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Chapter 4 A Generic Theoretical Intercultural Communication Congruence Framework in:

Fungai B. Chigwendere

Towards Intercultural Communication Congruence in Sino-African Organisational Contexts, page 81 - 86

1. Edition 2018, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4234-2, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-7121-2, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783828871212-81

Tectum, Baden-Baden
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81 Chapter 4 A Generic Theoretical Intercultural Communication Congruence Framework Introduction This chapter presents the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework, a culmination of the review and meta-synthesis of literature in Chapters 2 and 3. The chapter begins with a diagrammatic illustration and explanation of the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework. Following that, a description of how portions of the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework form the base for further meta-synthesis to develop a theoretical framework IC awareness (TFICA)in Western, African and Chinese cultures is given. The generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework follows. 4 .1 Presenting the Generic Theoretical Intercultural Communication Congruence Framework The generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework presents as three stages numbered 1 to 3 as per Fig. 4.1: Generic theoretical intercultural communication congruence (TICC) framework. 4 .1 .1 Reading the figure • Point (1) is concerned with a process of developing IC awareness through understanding communication orientation and the manner of communication based on the IC awareness enablers proposed in Chapter 3, section 3.2.1. The concepts of communication orientation and the manner of communication are explained in Chapter 2, sections 2.4.1.1 and 2.4.1.2 respectively. 82 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Fi g. 4 .1: G en er ic th eo re tic al in te rc ul tu ra l c om m un ic at io n co ng ru en ce (T IC C ) f ra m ew or k So ur ce : R es ea rc he r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n 83 ChapTer 4: a generIC TheoreTICal InTerCulTural CommunICaTIon CongruenCe framework • Point (2) relates to the IC awareness-engendered consequences and possibilities in IC inferred from the literature review and synthesis in Chapter 2, also considering the barriers and challenges faced in IC (Chapter 2, Section 2.3, and how they can be mitigated. • Point (3) reflects the proposed potential outcome when the consequences and possibilities resulting from IC awareness are acted upon. Under each heading as represented by the number (1) to (3), is a depiction of the activities that take place or that are associated with the stage in the drive to achieve IC congruence. The generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework will now be explained from (1) through to (3). 4 .1 .1 .1 Developing IC awareness through understanding communication orientation and the manner of communication Column (1) depicts people from different cultures (labelled C1, C2 and C3) interacting. Individuals from each cultural group proactively seek to understand communication orientation and the manner of communication in their own and their counterpart’s culture as shown by the interlinking reverse arrows connecting all cultural groups, thus representing a cross-cultural approach. A cross-cultural approach is discussed in Chapter 2, section 2.5.1. This understanding is based on the IC awareness enablers. Falling directly below C1, C2 and C3 depicting a cross-cultural approach are three columns, labelled from left to right as: • IC awareness enablers (criteria for conceptualising communication orientation and manner or communication). • Communication orientation and manner of communication. • Comparing manner of communication. The relationship between IC awareness enablers, communication orientation, manner of communication and IC awareness is discussed in Chapter 3, section 3.2.2. The generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework suggests that knowledge of communication orientation and manner of communication makes it possible to draw broad and informed comparisons on the manner of communication using universal categorisations such as direct or indirect, elaborate or succinct, personal or contextual and instrumental or affective, hence presenting a quick guide for managers, employees and practitioners. 84 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 4 .1 .1 .2 Intercultural communication awareness-engendered consequences and possibilities Listed in Fig. 4.1 column 2 are a range of consequences and possibilities that potentially flow from having achieved IC awareness, mainly at the individual level. When IC awareness is achieved, people from different cultures may be able to acknowledge, accept, respect and accommodate differences in communication without being judgmental (Burgoon, Berger and Waldron, 2000; Chen, 2015, pp. 468–469; Neuliep, 2012). In addition, there may be an opportunity to find common ground and work towards integrated communication goals. In essence, interactants could potentially become more inter-culturally sensitive and mindful in their approach to IC. As such, they may be better able to make adjustments or adaptations to suit the manner of communication in their counterpart’s cultures. Furthermore, IC awareness could have far-reaching effects in mitigating intercultural communication barriers, thereby enhancing effectiveness and appropriateness, resulting in a “win-win” in communication (in which everybody is satisfied with the communication encounter). The proposed multi-view generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework has parallels to Grunig, Grunig and Ehling’s (1992) two-way symmetrical communication model aimed at achieving public relations (PR) excellence, which suggests that PR practitioners adjust or adapt their behaviours in communication. In essence, the need for reciprocity and mutual understanding is emphasised. 4 .1 .1 .3 Enhanced intercultural communication As shown in Fig. 4.1, the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework proposes a hypothetical ultimate state of IC congruence, where the manner of communication is effective and appropriate (Chapter 2, section 2.5). IC congruence implies that no culture is greater or lesser than any other (Asante and Miike, 2013, p. 4). Values, communication orientation and manner of communication of all interactants are considered in communication. Principally, the argument advanced is that approaching IC with equality and respect may inspire a state of congruence where agreement and harmony prevail. Agreement exists when interactants acknowledge similarities and differences and the need for mutual achievement of ultimate communicative goals. Harmony, on the other hand, is a consequence of tolerance, acceptance of or adjustments accordingly made, in the process of the IC encounter (Chen, 2015). In other words, the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework suggests IC congruence is premised on the multiple views of those in interaction, tempered by appropriate interventions. Also suggested in the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework is that, apart from exposure to the cultural context, African and Chinese managers and employees in Sino-African organisational contexts are not immune to the unique influences emanating from the broader environment in which business operates. For example, an organisation 85 ChapTer 4: a generIC TheoreTICal InTerCulTural CommunICaTIon CongruenCe framework located in South Africa might be subject to the influences of workers’ unions as well as the social, political and economic history of the country. Hence, as is indicated in Fig. 4.1, the generic theoretical IC congruence framework takes note of the broader context through reference to contextual considerations. Finally, although the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework could be criticised for oversimplifying cultural characteristics within a group of people, it is nonetheless practical and provides a starting point in the search for IC congruence. This is because it represents a synthesis of insights derived from existing approaches and theories to IC to form a holistic framework based on the combined perspectives of those engaged in interaction, and not on predetermined standards set in other cultures. Essentially, the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework proposes a live and interactive “self and other” reporting by those in the intercultural encounter, suggesting that seeking IC congruence is ideally not from a mono-cultural perspective. 4 .2 The Generic Theoretical Intercultural Communication Congruence Framework in the Context of the Present Study In the context of the present study, the multiple views and considerations for IC congruence lend complexity to the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework. For example, to determine an in-depth understanding of communication orientation and manner of communication across three cultures based on the proposed criteria, ideally a large ethnographic study conducted by large teams over extended periods would be required. Similar challenges are equally likely in efforts to fully unpack the IC awareness-engendered consequences and possibilities in IC. However, despite the complexities presented by the proposed generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework as depicted in Fig. 4.1 it presents a significant contribution to the discourse of IC congruence, useful for understanding IC congruence in different cultural contexts. In the context of the present study, owing to time and resource constraints, in the first instance, only portions of the proposed generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework form the basis of a meta-synthesis of literature to theoretically conceptualise communication orientation and manner of communication specifically in Western, African and Chinese cultural contexts. In a secondary phase of this study, following an update of the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework with the results of the meta-synthesis of literature as presented in Chapter 5, an empirical study is proposed as will be discussed in Chapter 6 (Part B). By providing a framework for better understanding, the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework (Fig. 4.1) presented in this chapter contributes in part towards achievement of the main study aim: To develop a hybrid IC congruence (HICC) framework in order to enhance IC and achieve IC congruence in Sino-African organisational contexts. 86 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 4 .3 Summary In this chapter, a generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework, culminating from the review and synthesis of literature and theory in Chapters 2 and 3 was presented in diagrammatic form. Following that, a description was provided of how portions of the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework would form the base for further meta-synthesis of culture-specific literature and theory, to develop a theoretical framework for IC awareness (TFICA) in specific cultures. An important outcome of this chapter is therefore the possibility presented by the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework of assisting a better understanding of communication orientation and the manner of communication in different cultures, in order to enhance IC and achieve IC congruence. In the next chapter, the results of a meta-synthesis of culture and communication literature specific to Western, African and Chinese cultures literature on the basis of the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework are presented.

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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.