SSC263e: Often Headquarters want to be Inclusive but Employees’ Exchanges: Cross-Cultural Intelligence at the Workplace Assignment, SUSS, Singapore

University Singapore University of Social Science (SUSS)
Subject SSC263e: Cross-Cultural Intelligence at the Workplace


Often headquarters want to be inclusive but employees’ exchanges are hampered by differences in social customs. One Thai manager explained, “In Thai culture, there is a strong emphasis on avoiding mistakes, and we are very group-oriented in our decision making. If the Americans want to hear from us on a conference call, they need to send the agenda at least 24 hours in advance so that we can prepare what we’d like to say and get feedback from our peers.”

His U.S. colleagues usually didn’t send the agenda until an hour before the call, so his team was unable to prepare. He also said that the Americans rarely invited comments from the Thais, expecting them to jump into the conversation as they themselves would. But that kind of intervention is not the norm in Thailand, where it is much less common to speak if not invited or questioned. The Thai manager summed up his perspective this way: “They invite us to the meeting, but they don’t suggest with their actions that they care what we have to say.” The Thai team members ended up just sitting on the phone listening—giving the Americans the impression that they had nothing to contribute or weren’t interested in participating in.

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The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has changed the way we work. Consultancies helping companies and workers transition from traditional office structures to remote working systems have sprung up to meet the demand for this service. To promote your consultancy, your team is publishing a piece on remote working across cultures. For your contribution to the publication, you decide to examine cross-cultural examples (e.g., Meyer, 2015, October) to offer insights into how cross-cultural conflicts may arise through teleconferencing and virtual teams, as well as to summarise what to do in such situations.

Meyer (2015, October) selected one sample situation, that is, conference calling, as a case study to demonstrate cross-cultural differences in social customs. Likewise, select one workplace cross-cultural situation (e.g., conference calling) to analyse the following content:

  • Use research findings and real-life examples to explain the interrelationship between communication and culture. To comprehensively develop and deepen this explanation, a thorough literature review, and examination of research/survey findings related to how cultural values affect communication effectiveness will be necessary.
  • Apply Neuliep’s model of Sociorelational Context of Intercultural Communication to your selected workplace cross-cultural situation to identify how intercultural conflict arises within the context of communication methods typical of remote work. This portion of your article shall be strengthened by referring to both quantitative (empirical research from credible material such as academic journals) as well as qualitative (interview; refer to next paragraph) support to back your assertions and opinions.

To obtain credible qualitative content, conduct in-depth qualitative interviews with four interviewees, (i) two of whom are born and raised in Singapore, and (ii) two of whom have lived in Singapore for less than three years. Drawing from their experiences and interpretations of virtual cross-cultural miscommunication, within and outside of Singapore, appraise how cross-cultural conflicts may arise and use this qualitative evidence to add depth and detail to your application.

  • With reference to your literature review and application that form the body of your report, discuss the key elements that affect cross-cultural encounters in aspects of remote work, including your selected workplace situation. Propose suggestions and initiatives to develop adaptability in interacting with people from another culture at the workplace.
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