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    Cultural Dynamics, Conflicts, Ethics, Sensitive Issues

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    Carmen is a 35-year-old Hispanic American woman who is working on a project with Hong, a 25-year-old Asian American graduate student intern. Several months ago, they were assigned to work together on an integral part of the project. They have been working together on a daily basis since the assignment was given. However, there are conflicts between them. Carmen was raised as a Roman Catholic, and Hong practices Buddhism. Hong is complaining that Carmen is "too aggressive and loud and should tone down her act." Hong finds Carmen bossy and unwilling to receive feedback without being defensive. Carmen feels that Hong is too demanding and is trying to change her mind to conform to his ideas about the direction of the project. Hong has always wanted to be promoted to a supervisory position in the company after his possible hire after graduation, but Carmen does not feel he is ready and often states that he is less experienced and lacks the "personality" for the position he desires in the company.

    As the deadline draws near, each is growing more concerned that their personality differences, not their abilities, will be the reason that neither of them is successful. Carmen shares with a co-worker that Hong treats her like his employee and caretaker rather than an equal participant in the project. She also states that he is not respecting her because she is female.

    Hong shares with his internship supervisor that Carmen makes him feel inferior due to his student status and lesser command of the workplace jargon. However, neither of them has shared these feelings with one another.


    1. Analyze and identify the major relationship dynamics between Carmen and Hong.
    2. Identify their major cultural conflicts and challenges. Keep in mind that these are merely possibilities. We are using this exercise to brainstorm and work through ways that people may or may not interact and communicate.
    3. Point out potential ethical or legal issues. If they exist, what are the obligations of the workplace and employer?
    4. Identify three possible culturally sensitive issues in this situation.
    5. Recommend solutions to improve the situation. You may answer this from the perspective of management or employee.

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    Solution Preview


    1. Analyze and identify the major relationship dynamics between Carmen and Hong.

    This question is straightforward, as it is asking you to analyze and identify the major relationship between Carmen and Hong. The power dynamics between Carmen and Hong seems to be a product culture, mainly differences related to religion, gender and personality. Have you taken assigned readings that addressed these issues?

    For example, Carmen is not a student, whereas Hong an intern. In 1959, French and Raven described the types of power bases. They classified power into 5 types:

    1. Reward power: A's power over B is a function of how much B can be rewarded and the extent to which B believes that A controls these rewards.
    2. Coercive power: A's power over B is a function of how much B can be punished by B and the extent to which B believes that this punishment can be ...

    Solution Summary

    Referring to case, this solution responds to the questions related to aspects of cultural dynamics e.g. the relationship dynamics between Carmen and Hong, cultural conflicts and issues, ethics, sensitive issues, and recommendations. Supplemented with an article on the legal and ethical considerations.