Derek Matthews

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Business Culture in Canada and the US: Convergence or Divergence: 

Business Culture in Canada and the US: Convergence or Divergence Derek Matthews Norwegian School of Management, BI Department of Culture, Communication and Languages


This is the transcript of an ACTUAL radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations. Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision. Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision. Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert your course. Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course. Americans: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS LINCOLN, THE SECOND LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES' ATLANTIC FLEET. WE ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS AND NUMEROUS SUPPORT VESSELS. I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES NORTH, THAT'S ONE FIVE DEGREES NORTH, OR COUNTER-MEASURES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO INSURE THE SAFETYOF THIS SHIP. Canadians: This is a lighthouse. It's your call.

Canadian & US Business Cultures: 

Canadian & US Business Cultures Historical paths Revolution and counterrevolution Literature, myths & symbols Business culture: a few gurus Convergence or divergence

Historical Paths: 

Historical Paths 1607 Jamestown 1776 -1791 Declaration and War of Independence Constitution, B of R 1861-65 Civil War 1608 Québec 1774 Québec Act GBr solves a crisis 1780’s Loyalists Piecemeal progress 1791, 1840 July 1, 1867 protectionism 1982 Patriation

Revolution vs Counterrevolution*: 

Revolution vs Counterrevolution* Law and deviance Economy Centre and periphery Stratification Can / US Identity Literature & Myths * Seymour Martin Lipset, 1990

Literature & Myths: a little story*: 

Literature & Myths: a little story* Oedipus Telemachus Literature The frontier, rebel, extrovert Survival, victim, introvert *Russel Brown 1979


x American symbols “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”

Canadian Symbols: 

Canadian Symbols “Peace, Order and Good Government”

Revolution vs Counterrevolution: 

Revolution vs Counterrevolution Rebellion Individualism Independence Self-reliance Self-confidence Freedom Decisiveness Control of destiny Counter-rebellion Deference Dependence Reliance Caution London calls the shots Divisiveness (Fr/Eng) Survival

Geert Hofstede: 4 dimensions: 

Geert Hofstede: 4 dimensions Individualism vs Collectivism self-interest vs group interest/loyalty Power distance High= respect for authority, inequality, distance Masculine / Feminine M: tough, competitive, gender inequality Uncertainty Avoidance High: avoid ambiguity, systematic, predictable

Findings: Hofstede: 

Findings: Hofstede Similarities Individualism: 1 US, 2 Aust, 3 UK, 4 Can Power Distance: Low - 38 US, 39 Can Uncertainty Avoidance: Low - 42 Can, 43 US (Differences) Masculine: High - 15 US, 24 Can Observations Ind: rights & merit (US) vs merit (Can) Power distance:? Masc: US - long hours, live to work

Fons Trompenaars: 6 of 7 dimensions: 

Fons Trompenaars: 6 of 7 dimensions Universalism vs Particularism Affective vs Neutral Specific vs Diffuse Achievement vs Ascriptive orientation Sequential vs Synchronic Inner vs Outer-directed

Findings: Trompenaars: 

Findings: Trompenaars Similarities Universalist (follow the rules/equal treatment) Achievement-oriented (US), Specific (US), Affective (US), Inner-directed (US) Observations Can more universalist (respect vs the law) US: achievers, more expressive, captains of their own fate

Richard Gesteland: 

Richard Gesteland Similarities deal-focused, direct, informal, time-conscious, egalitarian Differences Canadians: less expressive, less assertive, slightly more formal and conservative, not as time-obsessed

Compared to Americans: 

Compared to Americans Canadians are less authoritative less decisive less assertive less nationalistic less gun happy Canadians show more respect for authority more caution more reserve more modesty more conservatism

Convergence: Do we have a choice?: 

Convergence: Do we have a choice? American influence Economy US ownership, FTA (’89)/NAFTA (’94) Politics Charter of Rights & Freedoms Pressure to conform (eg Customs & Immigration) Culture Americanization, Media Longest border “Brain drain” - many go

Convergence: Do we have a choice?: 

Convergence: Do we have a choice? Neil Nevitte “Decline of Deference” (1996) World Values Survey (1981- 90) in Europe & NA Political, economic and social orientations 12/12 Rise in: principle of tolerance, support for meritocracy, pride in work, interest in politics, egalitarian spousal relations, egalitarian parent/ch relations Can/US: same direction - 22/25 dimensions except church attendance & job/financial satisfaction Canada led on 16 of 22 13 parallel, 6 converge, 6 diverge

Divergence? : 

Divergence? Economy strong gov’t, universal health, welfare state Politics different system Canada for: nuclear test ban treaty, anti-landmine, Kyoto, Int’l Criminal Court, banning biological weapons, remaining in Bosnia . . . “Brain drain” many stay, many come

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