things out of your time for work as well and then they expect things to turn over quickly and they are more sort of hurried after success. A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT 7 .7 .3 .3 Ethnocentrism Ethnocentrism appears to influence how people communicate; the IC encounter may be entered into with parties harbouring ethnocentric beliefs. The statements below suggest ethnocentrism on the part of the Chinese. The Chinese just think they are bigger … They do believe that I believe, in some way, shape or form, that our education may be inferior to theirs. Which is ironic because actually theirs is inferior to ours. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing The expectation from the Chinese is that things should be done in Chinese but it’s impossible. A5 South African Female 26 White Legal 7 .7 .3 .4 Motives for interaction The extracts from A2 and A5 below suggest that the motive for interaction should be taken into account when developing IC awareness. While both African and Chinese people in a Sino-African organisational context have their own cultural values and beliefs, it must not be forgotten that the main motive for interaction is business and financial gain. This viewpoint correlates with that which emphasises a distinction between business and social contexts, where communication behaviour in social contexts may be more reflective of a person’s cultural orientation. When engaging with the Chinese, from my perspective, one needs to understand, first and foremost, what the motivations are. To get things done, you need to understand incentive. Different people react to different incentives. Different organisations and cultures react to different incentives. The Chinese, generally speaking, have their own set of incentives … Unfortunately, also, state capitalists have a very different perspective 211 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs of the continent. They come here very goal-orientated, are very policy-shaped, very arguably superficial on the surface. A2 South African Male 44 White Professional Commenting on what she calls a conformist approach to communication by Chinese people in SOEs, A5 says, It’s mostly similar, its very business-driven. That is why they are here, that is the focus, the focus is business. A5 South African Female 26 White Legal Despite the potential for differences in motives for interaction, the present study maintains that IC awareness is essential in aiming for IC congruence. The learning here is that African and Chinese people engaged in IC should not expect their counterparts to behave in ways as suggested by theory, but they should rather also take cognisance of the communication behaviours influenced by the motives for interaction. 7 .7 .3 .5 Preconceptions One of the preconceptions identified as potentially influencing IC and with potential to affect IC congruence, is that African people are incompetent. Reflecting her Chinese colleague’s views, A1 complains of how tirelessly she has to work to prove her competence, suggesting that Chinese colleagues can see themselves as better qualified and competent. The quotation below supports these assertions. We have to prove to them we have competence because they just don’t trust. So my financials that I prepare will be audited three times by different people. A1 South African Female 40 Coloured Manufacturing Because the Chinese superiors view their African colleagues as being incompetent, they may speak to them in a condescending manner. As such, the preconceptions of incompetence may create animosity on the part of African colleagues, hence influencing their attitudes and approach when communicating with their Chinese superiors. 7 .7 .3 .6 Personal circumstances A5 suggests that personal circumstances can influence how people communicate. For example, a Chinese colleague who has left his family in China to work in Africa may have a sour outlook in communication – as shown in the narration below by A5. 212 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS I have heard the stories of a similar nature – is that these guys would come into a country and they weren’t allowed to bring their families. So the mother and the children/ child are left behind in China and the man has to work, and sometimes stretches of a year at a time, where he has to work and then only can they go back and be with their families. So you have situations where these people are split up, and of course that in itself causes problems, it causes resentment, it causes dissatisfaction. A5 South African Female 26 White Legal This view highlights the fact that, before belonging to cultural group, people are first of all individuals, each having their own personality, history and life experience (Martin and Nakayama, 2010). As such, the resentment felt by Chinese people who have been separated from their families may affect the manner in which they communicate with others and does not necessarily have anything to do with their cultural orientation. 7 .7 .3 .7 Prejudice The comments of C1 and C2 reflect the influence of prejudice in IC. The views put forward suggest that White people approach IC with their Chinese colleagues from a position of superiority. This is likely to influence the manner of communication and the responses given. The extract from C1 below refers. White people here have some kind of prejudice or misperception about China in the way of China’s living conditions. C1 Chinese Male 50+ Chinese/SA Mining C4 on the other hand mentions a rather prejudicial and ethnocentric book that he believes sums up the differences between Black, White and Chinese people. He says, There is a quotation from this book which I still remember and I think is true: “Blacks today use tomorrow’s money, Whites today use today’s money and Chinese today use a portion of yesterday’s money”. C4 Chinese Male 50 Chinese Manufacturing This study postulates that approaching IC from such a position of superiority is likely to influence IC awareness perspectives and also to hinder IC congruence. 7 .7 .3 .8 No communication occurs Perhaps underlying the whole notion of IC awareness of other is the fact some experts in the study believe there is actually no meaningful interaction taking place between African 213 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs and Chinese colleagues; consequently, it is impossible to gain IC awareness and move towards IC congruence. A2 observes the minimal number of friendships between African and Chinese people, pointing out that apart from the challenges faced in organisations, there seems to be no real effort to interact with a view to understanding the other. Relations have mostly been kept strictly business. In fact, A2 asks of the researcher, So how many Africans have Chinese friends and how many Chinese have African friends? Very, very few and this is why you are doing your research. So to say how people on both sides communicate, well, they don’t. A2 South African Male 44 White Professional A7 echoes the views of A2, suggesting that the conditions for IC congruence currently do not exist in Sino-African organisational contexts. That is my view. As long as you create conditions for communication where people can actually interact, exchange words and have dialogue or commune in a certain way, it will work out. It is communication. A7 Zimbabwean Male 35 Black ICT 7 .7 .4 Summary In this section it has been suggested that, in the endeavour to achieve IC awareness, apart from understanding communication orientation and the manner of communication as suggested in the study of theory (Chapter 2 to Chapter 5), it may also be useful to understand the role of various influences on the IC encounter, essentially taking the context into account. This section has also shown that a one-size-fits-all approach premised on broad shared national culture simply provides indicators, but does not do enough to capture variations that can occur at different levels. Such levels include social class, level of education, organisational typology and so on. It can therefore be concluded that the emerging IC awareness perspectives presented in section 7.7.3 ought to be considered in the development of any framework aimed at achieving IC congruence in Sino-African organisational contexts. Finally, the perspectives identified in sections 7.3 to 7.7 give an impression of the IC awareness in own and other’s culture from both African and Chinese perspectives. On the basis of the entire process of content analysis and interpretation procedures as discussed in Chapter 6 (section 6.4.5), categories of IC awareness have been constructed. These are presented in the section which follows. 214 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 7 .8 Intercultural Communication Awareness Categories – Sino-African Organisational Contexts 7 .8 .1 Categories of intercultural communication awareness In this section, IC awareness perspectives described in sections 7.3 to 7.7 are linked to IC awareness categories, hence addressing the research question RQ-E4: What new categories of IC awareness emerged from the data? (RQ-E1 to RQ-E3) Six overall IC awareness categories have emerged from the data and in the context of the present study will also be referred to as IC awareness enablers. The emerged categories are as follows: Cultural orientation This includes perspectives that relate to individualistic or collectivistic tendencies, the attitude to human nature as well as the goal or purpose of communication within a cultural group. Manner of communication This includes the directness or indirectness of communication, the quantity of talk, use of verbal versus nonverbal codes, the extent of consideration of others and general style of communication (verbal or nonverbal) as perceived by the interacting parties. Orientation to rules and protocol This deals with the extent to which communication is guided by the following of rules in relating to different profiles of people in different contexts. It also includes power relations where status and hierarchy influence communication, and the extent to which certain behaviours are tolerated in adhering to protocol. Individual dispositions These are factors related to an individual’s outlook, temperament, mood, character and propensity to hide or show emotion. 215 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs Within-culture intercultural communication variations This includes factors that cause variation within a cultural group despite members supposedly sharing the same culture. Such factors could include race, level of education, class and personal circumstances. Intercultural communication influences IC influences are factors that influence the way IC takes place and how it is perceived in organisational contexts. These factors include different organisational typologies, the motive for interaction, ethnocentrism, stereotypes, preconceptions and prejudices. 7 .8 .2 Linking intercultural communication awareness perspectives to intercultural communication awareness categories Table 7.11 shows the interlinkage between the IC awareness perspectives and the new IC awareness categories (RQ-E4) while juxtaposing perspectives on African and Chinese IC awareness. A discussion in respect of each category or IC awareness enabler is conducted in relation to the findings from the study of theory while also considering implications for IC awareness. 216 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Ta bl e 7.1 1: C at eg or ie s a nd p er sp ec tiv es CA TE G O RY : C U LT U RA L O RI EN TA TI O N In te rv ie w s A 1 t o A 7 a nd C1 to C8 IC aw ar en es s p er sp ec tiv e Af ric an ow n Ch in es e o f A fri ca n Ch in es e o w n Af ric an of Ch in es e C2 ; C 6; C7 Co lle cti vis tic 0 0 3 0 A1 ; A 4; A3 ; A 7;C 8 Co m m un ali sti c 6 3 0 0 A1 ; A 4; A6 ; A 7 Co ns en su s-s ee kin g 10 0 0 0 A1 ; A 4; A6 ; A 7; C1 ; C 2; C5 ;A 1; A6 Fa m ily or ien ta tio n 5 5 0 4 A1 ; A 5; A6 ; A 7;C 1; C2 ; C 4; C7 ; C 8;C 5; C7 ; C 8 Hu m an ce nt re dn es s 12 20 3 0 C1 ; C 3; C4 ; C 6; C7 ; C 8; A1 ; A 2; A4 ; A 5; A6 ; A 7 In -g ro up fo cu s 0 0 13 12 A3 ; A 7 In div idu ali sti c 3 0 0 0 C1 ; C 2; C7 Pu rsu it o f h ar m on y 3 0 9 0 C1 ; C 3; C7 ;A 3; A7 Re lat ion sh ip fo cu s 0 0 3 4 CA TE G O RY : M A N N ER O F CO M M U N IC AT IO N A1 ; A 6 Ab ru pt 0 0 0 8 A1 ; A 6 Au th or ita tiv e 0 0 0 7 C3 ; C 4;A 3; A4 ; A 7 Ca lm m an ne r 0 0 3 6 A1 ; A 3; A4 ; A 7;C 1; C3 ; C 8 Di re ct m an ne r 7 5 0 0 A1 ; A 7 Do es no t s ay “n o” 0 0 0 6 C1 ; C 2; C3 ; C 4; C5 ; C 6; C7 ; C 8;A 4; A6 In dir ec t m an ne r 0 0 13 5 C2 ; C 7; C8 ;A 1; A5 ; A 7 Lit tle ta lk 0 0 5 5 C2 ; C 3 Lo ts of ta lk 0 4 0 0 C1 ; C 4; C5 ; C 6;A 1; A4 ; A 6; A7 No nv er ba l c om m un ica tio n 0 0 5 0 A1 ; A 3; A6 Ru de 0 0 0 4 So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 217 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs Ta bl e 7.1 1 ( co nt in ue d) : C at eg or ie s a nd p er sp ec tiv es CA TE G O RY : O RI EN TA TI O N T O R U LE S A N D P RO TO CO L In te rv ie w s A 1 t o A 7 a nd C1 to C8 IC aw ar en es s p er sp ec tiv e Af ric an ow n Ch in es e o f A fri ca n Ch in es e o w n Af ric an of Ch in es e C1 ; C 3; C5 ; C 7; C8 ;A 1; A4 ; A 5; A6 ; A 7 Fa ce gi vin g/ sa vin g 0 0 13 6 A1 ; A 3; A6 ;C1 ; C 2; C3 ; C 4; C5 ; C 6; C7 ; C 8;A 1; A3 ; A 4; A5 ; A 6; A7 Fo llo wi ng ru les an d p ro to co l 6 0 23 20 A3 ; A 7;C 1; C2 ; C 7; C8 ;A 3; A4 ; A 6; A7 Hi er ar ch ica l 3 0 6 5 A1 ; A 3; A5 ; A 6 Ke ep th eir ow n c ult ur e 0 0 0 12 A1 ; A 3; A4 ; A 5; A6 ;A 3; A5 Re sp ec t 10 0 0 5 A1 ; A 3; A7 So cia l e tiq ue tte 5 0 0 0 A3 ; A 5; A7 St at us -d riv en 0 0 0 7 C AT EG O RY : I N D IV ID U A L D IS PO SI TI O N S In te rv ie w s A 1 t o A 7 a nd C1 to C8 IC aw ar en es s p er sp ec tiv e Af ric an ow n Ch in es e o f A fri ca n Ch in es e o w n Af ric an of Ch in es e A1 ; A 4; A5 Ac co m m od at ing ot he rs 6 0 0 0 C1 ; C 3; C1 ; C 8 Ar ro ga nt 0 6 3 0 A1 ; A 7 Ho no ur 0 0 0 5 A1 ; A 3; A6 ; A 7;C 5; C7 ; C 8 Hu m ble 7 0 0 0 A2 Lo gic al th ink ing 3 0 0 0 A1 ; A 2 Re be llio us 3 0 0 0 C7 ; C 8;C 2; C8 Sc ep tic al 0 0 3 0 A1 ; A 5;A 1; A3 ; A 7 Sh ow ing em ot ion s 7 4 0 -7 C1 ; C 3 Cu rio sit y 0 4 0 0 A1 ; A 6; A7 In sin ce re 0 0 0 -8 So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 218 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Table 7.11 (continued): Categories and perspectives CATEGORY: WITHIN-CULTURE IC VARIATIONS Interview Emerging ICA perspective A3; A5; C3; C4; C7 Business and social contexts C1 By seniority C1; C5; By age C6 By class A7; C4; C6; C7 By level of education A2; A5; C2; C7 By organisational typology A2; A3; C1; C3 Race CATEGORY: IC INFLUENCES C8; A1; A5 A6 Ethnocentrism A1; A2; A5 Motive for interaction A2; A7 No interaction A6 Personal circumstances A1 Preconceptions A1 Prejudice A1; A4; A6; C2; C3; C8 Stereotypes A1; A5; A7; C1; C2; C3; C4;C7; C8 Work ethic A5; C1 Western influences Source: Author’s own contribution 7 .8 .2 .1 Cultural orientation The category of cultural orientation can be equated with communication orientation as proposed and explained in the study of theory (Chapter 3). It contains nine IC awareness perspectives as reflected in Table 7.11. The positioning of African and Chinese cultures within the category is inferred and compared. The African expert own IC awareness perspectives of being human-centred, consensus-seeking and family-orientated are corroborated by the Chinese experts’ view of Africans. Significantly, this finding aligns with views propagated in the study of theory where the Ubuntu philosophy and communalism guide African way of life (Khoza, 2005), with harmony and social maintenance being objectives of communication (Myers, 1987; Maomeka, 1989; Igboin, 2011; Narh, 2013). The human centredness of African culture as reported also supports the notion of open collectivism where the community extends to all human beings, rather than being restricted to in-groups as was established in the study of theory (see Chapter 5, section 5.2.1). 219 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs A finding that deviates from the study of theory is that African experts’ own IC awareness perspectives suggests African people may also be individualistic. Because Chinese experts are of the view that their African colleagues are collectivistic, it is likely that dualism of collectivism and individualism exists within African people in Sino-African organisational contexts; this has implications for IC awareness which aims for IC congruence. With regard to Chinese culture, in line with the findings of the study of theory (Chapter 5), Chinese experts’ own IC awareness perspectives portray Chinese colleagues as in-groupfocused, collectivistic, relationship-focused and pursuing harmony. The in-group and relationship focus of Chinese colleagues is corroborated in African experts’ views of Chinese people. An in-group focus supports the notion of submerged collectivism (Chen, 2015) as was established in the study of theory, where Chinese collectivism is aimed at the in-group rather than the community at large as is the case with African culture. Also corresponding with the study of theory (Chapter 5), is the African experts’ view that the pursuit of harmony is an objective in everyday life and in Chinese culture. In summary, with regard to cultural orientation, it is possible to conclude that African colleagues are human-centred, displaying a blend of openly collectivistic and individualistic behaviours while aiming for consensus in communication. Chinese people, on the other hand, can be said to be in-group focused (submerged collectivism) and guided by the pursuit of harmony in communication. 7 .8 .2 .2 Manner of communication The category manner of communication comprises 10 IC awareness perspectives as presented in Table 7.11. The positioning of African and Chinese cultures within the category is inferred and compared. African experts’ own IC awareness perspectives portray African people as direct in communication – a view that is corroborated by the Chinese experts. This empirical finding is somewhat aligned to the theoretical view that African people have a blended manner (Chigwendere, 2017) of communication that is characterised by a mix of direct and indirect messaging. This finding is unsurprising, given the cultural orientation of African people established in section 7.8.2.1 where a duality of collectivism and individualism exists. Chinese experts further report a great deal of talking by their African colleagues, hence suggesting an elaborate manner of communication (Gudykunst and Ting-Toomey, 1988). The Chinese experts’ own IC awareness perspectives portray Chinese people as indirect, calm, of few words and communicating nonverbally. The aforementioned own perspectives of Chinese experts mirror findings from the study of theory in Chapter 5, and are also corroborated by the African experts’ perspectives of Chinese culture. However, African experts also see their Chinese colleagues as abrupt, rude and authoritative. The present study speculates that these African experts’ views may be a result of their Chinese colleagues’ preference for using few words in communication and submerging into their in-groups, 220 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS potentially painting a picture of inhumanness and not treating others as human beings. This view however needs to be validated through further research. With reference to the seemingly authoritative manner of Chinese communication, it is plausible that this could be associated with the strict rule- and protocol-following characteristic of Chinese culture (as was established in Chapter 5) and inferred in the findings of the empirical study currently being reported. In summary, it may be said that African people in Sino-African organisations communicate in a direct and elaborate manner while Chinese people communicate according to their cultural expectations – in an indirect and succinct manner – which can be interpreted negatively by African people as abrupt and rude. 7 .8 .2 .3 Orientation to rules and protocol The category orientation to rules and protocol comprises seven IC awareness perspectives as shown in Table 7.11. The positioning of African and Chinese cultures within the category is inferred and compared. The African expert own IC awareness perspectives of being respectful, having good social etiquette, observance of hierarchy and following rules and protocol are not corroborated by the Chinese experts. These perspectives are, however, in line with the findings of theory, which value respect for elders, the sanctity of authority and behaving appropriately at all times (Maomeka, 1989; Matondo, 2012; Metz, 2015). The Chinese experts’ own IC awareness perspectives – that portray Chinese colleagues as inclined to follow rules and protocol, concerned with face maintenance and observing hierarchy – are corroborated by African experts. In addition, African experts are of the view that Chinese people keep their own culture, are status-driven and respectful. In summary, it may be concluded that, for African people in the Sino-African organisational context, rules and protocol are geared towards maintaining the value and dignity of the individual as well as to maintain social order. For Chinese people, on the other hand, this study suggests that rules and protocol are geared towards ensuring that Chinese culture and values are maintained, ensuring face maintenance, meeting expectations of roles and relationships, and ensuring that status is accorded to those deserving of it – thus observing Confucianist principles, as it were. Next discussed is the category of individual dispositions. 7 .8 .2 .4 Individual dispositions This category comprises 10 IC awareness perspectives as presented in Table 7.11. The positioning of African and Chinese cultures within the category is inferred and compared. 221 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs The African experts’ own IC awareness perspectives portraying African people as humble, accommodating and showing of emotions, aligns with the human-centred cultural orientation as established in section 7.8.2.1. Chinese experts’ perspectives, however, potentially do not view their African colleagues in the same light as they view themselves, only agreeing on the aspect of showing emotions. In fact, Chinese experts view their African colleagues as being arrogant in contrast to African experts’ own IC awareness perspectives of humility. Inferences from African experts’ narrations also suggest a rebellious nature and logical thinking, where things have to make sense – which is a characteristic of Western cultures. Based on the association of logical thinking and a rebellious nature with Western tendencies (Miike, 2002; Littlejohn and Foss, 2010; Chen, 2015), this study proposes that any attempt to understand the likely individual dispositions of African people in Sino-African organisational contexts should take potential Western influences into account. In comparison to African experts’ perspectives of themselves, it was found that Chinese experts were not too revealing of their individual dispositions. In direct statements, C1 and C8 pointed out that some Chinese people are arrogant, suggesting that this could be more of an exception than the rule. Chinese experts also portrayed themselves as being untrusting of those who do not share their culture or belong to the in-groups. Upon examining African experts’ IC awareness perspectives of Chinese people, it was found that African people generally view Chinese people as honourable, not showing of emotions, and insincere. The insincerity of Chinese people has been discussed in section 7.4.2.6 of the present chapter and could be a result of different measures of sincerity in African and Chinese culture. The honour associated with Chinese people generally points to a virtue orientation (Hofstede and Bond, 1988; Metz, 2015) as was established in the study of theory in Chapter 5. In the empirical study, honour is associated with not stealing, a characteristic mentioned by several experts. African people may display a mix of arrogance, humility and humanness in IC in Sino-African organisational contexts, while Chinese people are likely emotionless, sceptical and inclined to behave in a virtuous manner at all times. 7 .8 .2 .5 Within-culture variations As shown in Table 7.11, the category of within-culture variations comprises seven perspectives with views of African and Chinese experts discussed in unison. This emerging IC awareness category highlights the importance of context, as was earlier explained in section 7.7 where findings on emerging IC awareness perspectives were presented. 7 .8 .2 .6 Intercultural communication awareness influences The category of IC awareness influences, as reflected in Table 7.11, comprises nine IC awareness perspectives with views of African and Chinese experts discussed in unison. This study 222 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS suggests that IC barriers of stereotyping, prejudice, and ethnocentrism remain. These were seen as representing IC barriers in the theory study in Chapter 2 (Gudykunst, 1995; Phatak, Bhagat and Kashlak; 2005; Martin and Nakayama, 2010; Beebe, Beebe and Redmond, 2011; Chen, 2015; Okech et al., 2015). However, IC barriers can be viewed in another light as IC awareness influencers, because when they exist, they may shape the IC awareness of others, potentially painting them in an inaccurate light. The present study therefore suggests that to gain IC awareness, a keen awareness of the stereotypes and prejudices of both African and Chinese people should be part of what colleagues in Sino-African organisational contexts expect to encounter in interaction. That said, those engaged in the IC encounter should make an effort to understand true cultural nuances and communication realities in own and other’s culture, as this can both circumvent IC barriers and minimise their influence on IC awareness. Other emerging influences on IC and IC awareness are: differences in work ethic, Western influences, motive for interaction, preconceptions, and the absence of a conducive environment for interaction that has resulted in the view that Chinese and African people do not communicate. The implications for IC awareness of the various IC influences have been discussed in section 7.7.1. Now that the research question has been addressed regarding the IC awareness perspectives of African and Chinese experts, their similarities and differences, as well as new IC awareness categories emerging from the data (RQ-E1 to RQ-E4), implications of these categories with regard to the theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework in general (developed in Chapter 4), as well as that specific to Sino-African organisational contexts (developed in Chapter 5), will be explored in the final chapter of the study (Chapter 8). In the next section, a summary of the findings from each of the sections of this chapter is provided. 7 .9 Summary In this chapter, the biographical indicators of the sample of study have been provided, showing an almost equitable representation of seven African and eight Chinese experts, representing a cross-section of industry sectors, all with more than 24 months’ IC experience in Sino-African organisational contexts. In addition, the empirical research questions RQ- E1 to RQ-E3 identifying and describing own and other IC awareness perspectives of African and Chinese experts have been answered, with supporting quotations. In addition, new IC awareness categories as emerged from the data (RQ-E4). • Regarding own IC awareness perspectives of African experts (section 7.3.1), the perspectives raised are that African people are mostly human-centred, consensus-seeking, respectful, direct in manner, humble, showing of emotions, accommodating of others, communalistic, follow rules and protocol, are family-orientated and have a concern for good social etiquette. 223 ChapTer 7: empIrICal researCh fIndIngs • Regarding other IC awareness perspectives of African people as inferred from the interviews with Chinese experts (section 7.3.2), African people are mostly human-centred. There is also a suggestion that while some may be seen as arrogant, others are viewed as humble, hence giving support to the view that not all African people are the same. Furthermore, African people are seen as direct in manner, family-orientated, curious, showing of emotions and talking a lot at times with little action. • Regarding own African versus other Chinese IC awareness perspectives of people from African cultures (section 7.3.3), there is agreement from both African and Chinese experts that African people are human-centred, direct, humble, showing of emotions, family-orientated and communalistic. There is however a divergence, in that Chinese experts view African people as arrogant, talkative and curious. African experts also describe Africans as rebellious, thinking logically, individualistic and valuing good social etiquette such as greeting others and saying thank you. • Regarding own IC awareness perspectives of Chinese experts (section 7.4.1), Chinese people mostly follow rules and protocol, practise face-giving and face-saving behaviours, are in-group focused, indirect in manner, pursue harmony, observe hierarchy, have little talk, communicate nonverbally, are relationship-focused and respectful of elders and seniors. • Regarding other IC awareness perspectives of Chinese people as inferred from the interviews with African experts (section 7.4.2), Chinese people mostly follow rules and protocol, are in-group focused, keep their own culture, communicate nonverbally, are abrupt, insincere, prone to not always telling truth, authoritative, not showing of emotions, are status-driven, calm in manner, do not say “no”, practice face-giving and face-saving behaviours, observe hierarchy, are honourable and indirect. • Regarding own Chinese versus other African IC awareness perspectives of people from Chinese culture (section 7.4.3), there is agreement from both Chinese and African experts that Chinese people mostly follow rules and protocol, practise face-giving and face-saving behaviours, are in-group focused, indirect, hierarchical, have little talk, communicate nonverbally, value relationships and are respectful of elders and seniors. • Regarding own versus own African and Chinese IC awareness perspectives (section 7.5), the most often cited own IC awareness perspectives by African experts are human centredness, consensus-seeking, respect, direct manner, humble, showing of emotions and accommodating others. On the other hand, the most frequently cited own IC awareness perspectives by Chinese experts are following rules and protocol, in-group focus, face-saving and face-giving, indirect manner and pursuit of harmony. • Regarding other versus other African and Chinese IC awareness perspectives (section 7.6), the most often cited IC awareness perspectives of African culture by Chinese experts are human centredness, arrogant, direct manner, family orientation, humble, curiosity, lots of talk, showing of emotions. On the other hand, the most often cited own IC awareness perspectives of Chinese culture by African experts are following rules and protocol, in-group focus, keep their own culture, communicate nonverbally, abrupt, insincere, do not show emotions and are status-driven. 224 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS • Regarding IC awareness perspectives emerging from the inductive process, 17 new perspectives emerged. The new perspectives are distinguished as those that are seen as influencing IC awareness, those that cause variation within a seemingly well-defined cultural group such as African, and general observations regarding IC made by the experts. The emerging IC awareness perspectives help contextualise the investigation. • Regarding categories of IC awareness developed from that data (section 7.8), six categories were developed, namely cultural orientation, manner of communication, orientation to rules and protocol, individual dispositions, within-culture variations and IC influences The positioning of African and Chinese people in each of the categories was determined, highlighting areas of similarity and difference. The next chapter summarises the entire study and draws conclusions by integrating the newly developed categories (IC awareness enablers) into the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework developed in Chapter 4 and the theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts developed in Chapter 5.

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Abstract

The global outlook of contemporary businesses has made the notion of intercultural communication effectiveness increasingly relevant as home and host country organisational incumbents seek to minimise intercultural communication challenges. From an academic perspective, despite the prevalence of theories and research that could serve as guidelines for addressing intercultural communication challenges, continued existence of these challenges in some contexts suggests potential inadequacy of such theories. Therefore, in this study, using a case of the Sino-African organisational context, several frameworks for enhancing intercultural communication effectiveness are proposed and developed. The frameworks culminate in a hybrid intercultural communication congruence framework to enhance intercultural communication and achieve intercultural communication congruence (IC congruence) in Sino-African organisational contexts. This book is a must for academics interested in theory development in intercultural communication, as well as organisational and management research in Africa. The bevy of frameworks developed and the methodological processes followed present a point of academic debate and raise numerous questions for future research. The book also provides useful insights into intercultural communication in Sino-African organisational contexts and would be of interest to managers, consultants and trainers working in Chinese organisations in Africa as well as on cross-cultural and intercultural management. In addition to introducing new concepts to the discourse of intercultural communication, the study marks the first comprehensive inquiry into intercultural communication in Sino-African business relationships in the organisational context.