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Case Assignment


The study of cultural space requirements is known as proxemics and was coined by researcher Edward Hall during the 1950’s and 1960’s. In the United States, during intimate conversations with close friends and relatives, individuals are willing to stay within about a foot and a half of each other; for casual conversations, up to two to three feet; for job interviews and personal business, four to twelve feet. It should be mentioned that the same is not true for all countries around the world. As a quick quiz, think about the following five countries/regions (USA, Greece, Latin America, Middle East, Japan) and rank each country based upon how much space they need using a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 implying the most space needed and 5 implying the least space needed. The correct answers are:

}  1 = Japan

}  2 = USA

}  3 = Latin America

}  4 = Greece

}  5 = Middle East

As a practical example, people from the Middle East usually shake hands, hug, and even kiss one another on the cheek when greeting as a sign of respect. In Japan, it is customary to bow from a short distance as a sign of respect. Thus, it becomes imperative for HR managers to understand such extremes especially when training employees to go overseas as expatriates.


Haptics is a type of nonverbal communication focused on touching. Touch, or haptics, communicates a great deal because what is appropriate and people’s tendency to touch differ by culture and gender. Cultural variations also exist regarding who touches whom, where one is touched, and when one is touched. Sidney Jourard (1968) conducted a study in which he found that adults in Puerto Rico touched 180 times per hour; those in Paris touched about 100 times per hour; those in Gainesville, Florida, touched about 2 times per hour; and those in London touched 1 time per hour. As a practical example, “the Chinese culture is low-touch oriented to an extreme. A visiting communicator’s attempt at being outgoing and friendly by slapping a Chinese dignitary on the back would be inappropriate and possibly insulting” (Purdy & Borisoff, 1997, p. 106). By acknowledging and embracing the cultural variations regarding haptics, HR managers and employees will have an instant competitive advantage and will be less likely to offend his or her peers.

Reference: Purdy, M., & Borisoff, D. (1997). Listening in Everyday Life: A Personal and Professional Approach. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. 

Then, drawing on the material in the background readings and doing additional research, please prepare a 3-5 page paper (not including the cover and reference pages) in which you:

  • Discuss the importance of HR managers learning about haptics and how it will benefit them in the workforce.
  • Discuss the importance of HR managers learning about proxemics and how it will benefit them in the workforce.
  • Identify different strategies for training all employees about haptics and proxemics. Provide a detailed summary on how you would conduct trainings on haptics and proxemics.
  • Discuss whether you believe it is more important to learn more about haptics or proxemics in the workforce. Ultimately, would you focus more time teaching employees about haptics or proxemics. Justify your response.

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