The Impact of Culture on Workplace Conflict in the Caribbean

The Impact of Culture on Workplace Conflict in the Caribbean

Susan Scott (St. George’s University, Grenada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0306-6.ch018
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Abstract

There are many subtleties within a culture that affect decision-making. Lack of understanding of these nuances enhances the mystique of cross-cultural business. Global managers need to better understand trans-cultural decision-making to maximize the benefits of alliances and business relationships abroad. One of these subtleties, often discussed in relation to business in the Orient, is conflict management. The notion of “face” and the importance of individual honor pervade cultural briefing materials on countries such as Japan. It is a defining difference in human relationship management between East and West. Yet when dealing with employees in nations speaking the same language, as a U.S. manager to a Caribbean manager, one often fails to account for equally significant differences in managing conflict. This chapter discusses the impact of culture-specific attitudes concerning workplace conflict on business performance in the Caribbean, using examples specifically from Grenada.
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Workplace Conflict As An Aspect Of Business Performance Management

Today’s organizations are under tremendous pressure to perform, facing challenges from all directions in a world of information overload, global competition, unavoidable inter-dependence, and frenetic pace. Globalization creates many new business partners. Mergers are made which create multi-cultural work families. Manufacturing moves into ever more distant and low cost territories, while jaded, globe-trotting tourists explore ever more remote recreational sites. It soon becomes apparent that, in order to succeed, understanding other cultures is an imperative. Aligning the efforts of individual workers toward common goals and objectives is one of management’s key tasks. In an environment where speed to market can mean the difference between profit and loss, ensuring effective collaboration between work groups becomes a core competency for many firms. The responsibilities of management include providing a workplace in which people are not distracted from key tasks by co-worker hostility, a manager’s refusal to resolve problems, or executive feuds.

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