It is not necessary for today’s organizations to do business in another country to encounter people with diverse cultural backgrounds. Culturally dis- tinct populations can be found within organizations almost everywhere in the world. In Singapore, for example, there are four distinct cultural and linguistic groups: Chinese, Eurasian, Indian, and Malay. In Switzerland, there are four distinct ethnic communities: French, German, Italian, and Romansch. In Belgium, there are two linguistic groups: French and Flemish. In the United States, millions of first-generation immigrants have brought both their languages and their cultures. In Los Angeles, for example, there are more Samoans than on the island of Samoa, more Israelis than in any other city outside Israel, and more first- and second-generation Mexicans than in any other city except Mexico City. In Miami, over one-half the population is Latin, and most residents speak Spanish fluently. More Puerto Ricans live in New York City than in Puerto Rico.
There are a number of ways that diverse groups can be catego- rized. Four of the most common include:
- Homogeneous groups, in which members have similar backgrounds and generally perceive, interpret, and evaluate events in similar ways. An exam- ple would be a group of male German bankers who are forecasting the eco- nomic outlook for a foreign investment.
- Token groups, in which all members but one have the same background. An example would be a group of Japanese retailers and a British attorney who are looking into the benefits and shortcomings of setting up operations in Bermuda.
- Bicultural groups, in which two or more members represent each of two dis- tinct cultures. An example would be a group of four Mexicans and four Canadi- ans who have formed a team to investigate the possibility of investing in Russia.
- Multicultural groups, in which there are individuals from three or more different ethnic backgrounds. An example is a group of three American, three German, three Uruguayan, and three Chinese managers who are look- ing into mining operations in Chile.