Managing Multicultural Sales Agents In The Airline Industry: A Case Study Of Emirates Airlines


Managing Multicultural Sales Agents In The Airline Industry: A Case Study Of Emirates Airlines. The increasing globalization of the world requires interaction of people from different cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs than the case before. Individuals are no longer working in a limited marketplace but are integrated in the global economy with competition emanating nearly from every corner of the world. As a result of this, organizations are looking for diversity by employing individuals from across cultures to become more competitive in the global market. Management today is focused on maximizing and capitalizing on labor force diversity. As put forward by Behfar, Kern and Brett (2006, p. 233), the world is gradually changing into a post- modern era and all aspects must change. Managing Multicultural Sales Agents In The Airline Industry: A Case Study Of Emirates Airlines.

There are increased changes in the international communication abilities and this has encouraged cultural diversity in businesses and the introduction of the international markets, thus, organizations must change with the changing environments. As a result of this, multinational and international organizations are employing individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. (Korac-Kakabadse, Kouzmin, Korac-Kakabadse & Savery 2001, p. 65) However, managing these cultural diversities in multicultural has been the biggest challenge for managers. The replacement and blend of the diverse cross cultural labor force as well as the negotiation between different occupational qualities and values require new management strategies and approaches. Basically, multicultural employees cannot be managed with the same strategies and approaches used in mono-cultural organization (Kawar 2012, p. 105). Managing Multicultural Sales Agents In The Airline Industry: A Case Study Of Emirates Airlines.

Despite the considerable number of multicultural economies recognized today, currently, the importance of national borders has decreased significantly. Employees are moving from their countries and get employment opportunities in international corporations where they relate and interact with others from the whole world (Earley 2006, p. 922). As a result, a multicultural labor force is speedily and irrevocably becoming the norm in several organizational situations. Organizations are no longer employing individuals from a single culture because of the need for diversity. Unfortunately, this aspect is increasingly faced with challenges resulting in poor organizational performance. This study therefore aims at exploring and revealing the challenges faced managers in managing culturally diverse employees in an airline industry and offer potential solutions to these challenges. Managing Multicultural Sales Agents In The Airline Industry: A Case Study Of Emirates Airlines.

In the current competitive business environment, travel and tourism industry is becoming the biggest as well as the fastest growing sectors across the world. The fact that the travel industry targets customers from across the world it calls for cultural diversity in the recruitment processes. People are increasingly traveling for business purpose, leisure, recreation or as part of their employment (Browaeys & Price 2008, p. 36). The rate of travelling has increased to a greater extent as compared to the case some years back. This may be attributed to the increased reasons for travelling, improved information and communication technologies, and attractiveness of the travel and tourism industry. Many countries across the world are getting huge revenues from the tourism sector thus it has become one of the fastest growing sector (Jeanne, Kristin & Mary 2006, p. 3). Managing Multicultural Sales Agents In The Airline Industry: A Case Study Of Emirates Airlines.

As reported by the United Nations World Tourism Organization in their 2009 report Caligiuri, Lepak and Bonache (2010, p. 63), more than 922 million international tourists arrivals were recorded in the year 2008 which was about 1.9% increase as compared to the previous year. This confirms that tourism and travel industry has become a very significant economic driver in various countries across the world. This calls for employment of personnel from across cultures especially in the marketing department who are capable of speaking different international languages (Barbara, Anne-Wil & Hafiz 2004, p. 518). Airline industry plays a very fundamental role in the travel and tourism industry. Managing Multicultural Sales Agents In The Airline Industry: A Case Study Of Emirates Airlines.

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5.1 Conclusions

Organizations have shifted from national operations to regional, multinational, and global operations due to technological advancements, market liberalization and globalization. This has resulted in multicultural teams where employees from different cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds work in one organization. Employees are seeking for international job opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills in different aspects. Emirates  is one of the organizations that operates internationally and employs human resource from a global perspective. Managing Multicultural Sales Agents In The Airline Industry: A Case Study Of Emirates Airlines.

While cultural diversity becomes of great importance to organizations, it is posing great challenges to managers managing multicultural employees. Different countries have different values, working habits, beliefs, norms, and practices governing them and they may be totally different from other cultures. Managing these cultural differences is becoming challenging to managers and it sometimes affects their performances. Basically, if there are cultural conflicts during multicultural management, employees may feel dissatisfied and demoralized to perform their duties affecting negatively the general performance of an organization. Recent studies have focused on the positive impacts of cultural diversity but have not discussed the challenges faced in managing multicultural employees. Managing Multicultural Sales Agents In The Airline Industry: A Case Study Of Emirates Airlines.

This study has found that managers are faced with challenges such as language barrier, conflicting norms and values, attitudes and perceptions, and indirect communication in managing multicultural employees. However, the study has offered some potential solutions to these challenges such as creation of mutual respect, recognizing differences, training managers, employing interpreters, and equalizing power which when effectively implemented would result in effective management of multicultural employees. Managing Multicultural Sales Agents In The Airline Industry: A Case Study Of Emirates Airlines.  

These solutions would improve the performance of Emirates Airline because employees are adequately motivated and satisfied with the management approaches used. The study found that managers were influenced by these challenges in their performances hence if the challenges are solved they would improve their performances and in turn improve the overall performance of the organization. Managing Multicultural Sales Agents In The Airline Industry: A Case Study Of Emirates Airlines.

5.2 Recommendations

Improving the performance of an organization is about improving manager and employee motivation and satisfaction. Managers are dissatisfied and de-motivated with the challenges they face in managing multicultural employees. The performance of Emirates can be improved by improving management of multicultural employees. The current study has investigated the challenges and solutions to these challenges in the context of managing multicultural settings. The following recommendations are provided for the improvement of future studies in this field:

Conflicting norms and values is a major challenge of managing multicultural employees. Managers fail to solve problems and conflicts in the organization because of failure of understanding the values and norms of multicultural employees. This challenge can be solved by training managers on multicultural management and on recognizing the cultural differences exhibited by sales agents. This could improve the manager-employee relationship and thus improve their performances. Managing Multicultural Sales Agents In The Airline Industry: A Case Study Of Emirates Airlines.

Different attitudes and perceptions were another challenge facing managers in the organization. This challenge was contributed to the lack of adequate knowledge and information on employees’ cultural attitudes and perceptions of authority and hierarchy. However, the challenge can be solved by training employees and equalizing power so that all employees are treated equally. This would reduce instances where some employees view themselves as superior or inferior to others or towards the managers.

Language barrier and indirect communication was a major challenge faced by the managers in managing multicultural employees. Despite international languages such as English and French were recommended, there were instances of language barrier as some employees could not communicate in these languages. Additionally, managers fail to understand indirect communication from the employers. This challenge can be solved by employing an expert with multicultural indirect communication or create mutual respect to enable employees communicate their dissatisfactions.

5.3 Practical Implication to the Organization

Multicultural management study is of great importance to the Emirates. The company employs a wide range of employees from diverse cultures and managing them is very vital. Emirates Airlines is a global company serving global customers hence skills and knowledge in multicultural management is very efficient. The company would improve its performance in the market as employees are adequately motivated and satisfied to perform better.

Emirates may experience a decline in performance if its sales agents experience cross cultural challenges when relating among themselves and with their managers. Effective management of multicultural employees would positively impact other departments in the organization. For instance, there will be a decline in errors as employees are satisfied and trained thus, the cost will reduce. Basically, organizations incur huge costs due to errors which also lower performance. Multicultural employee management study would impact Emirates Airlines by bringing employees together regardless of their cultural backgrounds and recognizing their cultures.

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Interview Questions

Multicultural Management

  1. How many cultures do you manage or interact with and which are the dominant cultures
  2. How do you manage or interact with employees from other cultures
  3. Why the company employs employees from other cultures
  4. What are the requirements by the organization

Challenges in managing multicultural employees 

  1. Do you face any challenge in managing multicultural employee?

Yes     ÿ             No   ÿ

  1. What are the major challenges?
  2. Do these challenge affect your performance
  3. Which cultures are most challenging to manage and why
  4. Have you undertaken any training program in multicultural management
  5. Do all cultures have equal employment opportunities in the company? If No which cultures are more preferred and why?

Potential solutions to the challenges of managing multicultural employees 

  1. What solutions could you give to these challenges?