Purpose - Purpose: Intercultural communication problems are most often argued to be caused by differences in cultural values. In this exploratory paper, we argue that attention should not only be directed at national differences. Alternatively, we argue that more interest should be paid to the actual use of those differences in communication. Design/methodology/approach - Methodology: Ethnographic field study including 12 interviews and observations. Findings - Findings: We use a short case on interaction between expatriates and local managers in a Chinese subsidiary of a Danish multinational corporation. This illustrates how individuals and groups may essentialize cultural differences during intercultural business encounters and how this fixation of cultural traits can be used in social stratification. Originality/value - Originality: Only scant extant research has focused on the active use of cultural differences in an intra-subsidiary context.
Journal of Communication Management, 2012, Vol 16, Issue 4, p. 405-419
Intercultural communication; Communication styles; China; Subsidiary management; Expatriates