Sep 10, 2019 in Interview

Multicultural Interview Reflection

Abstract

“Diversity” is one of the most frequently used words in organizational research. Globalization opens borders, creating a new sense of multiculturalism that drives strategic and tactical organizational decisions. Needless to say, multiculturalism and diversity have profound implications for the quality and effectiveness of leadership decisions. Actually, diversity has proved to be a vital component of effective leadership in contemporary organizations. For this reason, leaders should be particularly interested in learning and understanding the unique cultural values pursued by their followers. Holidays exemplify a wonderful opportunity for learning the diversity of cultural values and traditions and their potential impacts on leadership and organizational decisions. The given paper offers an evaluation of the individual interview conducted with a young Chinese woman during her celebration of the Chinese New Year.

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Multicultural Interview Paper Example

When I received the task to conduct a multicultural interview, one of the first problems was choosing the most appropriate interviewee. Suddenly, I remembered that a young Chinese woman had recently moved to our neighborhood. I met her several times, we exchanged smiles, but we never talked. I knew where she lived and, taking a small cake with me, I decided that I could try to ask her for a short multicultural interview. I knew that the Chinese New Year was approaching, and I decided that it could be a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the Chinese traditions. To prepare for the interview, I read several books about the Chinese New Year and the way it is celebrated.

My Chinese neighbor was very happy about the interview offer, and she invited me to their family celebration of the Chinese New Year. We agreed that I would interview her during the celebration. She expressed her willingness to answer all my questions in relation to celebration and the Chinese culture in general. In addition, I read two research articles on Chinese leadership and found an interesting article in The Telegraph regarding the role of women in the Chinese New Year celebration. I decided that I would definitely question my interviewee regarding her status according to the standards and criteria of the Chinese culture.

The interview lasted about 2 hours, during which we shared a productive conversation, and meanwhile, learned to celebrate the Chinese New Year together. Most of what I have read about the Chinese New Year found its reflection in the celebration process I observed in the community home of my Chinese interviewee. Fireworks, red packets, and lanterns were used to “scare off” the evil and create a foundation for living the next year in stability and peace. During the celebration, the interviewee told me that she was a highly educated person, with two postgraduate degrees, not married and pursuing a career in finance. She is convinced that diversity is something more than the theoretical meaning of the word can tell. The woman spoke about acceptance and tolerance as being crucial for developing a diversity consciousness in organizations and society in general.

An interesting fact is that the interviewee does not describe her cultural identity as being purely Chinese. Despite the fact that she observes almost all Chinese cultural traditions, she admits that her identity changes, as she moves onto a new level of individual development and professional performance. Thus, it is flexibility that she values most in her cultural identity. She is Chinese by birth but multicultural in spirit. For example, the woman does not acknowledge the universality of paternalistic leadership models that are claimed to be common in Chinese organizations (Wu, Huang, & Farli, 2004).

At the same time, and in line with Ling, Chia and Fang (2000), she believes in the value and power of leaders implicit values. According to Ling et al. (2000), “implicit leadership traits are based on personal characteristics and attributes that followers expect of their leaders” (p. 730). The interviewee claims that leaders should be judged by their attributes rather than observable behaviors. She seeks to develop a deeper understanding of various leadership models, and does not believe that any of them can be universal. During the New Year celebration, at which at least 10 other people were present, the woman displayed remarkable flexibility, trying to find a common language and maintain a dialogue with everyone.

One of the things I wanted to ask the interviewee was about the status of unmarried Chinese women in their culture. The subject is quite sensitive, and I decided I had to refer to Ren (2014) and her article in The Telegraph, where she writes that the celebration of the Chinese New Year launches “weeklong festivities aimed at finding them a suitor”. Surprisingly, the woman was very glad that I raised the topic and responded that she still experienced certain pressures on the side of her Chinese community. However, she does not believe that being educated is a stigma or problem for a Chinese woman. The family welcomes her striving to become more educated and advanced. This is actually why diversity matters – it is time for the community to adopt a new multicultural mindset, which will open new venues for the social, educational, and professional development of every Chinese woman.

Summary

As for me, I have learned several important things about myself. First, I welcome direct communication as the main source of information about multicultural values. Second, such information can have huge impacts on my worldview. I no longer view the Chinese community as being inherently paternalistic. The Chinese culture is becoming an important element of the multicultural reality, which is characterized by flexibility, openness, and tolerance to new cultural values and beliefs. At the same time, the field research has expanded the boundaries my theoretical knowledge about the Chinese New Year and the Chinese culture, in general. My leadership worldview has not changed, because I always believed in the importance of the intricate culture-leadership relationship and the effects of culture on leadership practices.

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