A common problem for many managers is addressing cultural differences among their employees, particularly when the culture is not fully understood. This was a problem that Karen Leary had to face when managing her new employee, Ted Chung. There are two main problems in this case study. The first is that Karen Leary was unable to effectively manage cultural diversity and the second is that Ted Chung was unable to adapt to the organizational culture of Merrill Lynch. This paper will discuss what was done and improvements which could have been made to the situation.
When Karen Leary first hired Ted Chung, there was something about him that she couldn’t put her finger on, but she figured it was simply the culture difference. This may have been the case, but Leary made no effort to learn more about the Taiwanese culture or foster mutual adaptation. Instead, she opted to use the least preferred choices of R. Roosevelt Thomas Jr.’s generic action options. Leary first began isolating Chung from his co-workers by assigning him to only acquire new Taiwanese investors.
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Research has shown that collaboration with co-workers of different genders and races not only improves the overall work environment, it provides expanding opportunities for employees (Green, 2010). Leary should have had other employees work with Chung to develop new business with the Taiwanese or had Chung work with other employees on acquiring new investors in the United States. Another action Leary took was to suppress the differences that Chung had in his dealings with coworkers.
Instead of understanding that Chung may have grown up in a more hierarchical culture, she simply told him that he needed to just do as he was told, no matter who told him. According to the University of Iowa (n.d.), “Asian cultures often value social stratification and accept differing degrees of power, status, and authority”. Perhaps by asking Chung to be more team-like, instead of telling him how low he still was in the company and needed to learn and develop more, Chung would have been less likely to refuse requests from people other than herself.
Leary also only tolerated Chung’s different culture. According to our textbook, “toleration entails acknowledging differences but not valuing or accepting them.” (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2010). An example of how Leary tolerated Chung’s culture was how she responded to Chung clearing his desk whenever she stopped by. She felt it was a need for privacy rather than a belief in order, not knowing that Asian cultures often value order and balance (University of Iowa, n.d.). Leary could have demonstrated an understanding of Chung’s culture by clearing of her desk any time Chung came into her office.
The best option Leary should have taken was fostering mutual adaptation. This could have been done by having Chung work with other employees on projects other than just Taiwanese investors, asking Chung to be more team oriented, and demonstrating an understanding of Chung’s values. This being said, Leary did many things to promote Chung fitting in with the organizational culture, which Chung refused to acknowledge. Chung began his career with Merrill Lynch with an anticipatory socialization phase.
For the first three months of his training program, Chung spent time within the office environment to understand what it might be like to work there. Instead of trying to learn from the realistic job preview, he chose to only focus on his own goals. Considering that those who participate in realistic job previews and expectation-lowering procedures tend to be more satisfied in their jobs (Chatterjee, 1998), Chung missed a crucial point of organizational socialization. Chung did do well in the final month of his training, taking Leary’s advice to develop relationships with research people.
However, when it came time for the change and acquisition phase, Chung again chose the opposite of fitting in with the organizational culture. He decided to attend events rather than cold calling or attending seminars. Though obtaining Taiwanese investors probably does takes a different approach than obtaining United States investors, Chung could have done some of the things his coworkers were doing as well so that he would not isolate himself so much from the group. Leary also tried to help Chung adapt to the organizational culture by connecting him with valuable mentors.
According to Kreitner and Kinicki (2010), “mentoring contributes to creating a sense of oneness by promoting the acceptance of the organization’s core values throughout the organization. ” Though Chung listened to the people Leary set him up to meet with in private, Chung refused to follow their directions. Chung should have listened to them and worked to convince his client to stick with the recommended stocks. By not fully understanding the organization’s culture, Chung was unable to understand why the request for his own office was denied.
In order to fit in more with the organizational culture, Chung should have learned from the realistic job preview, involved himself in what his coworkers were doing, and listened to his mentors. By doing so, he would have also been happier in that environment. With Leary not understanding Chung’s culture and Chung not understanding the organization’s culture, it is not surprising that a tense situation would arise. Both Leary and Chung are so set in their ways that it is unlikely that they will be able to come to an agreement regarding the private office.
Had they worked together to see eye to eye, they probably could have worked out a solution. References Chatterjee, C. (1998). Reality Bites. Psychology Today, 31 (6), 14. Green, Tristin K. (2010). Race and Sex in Organizing Work: “Diversity,” Discrimination, and Integration. Emory Law Journal, 59 (3), 585-647 Kreitner, R. & Kinicki, A. (2010). Organizational behavior (4th ed. ). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin. University of Iowa (n. d. ). East Asian Culture in the Workplace: China, Japan, Korea, & Taiwan. Retrieved from http://www. uiowa. edu/hr/administration/linguistics/asian_culture. pdf on April 25, 2011