Content

Chapter 8 Summary, Conclusion And Recommendations in:

Fungai B. Chigwendere

Towards Intercultural Communication Congruence in Sino-African Organisational Contexts, page 225 - 240

1. Edition 2018, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4234-2, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-7121-2, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783828871212-225

Tectum, Baden-Baden
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225 Chapter 8 Summary, Conclusion And Recommendations Brief Synopsis of the Research Despite the prevalence of theories and research that could serve as guidelines for addressing intercultural communication (IC) challenges – a few of which are misunderstanding, ineffectiveness and inappropriateness – the fact that these challenges still exist in Sino-African organisational contexts suggests the inadequacy of such theories. Furthermore, some theories have been criticised for being ethnocentric in recommending the adoption of Western styles as a solution to world problems. The primary aim of this research was therefore to develop a hybrid IC congruence (HICC) framework in order to enhance IC and achieve IC congruence in Sino-African organisational contexts. In this framework, IC congruence means effectiveness and appropriateness in intercultural communication. Towards this end, a two-pronged approach was used, namely a study of theory and a qualitative empirical study, each underpinned by specific aims, objectives and research questions. This research also proposes to make a meaningful contribution to the body of knowledge in the field of IC in the new and sparsely researched Sino-African organisational context. The first step was a study of theory, which resulted in the conceptualisation of IC congruence as the potential ultimate state in IC, only possible when IC enhancement strategies are anchored in IC awareness. IC awareness was broadly described as having knowledge and understanding of the cultural, behavioural and social norms of communication in one’s own culture and the other’s culture. This in turn fosters a responsive and adaptive mindset, practical for enhancing IC (Gao and Ting Toomey, 1998, p. 84). Accordingly, the researcher developed a generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework, a portion of which relates to IC awareness, to be informed by a synthesis of extant culture and communication literature in Western, African and Chinese cultures. The synthesis process resulted in the theoretical framework for IC awareness (TFICA) in Western, African and Chinese cultures. The theoretical framework for IC awareness (TFICA) was then built into the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework to form a theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts. 226 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS An empirical qualitative study was then conducted to validate the IC awareness aspects of the theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts. In-depth interviews were conducted with African and Chinese experts to solicit IC awareness perspectives regarding their own and their counterparts’ cultures. The ensuing content analysis resulted in categories (termed “IC awareness enablers”) – which are incorporated into the theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts to form the hybrid IC congruence (HICC) framework for Sino-African organisational contexts. A concise chapter-by-chapter overview of this research now follows. Chapter 1 served as an introduction and orientation to the research. The background to the research was provided and the research problem defined. The aims and objectives of the research questions to be answered were also presented, and the methodological approach was briefly introduced. The demarcation of the study and an outline of the thesis format were also provided. Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 laid the groundwork for the construction of the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework in Chapter 4. In Chapter 2, after a review of IC theory and literature, the concept of IC congruence took shape. It was also proposed that IC awareness underpinned by communication orientation and manner of communication, provides the foundation for IC congruence. In addition, it was suggested that while different approaches can be used dialectically in understanding IC, an interpretive and cross-cultural approach may be the most suitable for understanding the similarities and differences between African and Chinese cultures in the novel Sino-African organisational context. In view of identified barriers and challenges of IC and their ascribed causes, important considerations for IC congruence were highlighted in this chapter. In Chapter 3, the foundations for IC awareness were proposed and explained. Specifically, these were values and guiding philosophies (incorporating self-perceptions), the nature of communication, the objective of communication, the degree of interaction in communication and the thinking process in communication. The conceptualisation of IC awareness and IC awareness enablers was facilitated by a deliberation on themes and subthemes underlying IC, namely culture and values, communication, self-perceptions, worldviews and dimensions of cultural variation in communication. The Gudykunst and Ting-Toomey (1988) framework provided a quick and universally understood comparison of communication in different cultures. In Chapter 4 the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework was proposed as a culmination of the review and meta-synthesis of literature in Chapters 2 and 3. The TICC framework proposed a hypothetical ultimate state of IC congruence, where the manner of communication is effective and appropriate and where IC congruence is premised on the multiple views of those in interaction, tempered by appropriate interventions. 227 ChapTer 8: summary, ConClusIon and reCommendaTIons By adopting a cross-cultural approach in Chapter 5, a meta-synthesis of literature and theoretical communication perspectives on Western, African and Chinese cultures was created. This resulted in the formation of a theoretical framework for IC awareness (TFICA) in Western, African and Chinese cultures. Findings from the theoretical framework for IC awareness (TFICA) were then incorporated into the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework proposed in Chapter 4, to result in a theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts. In Chapter 6 the research process was explained, providing an audit trail and information to enable the reader to assess the quality of the research process. Part A elaborated on the methodological process of the study of theory (Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5) previously introduced in Chapter 1, section 1.5.1. Part B described the methodological process followed in the empirical qualitative study comprising in-depth interviews with 15 experts (seven of African origin and eight of Chinese origin). The interpretivist pragmatism paradigm adopted in this research and the data analysis procedures used were also described. In Chapter 7, findings of the empirical qualitative study aimed at validating the IC awareness aspect in the theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts were presented. The findings on African and Chinese experts’ perspectives on own and other IC awareness were juxtaposed to highlight the similarities and differences. Verbatim extracts from the interviews were provided in support of the inferred perspectives. Following the process of identifying, describing and comparing IC awareness perspectives of the African and Chinese experts, six categories were developed from the data to represent IC awareness enablers. The six IC awareness enablers would subsequently be integrated into both the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework (Chapter 4) and the theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts, as is done in sections 8.1.1 and 8.1.2 of the present chapter. 8 .1 Conclusions and Recommendations The study of theory completed in Chapter 2 to Chapter 5 had two key outcomes: • a generic theoretical IC congruence framework; • a theoretical IC congruence framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts. In light of the findings of the empirical qualitative study, this research culminates in updated versions of the two above-mentioned frameworks, taking into account, the perspectives of African and Chinese experts. First presented and discussed is the updated generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework. 228 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 8 .1 .1 Updated generic theoretical intercultural communication congruence framework Following the study of theory (Chapter 2 to Chapter 5), the researcher understood that in order to aim for IC congruence, it was necessary to first develop IC awareness. The point of departure at that stage, was that IC awareness is possible with reciprocal knowledge and understanding of communication orientation and the manner of communication by African and Chinese colleagues in their own and in the other’s culture. It was also suggested, at that point, that values and guiding philosophies (incorporating self-perceptions), the nature of communication, the objective of communication, the degree of interaction in communication, as well as the thinking process in communication (termed IC enablers in section 3.2) were at the core of understanding communication orientation and the manner of communication in different cultures (see section 2.4). The findings of the empirical qualitative study, however, suggested that apart from communication orientation and the manner of communication, four other considerations were key to IC awareness, namely orientation to rules and protocol, individual dispositions, within-culture variations and IC influences. Cultural orientation is not a new consideration for IC awareness, but is presented as a refined version of communication orientation as proposed in the study of theory (see section 2.4). Accordingly, following the empirical qualitative study, IC awareness enablers are proposed as being cultural orientation, manner of communication, orientation to rules and protocol, individual dispositions, within-culture variations and IC influences. As testimony to the recursive and iterative nature of research, the five IC awareness enablers earlier proposed in Chapter 3 remain as enablers, not of IC awareness, but rather of communication orientation and manner of communication. They become “lower-order” enablers, mainly aiding the understanding the nuances of communication orientation, and are best explored through longitudinal ethnographic studies in the future. The generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework as proposed in Chapter 4 is updated to be more reflective of the new proposed IC awareness enablers (as represented by the emerged categories in Chapter 7, section 7.8.2) now presented in Fig. 8.1. 229 ChapTer 8: summary, ConClusIon and reCommendaTIons Fi g. 8 .1: U pd at ed g en er ic th eo re tic al IC co ng ru en ce (T IC C ) f ra m ew or k So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 230 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS The figure is columnar to be read in number sequence from (1) to (3) (left to right), with each column reading from top to bottom as explained in Chapter 4 of this study. Only point (1) in the figure (developing IC awareness) is discussed in this chapter as it is the only portion that formed the subject of validation in the empirical qualitative study. Point (2) and point (3) remain unchanged and may form the subject of future investigations. Beneath each of the IC awareness enablers falling under column 1 are points that serve as guidelines for interpreting how colleagues from a particular culture can be described. The guidelines for each IC awareness enabler or category have been derived from the IC awareness perspectives contained within each enabler, with respect to both African and Chinese culture (as shown in section 7.8, Table 7.11), while also drawing on theoretical findings. The points of guidance under each enabler are only stated and could be further investigated in future research. 8 .1 .1 .1 Cultural orientation As is reflected in Fig. 8.1 point (1), it is proposed that the cultural orientation of a group of people in communication can be determined on the basis of an understanding of their values and guiding philosophies, their objective of communication, and the degree of interaction. These guidelines, previously referred to as IC awareness enablers, are explained in section 3.2.1 of this study. 8 .1 .1 .2 Manner of communication This research proposes that the manner of communication can be understood, described and compared on the basis of criteria as indicated in Fig. 8.1. These criteria were previously proposed and described in section 3.2.3 of the study. 8 .1 .1 .3 Orientation to rules and protocol While the findings of the empirical study presented in Chapter 7 suggest that both African and Chinese cultures are protocol- and rule-following, this understanding is not useful unless one understands the nature of each culture’s rules and protocol. As such, on the basis of the IC awareness perspectives of African and Chinese experts presented in Chapter 7 and reflected in Fig. 8.1, it is proposed that orientation to rules and protocol for different cultures be distinguished according to the following considerations: • understanding whether orientation to rules and protocol is negotiated or prescribed; • understanding the objectives or focus of the rule- and protocol-following (with a human focus, status focus, or business focus); • understanding the targeted relationships in rule- and protocol-following; • understanding the substance or nature of the rules. 231 ChapTer 8: summary, ConClusIon and reCommendaTIons 8 .1 .1 .4 Individual dispositions Findings of the present research suggest that individual dispositions in IC vary, and that understanding the individual dispositions that are likely be encountered, will add to IC awareness. Furthermore, in broader terms, this research suggests that individual dispositions can either serve as IC congruence enhancers or IC congruence detractors. IC enhancers contribute to towards the attainment of IC congruence, while detractors move further away from this goal. As shown in Fig. 8.1, individual dispositions can be: • open or closed – related to the degree of interaction displayed; • humble or honourable – dependent on perceptions; • honourable or dishonourable – also dependent on perceptions. In summary, this research suggests that other dichotomies may also be used to distinguish between individual dispositions displayed by people from different cultures. 8 .1 .1 .5 Intercultural communication influences Because IC does not occur in a vacuum, but within a context (Martin and Nakayama, 2010), the findings of this research suggest that considerations such as the internal organisational environment, understanding the motivation for interaction, differences in work ethic and IC barriers such as prevailing lack of knowledge, stereotypical views, prejudice, ethnocentrism and preconceptions should be taken into account in developing IC awareness (Fig. 7.8.1). This is because IC influences have the potential to influence both own and other colleagues’ views and individual dispositions, consequently impacting on IC congruence. 8 .1 .1 .6 Intercultural communication variations The findings of this research suggest that IC awareness in the Sino-African organisational context should not be essentialised on the basis of cultural belonging (for example, African or Chinese). The sixth enabler – IC variations – as reflected in Fig. 8.1, makes provision for the fact that differences may exist along different lines, as explained in section 7.7.2. In the next section, the findings of the empirical qualitative study are interpreted in terms of the IC awareness enablers and guidelines of both the updated generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework and the TICC framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts proposed in Chapter 5. This gives rise to a hybrid IC congruence framework (HICC) for Sino-African organisational contexts. 232 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 8 .1 .2 Hybrid intercultural communication congruence framework (HICC) for Sino-African organisational contexts In this section, categories (representing IC awareness enablers) that emerged from African and Chinese experts’ perspectives on IC awareness in their own and their counterparts’ culture – have been incorporated into the hybrid IC congruence (HICC) framework for Sino-African organisational contexts, aptly termed the “multi-view approach” in this research (Chigwendere, 2017) (Fig. 8.2). 233 ChapTer 8: summary, ConClusIon and reCommendaTIons Fi g. 8 .2 : H yb ri d IC co ng ru en ce (H IC C ) f ra m ew or k fo r S in o- A fr ic an o rg an is at io na l c on te xt s – th e m ul tivi ew a pp ro ac h So ur ce : A ut ho r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 234 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS As in Fig. 8.1, Fig. 8.2 is columnar, to be read in number sequence from (1) to (3) (left to right), with each column reading from top to bottom as explained for Fig. 8.1. Again, only point (1) in the figure (developing IC awareness) is discussed, as it is the only portion that forms the subject of validation in the empirical qualitative study. Based on perspectives of African and Chinese experts and insights from the study of theory, Fig. 8.2 summarises IC awareness of African and Chinese cultures in Sino-African organisational contexts. Sections 8.1.2.1 through to 8.1.2.6 describe the positioning of African and Chinese colleagues in Sino-African contexts according to each IC awareness enabler. 8 .1 .2 .1 Cultural orientation in Sino-African organisational contexts As reflected in Fig. 8.2, in the Sino-African organisational context, African people display open collectivism, are consensus-seeking and generally human-centred in communication. This research concludes that African people in this context are human- or Ubuntu-orientated. Their Chinese colleagues, on the other hand, display an in-group focus or submerged collectivism (Chen, 2015), seek harmony, and are relationship-driven. Consequently, this research concludes that Chinese people are in-group-orientated and harmony-orientated. In summary, the findings for both African and Chinese colleagues in respect of cultural orientation are in agreement with the theoretical findings discussed in Chapter 5. The findings also support the view that despite various influences bringing gradual change over time, African and Chinese cultures maintain their core guiding philosophies of Ubuntu and Confucianism respectively. 8 .1 .2 .2 Manner of communication in Sino-African organisational contexts This research concludes that African people communicate in a direct manner which is also viewed as confrontational by their Chinese colleagues. Furthermore, the manner of communication is elaborate, personal and contextual as well as being simultaneously affective and instrumental. As such, in agreement with the findings of the study of theory, this research finds that the manner of communication of African people in the Sino-African organisational context is blended, reflecting a mix of traditionally Western and African ways. In respect of the Chinese people, this study concludes that the manner of communication is indirect, contextual and succinct as was established in the study of theory (Chapter 5). However, Chinese people are also considered abrupt by their African colleagues; the study suggests that this perception occurs because the Chinese use few words in communication, and perhaps because the African people do not understand Chinese ways. Finally, Chinese people also communicate in both an affective and instrumental way, which is viewed as authoritative by their African colleagues. The study attributes this finding to the strict following of rules and protocol as well as the Confucianism of Chinese cultures. It is further suggested that the manner of communication in Chinese culture can be broadly labelled 235 ChapTer 8: summary, ConClusIon and reCommendaTIons as variable, contextual, circumstantial and governed by in-group, out-group relationships. Apart from being labelled as abrupt, the findings in respect of Chinese people align with findings reported in the study of theory (Chapter 5). 8 .1 .2 .3 Orientation to rules and protocol in Sino-African organisational contexts As shown in Fig. 8.2, this research concludes that African people follow rules and protocol that are both prescribed and negotiated to ensure social maintenance as well as respect for elders and hierarchy. Furthermore, there is a focus on maintaining dignity of the individual and behaving like a “proper” human being (as discussed in Chapter 5). Regarding the Chinese colleagues on the other hand, this study concludes that there is strict adherence to rules and protocol focused on maintenance of face, status, respect for elders and hierarchy. To add to that, in light of the African experts’ views that their Chinese colleagues “keep their own culture”, the present research suggests that the Chinese peoples’ orientation to rules and protocol is characterised by high cultural patriotism. As reflected in Fig. 8.2, the study finds that in the Sino-African organisational context, compared to their Chinese counterparts, African people may be more flexible and able to adapt to rules and protocol set within the organisational context. On the other hand, it is likely that once rules of engagement have been set, Chinese people are more likely to adhere to them than are their African colleagues. 8 .1 .2 .4 Individual dispositions in Sino-African organisational contexts In respect of the IC awareness enabler of individual dispositions, this research finds that African people within Sino-African organisational contexts display a variety of dispositions including humility, being accommodating, showing of emotions, and arrogance. The first three dispositions are aligned to their openly collectivistic, human-centred and affective nature, as corroborated by theory. Arrogance is an unexpected finding. However, it could be attributed to the racial diversity of the African sample, the blending of African and Western ways, African ethnocentrism, as well as to a lack of knowledge and understanding or even the prejudices on the part of the Chinese. This is clearly an area needing further investigation. This research concludes that the Chinese people are largely honourable in line with a virtue orientation suggested in the study of theory. They also have a disdain for behaviours such as stealing, as verified in the empirical study. In addition, the Chinese people were found to be ambiguous, not given to showing emotion, and arrogant. The reported arrogance of the Chinese culture may again be the result of Chinese ethnocentrism, and of a lack of knowledge and understanding, or even the prejudices of their African colleagues. In summary then, in terms of individual dispositions, the study concludes that African people have an open and accommodating disposition while their Chinese colleagues have 236 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS a closed and ambiguous disposition associated with the paradoxical nature of Chinese culture (Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998; Fang, 2011). 8 .1 .2 .5 Intercultural communication influences in Sino-African organisational contexts As reflected in Fig. 8.2 and discussed in section 7.7.1, various influences impact on IC awareness of both African and Chinese colleagues and should accordingly be taken into consideration when seeking IC awareness. 8 .1 .2 .6 Intercultural communication variations in Sino-African organisational contexts With regard to the IC awareness enabler of IC variations, this study finds that even in a group of people of the same culture, variations in IC awareness exist in terms of strata such as age, class, race, level of education, seniority, organisational typology and business or social context. 8 .2 Significance and Contributions of this Research The contributions of the research and their significance are now outlined. 8 .2 .1 Main contribution • The main contribution of this research comes in the form of a hybrid intercultural communication congruence (HICC) framework for IC congruence in Sino-African organisational contexts – also referred to as the multi-view approach. Its significance lies in the fact that it builds on existing IC theory frameworks (for example Asante, 1987, 1991, 1999; Chen, 2015, 2011; Gudykunst and Ting-Toomey, 1988; Miike, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2013; Yum, 2015, 1988), and on the IC awareness perspectives of African and Chinese experts to develop a context-focused framework for IC congruence in Sino-African organisations. Currently, such a multi-view framework does not exist. 8 .2 .2 Study of theory • This study of theory introduces new concepts to IC discourse, thereby stimulating debate and creating opportunities for further research aimed at refining the concepts and increasing the body of IC knowledge. New concepts introduced include IC congruence, IC awareness, communication orientation, manner of communication (Chapter 2) and IC awareness enablers (Chapter 3). • In adopting a cross-cultural approach to the literature meta-synthesis, the research produced the theoretical framework for IC awareness (TFICA), which serves as a 237 ChapTer 8: summary, ConClusIon and reCommendaTIons quick reference tool for those seeking to understand communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures on a comparable basis. African and Chinese managers and employees can potentially benefit from this framework (comparing communication orientation and manner of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures) as they will be better informed when making adjustments or adaptations in policies aimed at achieving IC congruence. Also, management practitioners are provided with a starting point for developing suitable interventions and strategies for IC congruence in Sino-African organisational contexts. These interventions could include staff development programmes and training, which has long been identified as a key strategy for addressing many of the challenges emerging in the Sino-African relationship (Feng and Mu, 2010). The advantage of this understanding for African and Chinese colleagues is that they are better positioned to interact effectively and appropriately while getting on with business. • The theoretical framework for IC awareness (TFICA) in Western, African and Chinese cultures, as developed in this research, points to a degree of cultural proximity between African and Chinese culture as opposed to Western culture. However, similarities are not absolute, meaning that while there may exist universally acceptable communicative behaviours, their expression and interpretation may vary from culture to culture. For instance, while African and Chinese cultures value respectful communication, the way in which respect is shown is not necessarily the same. This contribution presents opportunities for future research. 8 .2 .3 . Empirical qualitative study • The empirical qualitative study begins a process of validating both the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework (Chapter 4) and the theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts (Chapter 5), hence testing the researcher’s assertions regarding IC awareness in the study of theory. As reflected in sections 8.1.1 and 8.1.2, empirical insights from interviews with African and Chinese experts led to an updating of both the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework and the theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts to result in the hybrid IC congruence (HICC) framework for Sino-African organisational contexts. It is likely that with continuing research, further refinement of these frameworks will occur. • The research highlights and compares IC awareness perspectives in own and other’s cultures for African and Chinese cultures, thereby highlighting actual lived similarities and differences. This is useful as it begins to narrow the focus on IC awareness issues for management practitioners to consider in interventions aimed at enhancing IC and achieving IC congruence. • The research provides extensive quotations and is therefore revealing of the state of IC in Sino-African organisational contexts from the perspectives of African and Chinese experts. The study thus adds to the body of knowledge of IC in these contexts. 238 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 8 .2 .4 Methodology • In response to the need for creation of action-orientated knowledge in the sparsely researched Sino-African organisational context, this research employed innovative methods encapsulated in an interpretive pragmatism paradigm. While interpretivist approaches are appropriate for investigating the complexity and uniqueness of business and management contexts (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2009, p. 9), a level of pragmatism was also required to ensure solution outcomes which suited the demands of the situation; hence, interpretive pragmatism was used. • The research creatively engages a quasi-systematic review and meta-synthesis technique termed “framework synthesis”, to abductively, deductively and inductively pull together diverse literature and construct a new point of reference or heuristic for understanding communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures. 8 .3 Limitations of this Research 8 .3 .1 Study of theory The abductive and inductive techniques engaged in the meta-synthesis process are largely inferential and interpretive; therefore they could be deemed subjective owing to supposed researcher preconceptions in interpretation. Despite this shortcoming however, cognisance was taken of the fact that one has to start somewhere, whatever the shortcomings of the method. Interpretation has always involved dispute (Khoza, 2011:16). Furthermore, Eisenhardt (1989, pp. 546–547) dismisses the myth that building theory from case studies is limited by the investigator’s preconceptions: The constant juxtaposition of conflicting realities tends to “unfreeze” thinking, and so the process has the potential to generate theory with less researcher bias than theory built from incremental studies, or armchair, axiomatic deduction. Another limitation pertains to literature that may not have been included in the synthesis as a result of time and resource constraints. Unlike typical systematic reviews in the health sciences where copious amounts of literature are reviewed by large collaborative teams, the review of this study was conducted solely by the researcher. Notwithstanding this limitation, despite potential omissions of some relevant publications, the use of multiple sources provided a degree of confidence that literature included in the synthesis is representative of the body of knowledge on culture and communication in African culture. With respect to culture and communication in Chinese culture, a major limitation was the inability to access literature written in the Chinese language owing to the language limitations of the researcher. Nevertheless, a sizeable amount of literature was included. Finally, while it may be argued that alternative methods could have been adopted to complete the study, the diversity of concepts and scarcity of context-specific empirical research pointed to a quasi-systematic review and meta-synthesis method as the best approach in 239 ChapTer 8: summary, ConClusIon and reCommendaTIons the first instance. What was required was to develop an understanding that would enable development of frameworks to serve as launch pads for understanding and enhancing IC – or achieving IC congruence in Sino-African organisational contexts. 8 .3 .2 Empirical qualitative study The limitations of the empirical study are stated below. • As a consequence of the complexity of the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework and the theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts, only partial empirical validation of aspects related to IC awareness was possible. This was done through interviews with African and Chinese experts. • The experts interviewed come from a cross-section of industries representing different Chinese organisational typologies (Yu, 2012, p. 32) including SOEs, private companies and entrepreneurial business. The insights from the empirical study are therefore highly generalised; further industry-specific research needs to be done. This recommendation is a consequence of the research findings which indicate differences across organisational typologies. Despite this limitation however, the study awakens researchers to these differences in future research. • The sample of experts interviewed were mainly senior professionals and managers, perhaps offering views from a better educated perspective. It is possible that interviews with lower-level employees could yield further or different insights. It is suggested that this research be replicated with a cross-section of employees in order to ascertain the differences in perceptions at different levels of the organisations. • The researcher was obliged to rely on what experts chose to speak about and on the feelings they demonstrated, rather than witnessing the incidents first-hand. As such, there was no real-time observation of the phenomena under study. However, in order to mitigate the effects of lone dependence on interview data, the researcher drew on research experience in academic and commercial sectors to infer meaning from interviews which were both audio-recorded and transcribed. In addition, the researcher’s reflective notes and impressions of the interview, which were noted after each interview, proved useful in the final data analysis by adding meaning to the transcribed texts. In conclusion, despite the aforementioned limitations it is hoped that the research will not only stimulate academic debate but also pave the way for future research aimed at IC congruence in organisational contexts. Some suggestions for future research are provided in the next section. 240 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 8 .4 Recommendations for Future Research Based on the outcomes of this research, the following are recommendations are suggested regarding future research in the broader field of IC and subfields of IC awareness and IC congruence in Sino-African organisational contexts. • Additional research could refine the concepts of IC awareness, IC congruence, and the hybrid IC congruence framework for Sino-African organisational contexts. • Research could also be undertaken which aims to refine the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework and the hybrid IC congruence (HICC) framework for IC congruence in Sino-African organisational contexts. This could be achieved through use of the Delphi method which is “an iterative process to collect and distil the anonymous judgments of experts using a series of data collection and analysis techniques interspersed with feedback” (Skulmoski, Hartman and Krahn, 2007, p. 1). • Apart from the use of experts to determine IC awareness perspectives and categories, future research could be expanded to include: - employees with differing educational levels at different levels in the organisation; - different organisational typologies; - different industry sectors; - exploration of similarities or differences between gender, racial and ethnic groups. • Longitudinal studies could be undertaken in selected organisations following an ethnographic approach, in order to fully comprehend the nuances of how African and Chinese colleagues communicate in Sino-African organisational contexts and determine IC awareness enablers necessary to achieve IC congruence. • The extent of the influence of the internal environment of business and organisational behaviour on IC awareness and IC congruence could be explored. As reflected in these recommendations for future research, the list is potentially endless. There are many more questions still to be asked, based on the findings emanating from this research. 8 .5 Conclusion In conclusion, this study suggests that a multi-view approach using the hybrid IC congruence (HICC) framework is potentially useful in seeking to understand and achieve IC congruence in Sino-African organisational contexts. It provides a starting point from which to consider the perspectives of those involved in interaction, by not dwelling on predetermined standards set in other cultures. Specifically, the hybrid IC congruence framework for Sino-African organisational contexts proposes the development of IC awareness that enables identification, optimisation and reconciliation of similarities or differences in communication through applying appropriate intervention strategies to achieve a state of congruence. Arguably, therefore, the quest in IC may not necessarily be for effectiveness, but rather for congruence, at which point IC is both effective and appropriate.

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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.