Lost in translation

Cross-cultural misunderstandings can hinder the effectiveness of global outsourcing, a new study by Accenture reveals.

by Accenture
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

The survey found that two thirds of respondents – executives whose companies have outsourced business processes – had experienced miscommunication issues within their global sourcing operations.

The figure was a little lower (60%) however amongst companies where cross-cultural communication training had been introduced. Such programmes have boosted productivity by about 30% in companies where they are implemented.

"Post-training feedback from the last couple of years suggests that long-term savings of both time and money are clearly possible if cross-cultural communication issues are identified – and resolved – at an early stage," says Kris Wadia, senior executive in Accenture's Network of global delivery centres. "There are also related benefits for companies, which include improved employee morale, and reduced attrition rates."

The research found that the chief factors causing problems between onshore and offshore operations were different communication styles (76%), different approaches to completing tasks (53%), different attitude towards conflict (53%) and different decisions-making styles (44%).

"The physical obstacles to outsourcing such as telecoms and facilities have largely been resolved," says Wadia. "However, the soft issues, particularly cross-cultural communication, will continue to present the main challenges to realising global outsourcing's full potential for the foreseeable future."

Source: Improved cross-cultural communication increases global sourcing productivity
Accenture

Review by Emilie Filou

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