Cultural and Intercultural Conflicts

Essay by dboylesUniversity, Bachelor'sA, October 2008

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Wal-Mart is a household word in the U.S., but it is a well-noted name in the international realm. Wal-Mart became an international company in 1991 when a Sam's Club opened near Mexico City. In 1993, Wal-Mart International was created to oversee the growing opportunities for the company worldwide. The international area is under rapid growth and worldwide consumer acceptance. Wal-Mart has over 2,660 stores in fourteen countries and the Low Price Promise is a household word known throughout the globe. (International Overview, page 1-3)With a rapid increase in globalization, the opportunity for personnel within companies and organizations to come in contact with numerous national cultures other than their own has dramatically increased over the past few years. Changes have occurred in global migration patterns, so the opportunity to come in contact with different cultures occurs even in one's own community. This increased contact proportionately makes for an international conflict, meaning some sort of incompatibility with a difference in culture being the underlying cause.

There are two dynamics that are present that make cultural conflicts problematic for organizations attempting to deal with issue. The first issue is the root sources of the conflict may not be readily apparent and the second issue is that the conflicts are very often rooted in basic value perceptions. Even though most people equate cultural differences by what they see on the outside, the symbols rituals and visible behavior, these are often determined and driven on what is not see. Emotions, perceptions about oneself and the world, and the norms and values that define one's culture are what shape and drive the visible behavior. Managers that are not aware of intercultural differences and principles, even if they could see and understand what the root of the conflict is can sometimes be powerless to properly address it.