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Cross Cultural Management - Sub-Saharan Culture

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Sub-Saharan Culture

As many nations in that Era, western Europe divided Africa into smaller countries with colonization. Boundaries drawn on a map divided tribe, extended families, and one mighty Africa into smaller groups. After getting Independence in 1980, Africa faced dictatorship in individual countries that pushed back the African economy. There are 20 official languages in Africa now, this shows the diversity of the continent (Price, 2015).

Post-independence, most of the people were living in outskirts of towns and cities but advancement in education and transportation encouraged people to come to cities and find work. This advancement also encouraged other religions like Christians and Islam to enter, further increasing the diversity.


Zimbabwe is home to an approximate 11.65 million people. The population is 82 percent Shona and 14 percent Ndebele. Smaller ethnic groups include Tonga, Shangaan, and Venda. These groups including Shona comprises numerous subdivisions. The eastern two-thirds of Zimbabwe, called Mashonaland, is home to most of the Shona. About 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas. The official language of Zimbabwe is English. The major indigenous language is spoken there is Shona, of which there are multiple dialects. Sindebele, spoken by Ndebele people, is one of the “click” languages. Other minorities speak numerous other tribal dialects. All the national languages, except English, are in the Bantu family of languages (Joanne Thomas, n.d.).

Historic Context:

The main historic movement for Zimbabwe started after “1923 when the British South Africa Company handed the country over to the British Crown, in 1930, the white minority passed the Land Apportionment Act, which barred blacks from legal access to the best land, simultaneously assuring a source of cheap labor. Between 1946 and 1960, the white population increased from 82,000 to 223,000, and this period witnessed economic expansion, including the construction of the Kariba Dam” (Zimbabwe, n.d.).

Organized resistance to battle this began in the 1920s, and in the absence of meaningful reform, radical active resistance started in the 1940s. The two groups that were to lead the country to independence, the Zimbabwe African People's Union, and the Zimbabwe African National Union, formed in 1960’s. When Great Britain demanded the racial equality, and put in place a plan for majority rule or face economic sanctions, the government declared a Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965. A guerrilla war followed that was characterized by political differences between resistance groups and among the white minority. Embodying the ancestors, the gorilla spirit mediums represented a common past, untainted by colonialism, that could be drawn on to shape and legitimize a new national identity (Zimbabwe, n.d.).

After the negotiation of a settlement at the Lancaster House Conference in 1979, the first multiparty general elections were held in 1980. The Zimbabwe African National Unity party led by Robert Mugabe won most seats and took over the government in April 1980. Seven years later, that party and the Zimbabwe Africa People's Union merged. While there are minor political parties, Zimbabwe has effectively been a one-party state.

The people from Zimbabwe are fighters, they are strong willed and believe in equality. This can be seen in their current business culture and norms. The formation of Power-Sharing government in 2009, made significant improvements in the political environment of the country.

Current Business Culture (Global Affairs Canada, 2014)

Dress: Businessman and women are dressed sharp as per their roles, dress code might differ depending upon the industry, but the general rule is that do not under-dress in a workplace. Professionalism is judged by the way you dress.

Deadlines, productivity, and punctuality are part of the assessment process in a workplace. There is a strict policy of work hours and timings. Managers or seniors may be expected to work longer hours but not to claim overtime.

Meetings: Business meetings are strictly by appointment and both parties are expected to be punctual though the host may delay the meeting. A firm handshake with eye contact is good business practice and show of respect until both parties know each other, salutation is used in the conversations. It is customary to shake hands with both men and women. Use of first names to anyone older or senior is unacceptable; it is considered disrespectful, even in a business setting. Punctuality or even non-appearance is not enforced in a social setting.

Managerial or Supervisor Roles: A superior is expected to lead by example, giving direction and guidance to subordinates. Education and experience are the two main factors for gaining respect and support from subordinates. To be successful in a managerial position, cooperation and support from the local professionals is needed.

Decision Making: A bottom-up approach to management is practiced in most organizations. The locals practice authority, facilitating this is helpful in smooth business. Zimbabwe is a collective society, so showing that ideas are coming from a team rather than from an individual will go long way. Having clear objectives, encouraging stakeholder participation and regular meetings are encouraged to make sure everyone is aboard. There might not be an emphasis on open communication: for example, if they have any problems, they might not say it aloud, making a less productive office environment.

Relations with Colleagues: It is important to establish a personal relationship with a colleague or client before getting to business. A personal relationship helps build confidence and trust which are important to the success of any business. The easiest way to do this is, to be honest, and show respect.

Favoritism Policy: It is important to act professionally at work. The normal practice is equal opportunity for everyone and everything is based on merit. Preferential treatment to colleagues and friends at work is frowned upon and if there is a sense of favoritism at a workplace, there will be resentment.

Motivation: Job satisfaction, good salary sense of belonging and recognition are most common motivating factors for employees.

Power Distance

According to GLOBE and Hofstede, there is a significant difference in power distance. The score of 2.67 on GLOBE scale puts Zimbabwe on low power distance, whereas a score of 49[1] on Hofstede scale puts it in between and almost balanced (Global Leadership & Organizational Behavior Effectiveness, n.d.).

Even the Zimbabwe is a collective society, the power distance here is low. This means that equality is promoted, and everyone can thrive. Employees can go to their supervisor’s directly for advice, personal and long-term relations are appreciated. They have a hierarchical order in which everybody has a place and roles assigned to them. The centralization is popular, employees and associates are expected to be told what to do. This makes the authoritarian leadership the first choice.



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