Cultural Communications of Mainland United States-Based Organizations and Their Hawaiian Workforces: A Case Study of Their Unique Nature

Cultural Communications of Mainland United States-Based Organizations and Their Hawaiian Workforces: A Case Study of Their Unique Nature

Erik S. Wright (Missouri Southern State University, USA) and Rose Baker (University of North Texas, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3673-5.ch010
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The Hawaiian Islands are a diverse melting pot of people, cultures, and languages that make doing business in the state a unique challenge for organizations based on the mainland United States. While Hawaii is indeed the 50th state in the union, culturally they are more closely aligned with Asia and other Polynesian cultures than the United States as a whole. Doing business in Hawaii can often feel as though one is doing business in a foreign country, a place where one only partially speaks the language. Understanding these cultural differences and shaping communication styles to align with the cultural values of the Hawaiian sub-culture is essential to success for any organization planning to start operations in Hawaii. Through a process of cultural analysis, organizations can more effectively manage change within their operations and engage their Hawaiian workforces with great success.
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Setting The Stage: What Is Culture

Culture is a topic that has fascinated researchers for centuries. Cultural research can be found dating back to Montesquieu and Herder in the 18th century to Tocqueville in the 19th century, to Webber in the early 20th century (Bailey & Clegg, 2007). Modern researchers such as Dr. Geert Hofstede and Michael Minkov have revolutionized the cultural research field. In his book, Culture’s Consequences, published in 1980, Hofstede defines culture as “collective programming of the mind” (p. 13). This suggests that the root of culture is much more than one person or family, but holds true to a much larger population. Cultures are perceived to be different when their ways of life are significantly different (Adler & Gunderson, 2008). Hofstede held that each culture could be defined by their views on certain cultural indicators. His original research studied four separate dimensions of culture: Power Distance, Uncertainty Avoidance, Individualism and Masculinity. Later research collaborations between Hofstede and fellow researchers Michael Bond and Michel Minkov revealed two additional dimensions which were labeled Long Term vs. Short Term Orientation and Indulgence vs. Restraint (Minkov, 2011). To better understand the foundations of culture, one needs to have a clear understanding of each cultural dimension as it will be used to evaluate the Hawaiian subculture.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Subculture: Cultural norms that are persistent within a sub-population of a larger culture.

Culture: Long standing traditions, ideas, or norms that are prevalent throughout a population.

Asian: A generalization of racial groups that originate from the Asian continent. Countries include but are not limited to Japan, China, Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, etc.

Pacific Islander: A generalization of racial groups that originate from Oceania. These groups include Hawaiian, Samoan, Marshallese, Tongan, Maori, and Tahitians among others.

Collectivism: The cultural norm that focuses heavily on the good of the group over the successes of the individual.

Cultural Dimensions: Measures on a spectrum of cultural characteristics that can be used to guide cultural communications.

Cultural Communications Plan: A direct effort by an organization to incorporate cultural understanding into the communications plans between divisions of the organization or outside entities who are operating in different cultural areas.

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