The case study "Transitions Asia: Managing Across Cultures" describes director Chee Lung Tham, working for an interim executive search firm, in a conflict of culture and management styles when his Chinese customers threatened to fire the American interim manager Tham had suggested. The customer, Wong Lung is a garment manufacturing business owner who runs the business with his brother and two children. While Wong Lung was hoping for the American manager's technology expertise, his family and other managers show resistance to the changes. Additionally, the American manager is involved in company and family politics - completing his task without the support of the middle management was not possible.
Roy Y. J. Chua; Dawn Lau
Harvard Business Review (413099-PDF-ENG)
April 01, 2013
Case questions answered:
How should Chee Lung Tham approach the conflict and bring all sides into a productive working relationship?
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Case answers for Transitions Asia: Managing Across Cultures
1. Introductions – Transitions Asia: Managing Across Cultures Case Study
Wong, the owner of Guanghe Manufacturing is in need of an interim manager to facilitate the transition of the company. Wong approached Tham of Transitions Asia, who then proceeded to assign Stevens as the interim manager for Guanghe Manufacturing.
3 months into the process, Tham is approached by Wong who is now facing issues within Guanghe Manufacturing. Wong’s brother Hei is reluctant to adapt to the change and some of the middle managers are threatening to quit.
Tham has to now decide how to manage the new problems in Guanghe Manufacturing.
2. Problems Identified
There are various problems that have been identified in this Transitions Asia: Managing Across Cultures case study. However, these superficial issues can be further condensed into two root causes that Guanghe Manufacturing (GM) is currently facing. Table 1.1 below illustrates the root causes of the various identified problems.
Hei, who is of Chinese descent and Stevens being an American, both have varying approaches in terms of managing and leading a business. This brings forth the issue of cultural differences since different individuals have different beliefs, and therefore, they act differently. However, this issue has only emerged due to Stevens’ presence in GM.
Prior to Stevens’ arrival, GM has also experienced many issues that boil down to the management style and processes present within GM itself.
2.1 Hofstede’s cultural dimensions
In relation to the cultural differences between Hei and Stevens, Hofstede’s Model of Cultural Dimensions can be applied to further analyze the differing cultures. Hofstede’s model addresses six dimensions – Power Distance Index, Individualism versus Collectivism, Masculinity versus Femininity, Uncertainty Avoidance Index, Long-Term Orientation versus Short Term Normative Orientation & Indulgence versus Restraint.
Table 1.2 below defines the six cultural dimensions that will be used to understand…