26. International Business and Cross-cultural Communication
The increase in international business and in foreign investment has created a need for executives with knowledge of foreign languages and skills in cross-cultural communication. Americans, however, have not been well trained in either area and, consequently, have not enjoyed the same level of success in negotiation in an international arena as have their foreign counterparts.
Negotiating is the process of communicating back and forth for the purpose of reaching an agreement. It involves persuasion and compromise, but in order to participate in either one, the negotiators must understand the ways in which people are persuaded and how compromise is reached within the culture of the negotiation.
In many international business negotiations abroad, Americans are perceived as wealthy and impersonal. It often appears to the foreign negotiator that the American represents a large multi-million-dollar corporation that can afford to pay the price without bargaining further. The American negotiator’s role becomes that of an impersonal purveyor of information and cash.
In studies of American negotiators abroad, several traits have been identified that may serve to confirm this stereotypical perception, while undermining the negotiator’s position. Two traits in particular that cause cross-cultural misunderstanding are directness and impatience on the part of the American negotiator. Furthermore, American negotiators often insist on realizing short-term goals. Foreign negotiators, on the other hand, may value the relationship established between negotiators and may be willing to invest time in it for long-term benefits. In order to solidify the relationship, they may opt for indirect interactions without regard for the time involved in getting to know the other negotiator.
27. Scientific Theories
In science, a theory is a reasonable explanation of observed events that are related. A theory often involves an imaginary model that helps scientists picture the way an observed event could be produced. A good example of this is found in the kinetic molecular theory, in which gases are pictured as being made up of many small particles that are in constant motion.
A useful theory, in addition to explaining past observations, helps to predict events that have not as yet been observed. After a theory has been publicized, scientists design experiments to test the theory. If observations confirm the scientist’s predictions, the theory is supported. If observations do not confirm the predictions, the scientists must search further. There may be a fault in the experiment, or the theory may have to be revised or rejected.
Science involves imagination and creative thinking as well as collecting information and performing experiments. Facts by themselves are not science. As the mathematician Jules Henri Poincare said, “Science is built with facts just as a house is built with bricks, but a collection of facts cannot be called science any more than a pile of bricks can be called a house.”
Most scientists start an investigation by finding out what other scientists have learned about a particular problem. After known facts have been gathered, the scientist comes to the part of the investigation that requires considerable imagination. Possible solutions to the problem are formulated. These possible solutions are called hypotheses.
In a way, any hypothesis is a leap into the unknown. It extends the scientist’s thinking beyond the known facts. The scientist plans experiments, performs calculations, and makes observations to test hypotheses. Without hypothesis, further investigation lacks purpose and direction. When hypotheses are confirmed, they are incorporated into theories.
28.Changing Roles of Public Education
One of the most important social developments that helped to make possible a shift in thinking about the role of public education was the effect of the baby boom of the 1950's and 1960's on the schools. In the 1920's, but especially in the Depression conditions of the 1930's, the United States experienced a declining birth rate --- every thousand women aged fifteen to forty-four gave birth to about 118 live children in 1920, 89.2 in 1930, 75.8 in 1936, and 80 in 1940. With the growing prosperity brought on by the Second World War and the economic boom that followed it young people married and established households earlier and began to raise larger families than had their predecessors during the Depression. Birth rates rose to 102 per thousand in 1946,106.2 in 1950, and 118 in 1955. Although economics was probably the most important determinant, it is not the only explanation for the baby boom. The increased value placed on the idea of the family also helps to explain this rise in birth rates. The baby boomers began streaming into the first grade by the mid 1940's and became a flood by 1950. The public school system suddenly found itself overtaxed. While the number of schoolchildren rose because of wartime and postwar conditions, these same conditions made the schools even less prepared to cope with the food. The wartime economy meant that few new schools were built between 1940 and 1945. Moreover, during the war and in the boom times that followed, large numbers of teachers left their profession for better-paying jobs elsewhere in the economy.
Therefore in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the baby boom hit an antiquated and inadequate school system. Consequently, the “ custodial rhetoric” of the 1930’s and early 1940’s no longer made sense that is, keeping youths aged sixteen and older out of the labor market by keeping them in school could no longer be a high priority for an institution unable to find space and staff to teach younger children aged five to sixteen. With the baby boom, the focus of educators and of laymen interested in education inevitably turned toward the lower grades and back to basic academic skills and discipline. The system no longer had much interest in offering nontraditional, new, and extra services to older youths.
Telecommuting-- substituting the computer for the trip to the job ----has been hailed as a solution to all kinds of problems related to office work.
For workers it promises freedom from the office, less time wasted in traffic, and help with child-care conflicts. For management, telecommuting helps keep high performers on board, minimizes tardiness and absenteeism by eliminating commutes, allows periods of solitude for high-concentration tasks, and provides scheduling flexibility. In some areas, such as Southern California and Seattle, Washington, local governments are encouraging companies to start telecommuting programs in order to reduce rush-hour congestion and improve air quality.
But these benefits do not come easily. Making a telecommuting program work requires careful planning and an understanding of the differences between telecommuting realities and popular images.
Many workers are seduced by rosy illusions of life as a telecommuter. A computer programmer from New York City moves to the tranquil Adirondack Mountains and stays in contact with her office via computer. A manager comes in to his office three days a week and works at home the other two. An accountant stays home to care for her sick child; she hooks up her telephone modern connections and does office work between calls to the doctor.
These are powerful images, but they are a limited reflection of reality. Telecommuting workers soon learn that it is almost impossible to concentrate on work and care for a young child at the same time. Before a certain age, young children cannot recognize, much less respect, the necessary boundaries between work and family. Additional child support is necessary if the parent is to get any work done.
Management too must separate the myth from the reality. Although the media has paid a great deal of attention to telecommuting in most cases it is the employee’s situation, not the availability of technology that precipitates a telecommuting arrangement.
That is partly why, despite the widespread press coverage, the number of companies with work-at-home programs or policy guidelines remains small.
30 The origin of Refrigerators
By the mid-nineteenth century, the term “icebox” had entered the American language, but ice was still only beginning to affect the diet of ordinary citizens in the United States. The ice trade grew with the growth of cities. Ice was used in hotels, taverns, and hospitals, and by some forward-looking city dealers in fresh meat, fresh fish, and butter. After the Civil War( 1861-1865),as ice was used to refrigerate freight cars, it also came into household use. Even before 1880,half of the ice sold in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, and one-third of that sold in Boston and Chicago, went to families for their own use. This had become possible because a new household convenience, the icebox, a precursor of the modern refrigerator, had been invented.
Making an efficient icebox was not as easy as we might now suppose. In the early nineteenth century, the knowledge of the physics of heat, which was essential to a science of refrigeration, was rudimentary. The commonsense notion that the best icebox was one that prevented the ice from melting was of course mistaken, for it was the melting of the ice that performed the cooling. Nevertheless, early efforts to economize ice included wrapping up the ice in blankets, which kept the ice from doing its job. Not until near the end of the nineteenth century did inventors achieve the delicate balance of insulation and circulation needed for an efficient icebox.
But as early as 1803, and ingenious Maryland farmer, Thomas Moore, had been on the right track. He owned a farm about twenty miles outside the city of Washington, for which the village of Georgetown was the market center. When he used an icebox of his own design to transport his butter to market, he found that customers would pass up the rapidly melting stuff in the tubs of his competitors to pay a premium price for his butter, still fresh and hard in neat, one-pound bricks. One advantage of his icebox, Moore explained, was that farmers would no longer have to travel to market at night in order to keep their produce cool.