INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION OF EXPATRIATES IN GHANA

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ABSTRACT

Human resource remains the most dominant element in the face of other resources and acts as the pivot around which other resources revolve in wealth creation. The increase in global business activities and firms going abroad to create value has initiated the necessity to utilize human resources across geographical boundaries resulting in expatriation. Undoubtedly, the framework within which expatriates execute their work standards and performance is more demanding in a foreign set-ting than in a local one. Culture across geographical boundaries is not the same and, therefore, culture shapes business activities in entirely different milieu. The more appropriately an expatriate is able to fit in the cultural values of the host country, the more effective communication is with the host nationals. Considera-ble research has been undertaken on this topic with data from Europe, America and Asia whereas research focusing on Africa has been understudied. Thus, this study considers how expatriates in Ghana can enhance intercultural communica-tion.

Drawing on Kim’s intercultural communication model, this research uses key concepts like; personal communication, social communication, predisposition and environment to understand the factors that influence intercultural communication. The theoretical framework also examines the cultural environment of Ghana and highlights how some of its cultural issues affect intercultural communication.


Utilizing self-administered questionnaires, the findings reveal that intercultural training aids expatriates’ communication competence. In addition, selection crite-ria should not only be based on technical capabilities, personal qualities that ena-ble an individual to adjust adequately in a new environment should be taken into consideration in the selection process as well. This study aids expatriates to know better how to select the content of their message and the ideal medium to convey the message. The findings of this study also have significant practical implication for expatriates in Ghana as to which acculturization approach they may adopt in minimizing their uncertainty levels in a new environment.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT
1          INTRODUCTION
            1.1       Background
            1.2       Research Problem
            1.3       Aims and Objectives
            1.4       Definitions and limitations
                        1.4.1    Expatriate
                        1.4.2    National culture
                        1.4.3    Organisational culture
                        1.4.4    Intercultural communication
            1.5       Structure of the study

2          LITERATURE REVIEW
            2.1       An overview of intercultural communication
                        2.1.1    Factors influencing intercultural communication
                        2.1.2    Personal communication
                        2.1.3    Social communication
                        2.1.4    Ethnic social communication
                        2.1.5    Environment
                        2.1.6    Predisposition
                        2.1.7    Intercultural communication in Ghana
            2.2       Concept of national culture
                        2.2.1    National culture of Ghana
            2.3       Concept of expatriation

3          RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
            3.1       Research approach
                        3.1.1    Qualitative research
                        3.1.2    Quantitative research
            3.2       Research method
                        3.2.1    Survey
            3.3       Data Sources
                        3.3.1    Secondary data
                        3.3.2    Primary data
            3.4       Population and Sampling Characteristics
            3.5       Validity and Reliability

4          EMPIRICAL FINDINGS
            4.1       Company Profile
            4.2       Quantitative Analysis
                        4.2.1    Gender Distribution
                        4.2.2    Age distribution
                        4.2.3    Mother tongue language of respondents
                        4.2.4    Working years distribution
                        4.2.5    How to enhance intercultural communication

5          CONCLUSION
            5.1       Summary
            5.2       Practical Implications
REFERENCES
APPENDIX 1


1    INTRODUCTION

1.1  Background

Human resourcing is seen as a key driver for business performance in today’s globalised market. Human resource remains the most dominant element in the face of other resources and acts as the pivot around which other resources revolve in wealth creation. Other resources may be available in the ideal numbers and quality, nevertheless, the optimum combination of these resources is undertaken by human resource.

The increase in global business activities and firms going abroad to create value has initiated the necessity to utilize human resources across geographical bounda-ries leading to expatriation. For instance, in addition to a resilient economic growth of eight percent, solid autonomous institutions and positive oil and gas outlook, Ghana is attracting the keen eyes of foreign direct investors (Del Granado 2013). More multinational companies find Ghana an ideal host for transnational operations; making room to receive expatriates and foreign businesses.

Expatriates are key tools organisations use in their foreign businesses. Regardless of the lot in cost associated in expatriate assignments, organisations have diverse motives for utilising expatriates in foreign assignments. It is obvious to cite com-munication between parent and host firms as one of the reasons for expatriation. Communication is vital to expatriation and its success (Holopainen &Ingmar 2005).


Communication within the host country needs to be strategically done for cross cultural reasons. Undoubtedly, the framework within which expatriates execute their work standards and performance is more demanding in a foreign setting than a local one (Suutari & Tahvanainen 2002). Culture across geographical bounda-ries is not the same hence expatriates are confronted with cultural shock in their assignment. Cultural differences have momentous consequences on what people in diverse cultures observe and their understanding. More importantly, cultural elements shape business activities in an entirely different milieu. The more appro-priately an expatriate is able to fit in the cultural values of the host country, the more effective communication is with the host nationals (Jun & Gentry 2005).The host country cultural values somewhat modulate the effectiveness of expatriate communication.

1.2  Research Problem

While much research has been done on cross cultural communication in firms’ foreign operations focusing on the impact of expatriates’ language and cultural abilities for expatriation (Peltokorpi 2010), we know little about the interactive effect of the host country culture on intercultural communication encountered by expatriates on assignments. Considerable research has been undertaken on this topic with data from Europe, America and Asia whereas research focusing on Af-rica has been rather minimal. A thought provoking question is whether the contri-bution of existing research on the topic will be applicable in Africa? This is worth mentioning because the African culture may be significantly different from the European, American and Asian cultures in which much of the existing research has been developed. This study seeks to approach the topic analysing data collect-ed from West Africa, more specifically Ghana to develop this topic within the Af-rican context and perspective.

According to Waxin (2004), expatriate’s communication is found in their interac-tive adjustment. His study defines interactive adjustment, to focus on how expat-riates behave in a friendly manner and become involved in day-to-day communi-cation with host nationals. The findings of his study concluded that expatriate’s culture of origin has a direct and modulating effect on intercultural communica-tion. However, for expatriates to be effective in communication also depends con-siderably on the host country culture. This is because communicating entails ex-changing information. Several things, including the successful interpretation of the intended meaning by the receiver make up successful communication. To achieve successful communication, the importance of the culture of the host coun-try nationals to the communication should not be relegated to the background as more often than not, host country nationals are recipient in communicating strate-gic information. This need makes it necessary for research to also focus on the...
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