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The Interaction between Organisational Culture and National Culture: 

The Interaction between Organisational Culture and National Culture Organisational and Professional Cultures and Diplomacy. Malta, 13-15 February 2004 Marie-Thérèse Claes ICHEC Brussels Business School UCL University of Louvain

Overview of the presentation: 

Overview of the presentation The multiple spheres of culture Globalisation: a controversial concept Globalisation and the intercultural challenge at organisational level Three new concepts in organisational culture The future direction of ICC

Changing global environment (Kurbalija): 

Changing global environment (Kurbalija) Globalisation Information Technology Knowledge Society Learning Society Transnational management ICC no longer seen as management of cultural differences in the popular sense

Conceptual shift in ICC: 

Conceptual shift in ICC The need for ‘a conceptual shift from a hierarchical perspective of cultural influence, compromise and adaptation to one of collaborative cross-cultural learning ’ (Bartholomew and Adler, 1996)

Why this conceptual shift?: 

Why this conceptual shift? The anthropological conception of culture in terms of national culture does not take into account that national culture is not easily distentangled from organisational and professional culture

Why this conceptual shift?: 

Why this conceptual shift? Intercultural training uses a narrow concept of culture and cultural difference, and doesn’t handle the interplay of the different forms of culture Intercultural training focuses on behavioural (communication) skills, especially negotiation ‘culture shock prevention industry’

Multiple Spheres of Culture or ‘interfaces’ (Saner): 

Multiple Spheres of Culture or ‘interfaces’ (Saner) National/regional Professional Functional Company Industry

National Cultures (Hofstede): 

National Cultures (Hofstede) Country clusters: Anglo Germanic Nordic Latin European Latin America Arab ...

Regional Cultures: 

Regional Cultures Geography: east-west, north-south History: Québec Political and economic forces Climate Religion Language

Industry Cultures: 

Industry Cultures Banking vs high-tech: dress codes, behaviour, innovation, interaction Sources of competitive advantage financial, human, intellectual Rates of technology change Nature of product/ market: protect patents vs standardise Regulation & state intervention (subsidies)

Differences in Industry Cultures: 

Differences in Industry Cultures Nature of decision -making: degree of risk vs speed of feedback (payoff) degree of risk high low speed of feedback high low biotechnology bond trading retailing Accounting consultants

Industry Culture and National Culture: 

Industry Culture and National Culture USA = entertainment industry (music, film) Japan = hardware

Professional Culture: 

Professional Culture Education: generalists vs specialists Appropriate training Selection: ‘right’ schools Socialisation: proper behaviour American MBAs British accountants German engineers French cadres

Professional cultures and Diversity: 

Professional cultures and Diversity ‘Professional cultures create a kind of thinking’ (Tanovic) Diversity: attract and value people with diverse educational, professional, cultural backgrounds. Difference (diverse groups) as a resource to tap into (Saner, Kurbalija)

Functional Cultures: 

Functional Cultures Nature of task: production / finance External environment: stakeholder demands Time horizon: strategic requirements change 1950s: production line managers 1960s: financial executives 1970s: legal experts 1990s: entrepreneurs 2000: MNC, corporate diplomats, good governance

Functional and national culture: 

Functional and national culture Which functions are valued: Finance: # 1 in Britain, # 5 in Germany The Netherlands: sales France: marketing Germany: R&D (bottom in Britain)

Corporate Culture: 

Corporate Culture Values and beliefs of the founder Anita Roddick and Body Shop Strong leaders: Percy Barnevik and ABB Administrative heritage Ford: vertical integration, centralised control General Motors: mergers, diversification Nature of product/ industry: telecommunication vs cosmetics Stage of development: organic vs structured

Corporate and National Culture: 

Corporate and National Culture LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy): French refinement and elegance IKEA: low-cost, home-assembly, unfussy: Scandinavian egalitarian and pragmatic values BMW, Audi: German engineering Tokyo Disneyland: Japanese drive towards perfection (courtesy, efficiency, cleanliness…)

Globalisation: a very controversial concept: 

Globalisation: a very controversial concept civilisation-friendly sense of connectedness (thanks to TV, IT, tourism, etc) Western (American) economic hegemony over the rest of mankind

Globalisation in practice: 

Globalisation in practice Worldwide intensification of competition rather than globalisation of markets IT-supported world-wide quest for resources (networking) Resources: human capital, technical know-how, physical assets, access to mandarins anywhere

Globalisation: five key management tasks: 

Globalisation: five key management tasks Providing services to create stakeholder value Developing a learning support structure Monitoring and controlling Realising multicultural synergies Allocating resources: especially into networks

Globalisation at the organisational level: 

Globalisation at the organisational level Key competencies at the organisational level: developing pathways to resources: networking mediating knowledge from anywhere developing organisational learning

Global manager: new concepts of operational functions: 

Global manager: new concepts of operational functions Champion of international strategy Cross-border coach and mediator Intercultural mediator and change agent (Barham and Heimer, 1998)

Global management: ‘new’ dispositions: 

Global management: ‘new’ dispositions Handling cognitive complexity Emotional energy Psychological maturity Applying intelligence and tact (based on: Barham and Heimer, 1998)

Communicative tasks in the global economy: 

Communicative tasks in the global economy A relationship- supporting activity (intra- and interorganisational bonding processes) involving: Multi- task exchange process Intercultural knowledge sharing, networking and collaborative learning.

Intercultural communication: 

Intercultural communication Far more than ‘effective communication’ across linguistic and cultural boundaries A form of knowledge for identifying and restricting the undesirable effects of noise A form of cross- cultural networking behaviour for creating productive interpersonal exchanges of ideas and experience (Holden, 2001)

International Negotiation: 

International Negotiation Conceived mainly in terms of ’language’ use in discrete episodes, less so in terms of recurrent encounters which underpin relationship management, interactive networking and organisational learning processes. An intercultural blunder of less importance than common goal: ‘both of us tried to help our team win’ (Nicolae)

Four crucial points about international communication: 

Four crucial points about international communication 1. Connectivity is more important than what is communicated 2. Communication activities are future-oriented, goal- related (personal, professional and organisational), and increasingly electronically mediated

Four crucial points about international communication: 

Four crucial points about international communication 3. Communication activities involve continuous acts of translation and negotiation 4. More nationalities, cultures and languages are in articulate communication now than ever before in human history: mainly to link organisations together.

The role of intercultural communication: 

The role of intercultural communication Intercultural communication facilitates collective acts of knowledge sharing, group learning and networking It is concerned with reducing noise It appears to inform acts of translation and negotiation about contextual meaning and future arrangements

Three new concepts in organisational culture: 

Three new concepts in organisational culture Participative competence Interactive translation Atmosphere (Holden, 2001)

Participative competence: 

Participative competence Adeptness in cross- cultural communication in multicultural activities Ability to contribute equitably to common tasks Ability to share knowledge and experiences and stimulate group learning .

Interactive translation: 

Interactive translation A form of cross- cultural work, in which participants negotiate common meanings and common understandings and learn how to be able to work in multicultural teams

Why translation and negotiation?: 

Why translation and negotiation? Two kinds of translation activity are taking place: a cognitive, literal process as a personal experience and a personal and shared experience of interpreting situations joint translation/ interpretation process about future cooperation and today’s crisis


Atmosphere Pervasive feeling, based on past experience and in anticipation of future activity An outcome and determinant of participative competence and interactive translation

The important point about these concepts: 

The important point about these concepts They identify more with organisational processes than with ’culture’ They are not prescriptive They see culture as dynamic, not static or deterministic They do not contradict traditional notions of intercultural communication, but extend them

The future direction of ICC: 

The future direction of ICC Global networks can inflict on mankind new forms of alienation (non-recognition, Baldi) Future of ICC studies lies in the study of the global interactive networks

The future direction of ICC: 

The future direction of ICC Be conscious of the power and unpredictability of the ‘non-globalised economy’, ie the non-Western world, and the sharp sense of real or percieved injustices in the access to, control and use of the world’s resources


References Barham, K. and Heimer, C. (1998). ABB The dancing giant. London: Financial Times/Pitman Bartholomew, S. and Adler, N. (1996). Building networks and crossing borders: the dynamics of knowledge generation in a transnational world. In: Joynt, P. and Warner, M. (eds). Managing across cultures: Issues and perspectives. London: International Thomson. Ghoshal, S. and Bartlett, C. (1998). Managing across borders. London: Random House Holden, N. J. (2002). Cross- cultural management: A knowledge management perspective. Harlow, UK: Financial Times/ Prentice Hall Schneider, S. and Barsoux, J-L. (2003). Managing across Cultures. Financial Times/PrenticeHall.

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