Communicating across cultures in a New Zealand workplace : an investigation of attitudes, policies and practices at Excell, Auckland : a 75 point thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Management in Communication Management at Massey University
From a sociocultural perspective, the aim in this study was to find out whether or not New Zealanders in one Auckland workplace consciously communicate in a different way with colleagues from migrant cultures. Because New Zealand has become increasingly culturally diverse, workplaces have to adapt to a multicultural workforce. Migrants have cultural values that may conflict with New Zealand values; therefore, it is possible that misunderstandings may occur. The objectives in this study were to find out if in one research site whether New Zealanders adjusted their communication when communicating with colleagues from migrant cultures. Methodology was concentrated on intercultural concepts of positive and negative stereotyping, high and low context communication, hierarchy and cultural differences in power distance to explore any awareness of differences in communicating with migrants compared with the way in which communication was conducted with New Zealanders. Informal interviews were conducted to guide the direction of an initial questionnaire which led to the development of the questionnaire used in a survey carried out with 53 Pakeha and Maori working at Excell Corporation, a New Zealand company in Auckland. Results indicated that New Zealand employees of Excell did adjust their communication when communicating with colleagues from different cultures. However the extent of adaptation depended on the situation. The results confirm the significance of this study for organisations with a multicultural staff by highlighting why and where communication breaks down. For example, avoiding migrant colleagues occurred because of previous frustrating encounters, stereotypic attitudes and not having the time to try to understand migrant colleagues.