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Chapter 5 Intercultural Communication Awareness in:

Fungai B. Chigwendere

Towards Intercultural Communication Congruence in Sino-African Organisational Contexts, page 87 - 110

1. Edition 2018, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4234-2, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-7121-2, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783828871212-87

Tectum, Baden-Baden
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87 Chapter 5 Intercultural Communication Awareness Understanding communication orientation and manner of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultural contexts “Despite the presence of the global economy and mass cultural products, people still interpret what they see or have by drawing upon their local beliefs, values and norms” (Liu, 2012, p. 269) Introduction This chapter presents the results of a meta-synthesis of culture and communication literature and theory specific to Western, African and Chinese cultures based on the IC awareness enablers (theoretical objectives T8 and T9). Meta-synthesis involves analysing and synthesising key elements in various studies, with the aim of transforming individual findings into new conceptualisations and interpretations (Polit and Beck, 2006 cited in Cronin, Ryan and Coughlan, 2008, p. 39). This opposes a traditional literature review which largely serves to distinguish what has been done from what needs to be done in a field, places the research in a historical context and demonstrates familiarity with the latest developments (Hart, 1998, p. 27). Theoretical objectives T8 and T9 are restated as follows: • Theoretical objective T8 is to describe communication orientation and manner of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultural contexts according to the criteria proposed in RQ-T6. • Theoretical objective T9 is to compare the manner of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultural contexts. In order to give effect to theoretical objectives T8 and T9, it is necessary to establish a general understanding of Western, African and Chinese cultures. Therefore, in the first instance, portraits of Western, African and Chinese cultures are presented in section 5.1. Second, because the meta-synthesis of literature in this study resulted in a copious amount of information, a theoretical framework of IC awareness (TFICA) in Western, African and Chinese cultures is presented in diagram form. Thereafter, communication orientation and manner of communication in Western African and Chinese cultures based on each IC 88 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS awareness enabler as depicted in the theoretical framework of IC awareness (TFICA) is described. Comparisons are also drawn across the different cultures while commenting on implications for IC and IC congruence. The theoretical framework of IC awareness (TFICA) presented in this chapter serves as a heuristic to help African and Chinese managers, employees and practitioners make sense of IC in Sino-African organisational contexts. Furthermore, the theoretical framework of IC awareness (TFICA) building on the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework proposed in Chapter 4 results in a theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts. Chapter 5 is largely descriptive and makes use of summary tables to highlight the main points. 5 .1 Western, African and Chinese Cultures In this presentation of a portrait of Western, African and Chinese cultures, it should be noted that categorisation does not imply that all African people are the same, nor that all Chinese people are the same. Instead, the categories represent a lens to understand the reality. Furthermore, the researcher is cognisant that African and Chinese cultures as portrayed here are further subject to influences of globalisation, as well as social and political histories of the countries (see Leung, 2008; Luo, 2008; Fang, 2011; Faure and Fang, 2008; Fang, Zhao and Worm, 2008; Matondo, 2012). Despite these influences, this study proposes that understanding a group’s culture from an indigenous perspective provides a practical starting point to understanding communication within the group. Described first is Western culture. 5 .1 .1 . Western culture Because the inclusion of Western culture in this study is primarily as a contextual reference, an in-depth description of Western culture is not provided. In addition, the researcher also acknowledges that a simple reference to Western cultures is may be a problematic generalisation given the largely white, middle class (normally American male) reference point without any detailed description or analysis. In particular the problem of generalising on the basis of race is highlighted in Hofstede’s IBM study (Hofstede, 1980) where differences in value orientation in predominantly white Belgian, Swedish and UK countries are reported. That said, a debate on the qualification of Western culture is however beyond the scope of this study and can be followed in Critical Whiteness Studies (for example, Applebaum, 2000; Asante, 2005; Hartmann, Gerteis, and Croll, 2009; Mayo, 2000). Notwithstanding, despite this drawback, Western cultures as contextualised in this study provide a useful starting point for developing a comparable understanding African and Chinese cultures. Particular emphasis is drawn to the individualism (Hofstede, 1980), low-context nature (see Hall, 1976), egalitarianism, autonomy and mastery (see Schwartz, 1992; 1994) of West- 89 ChapTer 5: InTerCulTural CommunICaTIon awareness ern cultures. Autonomy reflects in the value placed on uniqueness and open expression of preferences, feelings and motives, while egalitarianism is evident where people view themselves as moral equals valuing social justice, honesty and responsibility (Schwartz, 1992). Finally, mastery in Western cultures manifests in the encouragement of change, ambition and competence (Francesca and Gold, 2005, p. 31). 5 .1 .2 African culture Literature synthesis suggests a richness of African culture where interconnectedness, communal relationships, truth, equality, social justice, dignity, mutual respect and the supernatural are cardinal principles of life (Higgs, 2010; Maomeka, 1989, p. 4; Matondo, 2012; Traber, 1989, p. 8). Yet, in spite of this richness and the multiple ethnicities of Africa’s population, “the root paradigm of these cultures remains communalism” (Faniran, 2014, p. 50). Emphasis is on interdependence between individuals and communities where people are “beings-in-relation” (Faniran, 2014, p. 156), implying that people derive the meaning of their existence in relation to others. Community, on the other hand, extends to humans and their non-human environments, including people alive today connected to past and future generations (Narh, 2013, p. 7). Parallels to communalism are in the humanist philosophy of Ubuntu, which, together with humanism, are core aspects of African culture. 5 .1 .2 .1 Communalism In describing communalism in relation to communication, Maomeka (1989) presents five communalistic principles of African culture that are “unseen scripts that govern, direct, and give form and stability to the way people communicate” (Faniran, 2014, p. 153). Communalistic principles, namely the supremacy of the community, the utility of the individual, the sanctity of authority and respect for old age and religion as a way of life, determine who says what, to whom and in what context. The African communalistic principles are now described. a . The supremacy of the community In African society, supremacy of community takes precedence over the individual, and rules rather than rulers or individuals are essential mechanisms for maintaining the social order (Maomeka, 1989; Narh, 2013). The supremacy of the community therefore dictates a situation where communication is geared towards maintaining the social order. b . The utility of the individual Despite the supremacy of the community in African culture, individual opinions are valued because synthesis of the views of individuals forms the basis of community decisions 90 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS (Maomeka, 1989). The dual importance of the individual and the community therefore reflects a kind of individualism-in-communalism in the African community that encourages each to be his brother’s keeper (Maomeka, 1989, p. 6) as reflected in many African proverbs. For example, chara chimwe hachitswanye inda is a Zimbabwean Shona proverb, meaning a thumb working on its own is useless (N Chipandambira, personal communication, 15 August 2015). Similarly, in South Africa is the Setswana proverb, Mabogo mabedi a tlhatswana which translates as two hands wash each other (A Williams, personal communication, 19 August 2015). These proverbs highlight the communal nature of African cultures and the worth of every member of the society. Because all are valued in society, communication in Africa is respectful and geared towards relationship maintenance. Words that will disrupt the harmonious relationships are avoided and difficult subjects are approached in an appropriate manner that maintains the dignity of all (Maomeka, 1989). c . The sanctity of authority In African culture, authority is inherent in one’s position within the hierarchy (Mbigi and Maree, 1995). The leader as the first citizen is held in high esteem, as both the spiritual and earthly leader. Above the status bestowed on leaders however, is an expectation that they lead by example while honouring supremacy of the community (Maomeka, 1989, p. 7). Rules agreed to in the community guide the way of life and all must abide by them to maintain relationships and the social order. d . Respect for old age Regardless of rank, title or education and in line with tradition, the elderly are regarded as reservoirs of knowledge and wisdom, treated with immense dignity and respect (Matondo, 2012, p. 42). They set examples for the inexperienced youth who, in the presence of elders, are expected to listen rather than talk (Maomeka, 1989). e . Religion as a way of life Religion is the basis of social morality in a society that is simultaneously secular and religious (Igboin, 2011; Maomeka, 1989, p. 8; Matondo, 2012; Myers 1987, p. 75; Nwosu, Taylor and Blake, 1998; Westropp, 2012). Reportedly, people communicate through priests and medicine men, suggesting that a belief in the supernatural and external forces influence the lives of the living. The findings of the meta-synthesis suggest an African way of life guided by these traditions, is likely to continue along the same trajectory into the future. 91 ChapTer 5: InTerCulTural CommunICaTIon awareness 5 .1 .2 .2 Ubuntu Embodying communalistic principles put forward by Maomeka (1989) is the southern African concept of Ubuntu. Ubuntu is underpinned by the Xhosa saying: Umuntu ngumuntu ngabanye abantu meaning, “I am because you are, and you are, because we are” (Khoza, 2005, p. xx). Whatever happens to the individual happens to the whole group (Briggs 1996, cited in Waneless, 2007, p. 117). Ubuntu emphasises values of caring, reciprocity, sharing, compassion, hospitality, cohabitation, cooperation and tolerance (see Bell and Metz, 2011; Khoza, 2005; Mazrui, 2005; Mbigi and Maree, 1995; Mbigi, 1997; McFarlin, Coster and Mogale-Pretorius, 1999; Metz, 2014; 2015; Pietersen, 2005; Praeg and Magadla, 2014; Van den Heuvel, 2008; Van der Colff, 2003; Waneless, 2007). Ubuntu is “opposed to rampant individualism, insensitive competitiveness, and unilateral decision making.” (McFarlin, Coster and Mogale-Pretorius, 1999, p. 71) and entails a strong sense of togetherness and concern for others (Khoza, 2011). As with communalism, despite an emphasis on the community, a person still maintains their individuality. For Mutombo Nkulu-N’Sengha (2009 cited in Metz, 2015, p. 85), Ubuntu is about the display of ethical behaviour or “being human”, where failure to display ethical human behaviour leads to being labelled an animal (Metz, 2015, p. 85). For instance, the Shona people of Zimbabwe say Haazi munhu, imhuka if someone displays unethical behaviour, which translates as: he is not a person; he is an animal. An imperative therefore exists for individuals to behave appropriately and ethically as they are under the constant assessment of their communities. 5 .1 .2 .3 Humanism In addition to communalism and the Ubuntu philosophy, Kigongo (2002 cited in Faniran, 2014, p. 150) suggests the existence of an African communalism that equates to humanism. Humanism entails a deep consideration of a person’s individuality, intrinsic worth, dignity and effort over and above their sociality (Faniran, 2014, p. 151; Igboin, 2011, p. 99; Jackson, 1999). In summary, the deliberate maintenance of the relationship between the individual and the community, the youth and the elders, the community and its rules, as well as the value accorded to the individual, all impact on daily life and by extension, on the communication process and meaning-making (Faniran, 2014, p. 156). 5 .1 .3 Chinese culture Literature synthesis points to duality, paradox, and diversity in Chinese culture encapsulated in the philosophy of Yin Yang (Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998; Fang, 2011) Yin yang attests to a reality of interdependent opposities, coexisting and unified (Fang, 2011). Paradox is defined as “the existence of contradictory yet interrelated elements that seem logical in 92 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS isolation but absurd and irrational when appearing simultaneously” (Lewis, 2000 cited in Fang, 2011, p. 35). An example of Yin Yang in Chinese culture can be seen in Chinese communication in business where, for example, contradictory dispositions are displayed in negotiation processes (see Fang and Faure, 2011; Fang, 2011; Tang, 2014). Apart from the paradoxical nature of Chinese culture in determining management and organisational practices and the manner of Chinese communication as a whole, are philosophical perspectives rooted in Confucianism (Wah, 2001;Tang, 2014, p. 77). 5 .1 .3 .1 Confucianism Confucianism is a philosophy of human nature and system of ethics relating to principles of benevolence and humanness (jen), the family system and insider (zi-jiren) versus outsider relationships, hierarchy and role relationships, filial piety, reciprocity (bao), relationships (guanxi), and face (mianzi) (Gan, 2014; Gao and Ting-Toomey 1998; Wah, 2001; Huang, 2010; Luo, 2008; Yum, 1988; 2015;). A description of the stated principles begins with jen. a . Jen (benevolence and humanness) In Chinese culture, all virtuous qualities of human beings are born of jen (Chen and Chung, 1994; Gan, 2014) which is represented by the qualities yi and li. Yi is concerned with righteousness, faithfulness and justice in social interaction. Li is concerned with the proper way of interaction, including, propriety, rite and respect for social norms (Chen and Chung, 1994; Gan, 2014; Yum, 1988; 2015). Jen regulates relationships by ensuring adherence to a code of ethics and maintenance of the social order when hierarchy and role relationships are observed (Gan, 2014, p. 110). b . Influence of family and insiders (zi-jiren) versus outsiders Chen and Chung (1994) as well as Gao and Ting-Toomey (1998) advance the view that Chinese communication practices can be understood in light of how individuals relate to family members and the insiders versus outsider relationship. (The concept of insiders versus outsiders has been discussed in Chapter 3, section 3.1.5.1a.). Primarily the family and insiders are placed ahead of the outsider group. Because there are different interaction rules for insiders and outsiders (Yum, 1988, p. 379) it is difficult to develop interpersonal relationships with outsiders – also referred to as strangers. Reportedly, insider groups are likely to be more honest and verbally expressive within their group than when they interact with outsiders (Chen and Chung, 1994; Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998), potentially resulting in challenges in IC. 93 ChapTer 5: InTerCulTural CommunICaTIon awareness c . Hierarchy and role relationships Relationships in Chinese culture are subject to filial piety, which is a Chinese virtue of respect of elders and seniors. The most important relationships are those between ruler and subject, father and son, husband and wife, elder brother and younger brother, and between friends (Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998; Chen and Chung, 1994). Roles and relationships in Chinese culture are underpinned by associated rules that form an underlying structure of what constitutes appropriate behaviour in different cultural contexts and relationships (Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998; Yum, 1988). It is important to follow rules as required for specific relationships to maintain social order and stability, thus ensuring peace and prosperity (Gan, 2014, p. 112). One needs to understand the expectations surrounding various roles when interacting with people from the Chinese culture. The significance of hierarchy and role relationships in interaction in Chinese culture is seen in the appropriate behaviours expected of people occupying the lower social ranks. These behaviours include submission, obedience, respect, and a deferential manner when addressing those of a higher rank. For someone to be seen as worthy of speaking, they have to have high seniority and be highly experienced. (Gao and Ting Toomey, 1998). Furthermore, in the workplace setting, “good” employees are those who listen with full attention, do as they are told and are willing to meet the expectations of others (Gao and Ting-Toomey 1998, p. 43). d . Bao (reciprocity) Reciprocity refers to mutual expectations and obligations of social responsibility among people which result in warm, lasting human relationships (Chen and Chung, 1994, p. 97; Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998; Yum, 1988, p. 374). Chinese culture has an expectation that a person who is indebted should pay back or reciprocate, and that returns should always be proportionate to the favour having been granted (Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998). As a result, the getting-and-giving-back principle results in time devoted to building relationships (guanxi) through doing favours and giving face (mianzi) (Gao and Ting Toomey, 1998, p. 31). e . Guanxi (relationships/connections) Regarded as being the most influential principle in communication (Huang, 2010), guanxi best translates as relationships or connections (Faure and Fang, 2008, p. 196; Lockett, 1988, p. 489). Under guanxi, people exist through, and are defined by honouring requirements of their roles in their hierarchically structured relationships (Huang, 2010; Ma, 2011) suggesting the importance of appropriateness. 94 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS In the business context, building and maintaining relationships is placed ahead of actual business transactions and speed (Yum, 1988, p. 381). Because of this, concern talk (guan-xing) such as enquiry after the family and other personal matters is an expected norm (Yum, 1988). Key to the establishing and maintaining guanxi is the concept of face (mianzi). f . Mianzi (face) Giving face and saving face are business skills in China, where face relates to notions of honour, respect, reputation and credibility and achievement of enduring relationships (Cardon and Scott, 2003; Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1988). For more on the concept of face, see Chapter 3, section 3.1.5.1c where Ting-Toomey’s FNT theory is discussed. 5 .1 .4 Summary In section 5.1, brief theoretical sketches of principles of communication in African and Chinese cultures have been drawn. These descriptions serve as useful starting point for a theoretical deciphering and understanding of communication orientation and manner of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures as described in the next section. These descriptions may promote an understanding of the insights which arise from empirical studies focused on understanding communication between African and Chinese people. 5 .2 Communication Orientation and Manner of Communication in Western, African and Chinese Cultures First presented in this section is a concise theoretical framework of IC awareness (TFICA) in Western, African and Chinese cultures in diagram format (Fig. 5.1). Perspectives on communication orientation and manner of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures are discussed in terms of the following IC awareness enablers: (1) values and guiding philosophies (incorporating self-perceptions), (2) nature of communication, (3) objective of communication, (4) degree of interaction, and (5) thinking process. Items (6) and (7) in the figure represent the resulting communication orientation and manner of communication. Following a discussion based on each IC awareness enabler is a summary table highlighting the main points of the discussion. Fig. 5.1 reads from top to bottom in the numbered sequence from item (1) through to item (7). 95 ChapTer 5: InTerCulTural CommunICaTIon awareness Fi g. 5. 1: Th eo re tic al fr am ew or k fo r i nt er cu ltu ra l c om m un ic at io n aw ar en es s ( TF IC A ) i n W es te rn , A fr ic an a nd C hi ne se cu ltu re s So ur ce : R es ea rc he r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n w ith a da pt at io ns fr om C he n (2 01 5) , A je i ( 20 07 ), A ni (2 01 3) , B er ge r ( 20 05 ), C he n (2 01 1; 20 15 ), C he n an d St ar os ta (2 00 3) , D in g (2 00 6) , E at on a nd L ou w (2 00 0) , F an g (2 01 1) , F an ira n (2 01 4) , G an (2 01 4) , G ao a nd T in g- To om ey (1 99 8) , G ud yk un st a nd T in g- To om ey , ( 19 88 ), H al l ( 19 59 ;19 76 ), H ig gs , ( 20 10 ), H of st ed e (1 98 0) , I gb oi n, (2 01 1) , K ho za ( 20 11 ; 2 00 5) , K im (2 00 7) , K in ca id (1 98 7) , L ee (2 01 2) , L itt le jo hn a nd F os s ( 20 08 ; 2 01 0) , M ao m ek a (1 98 9) , M et z ( 20 14 ; 2 01 5) , M iik e (2 00 2) , M ye rs (1 98 7) , N ar h (2 01 3) , P in g an d Ya n (2 01 3) , S ch ie le (1 99 0) , T ro m pe na ar s a nd H am pd en T ur ne r ( 19 93 ), Ya o (2 00 0) , Y um (1 98 8) 96 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 5 .2 .1 Values and guiding philosophies (incorporating self-perceptions) As reflected in Fig. 5.1 point (1), values of individualism (Chen, 2015; Higgs, 2010; Hofstede, 1980; Narh, 2013), autonomy, egalitarianism and mastery (Schwartz, 1992) prevail in low-context Western cultures. Western individualism is seen in pursuit of own goals and primary concern with the self, power, achievement, and self-direction (Eaton and Louw, 2000; Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998; Kim, 2007; Miike 2002; Schwartz, 1992). Communalism, Ubuntu, and humanism are at the heart of medium-context African cultures. Medium context means that both verbal and non-verbal communication are prevalent. Chinese culture on the other hand is a high-context culture guided by Confucianist principles of guanxi, collectivism and maintenance of face. Furthermore, although not shown in Fig. 5.1, Ubuntu and Confucianism embody the values (detailed by Schwartz, 1992) of embeddedness, hierarchy and harmony. In an embedded society, individuals are part of a collective; social relationships provide meaning to life. There is also emphasis on maintaining the traditional and social order. Because African and Chinese cultures are reportedly collectivistic, at face value an assumption can be of similarity of communication in the two cultures. Further inquiry, however, shows that expression of collectivism in the two cultures differs. African collectivism, within the auspices of Ubuntu, places emphasis on the interdependence of the individual and the community at large, including the living, the dead, and the spiritual (Higgs, 2010; Maomeka, 1989; McFarlin, Coster and Mogale-Pretorius, 1999; Narh, 2013; Van Der Colff, 2003). Confucianist principles in Chinese culture, on the other hand, place an emphasis on interconnectedness and relationships where roles and relationships are honoured (Lockett, 1988; Yum, 1988). Another difference is that Ubuntu advocates hospitality, respect, and acceptance of all, including sojourners (Bell and Metz, 2011, p. 90), while Confucianism, in not extending to strangers, distinguishes between insiders and outsiders (Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998; Salo-Lee, 2006). The sense of community is therefore universal in African culture and particularistic (see Trompenaars and Hampden Turner, 1993) in Chinese culture. Notwithstanding the differences in direction, African and Chinese cultures both display a collectivistic and holistic orientation in interaction (Chen, 2015, p. 468; Maomeka, 1989). In summary, while communication in African and Chinese cultures may demand care in ensuring comfort of all interactants owing to communal and humanistic orientations, in Western cultures, communication is a matter of free will and possibly is dictated by the interlocutor’s goals and discretion. 5 .2 .1 .1 Self-perceptions The self in Western culture is individualistic, independent, autonomous, ego-driven, complete and self-sufficient (Eaton and Louw, 2000; Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998; Kim, 2007; 97 ChapTer 5: InTerCulTural CommunICaTIon awareness Miike, 2002, p. 6). In African culture, the self is flexible, variable, changing between contexts and relationships (Eaton and Louw, 2000; Faniran, 2014; Myers, 1987). Confucian tradition in Chinese culture defines a relational self, viewed from a group perspective and deep-rooted in a web of human relationships (Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998; Miike and Yin, 2015, p. 458; Miike 2002). The association of self with community relationships and self-respect in African and Chinese culture suggests potential similarity in implications for communication. For instance, in African culture, communication is respectful and consensual with a strict following of rules and norms (Faniran, 2014; Maomeka, 1989). Comparatively in Chinese cultures, communication is adaptive to the role and hierarchy of relationships following rules to maintain harmony and face (Chen, 2015; Yum, 1988). Table 5.1 provides a summary of values and guiding philosophies in Western, African and Chinese cultures. 98 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Ta bl e 5. 1: Va lu es a nd g ui di ng p hi lo so ph ie s i n W es te rn , A fr ic an a nd C hi ne se cu ltu re s So ur ce : R es ea rc he r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n fr om so ur ce s B el l a nd M et z ( 20 11 ), Bi dd le (2 01 2) , F an ira n (2 01 4) , H of st ed e (1 98 0) , H ua ng (2 01 0) , I gb oi n (2 01 1) , J ac ks on (1 99 9) , K ho za (2 01 1) , M ao m ek a (1 98 9) , S ch w ar tz (1 99 2; 19 94 ), Tr ab er (1 98 9) , Y um (1 98 8) 99 ChapTer 5: InTerCulTural CommunICaTIon awareness 5 .2 .2 Nature of communication For ease of reference below is an excerpt from TFICA, Fig. 5.1, showing synthesis results in respect of the IC awareness enabler nature of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures. Fig. 5.2: Excerpt from the TFICA – nature of communication Western culture African culture Chinese culture (2) NATURE OF COMMUNICATION Atomistic Holistic Holistic Discrete individualistic Open collectivistic Submerged collectivistic Source: Researcher’s own contribution As indicated in Fig. 5.1 and Fig. 5.2, Western cultures have an atomistic orientation to existence, whereas African and Chinese cultures generally have a holistic orientation. The dotted reverse arrow indicates that the nature of communication in each culture is not absolute, but rather falls closer to one extreme on a continuum. Literature suggests a holistic universe seen as a “composite blend of divine, spiritual, human, animate and inanimate beings constantly interacting with one another” in African culture (Igboin, 2011, p. 98; Myers, 1987). Similarly in Chinese culture is a circularity, providing a sense of “relatedness of present to past and future, as well as life to nature” (Miike, 2002, p. 6) where all, including communication, is in a state of change and transformation (Chen and Starosta, 2003, p. 5). In light of the holistic nature of existence in African and Chinese cultures, the nature of communication in these cultures is collectivistic, differing mainly in direction. Where communication in African culture is openly collectivistic, extending to the whole community and those who enter it, in Chinese culture it is “submerged collectivistic” (Chen, 2015), with people tending to submerge into the in-group. Comparatively, communication in Western cultures is discretely individualistic, emphasising individual components in communication (Chen, 2015). Table 5.2 provides a summary of the nature of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures. 100 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Table 5.2: Nature of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures Western culture African culture Chinese culture N at ur e of e xi st en ce • Fragmented atomistic worldview • Di-unital worldview (human and spiritual) • Focus on wholeness and unity • Dominated by theme of individualism • Dominated by the theme of communalism • Interconnectedness, duality and paradox (Yin Yang) . Co m m un ic at io n im pl ic at io ns • Individual components of communication emphasised • Holistic interconnected communication with a strict following of taboos, morals and norms • Communication holistically interconnected network in a state of change and transformation • Individualism displayed in social interaction in a group • People openly collectively orientated in social interaction • People collectively orientated and tending to submerge into the in-group in social interaction Discrete individualistic Open collectivistic Submerged collectivistic Source: Researcher’s own contribution from sources Chen (2011; 2015), Chen and Starosta (2003), Fang (2011), Gan (2014), Igboin (2011), Khoza (2005), Kincaid (1987), Littlejohn and Foss (2008), Miike (2002), Myers (1987), Narh (2013), Schiele (1990) 5 .2 .3 Objective of communication Below is an excerpt from Fig. 5.1 illustrating synthesis results in respect of the IC awareness enabler objective of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures. Fig. 5.3: Excerpt from the TFICA – objective of communication Western culture African culture Chinese culture (3) OBJECTIVE OF COMMUNICATION Confrontation Social maintenance (Refining and redefining relationships within the group) Harmony Source: Researcher’s own contribution The objective of existence in Western culture is confrontation driven by the desire to solve problems, control, and influence (Chen, 2015; Chen and Starosta, 2003; Miike, 2002, p. 8; Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, 1993). People are not afraid to stand for what they believe in. Reflectively, as shown in Fig. 5.1 at item (7), the manner of communication is like- 101 ChapTer 5: InTerCulTural CommunICaTIon awareness ly to be direct, expressive, dialectical, divisive sermonic, and assertive, geared towards controlling and differentiating one’s self from others (Chen, 2015). In African culture, the purpose of existence and communication is social maintenance, through preserving the communal social order of human relationships and spiritual networks (Narh, 2013; Igboin, 2011; Maomeka, 1989; Myers, 1987). This leads to the current study labelling African cultures as human-orientated (Ubuntu), as reflected in Fig. 5.1 at item (6). Correspondingly, the manner of communication is likely to be blended in the sense that it may include both an indirect and direct approach. Reasons for this blended approach can be the subject of future investigative studies. In Chinese culture, the objective of existence is harmony between the in-group and the universe at large (Chen, 2015, p. 467; Chen, 2002; Chen and Starosta, 2003, p. 6; Francesca and Gold, 2005, p. 31; Miike, 2002, p. 7). Harmony has an ethical appeal and regulatory role intended as an end rather than as a means of human communication (Chen and Starosta, 2003). Chinese people will therefore communicate with dignity in a mutual and interdependent network (Chen and Starosta, 2003) to ensure that the end result of communication is harmony. Consequently, as reflected in Fig. 5.1 at item (6), Chinese cultures are said to be virtue-orientated while the manner of communication is likely indirect, subtle, adaptive, consensual and agreeable as reflected in Fig. 5.1 at item (7). In the endeavour to achieve the objective of communication between African and Chinese cultures, an important difference lies in the suggestion that Africans will use any means possible to share information, be it loud, subtle or elaborate (Matondo, 2012) while the Chinese prefer subtle and succinct communication. Such differences may indeed have implications for the achievement of IC congruence if not considered in IC between the Chinese and Africans. In summary, Table 5.3 presents juxtaposed summaries of theoretical perspectives on the objective of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures. 102 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Table 5.3: Objective of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures Western cultures African cultures Chinese cultures O bj ec ti ve o f e xi st en ce • Problem-solving • Command, control and influence • Confirming, solidifying, and promoting the communal social order (Maomeka, 1989; Faniran, 2014) • Preservation of harmony • Harmony with nature and the physical world • Co-operation based on sincerity, mutuality and dignity Confrontation Social maintenance Human-orientated (Ubuntu) culture Harmony Virtue-orientated culture (Metz, 2015, p . 97; Hofstede and Bond, 1988) Co m m un ic at io n im pl ic at io ns Communication is confrontational (emphasis on individuality and competition) Communication is harmonious and a matter of human interrelationships Communication is harmonious situated in the interests of the whole rather than the individual • Direct • Expressive • Dialectical • Divisive • Sermonic • Blended (combination of direct and indirect messages) • Adaptive • Consensual • Agreeable • Indirect • Subtle • Adaptive • Consensual • Agreeable Source: Researcher’s own contribution from sources Berger (2005), Chen (2015, 2006), Chen and Starosta (2003), Fang (2011), Faniran (2014), Gan (2014), Gao and Ting-Toomey (1998), Maomeka (1989), Metz (2015), Miike (2002), Myers (1987), Schiele (1990), Trompenaars and Hampden Turner (1993), Yao (2000) 5 .2 .4 Degree of interaction Below is an excerpt from Fig. 5.1 illustrating literature synthesis results in respect of the IC awareness enabler degree of interaction in communication in Western African and Chinese cultures. Fig. 5.4: Excerpt from the TFICA – degree of interaction Western culture African culture Chinese culture (4) DEGREE OF INTERACTION (Associated with the way of knowing) Reductionist Interconnected (Human and spiritual) Interconnected (Human, nature and universe) Source: Researcher’s own contribution 103 ChapTer 5: InTerCulTural CommunICaTIon awareness By virtue of their individualistic and atomistic orientation, Western cultures are characterised by a scientific and reductionist way of knowing that is dependent on dichotomising and simplification of complex phenomena (Chen, 2002; 2015). Things are either black or white. This has led Western cultures being termed “truth-orientated cultures” (Hofstede and Bond, 1988; Metz, 2015, p. 97) as shown in Fig. 5.1 at item (6). Correspondingly, the manner of communication likely reflects as independent, “I” focused, equality based, and emphasising achievement (Chen, 2015, pp. 467–468) as shown in Fig. 5.1 at item (7). This inference suggests that communication although polite, may not necessarily show concern for the feelings of others. Individuals speak in a manner as they see fit based on their personality and socioeconomic position (Miike, 2002, p. 8). What people say and how they say it in Western culture is unpredictable because it is self-determined. African culture, on the other hand, demonstrates a pragmatic and interconnected way of knowing that emphasises the collective, extending to the group, community, ancestors and the environment (Narh, 2013, p. 6). It is pragmatic in the sense that answers are sought from within the context of existence and therefore may be considered as subjective. Individual knowledge is not separate from the community as it is acquired through participation in the social context of the community (Ani, 2013). The highest value is placed on interpersonal relationships (Myer, 1987), and communication is conducted strictly according to norms and mores of the community (Maomeka, 1989, p. 5). The manner of communication is therefore likely interdependent; “we” focused, hierarchical, associative and prescribed as reflected in Fig. 5.1 at item (7). Similar to African culture, Chinese culture displays a pragmatic, interconnected intuitive and holistic way of knowing (Chen, 2011; 2015; Miike, 2002, p. 6). Communication is therefore seen as a relational process in which interactants constantly adapt to and relocate each other in a network of interdependence (Chen and Starosta, 2003, pp. 5–6; Ding, 2006). Interconnectedness in Chinese culture is further reflected in communication characterised by reciprocity, “we” focused, hierarchy, association and ascription (Chen, 2015, p. 467), as reflected in Fig. 5.1 at item (7). The similarity of emphasis on interconnectivity in African and Chinese cultures suggests a similarity in the degree of interaction in communication, where hierarchy, roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, ensuring appropriate communicative behaviour. Furthermore, in both African and Chinese cultures, “what is said, and how it is said is largely predictable, likely owing to a certain prescriptiveness seen in the strict following of rules and norms in African culture (Faniran, 2014, p. 5; Maomeka, 1989) and consideration of rules and ethics in Chinese culture (Chen and Starosta, 2003, p. 7; Miike, 2002, p. 11). However, as articulated in discussions in earlier chapters, rules and norms are likely to differ across cultures, hence creating potential challenges in IC. Table 5.4 presents juxtaposed summaries of theoretical perspectives on the degree of interaction in communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures. 104 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Ta bl e 5. 4: D eg re e of in te ra ct io n in co m m un ic at io n in W es te rn , A fr ic an a nd C hi ne se cu ltu re s W es te rn c ul tu re s (S cie nt ifi c o rie nt at ion to kn ow led ge ) A fr ic an c ul tu re s (P ra gm at ic or ien ta tio n t o k no wl ed ge ) Ch in es e cu lt ur es (P ra gm at ic or ien ta tio n t o k no wl ed ge ) Degree of interaction (related to the way of knowing) • Ra tio na l, l og ica l a nd re du cti on ist • Pr op en sit y t o d ich ot om ise . S om et hin g i s e ith er bla ck or w hit e • Di sti nc tio ns m ad e b et we en ob jec tiv ism an d s ub jec tiv ism , ra tio na lis m an d e m pir ici sm Tr ut hor ien ta te d c ult ur e (M et z, 20 15, p .  97 ; H of ste de an d B on d, 19 88 ) • Hu m an ist ic kn ow led ge is a co m m un al or co lle cti ve un de rst an din g a cq uir ed vi a t ra dit ion , a nc es to rs an d he rit ag e • Em ph as is on di ale cti cs, co op er at ion an d t og et he rne ss in kn ow led ge ac qu isi tio n • No di vis ion s s uc h a s r at ion ali sm an d e m pir ici sm , su bje cti vis m an d o bje cti vis m • W ay of kn ow ing ch ar ac te ris ed by an in te rco nn ec te dn es s b et we en m ind an d w or ld wi th tr ue or leg iti m at e k no wl ed ge at tri bu ta ble to th os e h igh er up in th e h ier ar ch y o f r ela tio ns hip s • Em ph as is on ci rcu lar ity an d t he re lat ion al co nn ec tio n o f a ll t hin gs • No di vis ion s s uc h a s r at ion ali sm an d e m pir ici sm , su bje cti vis m an d o bje cti vis m Communication implications Co m m un ica tio nce nt re d i n t he in div idu al Co m m un ica tio n l ar ge ly co m m un ity -ce nt re d a nd in te rd epe nd en t Co m m un ica tio n t ak es pl ac e i n c on te xt s o f m ult ipl e r ela tion sh ips ac ro ss sp ac e a nd tim e e m ph as isi ng re cip ro cit y • “I” fo cu s • Pe op le co m m un ica te on an eq ua l fo ot ing • Fre e w ill at th e i nd ivi du al’ s d isc re tio n • Co m m un ica tio n i s a im ed at ac hie vin g i nd ivi du al go als • “W e” fo cu s • Co m m un ica tio n i s h ier ar ch ica l • Co m m un ica tio n i s r ela tio na l a nd as so cia tiv e • M ea nin gs ar e p re scr ibe d • “W e” fo cu s • Co m m un ica tio n i s h ier ar ch ica l • In te ra cta nt s a da pt to ea ch ot he r in a ne tw or k o f int er de pe nd en ce • Co m m un ica tio n i s a sso cia tiv e a nd as cri be d So ur ce : R es ea rc he r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n fr om so ur ce s A je i ( 20 07 ), A ni (2 01 3) , C he n (2 01 5) , C he n an d St ar os ta (2 00 3) , D in g (2 00 6) , G an (2 01 4) , L itt le jo hn a nd F os s (2 00 8) , M et z ( 20 15 ), M iik e (2 00 2) , M ye rs (1 98 7) , N ar h (2 01 3) 105 ChapTer 5: InTerCulTural CommunICaTIon awareness 5 .2 .5 Thinking process Below is an excerpt from Fig. 5.1 which illustrates findings on the meta-synthesis in respect of the IC awareness enabler of thinking process in Western, African and Chinese cultures. Fig. 5.5 Excerpt from the TFICA – thinking process Western culture African culture Chinese culture (5) THINKING PROCESS Logical Prescriptive (Influenced by tradition, rules and social norms) Intuitive Source: Researcher’s own contribution Western cultures follow structured and logical reasoning processes as indicated in Fig. 5.1 at item (5). The manner of communication is therefore objective, linear, analytical, justificatory, and manipulative, presenting a situation as either black or white, with no grey areas. As suggested in this study, African cultures are inclined to a prescriptive thinking process, resulting in a manner of communication that is likely to be semi-objective, non-linear, ambiguous, accommodative and ritualistic although unifying, as reflected in Fig. 5.1 at item (7). In Chinese culture, intuitive thinking is the norm. Circularity prevails with complementary, equally appropriate paths leading to the same destination (Chen, 2011; 2015) as embodied in the Yin Yang philosophy. The thinking process reflects in a manner of communication that is likely to be subjective, non-linear, ambiguous, ritualistic and adaptive as reflected in Fig. 5.1 at item (7). Table 5.5 below presents juxtaposed summaries of theoretical perspectives on the thinking process in communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures. 106 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS Ta bl e 5. 5: Th in ki ng p ro ce ss in co m m un ic at io n in W es te rn , A fr ic an a nd C hi ne se cu ltu re s W es te rn c ul tu re s A fr ic an c ul tu re s Ch in es e cu lt ur es Thinking Process • Ra tio na l a nd lo gic al • Pr oc es se s a re an aly tic al • In div idu als pr ed isp os ed to in flu en ce ow n c ou rse of ac tio n • Pr es cri pt ive • Pr oc es s i s p re scr ibe d ( ag re ed up on by co m m un ity ) • Ph ilo so ph ica l p rin cip les of Af ric an cu ltu re de te rm ine th e b as is, co nt en t a nd di re cti on of th ou gh ts • In tu iti ve • Ho lit sic , n on -li ne ar em bo dy ing du ali ty, pa ra do x ( Yin Ya ng ) • Sa m e d es tin at ion ca n b e r ea ch ed fr om m an y p at hs Communication implications • Pr op en sit y t o b e m or e i nd ivi du all y, ou tw ar dly an d be ha vio ur all y a cti ve in co m m un ica tio n i nt er ac tio ns • Co m m un ica tio n i s c om m un ity -ce nt re d a nd in te rd epe nd en t • Em ph as is on th e c on te xt , m ut ua lit y, re sp ec t, a nd ho ne sty M an ne r o f c om m un ica tio n i s: • Ob jec tiv e • Di re ct • Lin ea r • An aly tic al • M an ipu lat ive M an ne r o f c om m un ica tio n i s: • Se m i-o bje cti ve • No nlin ea r • Am big uo us • Ri tu ali sti c • Un ify ing M an ne r o f c om m un ica tio n i s: • Su bje cti ve • No nlin ea r • Am big uo us • Ri tu ali sti c • Ac co m m od at ive – m es sa ge s a dju ste d t o m ain ta in int er pe rso na l a nd si tu at ion al ha rm on y So ur ce : R es ea rc he r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n fr om so ur ce s C he n (2 01 1; 20 15 ), C he n an d St ar os ta (2 00 3) , G ao a nd T in g- To om ey (1 99 8) , L itt le jo hn a nd F os s ( 20 05 ), Pi ng a nd Ya n (2 01 3) 107 ChapTer 5: InTerCulTural CommunICaTIon awareness 5 .2 .6 Summary The description of communication orientation and manner of communication based on IC awareness enablers demonstrates an exploratory theoretical application of a theoretical IC congruence framework in the Sino-African context. It is suggested that the application of this framework could have implications for both management practice and theory development. In terms of the resulting theoretical framework for IC awareness (TFICA) in Western, African and Chinese cultures as presented in Fig. 5.1, it is plausible that, in instances where cultural distance is small, interactants could accommodate or adapt to each other’s communication requirements. This could be true of African and Chinese cultures where adapting to the requirements of different contexts and relationships comes naturally to them. With greater IC awareness, perhaps a third culture could emerge for those engaged in IC, hence moving towards IC congruence. As was advocated in the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework proposed in Chapter 4, managers and employees in IC would benefit from a universal understanding of the differences in their communication. For that reason, and towards addressing theoretical objective T9, the manner of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures is compared in the next section. 5 .3 The Manner of Communication in Western, African and Chinese Cultural Contexts In this section, the results of a comparison of the manner of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures using the Gudykunst framework proposed in Chapter 3 section 3.2.3 and represented as item 7 in Fig. 5.1 of the present chapter, are presented separately in Fig. 5.6. Fig. 5.6 Comparing manner of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures Manner of communication Western culture African culture Chinese culture Direct versus Indirect Direct Blended Indirect Elaborate versus Succinct Exacting Elaborate Succinct Personal versus Contextual Personal Contextual Contextual Instrumental versus Affective Instrumental Affective Affective Source: Researcher’s own contribution The results presented in Fig. 5.6 suggest potential similarity and difference in the manner of communication in African and Chinese cultures. The likely synergies are in the preva- 108 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS lence of a contextual and affective manner of communication (highlighted in blue). The contextual and affective manner of communication is discussed in Chapter 3, section 3.2.3. Appropriateness, community, harmony in communication and concern for the other emerge as key concerns in both African and Chinese cultures. Differences appear to be in the preference for a more elaborate manner of communication with much talking in African culture, as opposed to a succinct manner with minimal talking in Chinese. Chinese wisdom suggests that the mouth is a source of misfortune, so that the less one speaks the better, because what is said cannot be unsaid (Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998). In the Chinese culture, meaning resides beyond words, which are considered insufficient for complete expression; there is a perpetual need to draw inferences between the lines (Gudykunst and Ting-Toomey, 1988). These Chinese cultural characteristics point to polite, implicit, listening-centred communication with an insider focus (Gao and Ting-Toomey, 1998). The notion of very little talk in Chinese culture is in stark contrast to African cultural predispositions where Africans are seen to talk at length, for the purpose of simple enjoyment and not necessarily to reach any particular conclusion (Matondo, 2012, p. 43). Despite these differences, the current study suggests aiming for a middle-of-the-road situation comprising direct and indirect messaging, in other words, a “blended” approach to communication. In the next section, the results presented in sections 5.2 and 5.3 of the present chapter (essentially representing the theoretical framework for IC awareness (TFICA) in Western African and Chinese cultures), are built into the generic theoretical IC congruence framework proposed in Chapter 4 to form a theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts. 5 .4 Theoretical IC Congruence (TICC) Framework Specific to Sino-African Organisational Contexts In this section, the theoretical framework for IC awareness (TFICA) in Western African and Chinese cultures is built into the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework presented in Chapter 4, to form a theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts as shown in Fig. 5.7. 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. 109 ChapTer 5: InTerCulTural CommunICaTIon awareness Fi g. 5. 7: Th eo re tic al IC co ng ru en ce (T IC C ) f ra m ew or k sp ec ifi c t o Si no -A fr ic an o rg an is at io na l c on te xt s So ur ce : R es ea rc he r’s o w n co nt rib ut io n ba se d on a sy nt he sis o f l ite ra tu re b y Aj ei (2 00 7) , A ni (2 01 3) , B er ge r ( 20 05 ), C he n (2 01 1; 20 15 ), C he n an d St ar os ta (2 00 3) , D in g (2 00 6) , E at on a nd L ou w (2 00 0) , F an g (2 01 1) , F an ira n (2 01 4) , G an (2 01 4) , G ao a nd T in g- To om ey (1 99 8) , G ud yk un st a nd T in g- To om ey , ( 19 88 ), H al l ( 19 59 ; 1 97 6) , H ig gs , ( 20 10 ), H of st ed e (1 98 0) , I gb oi n, (2 01 1) , K ho za (2 00 5; 20 11 ), K im (2 00 7) , K in ca id (1 98 7) , L ee (2 01 2) , L itt le jo hn a nd F os s ( 20 08 ; 2 01 1) , M ao m ek a (1 98 9) , M et z ( 20 14 ; 2 01 5) , M iik e (2 00 2) , M ye rs (1 98 7) , N ar h (2 01 3) , P in g an d Ya n (2 01 3) , S ch ie le (1 99 0) , T ro m pe na ar s a nd H am pd en T ur ne r ( 19 93 ), Ya o (2 00 0) , Y um (1 98 8) 110 Chigwendere: interCultural CommuniCation CongruenCe in Sino-afriCan organiSational ContextS 5 .5 Summary Through adopting a cross-cultural approach in the meta-synthesis of literature, the present chapter provides theoretical perspectives on communication orientation and manner of communication in Western, African and Chinese cultures as reflected in the theoretical framework for IC awareness (TFICA) (Fig. 5.1) now incorporated into the generic theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework to result in the theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts (Fig. 5.7). Overall, the meta-synthesis results point to cultural proximity between African and Chinese cultures and communication styles, as opposed to proximity to Western culture. There are also differences existing in the similarity, cautioning that appearances of cultural similarity should not be taken at face value. This outcome emphasises the need for empirically validating the theoretical analysis as presented. As a follow up to the study of theory (Chapters 2 to 5), the next phase of the research validates the theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts. This is done through an empirical qualitative study in which African and Chinese experts are consulted. The results of this phase of the research are presented in Chapters 7 and 8. Owing to the complexity and intensity of the theoretical IC congruence (TICC) framework specific to Sino-African organisational contexts, it is mainly the high-level perspectives on IC awareness – specifically communication orientation and manner of communication in African and Chinese cultures to the exclusion of Western cultures that are validated also highlighting similarities and differences. The next chapter describes the methodological processes followed in conducting both the study of theory and empirical qualitative study.

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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.