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Journal of Business Communication http://job.sagepubcom Reconceptualizing Cultural Identity and Its Role in Intercultural Business Communication Daphne A. Jameson Journal of Business Communication 2007; 44; 199 DOI: 10.1177/0021943607301346 The online version of this article can be found at: http://job.sagepubcom/cgi/content/abstract/44/3/199 Published by: http://www.sagepublicationscom On behalf of: Association for Business Communication Additional services and information for Journal of Business Communication can be found at: Email Alerts: http://job.sagepubcom/cgi/alerts Subscriptions: http://job.sagepubcom/subscriptions Reprints: http://www.sagepubcom/journalsReprintsnav Permissions: http://www.sagepubcom/journalsPermissionsnav Citations http://job.sagepubcom/cgi/content/refs/44/3/199 Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY AND ITS ROLE IN INTERCULTURAL BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Daphne A.

Jameson Cornell University To complement past emphasis on understanding other cultures, the field of intercultural business communication needs a stronger focus on understanding oneself. Cultural identity is an individual’s sense of self derived from formal or informal membership in groups that transmit and inculcate knowledge, beliefs, values, attitudes, traditions, and ways of life. A broad conception of cultural identity should not privilege nationality but instead should balance components related to vocation, class, geography, philosophy, language, and the social aspects of biology. Cultural identity changes over time and evokes emotions. It is intertwined with power and privilege, affected by close relationships, and negotiated through communication The proposed model of cultural identity highlights components directly related to business, such as economic class and professional affiliation, and demonstrates how culture not only connects people but also defines them as unique

individuals. This model can expand research and enrich teaching in intercultural business communication. Keywords: cultural identity; intercultural communication; power; class; self-analysis; culture The anthropologist Edward Hall (1959) described culture as an unseen but powerful force that holds everyone captive: “Culture is not an exotic notion studied by a select group of anthropologists in the South Seas. It is a mold in which we all are cast, and it controls our lives in many unsuspected ways” (p. 52) Hall conducted anthropological fieldwork in Micronesia yet recognized that culture influenced his own life as much as the lives of the Trukese people he studied. The problem, he said, is that “culture hides much more than it reveals, and . it hides most effectively from its own participants” (p. 53) In the half century since Hall described this phenomenon of culture as a hidden control force, international business has grown and with it efforts Daphne A. Jameson is on

the faculty of Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York, and is a past president of the Association for Business Communication Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Daphne A. Jameson, 350 Statler Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853; e-mail: daj2@cornell.edu Journal of Business Communication, Volume 44, Number 3, July 2007 199-235 DOI: 10.1177/0021943607301346 2007 by the Association for Business Communication Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 200 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION to understand intercultural communication. Yet people continue to encounter difficulties when they meet with overseas clients, manage an ethnically diverse workforce, negotiate contracts in another language, or take a job at an organization with a radically different corporate culture. It still is more difficult to recognize the impact of culture on one’s own values, attitudes, and behavior than to recognize it in

others. Those whose professional lives depend on being able to communicate effectively in intercultural contexts need greater self-insight about the hidden force of culture. To help achieve this goal, the field of intercultural business communication should more strongly emphasize how to understand one’s own individual cultural identity: the sense of self derived from formal or informal membership in groups that impart knowledge, beliefs, values, attitudes, traditions, and ways of life. This new focus would complement but not diminish the field’s traditional concern with how to understand the collective group culture of others An expanded concept of cultural identity could reduce the past privileging of nationality; highlight components directly related to business, such as economic class and vocational affiliation; enrich intercultural business communication studies; and show how culture not only connects people but also defines them as unique individuals. The purpose of this

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article is to develop a broadened, balanced model of cultural identity that can serve as a framework for intercultural business communication research, pedagogy, and practice. First, I discuss why intercultural business communication needs to focus more fully on individual self-analysis and how this change requires a reconception of cultural identity. Then, I develop a model of cultural identity that integrates social elements, accounts for change over time, acknowledges the impact of power and privilege, recognizes the role of emotion, and relates identity to communication. In closing, I explain how this unified model can inform teaching and research in intercultural business, technical, and professional communication. THE NEED TO SHIFT FOCUS FROM UNDERSTANDING OTHERS TO ONESELF Past discussions of intercultural communication have focused on understanding other cultures rather than understanding the impact of one’s own cultural makeup. Management development and training materials

aimed at business practitioners take this approach (Copeland & Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Jameson / RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY 201 Griggs, 1990; Harris, Moran, & Moran, 2004). So do academic studies of intercultural business communication, whose theme is often audience analysis more than self-analysis. Beamer’s (1995) model of intercultural communication, for instance, approached audience analysis through the concept of schemata, that is, preexisting mental structures with organized categories that allow a person to make sense of information. A person’s schemata of other cultures inevitably differ from those cultures, and the process of intercultural communication involves aligning the schemata with actuality insofar as possible. The metacognitive problem is to know what one knowsand does not knowabout others. As communication occurs, each communicator’s schemata of other cultures are modified and

refined. Victor (1992) depicted cross-cultural business communication as an applied form of ethnography in which a communicator closely observes and analyzes components of another culture. He discussed seven variables that affect business communication as they shift across cultures: language, environment/technology, social organization, contexting, authority, nonverbal behavior, and conceptions of time. By framing the right questions about these variables, he said, one can gain insight into new cultures and their business practices. Then, to adapt to a target audience, businesspeople can “draw their own conclusions regarding the best way to accommodate cultural factors affecting business communication” (p 4) In large part, the emphasis on analyzing others rather than self is a natural extension of the business communication concepts of you-attitude and audience adaptation; however, this emphasis has several limitations. Broad generalizations about other cultures are difficult to

apply because there is a great deal of variation within cultural categoriessometimes more than between them (Phinney, 1990; Trompenaars, 1994). To overrely on generalizations about cultural categories leads to unfair stereotyping (Tajfel, 1978). Furthermore, people have less access to knowledge about others’ complex cultural makeup than about their own. Lovitt (1999) has raised concerns about professional communication’s preference for analyzing other cultures. Though acknowledging the important contributions of cultural analysis as a methodology, he questioned this approach: As a heuristic imported from the fields of anthropology and intercultural communicationneither of which are specifically concerned with the production and management of discourse in professional settingscultural analysis may be both too blunt an instrument to guide communicators’ context-sensitive Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 202 JOURNAL OF

BUSINESS COMMUNICATION decisions and too focused on audience analysis to address the complexities of communicating in global workplaces. (p 3) Yuan (1997) has argued that “intercultural communication theories should be interaction based, emphasizing how individuals communicate, not how cultures communicate” (p. 311) Knowledge about a culture, though valuable, does not ensure that one can communicate successfully with persons from that culture. Traditional process models, she said, treat cultures as homogeneous, whereas in fact they are heterogeneous. She advocated a complementary, externalist approach that considers intercultural communication to be interpersonal. To address concerns like those Lovitt (1999) and Yuan (1997) raised, Varner and Palmer (2005) developed a process by which cultural selfknowledge could be systematically incorporated into the preparation that corporate employees receive when they are assigned to work abroad. The process begins with intensive

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self-discovery education in terms of personal and cultural preferences. This insight is then balanced with intensive study of the cultural backgrounds of the people with whom the expatriate will interact in the foreign location. The important next step is to link knowledge of self with knowledge of others by identifying specific cultural adaptation strategies that will allow the expatriate to succeed. A stronger focus on understanding one’s own cultural identity would complement theories and models of intercultural business communication. An extension of Beamer’s (1995) model, for instance, could incorporate inward-directed schemata. Insight into individual cultural identity would help practitioners apply Varner’s (2000) strategic, organizational-level model of intercultural business communication to specific situations. Varner noted that knowledge of communication styles is essential because communication occurs between individuals, not between whole organizations or cultures. A

shift in focus to individual cultural identity would also help practitioners gauge their predisposed ratio of explicit versus implicit communication as they consider Haworth and Savage’s (1989) channelratio model of intercultural communication. They could also find new applications for the interpretive translation skills that Weiss (1997) emphasized. All these theorists reject the concept of culture primarily as an external context; instead, they view culture as an internal state of mind that underlies and influences the process of communication. Including more focus on understanding one’s own cultural background does not reduce the need to understand others’ cultural backgrounds. As Varner and Palmer’s (2005) process suggests, both types of insight are Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Jameson / RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY 203 necessary and their synthesis is the key to the effective practice of intercultural

business, technical, and professional communication. THE NEED TO RECONCEPTUALIZE CULTURAL IDENTITY To increase understanding of a communicator’s state of mind in an intercultural business communication situation, it is necessary to reconceptualize cultural identity. Edward Hall’s work launched decades of inquiry into the nature of intercultural communication in a variety of venues, including business, technical, and other professional settings. However, much of the resulting work privileges nationality and, to a lesser extent, ethnicity over other components of cultural identity. A broader, more balanced concept of cultural identity would help people gain selfinsight, would expand the analysis of business problems, and would influence the design of business communication research. To increase understanding of a communicator’s state of mind in an intercultural business communication situation, it is necessary to reconceptualize cultural identity. Equating Culture With Country

Scholars often define culture in general, inclusive ways but operationalize it in narrow, specific ways. Hofstede (1980), for instance, saw culture as the “collective programming of the mind” (p. 13) but primarily studied cultural differences related to nationality. Gudykunst and Kim (1992) defined culture as “‘systems of knowledge’ shared by a relatively large group of people” (p. 13) but identified groups in terms of political boundaries between countries. Haworth and Savage’s (1989) channelratio model of intercultural communication seemed applicable to any context, but all their illustrations related to differences in nationality Some writers view culture as a hierarchy, with a national-level, dominant macroculture as an umbrella over many subcultures or cocultures (Chaney & Martin, 2007). Others acknowledge the broader components of culture but limit their own focus. For example, Hecht, Collier, and Ribeau Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of

Groningen on December 11, 2009 204 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION (1993) defined culture“whether national, ethnic, professional, organizational, or gender based” (p. 15)as patterns of interaction and perception that a group of people share; the focus of their work, however, was ethnic cultural identity, in particular that of African Americans. Trompenaars (1994) acknowledged corporate and professional cultures but limited his work to “the first level, the differences in culture at a national level” (p. 9) Other writers equate cultural identity with nationality and separate it from ethnicity, race, religion, class, and other components that broader definitions of culture encompass. Sussman (2000), for instance, said that within her work “the terms culture and country are used interchangeably” (p. 355) Equating culture with country limits our understanding of business issues, problems, and strategies. The problem with this privileging of nationality, as

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Louhiala-Salminen (1997) noted, is that in a single country, intercultural conflict can occur within or between businesses and, conversely, “affiliates of an international group can share aspects of a common culture, although operating in different countries” (p. 332) Because of the continuing debate over the concept of national culture, Bargiela-Chiappini and Nickerson (2003) called for the field of intercultural business communication to reappraise underlying concepts such as self, identity, and nation, using a multidisciplinary approach. Poncini (2002) warned that studies of discourse in multicultural business settings should not view participants as representatives of homogenous national cultures; other factors, such as organizational roles, business contexts, and individual differences, may be important. Equating culture with country limits our understanding of business issues, problems, and strategies. Consider, for instance, analyses of European food retailers’ entry into

the Korean market. Whereas the British company Tesco has succeeded, the French company Carrefour has not. It recently sold its Korean business after a decade of disappointing results. Analyses of the situation often focus on the nationalities of the key decision makers, not other relevant qualities, such as their business acumen, educational background, professional experience, and ability to marshal key resources. Taking a broader view of cultural identity might lead to the conclusion that the contrasting outcomes resulted from cultural factors other than nationality or even factors totally unrelated to culture. Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Jameson / RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY 205 Causes of the Narrow Concept of Cultural Identity The privileging of nationality and to a lesser extent ethnicity in the conception of cultural identity has several causes. Politically, the creation of international movements such as

the Peace Corps as well as the growth of international business increased interest in international studies and encouraged country-based comparisons. Hofstede’s (1980) influential studies heightened the interest in national cultures. Using a large corporate survey in the 1970s, he categorized employees by nationality and chose nations as his units of analysis. Subsequent scholars applied his theories and methodology to other countries and contexts Another cause of the emphasis on nationality in definitions of culture has an underlying philosophical basis. As the study of culture moved from its historical intellectual baseanthropologyto psychology, communication, and business management, scholars sought to carve out areas of specialization. One way to do this was to isolate one component of cultural identity, such as nationality or ethnicityor even one particular nationality or one particular ethnicityto the exclusion of others. This approach dovetailed with a growing concern about

the treatment of minority groups in North America and Europe. Some specialists, such as Collier (2005), cited a philosophical commitment to social justice as their motivation for focusing narrowly on ethnicity in cross-cultural studies. The privileging of countries might even reflect a Western bias related to philosophies of patriotism and nationalism (Limaye & Victor, 1991). An additional reason for the continued privileging of nationality concerns practical issues about intercultural research. Whatever the type of study, it is often easier to obtain information about participants’ nationality than about their socioeconomic class, ethnicity, religion, and other elements of cultural identity. Even when such details are available, each added variable complicates the methodology and interpretation of results. In summary, for political, philosophical, or practical reasons, many studies of intercultural communication narrow their focus to one component of cultural identity. Benefits

of Expanding the Concept of Cultural Identity A broader, more balanced conception of cultural identity would have several advantages. First, the concept would be more accurate For many people, nationality is not the most salient factor in a particular situation or the most central factor in an overall sense of identity. For instance, Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 206 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION when Triandis (1989), Sussman (2000), and others replicated Kuhn and McPartland’s (1954) study, they found that many people do not include nationality in descriptors of their identity. Similarly, according to Cross (1991), race and ethnicity are not necessarily the most salient elements of cultural identity for minorities. Second, as a result of the more accurate conception of cultural identity, business education and training would improve. For instance, an expanded concept of cultural identity could reduce stereotyping,

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which is based on overgeneralizing and oversimplifying. This change would help people understand others’ multidimensional backgrounds and prevent people from assuming that nationality or ethnicity was more important in cultural identity than class, vocation, religion, gender, or other components. In addition, a more complex conception of cultural identity could enhance people’s intercultural communication abilities. Focusing solely on nationality may lead people to have unjustified confidence in their ability to interact effectively in intercultural situations. Appreciating the complexities of cultural identity will help people discover areas of commonality with others instead of just the differences. A third benefit of an expanded concept of cultural identity would be new perspectives on and approaches to intercultural business communication research. A broader concept would include specific connections to business and other vocational factors. Studies of corporate culture

typically take the perspective of the organization as a whole, not of individuals within it Yet just as growing up in a country or being part of a particular ethnic group affects a person’s values, beliefs, and behavior, so does being acculturated into a particular profession, field, or company. In intercultural business communication, cultural identity must include vocational and professional components as central, not peripheral. Two examples illustrate how a broader definition of cultural identity might enrich intercultural business communication research. In Graham’s (1985) oft-cited study contrasting the communication styles of Americans, Japanese, and Brazilians, the subjects participated in a negotiation experiment with partners of their own nationality. The groups differed not only in nationality but also in other traits, including age, professional field, education, and amount of business experience. Thus, it seems likely that the contrasting communication styles were

related to a complex combination of cultural differences, not to nationality alone. Bilbow’s (2002) linguistic study of speech acts in business meetings at a Hong Kong airline corporation concluded that Chinese participants used promises and statements of commitment differently than did Westerners (a category that Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Jameson / RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY 207 subsumed participants from Britain, North America, and Australia). No conclusions were drawn, however, about the impact of other notable differences, including gender, professional field (technical or service), or corporate position status. If studies such as Graham’s and Bilbow’s were based on a broader concept of cultural identity, then the research design could be modified to justify conclusions about single components of identity. Alternatively, the research design could be recast to take into account the multidimensional

nature of cultural identity. THE PHENOMENON OF CULTURAL IDENTITY The term cultural identity refers to an individual’s sense of self derived from formal or informal membership in groups that transmit and inculcate knowledge, beliefs, values, attitudes, traditions, and ways of life. The focus of this article is the cultural identity of individuals, not the collective identity of cultural groups, as often used in a political sense (Kim, 2002). Cultural identity is one part of a larger concept of individual identity (see Figure 1). Objective identity, represented in a person’s birth certificate, passport, credit report, voter’s registration, tax returns, and other official records, differs dramatically from subjective identity: a person’s sense of who he or she is as a human being. The former can be stolen; the latter cannot Subjective identity encompasses what Triandis (1989) called personal and collective identity. Personal identity refers to the sense of self derived from

personality, character, spirit, and style. These “unique elements that we associate with our individuated self” (Ting-Toomey, 2005, p. 212) differentiate siblings who otherwise have similar backgrounds. Collective identity, in contrast, refers to the sense of self derived from formal or informal membership in groups. Collective identity includes both cultural and social aspects; these are related but not the same. Cultural identity involves historical perspective, focusing on the transmission of knowledge and values between generations, whereas social identity is often anchored in a particular moment in time. For instance, a person who has been employed but is briefly between jobs may have a temporary social identity as “unemployed” for measures such as the census but does not have the ingrained cultural identity of “the unemployed” held by a person whose family for several generations has lacked gainful employment. That person may have adopted a mind-set and learned ways

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of life associated with chronic unemployment. Social identity concerns what roles people play in the present; cultural identity Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 208 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Identity Objective identity Subjective identity Personal identity Collective identity Social identity Figure 1. Cultural identity Classification of Individual Identity concerns, in addition, what people have learned in the past and how they plan to influence the future. Collective identity includes both cultural and social aspects; these are related but not the same. Triandis (1989) provided an analogy that highlights the long-term versus short-term contrast between cultural and social identities: “Culture is to society what memory is to the person” (p. 511) He goes on to say that culture is like memory in that it specifies designs for living that have proven effective in the past, ways of dealing with social

situations, and ways to think about the self and social behavior that have been reinforced in the past. It includes systems of symbols that facilitate interaction . rules of the game of life that have been shown to “work” in the past. When a person is socialized in a given culture, the person can use custom as a substitute for thought, and save time. (pp 511-512) Cultural identity and social identity also differ in their academic domains and methodologies. The study of social identity often focuses narrowly and Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Jameson / RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY 209 uses experimental methods of inquiry (Tajfel, 1978). The study of cultural identity is usually broader and uses interpretive methods (Collier, 1998). Cultural identity is an internal state that depends on self-perception. For this reason, transracial adoptions may lead to apparent discrepancies in cultural identity. For instance, an

adopted child’s physical appearance may cause others to perceive her to be Chinese, but in fact, she may have had little or no connection with Chinese cultureno learning of Chinese beliefs, values, attitudes, traditions, and ways of life. Cultural identity is especially relevant in intercultural business communication because it plays an integral role in interpersonal relationships. In her work on rapport management, Spencer-Oatey (2000) developed the concept of identity face, the value that people claim for themselves based on their group roles and that affects a sense of public worth. She contrasted identity face with quality face, the value that people claim because of individual qualities, such as appearance and abilities, and that affects self-esteem. Managing rapport in intercultural interactions requires attention to language, nonverbal communication, and actions that threaten both types of face. Although face is a universal trait, culture “can affect the relative

sensitivity of different aspects of people’s face, as well as which strategies are most appropriate for managing face,” she said (p. 12) Cultural identity is especially relevant in intercultural business communication because it plays an integral role in interpersonal relationships. Those who have theorized about cultural identity have depicted it as fragmented. Each person has layers of separate identities, one of which rises to the top at any given time. Collier and Thomas (1988), for instance, envisioned dynamic multiple identitiesnationality, ethnicity, gender, raceand one dominates depending on the context and situation. Hecht et al. (1993) described multiple identities competing for primacy in different situations. This layered model of cultural identity has a practical appeal for researchers: They can isolate and study subparts, such as racial identity, ethnic identity, gender identity, and most frequently national identity. The layered model fails to recognize, though,

that people think of themselves as whole persons with integrated identities. A unified rather than layered concept of cultural identity, therefore, is more appropriate. Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 210 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION I propose that we envision cultural identity as a pie chart with different components. The proportion of each component may vary at different times and in different situations, but the total always equals 100%. Although a particular component may be a small percentage, it nevertheless continues to exert some influence on the person’s overall sense of self. THE COMPONENTS OF INDIVIDUAL CULTURAL IDENTITY What components should a broader, more balanced conception of individual cultural identity include? The work of Varner and Beamer (2005) is a good place to start because they have specified what culture does as well as what it is. They defined culture as “the coherent, learned, shared

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view of a group of people about life’s concerns that ranks what is important, furnishes attitudes about what things are appropriate, and dictates behavior” (p. 5) But what constitutes a group of people? A broad, balanced conception of cultural identity includes components related to a person’s membership in groups based on at least six commonalities: vocation, class, geography, philosophy, language, and biology (see Table 1). Vocation Corporate and other vocation-related groups of people constitute cultures that are especially relevant to business, technical, and professional communication but that are underexplored in studies of cultural identity. Those who work for a company or other type of organization for a length of time often, though not always, buy into its values and cultural practices. Sometimes, even subunits of corporations, such as divisions or departments, create strong cultural affiliations (Kuhn & Nelson, 2002). Corporate and professional cultures are closely

related to language use. In a study of Swedish, German, and British banks, for instance, Gunnarsson (2000) showed how discourse created distinct organizational cultures, which were influenced by both national and industry sector cultures. Some industries and vocational fields, such as education, agriculture, engineering, and social work, operate as cultures in that they rank priorities, encourage particular attitudes, and develop traditions. In the hospitality industry, for instance, those in the culinary field often share a distinctive culture, with allegiances and hierarchies communicated through symbols such as dress and technical language (Fine, 1996). Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Jameson / RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY Table 1. 211 Components of Cultural Identity Vocation Occupational field Profession or job category Employing organization Subunit of organization Class Economic class Social class Educational

class Geography Nationality Region, state, province, or city identification Density identification (urban, suburban, small town, rural) Residence (if different from nationality) Philosophy Religious identity Political identity Identity based on other philosophies Language First language Dialect Other languages Biological traits with cultural aspects Race Ethnicity Gender Sexual orientation Health Age People who enter certain professions (e.g, accounting, medicine, nursing, and law) formally agree to adhere to codes of ethics and adopt common practices that define professional cultures. Such cultural groups cut across boundaries of nationality and ethnicity. A few studies have compared the vocational components of cultural identity with other components. Auer-Rizzi and Berry (2000), for instance, found that management students held business-related values that often diminished differences related to nationality. Similarly, Webb and Keene (1999) discovered that engineers’ professional

cultural values sometimes overrode those related to nationality. In a study of communication between a British company and its Chinese clients, SpencerOatey and Xing (2003) learned that perceptions related to professional culturesthose of engineers versus sales managershelped explain differences in satisfaction with communication when nationality did not. Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 212 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION Philipsen’s (1990) study of masculinity in a blue-collar neighborhood showed complex interrelationships between vocation, economic class, and gender. More studies such as these could contribute to our understanding of important determinants of successful business, technical, and professional communication. Class Economic, social, and educational class often define groups of people who share common values, behavior, and attitudes; these cultural groups also cut across national and ethnic lines. Though

sources of wealth vary, the rich often share cultural values and behavior; the same is true of the poor and the middle class. The prestige of social class may depend on family history, celebrity, or power, but members of the social elite, however determined, adopt certain cultural attitudes and traditions Educational class, too, inculcates patterns of thought and values that cut across national and ethnic lines. MBAs from around the world, for instance, are able to collaborate more effectively in business settings and overcome other cultural differences because they have learned a particular world view and set of values in their education. Similarly, scientists share educational values and epistemological beliefs that enable them to collaborate effectively despite differences in nationality, ethnicity, and race. Cultural factors related to economic, social, and educational class affect business communication. One example of this occurs when companies try to appeal to new target

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markets. Retailers have tried to attract more affluent customers by introducing product lines associated with celebrities or prominent designers. Kmart successfully used television star Jaclyn Smith’s line of clothing and later Martha Stewart’s line of home goods to interest customers of different economic and social classes. Similarly, Target partnered with fashion designers Isaac Mizrahi, Behnaz Sarafpour, and others to communicate with a status-conscious clientele. In contrast, Wal-Mart’s recent efforts to attract more affluent customers through a similar designer strategy have not succeeded. Geography Geography creates cultural groups but not only in terms of nationality. Regional differences within countries also affect values, attitudes, and behavior of large groups of people. Some examples include southern versus northern Italians and East Coast versus West Coast US Americans Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009

Jameson / RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY 213 Some states and provinces have particular cultures. Even some cities, such as Paris and New Orleans, have distinctive cultures that give residents common outlooks and traditions. Geographic distinctions related to population densityrural, small town, suburban, or urbancut across national and regional boundaries and create cultural groups united by attitudes toward time, space, privacy, property, security, and other matters. Culturally, ranchers in the Argentine pampas and the Russian steppe may have more in common with each other than with urbanites in Buenos Aires or Moscow, respectively. Furthermore, place of residence is not synonymous with nationality People who live in a particular place for some time, irrespective of citizenship, absorb cultural values and behaviors. In short, though countries do define cultural groups, so do other aspects of place that often transcend nationality. Corporate strategy and decision making often

need to account for cultural differences related to regional or density distinctions. For instance, food retailers modify the distribution of products according to local tastes, values, and traditions. Regional distinctions often interact with other cultural differentiators, such as ethnicity The US grocery industry recognizes that the Hispanic market in Miami is quite different from that in Atlanta and both are different from that in rural Kansas. Variations in food preferences and traditions, as well as terminology, require that food retailers distribute products and communicate differently according to region. Philosophy Religion and other types of philosophy define cultural groups that cut across nationality and ethnicity. Roman Catholics around the world, for instance, are united not only by theological and ecclesiastical views but also by common commitments, such as serving the poor. The superior performance of Asian Americans on college entrance tests may result from

Confucianism’s long-term impact on attitudes toward education and parental authority (Kristof, 2006). Political and social philosophies, too, can create cultural groups. For many people, the labor movement establishes a sense of mission and group solidarity For others, affiliation with a political party or movement provides cultural ties. The impact of religion and philosophy on business communication deserves further study A recent example of how religion can affect business policy and decision making occurred in the pharmaceutical industry when emergency contraceptive pills became available in the United States. Because of their religious beliefs, some pharmacists refused to dispense the product; the Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 214 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION American Pharmacists Association supported that position. Drugstores faced the dilemma of balancing their employees’ deeply held religious convictions

with their public and legal responsibilities. Communicating with those on both sides of the issue, as well as customers, created challenges. Language Language defines cultural groups, as well as being the most frequently used symbolic system through which culture is conveyed. Linguists have hypothesized that those who share a language also share patterns of thought. “No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality” (p. 69), according to the influential linguist Edward Sapir (1970) He asserted that “we see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation” (p. 69) In business contexts, people often use nonnative languages, which affect interaction and relationships in complicated ways (Clyne, 1994; DuBabcock, 2006; Louhiala-Salminen, 1997). Language often interacts with other cultural components, such as regional identification,

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age, ethnicity, and vocation or profession. This interaction results in dialects, paralanguage, specialized vocabularies, and styles of expression that serve to define membership in certain cultural groups. People use multiple discourse systems related to their membership in cultural groups as they make choices about how to communicate (Zaidman, 2001). Studies in intercultural business communication have been especially concerned with the use of multiple languages and shared languages in multinational corporations. The economic integration of Europe motivated many such studies (Nickerson, 1998) Poncini’s (2002, 2003) research on multinational, multilingual business meetings revealed the important functions that language switching plays: keeping discourse on track with meeting objectives, managing participation, building common ground, construing roles, and highlighting evaluative statements. Studies of a Finnish company and its subsidiaries in 40 countries showed that adopting an

official corporate language does not instantly create a shared language culture or solve all communication problems (Charles & Marschan-Piekkari, 2002; Marschan-Piekkari, Welch, & Welch, 1999). Even when communicators use their native language, the impact of culture is significant. In a cross-cultural study of written business requests from companies in Finland, Britain, and the United States, Yli-Jokipii Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Jameson / RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY 215 (1994) analyzed how language choices reflected cultural orientations. For instance, requests written in Finnish were much more likely than those in English to avoid mentioning human agents, suggesting “a deep-rooted Finnish avoidance of distinguishing self with linguistic means” (p. 252) The profile of writers’ choices reveals the shared cultural values of the native users of a language, Yli-Jokipii said. A study that compared the

language used in British and Italian corporate meetings revealed parallel phenomena in spoken discourse (Bargiela-Chiappini & Harris, 1997) Language creates both division and unity in ways that affect business policy, decision making, and costs. The health care industry, for instance, is concerned that patients understand fully even if they do not share a common language with health care providers. When family members serve as translators, problems arise because they do not know the specialized language of medicine and the concepts underlying it. Some hospitals and pharmacies now use video-based medical translation services to provide immediate translation in dozens of languages. Yet language also unites disparate people. Many forms of telecommunications outsourcing could not occur, for instance, if India and the Philippines did not have large populations fluent in English. Although workers strive to perfect accents and insert current idioms into their conversations, it is their

overall command of the language and its thought patterns that unifies them with other members of the cultural group of English speakers. Biology By definition, culture is learned, not innate, passed down from one generation to the next. How, then, can a conception of cultural identity include traits that have some biological basis, such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, health, and age? Each of these traits is simultaneously biological and social. Through social interaction, groups of people who share a biological trait sometimes develop a coherent, learned, shared view about life’s concerns that ranks what is important, furnishes attitudes about what things are appropriate, and dictates behaviorthus, they meet Varner and Beamer’s (2005) definition of culture. Race. Race has more importance in cultural identity than in biological identity. Based primarily on external physical appearance, race was discredited as a biological concept when it was shown there was more

variation within categories than across them (Betancourt & López, 1993) Yet as Sellers, Smith, Shelton, Rowley, and Chavous (1998) noted in a study Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 216 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION of racial identity, “although race has dubious value as a scientific classification system, it has had real consequences of the life experiences and life opportunities of African Americans” (p. 18) Recently, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., used DNA analysis to trace the complex genetic ancestry of a group of well-known African Americans. The results, presented in a Public Broadcasting System television documentary, contrasted the social versus biological construction of race (Gates, 2006) Studies of transracial adoptees and multiracial children have explored how individuals gain a sense of cultural identity related to race (Richards, 1994). Race thus remains a powerful component of culture

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Ethnicity. Ethnicity is widely acknowledged as a part of cultural identity even though it is an amorphous concept When Phinney (1990) reviewed articles on ethnic identity, she found that two thirds did not define ethnicity. Most scholars relate ethnicity to heritage through genetics and population movements; in this sense, ethnicity involves the traditions and values passed down from previous generations who moved from one homeland to another. In countries that have had voluntary or involuntary immigration, ethnicity concerns where forbearers came from (eg, African Americans, Japanese Peruvians, Turkish Germans, Russian Israelis). In places without recent immigration or migration, population movement may not be a factor in ethnicity (e.g, the 56 ethnic groups in China; the English, Welsh, Scots, and Irish in Britain). Sometimes, ethnicity is closely connected to religion (eg, Jews, Amish), language (eg, Quebecois), class (e.g, gypsies, also called Roma), or vocation (eg, Burakumin,

descendents of animal slaughterers, executioners, and grave diggers in Japan). Oftentimes, ethnicity relates to complex and changing combinations of language, genetics, and religion (e.g, Cherokees, Yorubas, Tibetans). In many cases, though, ethnic distinctions are blurred (e.g, Hutu and Tutsi) Most important, as travel and intermarriage have increased, more and more people now have multiethnic backgrounds. For these reasons, ethnicity is one of the most complicated components of cultural identity. Gender. Gender, the social manifestation of the physical trait of sex, creates cultural groups. Women establish networks, organizations, and traditions that link them through values, attitudes, behaviors, and language (Inness, 2001; Martin, 1990; Olsson & Walker, 2004). Studies of masculinity have explored parallel cultural connections of men (Ashcraft, 2005; Mumby, 1998; Philipsen, 1990). Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Jameson

/ RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY 217 Sexual orientation. Though scientists have not yet established the exact biology of sexual orientation, they have studied cultural factors (Herdt, 1992). For some gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons, groups defined by sexual orientation unite members and create cultural ties stronger than those of race, ethnicity, or nationality (Cross, 1991). Health. Sometimes, groups of people with physical limitations or specific illnesses may fit the definition of a culture People who are deaf constitute an unusual cultural group because they have their own language, as well as other commonalities (Padden & Humphries, 2005). Groups such as cancer survivors and those infected with HIV/AIDS are sometimes considered cultural in that they unite members through values and action (Hecht, Warren, Jung, & Krieger, 2005). Age. Age creates cultural groups in two ways: through historical generations and through life stages People who came of

age during tumultuous historical periods, such as the Depression, World War II, or the 1960s, often share political values, social outlooks, and discourse practices that make them identify with one another as a cultural group. Some life stages have been characterized as forming cultural groups (Scollon & Scollon, 2001). For instance, youth culture involves special language and music, as well as values, attitudes, and behavior. The increasing interest in gerontology has led to depictions of the elderly as a cultural group with distinctive features (Noor Al-Deen, 1997) Cultural factors of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and health all affect business communication and strategy in significant ways. Recognizing this more than a decade ago, IBM established networks that connected employees in these categories The purpose of these networks included but went beyond functional issues, such as how to recruit and retain employees and how to avoid discrimination. The networks

also provided social and cultural connections within a large organization IBM’s current networks, titled Asians, Blacks, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender, People With Disabilities, Women, and Men, continue as active communication channels among employees, between employees and the corporation, and with outside constituencies. It is interesting that IBM has a network for men, recognizing that not only people in a minority need cultural connections and a way to express shared perspectives and concerns. An increasing number of business organizations are recognizing sexual orientation as a relevant consideration in corporate strategies, policies, and Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 218 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION communication, both with employees and customers. Besides establishing employee councils and reconsidering benefit policies, some corporations have taken political action. In

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its headquarters city, Procter & Gamble publicly supported and contributed money to the campaign to repeal a municipal charter amendment that prohibited laws protecting gays from discrimination. Under pressure, Microsoft agreed to support state antidiscrimination legislation Both companies were threatened with boycotts by religious groups for their stances. In summary then, many groups defined by vocation, class, geography, philosophy, language, and biology fit into the definition of culture as “the coherent, learned, shared view of a group of people about life’s concerns that ranks what is important, furnishes attitudes about what things are appropriate, and dictates behavior” (Varner & Beamer, 2005, p. 5) A broader, more balanced conception of cultural identity must acknowledge all components, without privileging nationality. Such a conception will enhance intercultural business communication research and help business practitioners find commonalities in values,

attitudes, and discourse practices related to educational class, professional field, gender, age, and other components of culture that transcend nationality. THE ATTRIBUTES OF CULTURAL IDENTITY Cultural identity is more than the sum of its parts. Having identified the separate components of cultural identity, let us consider the phenomenon as a whole: the unified, coherent sense of self. Cultural identity has several important attributes (see Table 2), and each is relevant to studies of intercultural business communication. 1. Cultural Identity Is Affected by Close Relationships An individual’s cultural identity is affected by his or her significant others: close family members and sometimes friends. People gain a sense of self through relationships with others (Hecht, 1993). A person whose parents have different nationalities or races, for instance, assimilates values and perspectives of each. People whose spouse or affectional partner has a different religion or ethnicity

gradually adopt some of their beliefs and attitudes. This process is often unintentional but may lead to a “qualitative psychic transformation” (Kim, 1995, p. 178) For this reason, it is important to consider how relationships modify a person’s cultural identity Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Jameson / RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY Table 2. 219 Attributes of Cultural Identity 1. Cultural identity is affected by close relationships 2. Cultural identity changes with time 3. Cultural identity is closely intertwined with power and privilege 4. Cultural identity may evoke emotions 5. Cultural identity can be negotiated through communication This attribute of cultural identity could be applied in intercultural business communication research in several ways. For instance, a study of managers’ ability to motivate a culturally diverse workforce could compare the communication of managers whose own families were

mixed in terms of race or religion with those whose families were not. Studies of expatriates might determine how executives’ adaptation was related to spouses’ cultural backgrounds. In exploring why some business writers control tone more effectively than others, researchers might investigate whether intercultural communication at home increases linguistic sensitivity at work. In these types of situations, personal experience might carry over to the professional realm. 2. Cultural Identity Changes Over Time Cultural identity has both variable and stable components. The terms salience and centrality convey this difference (Sellers et al., 1998) As day-to-day situations and contexts change, some components of cultural identity become more or less salientimportant and relevant in the short term. When a business practitioner must negotiate a contract in a foreign country rather than at home, he or she may suddenly feel that nationality is more salient than other aspects of cultural

identity. Encountering an ethical or moral dilemma in negotiating the contract, his or her religious identity may become salient Even when day-to-day conditions change, other components of cultural identity remain centralimportant and relevant to a person’s core identity in the long term. For instance, the business practitioner may feel that his or her gender and educational class are always at the heart of his or her identity. Cultural identity evolves. In the course of a lifetime, many people move from one economic class or professional field into another. Some people change nationality or religion. Though no one changes native language, many come to use new dialects or languages in daily life. All these types of changes affect people’s cultural identity. For instance, a person who is born into a lower economic class but who through education reaches a Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 220 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

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higher economic class is likely to have different perspectives and values than someone whose economic class never changes. Several studies have elucidated how changes in cultural identity occur. Sussman (2000) has focused on the process as it happens in repatriation after a period of temporary immersion in a different cultural context. She contrasts the types of identity shifts that can occur at such transition points. Kim (1995, 2001) has explored how people adapt when they cross cultural boundaries, especially when they relocate on a long-term basis as immigrants or refugees. The process of learning about the new culture acculturationis balanced by unlearning of the old culturedeculturation. Adaptation occurs as stress promotes growth in a series of leaps: “a dialectic relationship between push and pull, or engagement and disengagement” (Kim, 1995, p. 178) If the process works well, the person develops what Kim calls an intercultural identitya hybrid of past and present: “The

original cultural identity begins to lose its distinctiveness and rigidity while an expanded and more flexible definition of self emerges” (p. 180) Several scholars have explored changes in cultural identity from a postcolonial perspective. According to Shin and Jackson (2003), a cultural identity inscribed and imposed by hegemonic power structures needs to be described and replaced to reconstruct the authentic self. For example, the dominant culture has the power to promote a standard of what it means to be a woman, an ethnic minority, or member of some other subgroup. The process of cultural identity development, from this point of view, is a liberation of the self (Bhabha, 1994). The postcolonial theorist Stuart Hall (1990) said that cultural identity involves becoming as well as being: Far from being eternally fixed in some essentialised past, [cultural identities] are subject to the continuous play of history, culture, and power. Far from being grounded in a mere recovery of the

past, which is waiting to be found, and which, when found, will secure our sense of ourselves into eternity, identities are the names we give to the different ways we are positioned by, and position ourselves within, the narratives of the past. (p 225) The evolution of cultural identity provides new vistas for intercultural business communication research. Longitudinal studies of managers working abroad could trace how their changing attitudes and values affect their communication practices. Studies of management leadership could explore how acculturation into a new corporate culture changes language, vocabulary, and symbolic actions. Case studies of corporate scandals could investigate the ethical ramifications of acculturation and its counterbalancing Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Jameson / RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY 221 deculturation. Historical studies of business communication could consider the intercultural

identity formation of successful business leaders who immigrated from one country to another. Intercultural business communication needs to take into account that cultural identities are always in flux In summary, two kinds of changes affect cultural identity: concrete transformations, such as immigration or religious conversion, and perceptual shifts in which components become more or less salient. In the analogy of cultural identity as a pie chart, these shifts are reflected in the variable proportions held by each component. 3. Cultural Identity Is Closely Intertwined With Power and Privilege As the postcolonial scholars’ perspectives emphasize, cultural identity is rooted in power and privilege. The connection between cultural identity and power has been articulated most explicitly in studies that focus on the cultural identities of minority group members and their interaction within a dominant culture (Hecht, Jackson, & Ribeau, 2003; Orbe, 1998). The biological components

of culturerace, ethnicity, gender, ageconfer automatic, unearned privilege on some and make others feel marginalized. Privilege may mean subtle deference, respect, and authority rather than explicit, tangible benefits. Power and privilege are limited when people lack agencythe ability to control external perceptions of their cultural identity. Some components of cultural identity can be concealed, but others are what Collier (1998) called “involuntary affiliations.” For instance, physical features make ethnic background overt for some, ambiguous for others People can usually choose whether to let others know their educational class but not their gender. Those whose religion mandates particular attire, such as Sikh, Amish, and Hassidic men, lack the choice to keep this element of cultural identity in the background. In intercultural business communication contexts, power and privilege are related to other components of cultural identity besides race, ethnicity, gender, and age. A

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person’s professional field may confer power and privilege; for example, a surgeon may gain more automatic respect and deference than a used car salesperson The organization for whom a person works may also add or detract from power and privilege; a person who works for McKinsey Consulting, for instance, may gain instant credibility when a person who works for a small local company does not. Even affiliation within an employing organization may confer power and privilege. In many Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 222 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION companies, for example, line managers in operations are more likely than staff managers in benefits to rise to top executive leadership positions. In multinational corporations, language choice is inextricably linked to power, control, and strategy. In a study of language use in a Finnish company that had subsidiaries in 40 countries, Charles and Marschan-Piekkari (2002) found

that employees who were most fluent in the official corporate language (English) or the headquarters’ native language (Finnish) accrued power but also were burdened as communication was centralized. Nickerson’s (1998, 2000) study of Dutch subsidiaries of British companies revealed that corporate headquarters sometimes asserted control by requiring certain language choices. In an analysis of multiple languages used in meetings of an Italian company’s international distributors, Poncini (2003) discovered that “even simple shifts in language can serve instrumental and interpersonal purposes in multicultural business meetings” (p. 30) The ability to use different languages “thus represents a strategic resource” (p. 30), she concluded Even when communicators use their native language, they convey power differences through linguistic choices that reflect cultural values. For instance, in her study of Finnish business writers, Yli-Jokipii (1994) found that those with higher

institutional power were much more likely to use certain linguistic behavior, such as circumlocutions that conveyed respect and allowed readers to maintain face. Bargiela-Chiappini and Harris (1997) showed how British and Italian corporate meeting participants who had explicit, visible power and status interrupted others and were interrupted themselves more often than those with lower corporate power and status. The field of intercultural business communication needs more investigations into the connections between culture, language, and power. Source credibility studies, for instance, could look into power differences related to professional cultures and their status. Would more employees sign up for maximum contributions to retirement savings plans if they received persuasive messages from the chief financial officer rather than the chief human resources officer? Studies of group dynamics could consider the impact of race, ethnicity, age, and gender. In virtual teams, when such

cultural factors are less visible, how do members communicate differently, and do they have more equal influence on group decisions? Studies of interpersonal communication could investigate how communication changes when someone with automatic, unearned privilege works closely with someone who lacks such privilege. In such a dyad, can certain speech acts counterbalance unearned privilege? Questions such as Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Jameson / RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY 223 these provide a significant opportunity for business, technical, and professional communication research. 4. Cultural Identity May Evoke Emotions Another important attribute of cultural identity is its ability to evoke emotions. People may have positive, negative, neutral, or ambivalent feelings about components of their own cultural identity Studies of intercultural business communication have typically stressed positive feelings toward

one’s own cultural identity, manifested as ethnocentrism, and negative feelings toward others’ cultural identity, manifested as prejudice. In fact, people may also have conscious or subconscious negative feelings about components of their own cultural identity. Studies of race and ethnicity have most explicitly addressed this issue. In constructing a model of racial identity, for instance, Sellers et al. (1998) included a dimension they called regard, referring to “a person’s affective and evaluative judgment of her or his race in terms of positive-negative valence” (p. 26) In her identity validation model, Ting-Toomey (1986) theorized that people develop positive or negative attitudes toward components of their own cultural identity based on their perceptions of the extent to which others support that identity. By affirming another person’s cultural identity, one “provides the underlying motivational force in which intergroup-interpersonal ties can be developed and

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blossom” (p. 120) When a person forms a negative attitude toward a component of his or her cultural identity, several responses are possible. To maintain selfesteem, a person may focus on a different identity component, change the basis for comparison, devalue that component, or, if possible, leave the group connected to that component (Sussman, 2000; Tajfel, 1978). In intercultural business communication, it is important to recognize that cultural identity can have an emotional impact. People have positive, negative, neutral, or ambivalent feelings not only about race but also about other components of cultural identity. For instance, a particular individual may feel positive about her gender, negative about her economic class, neutral about her nationality, and ambivalent about her ethnicity. Such differences are sure to affect communication and are rich areas for continued research into the complexities of intercultural business communication. For instance, studies could trace how

managers’ negative attitudes toward their own cultural identities affect their credibility with workers or how positive attitudes toward cultural identity are revealed in nonverbal communication. Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 224 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION 5. Cultural Identity Can Be Negotiated Through Communication Cultural identity can be negotiated through communication but only under certain circumstances. People must be conscious of the components of their cultural identity and be comfortable discussing them with others. Cultural identity is not always conscious. People often take cultural factors for granted and rarely discuss them (Brislin, 1990). Few people, according to Sussman (2000), “recognize the imprint of their own culture and its ubiquitous nature” (p. 363) She theorizes that people become more aware of components of their cultural identity at points of transition, when they enter into or

depart from an environment where others’ behavior and thinking diverge. She compares these cultural transition points to Dorothy’s arrival in the Land of Oz. Even when people are aware of their cultural identity, they do not necessarily communicate all parts of it. Though some aspects of cultural identity, such as gender and race, are visible in face-to-face encounters, many aspects are invisible, such as religion, class, and profession. In mediated encounters, such as e-mail and phone calls, even more components of cultural identity are hidden unless a person intentionally reveals them. People can choose to express parts of their cultural identity. Identity can be “invoked, used, interpreted with, displayed, performed, and so on in particular social scenes” (Carbaugh, 1996, p. 23) However, the intensity with which people communicate their cultural identities varies (Collier & Thomas, 1988). When people are conscious of their cultural identities and choose to communicate

about them to others, then they may to some extent negotiate their cultural identities in discourse. For instance, project team members may explicitly invoke their educational backgrounds but avoid references to race and ethnicity. Cultural identity involves both public and private perceptions: how one perceives one’s own cultural identity and how others perceive it. Collier and Thomas (1988) used the terms avowal and ascription to convey this contrast. The cultural identity a person avows is not necessarily the same as that which others ascribe to him or her. Through communication, negotiation of cultural identity takes place Wieder and Pratt (1990) explored this tension between avowal and ascription in the case of American Indians. The criteria Indians use to define genuine ethnic identity in others often conflict sharply with self-defined or officially defined criteria. Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Jameson /

RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY 225 In addition to the public and private perceptions of cultural identity, a third perception exists: how one thinks that others perceive his or her cultural identity. This hybrid aspect, which we could call “private-public,” is important when people negotiate cultural identity because in many cases, they may be wrong about what others perceive. Misperceptions affect the negotiation process. Identity negotiation is “fluid and narrative in nature, and . multiple identities are likely to be negotiated in a single episode,” according to Collier and Thomas (1988, p. 114) Some have viewed identity negotiation as a structured process that creates implicit contracts between people (Hecht et al., 2003) In developing what she called “identity negotiation theory,” TingToomey (2005) said that negotiation involved “a transactional interaction whereby individuals in an intercultural situation attempt to assert, define, modify, challenge, and/or

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support their own and others’ desired selfimages” (p. 217) This is not an easy process To be successful in such negotiation, a person must be “able to hold two polarized value systems and be at ease with the dynamic tensions that exist between the vulnerability spectrum and the security spectrum” (p. 230) Theories of intercultural identity negotiation have many applications in intercultural business communication practice and research. Are business teams more effective when members openly discuss their cultural backgrounds and differences? Do supervisors who use self-disclosure concerning their religion endanger professional relationships? How should expatriate employees negotiate their cultural identities to avoid unfair stereotyping? The process of identity negotiation not only involves communication but also establishes the ground rules for communication. When people interact for a business purpose, these ground rules affect the possibilities for cooperation and

collaboration. USING THE MODEL OF CULTURAL IDENTITY To create a visual representation of cultural identity, we can combine its components and attributes, showing the connections between them (see Table 3). This model is useful in both teaching and research Applications in Teaching In intercultural business communication courses and executive programs, participants can reflect on how cultural identity affected their Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Geography Nationality Region, state, province, or city identification Density identification (urban, suburban, small town, rural) Residence (if different from nationality) Class Economic class Social class Educational class Vocation Occupational field Profession or job category Employing organization Subunit of organization 1. Specifics of My Cultural Components Components of Cultural Identity 2. Impact of Significant Others Model of Individual Cultural Identity Table 3. 3.

Changes, Salience, and Centrality 4. Power and Privilege 5. Feelings and Attitudes 6. Awareness and Communication 226 Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Other Biological traits with cultural aspects Race Ethnicity Gender Sexual orientation Health Age Language First language Dialect Other languages Philosophy Religious identity Political identity Identity based on other philosophies Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 227 228 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION professional and personal communication in the past; then, they can plan for future situations in which cultural identity will have an impact. The first step is for each participant to use the model to create an individual cultural snapshot, a profile of oneself at the present moment, recognizing that cultural identity is always in flux. This personal document need not be shared with others. After a discussion

of the model of cultural identity, each participant records the specific details about his or her cultural background by answering the following questions related to each column (see Table 4): 1. How would you define your current cultural identity in terms of each component? 2. How do your significant others’ cultural backgrounds differ from yours in ways that have affected you? Significant others may include parents, spouse/partner, or other relatives or friends with whom you are very close. 3. How has your cultural identity changed with time? Which components have high importance in the immediate situation (salience)? Which components have stable, long-term importance in defining who you are (centrality)? 4. Which cultural identity components currently give you power or privilege or have done so in the past? Which ones create prejudice against you or lessen your power? 5. About which components of your cultural identity do you feel positive today? Negative? Neutral? Ambivalent? How

have these feelings changed with time? 6. Of which cultural identity components are you highly conscious? Mostly unconscious? Which components do you communicate openly to others? Though most components of culture fall into one of the six categories, additional possibilities exist; thus, the model provides an other category. For example, a person deeply involved in a sport, a philanthropy, or an avocation may consider this important enough to constitute part of his or her cultural identity (Shockley, 2005). The completed snapshot has several important benefits. Most important, it symbolizes an individual’s uniqueness. When all the elements are taken into account, few others could have exactly the same cultural identity. Thus, cultural identity differentiates individuals from one another as much as does personality, style, or other elements of personal identity. The completed snapshot also represents a unified, integrated cultural identity. Though each component may be proportionally

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more or less salient at a given time, the total always equals 100%. In addition, the snapshot visually demonstrates that nationality is but one of many components of cultural identity. Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Jameson / RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY Table 4. 229 Cultural Identity Profile Questions 1. How would you define your current cultural identity in terms of each component? 2. How do your significant others’ cultural backgrounds differ from yours in ways that have affected you? Significant others may include parents, spouse/partner, or other relatives or friends with whom you are very close. 3. How has your cultural identity changed with time? Which components have high importance in the immediate situation (salience)? Which components have stable, long-term importance in defining who you are (centrality)? 4. Which cultural identity components currently give you power or privilege or have done so in the

past? Which ones create prejudice against you or lessen your power? 5. About which components of your cultural identity do you feel positive today? Negative? Neutral? Ambivalent? How have these feelings changed with time? 6. Of which cultural identity components are you highly conscious? Mostly unconscious? Which components do you communicate openly to others? The second pedagogical step is reflection. After using the model to create their individual cultural snapshots, participants recall specific intercultural communication challenges they have faced in their academic or professional careers and analyze how factors of cultural identity affected what they thought, felt, and did. This type of reflection helps link cultural identity to specific communication practices. Some elements of culture may influence communication very little, others a great deal. These differences vary from person to person What is important is for each person to look within and recognize the impact of culture

on his or her own behavior, interaction, and language. Participants are usually happy to share examples in class discussion. The third step is to apply the model to future intercultural challenges, perhaps by using cases or simulations. For instance, if a class is studying the Intercontinental Resort Bali case (Rogers & Dufey, 2003), each participant can analyze how cultural identity affects how he or she would handle the aftermath of the terrorist attack if he or she were the resort’s general manager. If the class is participating in an intercultural simulation, participants can use the model to explain their own interactions and communication. This model of cultural identity complements other approaches to teaching intercultural communication. Through Delphi panels of international business practitioners and experts, Martin and Chaney (1992) developed a detailed plan for an international business communication curriculum. The reflective self-analysis described earlier

supplements the external-analysis approach of this curriculum. The model also fits into the intercultural learning approach proposed by Beamer (1992), the cross-talk system created by Kenton and Valentine (1997), and the international communication training programs discussed by Leininger (1997). The teaching application I have Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 230 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION developed in this article could be incorporated into the self-discovery phase of Varner and Palmer’s (2005) expatriate education process. The self-analysis approach I have advocated here and the traditional approachexternal cultural analysiscomplement one another and together create a comprehensive intercultural learning experience. Applications to Research The model of cultural identity developed in this article also suggests new lines of research in intercultural professional communication. For example, the model highlights

several attributes of cultural identity that have yet to be explored in depth, such as its relationship to power, privilege, and emotion. The impact of corporate and professional culture on individual cultural identity also deserves more investigation. How is an individual’s cultural identity changed when he or she is acculturated into a corporate culture such as those of Nokia, Toyota, or British Petroleum? What is the impact on a person acculturated into the accounting profession or advertising industry? How do such affiliations affect a person’s communication? Another promising line of inquiry concerns convergence, the tendency for people to adopt some elements of others’ discourse systems in intercultural communication contexts. In a study of the interaction between Israeli and Indian businesspersons, for instance, Zaidman (2001) found convergence occurring both in writing and speech. Each party attempted to adapt to others by using some of their language patterns and

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preferences. If we took into account the full cultural identities of people rather than just their nationalities, we might gain additional insights into convergence. A new emphasis on individual cultural identity might enable communicators to find shared cultural traits that lead to better communication Another application of the model of cultural identity regards the phenomenon that Bolten (1999) called “interculture,” also known as “transaction culture” and “third culture.” When people with substantially different cultural identities interact, they can create a new cultural context: a hybrid that synthesizes components of each person’s cultural background. For instance, collaborators on a global corporate project may develop a work culture that incorporates some of each member’s cultural practices, values, and traditions. On a larger scale, an organization can have a hybrid culture that combines elements of its home headquarters, its local operating company, its

affiliates, and its clients. How does the growing complexity of cultural identity affect such intercultures? Because Downloaded from http://job.sagepubcom at University of Groningen on December 11, 2009 Jameson / RECONCEPTUALIZING CULTURAL IDENTITY 231 many international business persons have studied abroad, lived overseas, or consciously sought to adapt business approaches from other cultures, their cultural identities are more nuanced. Does this growing complexity make intercultural business communication easier or more difficult? These are but a few of many avenues of exploration in intercultural business communication that a model of intercultural identity could inform. In this article, I have advocated increased emphasis on the individual perspective and a reconception of cultural identity to give as much prominence to such components as vocation and class as to nationality and ethnicity. If the field of intercultural business communication sees cultural identity in this

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