A common problem for many managers is addressing cultural differences among their employees, particularly when the culture is not fully understood. This was a problem that Karen Leary had to face when managing her new employee, Ted Chung. There are two main problems in this case study. The first is that Karen Leary was unable to effectively manage cultural diversity and the second is that Ted Chung was unable to adapt to the organizational culture of Merrill Lynch. This paper will discuss what was done and improvements which could have been made to the situation. When Karen Leary first hired Ted Chung, there was something about him that she couldn’t put her finger on, but she figured it was simply the culture difference. This may have been the case, but Leary made no effort to learn more about the Taiwanese culture or foster mutual adaptation. Instead, she opted to use the least preferred choices of R. Roosevelt Thomas Jr.’s generic action options. Leary first began isolating Chung from his co-workers by assigning him to only acquire new Taiwanese investors. Research has shown that collaboration with co-workers of different genders and races not only improves the overall work environment, it provides expanding opportunities for employees (Green, 2010). Leary should have had other employees work with Chung to develop new business with the Taiwanese or had Chung work with other employees on acquiring new investors in the United States. Another action Leary took was to suppress the differences that Chung had in his dealings with coworkers. Instead of understanding that Chung may have grown up in a more hierarchical culture, she simply told him that he needed to just do as he was told, no matter who told him. According to the University of Iowa (n.d.), “Asian cultures often value social stratification and accept differing degrees of power, status, and authority”. Perhaps by asking Chung to be more team-like, instead of telling him how low he still was...
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University of Iowa (n.d.). East Asian Culture in the Workplace: China, Japan, Korea, & Taiwan. Retrieved from http://www.uiowa.edu/hr/administration/linguistics/asian_culture.pdf on April 25, 2011
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