India has integrated itself with the global economy by attracting foreign capital, acquiring companies abroad, and enhancing its international trade.

With its interaction with the global business community on the rise, companies have realised the need to understand the way other nations operate their businesses in order to enable managers to understand and improve their interaction with clients, suppliers and alliance partners from different countries and cultures.

Acclimatising future managers to the emerging scenario was the purpose of the two-day international conference on ‘Cross Cultural Management’, organised by the Department of Business Administration, Holy Cross College. The objective was to infuse in them inter-cultural awareness and effective cross-cultural communication skills with the premise that understanding and appreciating inter-cultural differences will result in clearer communication, trust-building, strengthening of relationships, and opening of horizons, to achieve tangible results in terms of business success.

Inaugurating the two-day conference on Tuesday, Fr. N. Casimir Raj, Former Director, XLRI & LIBA, observed that there could be misunderstandings in the absence of an understanding of the other cultures. Fr. Casimir Raj cited the instance of importance given to time management in the Western countries reflecting in prompt decision-making at all levels in the management hierarchy, and contrasted the culture with the Indian system where, he felt, the general tendency to adhere to strict schedule left much to be desired. But, with businesses getting frank, changes were evident. People were now willing to take up business leaving lucrative and secure jobs. In private companies, managers were willing to take risks and rise up the career ladder on their own efforts.

The need to understand the cultures of other countries has become imperative to address the challenges Indian businesses face abroad, he said.

Mary Beth Watson – Manheim, Associate Professor, Information & Decision Sciences, University of Illinois, Chicago, who delivered the key note address, saw scope for innovation in the interface between cultures. A shared identity fostered by understanding of culture enables work efficiency. Though complex, it could be learnt.

Speaking on the topic ‘Communication Competence in the Global Workforce’, she said that factors like conflict management, negotiations and relationship-building determine how the work is done. An understanding of the cultural differences is necessary for adaptation to each other’s goals, said Dr. Mary.

The Principal Sr. Sarguna said the conference will focus on promoting global management principles.