Title: A semiotic and critical approach to teaching inter-cultural management

Authors: Roger Bell

Addresses: ESADE Business School, Universitat Ramon Llull, Av Pedralbes 60-62, 08034, Barcelona, Spain

Abstract: Inter-cultural communication requires not just cognitive and conceptual knowledge but also attributional knowledge to grasp how values relate to behaviour. Multiple inputs must be taken into account, among others specific 'emic' knowledge of cultures. Traditional value dimension models also systematically overlook power relationships. To explore this we use a critical approach to culture with special focus on semiotics, seen as a means of interpreting power and status relationships in society through the meanings of signs. Meaning is constructed, dynamic and constantly under review (Magala, 2009) in light of one's strategic purpose in transactions. As teachers, we use cases mediated by academic, critical and pragmatic analysis to help students gain a rich understanding of multi-cultural business realities. We also make it clear that 'neutrality' may not be as neutral as it seems: teachers may have to take sides on cultural and ethical issues.

Keywords: emic etic dichotomy; critical management; semiotics; negotiating meaning; de-briefing cases; attributional knowledge; management education; inter-cultural management; inter-cultural communication; power relationships; multi-cultural business; business realities; culture; ethics; ethical issues; cultural issues.

DOI: 10.1504/EJCCM.2014.063388

European Journal of Cross-Cultural Competence and Management, 2014 Vol.3 No.1, pp.18 - 39

Accepted: 26 Jul 2013
Published online: 14 Jul 2014 *

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