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Chapter 16

Organizational Behavior across cultures

Chapter objectives:
Conditions affecting multinational operations
Individual differences among employees
Barriers to cultural adoption
Overcoming barriers to cultural adoption
Productivity and cultural contingencies
Condition affecting multinational operation
The people of the world are organized into nations with its own way, according to its recourses
and heritages. There are some similarities and differences among the nations.
Understanding these differences and how they influence organizational behavior is aided
by examination of following keys:
Social conditions
Legal and ethical conditions
Political conditions
Economic conditions
Social conditions
In many countries the social condition is poorly developed , there are major
shortages of managerial personnel, scientists and technicians and these
deficiencies limit the ability to employ local labor . Needed skills must be
imported from other countries while the local workers will be prepared.
exp American nation welcomed an electronic assembly plant to its capital city .the plant was
labor- intensive, so the many jobs it provided reduce the nations high unemployment rate.
wages were above standards, working conditions were good and the plant was
environmentally clean. Additionally companys agreement with the host nation stated that
the company would supply a cadre of managers and technicians to train local employees.
local would gradually become supervisors, technician and purchasing specialist and so on.
Social conditions
As this example shows, the lending of skilled people to a nation for training their local may
provide a more lasting benefit to its development rather than lending of capital.
Training multiplier effect: is in action by which the loaned skilled people developed others, and
those trained locals become the nucleus for developing more people.
Legal and ethical conditions
In judicial systems, some countries practice rapid disposition of cases, in other countries cases
may drag on for years. Some countries condone the practice of bribery as way of obtaining
and retaining businesses others strictly prohibit it.
Managers need to be aware of the possible differences in both laws and ethical values that
define acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in foreign countries .
The managers in foreign countries need to become familiar with local customers and practice
.Applying their own personal and organizational value system, their must then decide
which behaviors are compatible with both parties expectations and which are not. Finally
,they need to recognize that the resolution of ethical issues is not always clear-cut.
Political conditions
Political condition that have a significant effect on organizational behavior include instability
of government ,nationalistic drives, and subordination of employers .
On the other hand ,a strong nationalistic drive may enforce local to desire to run their country
by themselves without interference by foreign nationals.
Economic conditions
Inflation makes the economic life of workers insecure. It encourages them to spend quickly
before their money loses its value and this spending pattern o the countrys inflationary

Social unrest is compounded by enormous disagreement in the distribution of wealth in these

nations. The consequences are often varied; some workers passively accept their situation,
while others aggressively protest.
In conclusion ,by looking at the social, legal and ethical, political and economic conditions
we will find out that these conditions can restrain the advanced technology and
sophisticated organizational systems. They constrain stability, security and trained human
resources that developing countries require to be more productive.
Individual differences
There are five dimensions that accounted for the sharpest differences among employees

Power distance
Uncertainty avoidance
Time orientation

Individual differences
Individualism/Collectivism: cultures that emphasize individualism tend to accent
individual rights and freedoms and place considerable attention on self-respect whereas
collectivism heavily accent the group and values harmony among members. For example
in US there is individualistic culture(every person for him/her self) but Japan is
collectivistic, with the culture that can be characterized by the proverb:The nail sticks
up gets pounded down.
Power distance: refers to the belief which are strong and legitimate decision-making
rights separating managers and employees.
Individual differences
Uncertainty avoidance: These employees prefer to avoid ambiguity at work and those
who with high degree often prefer stability, security and clarity.
Masculinity/ Femininity: define gender roles in more traditional ways. In addition,
masculine societies evaluate assertive behavior and acquisition wealth ;whereas feminine
cultures contribute to the relationships among people, caring for others and greater
balance between family and work life.
Individual differences
Time orientation: some cultures emphasize values such as the necessity of preparing for
the future, the value of thrift and savings and the qualification of persistence which have
long-term orientation such as Hong Kong, China and Japan.
Other cultures value the past and accent the present with the respect for tradition and
need to fulfill historical social obligations, they have short-term orientation such as
France, Russia, and West Africa.
Managing at International workforce
Multiculturism: occurs when the employees in two or more cultures interact with each
one regular basis.
In some instances the new employees are parent-country nationals from the
nations in which the home office is located or they may be third-country
nationals from some other nations. In either case they are called expatriate
because they come from another nation. Their role is to provide a
combination of cultures in which both parties adjust to the new situation of
seeking greater productivity for the benefit of both the organization and the
citizens of the country.
Barriers to cultural adaption
An expatriate manager may find several barriers to adjust to the new culture. For
overcoming such problems is to acquire cultural awareness of the multiple ways in which
cultures differ(language , religion , food ,social behavior and etc).
High context cultures: these cultures tend to emphasize personal relations, place high
value on trust, focus on nonverbal cues(guidelines) and accept the need to attend to
social needs before business matters like China, Korea and Japan.
Low-context cultures: tend to rely on written rules and legal documents, conduct business
first and value expertise and performance like Germany, US and Scandinavian countries.
Barriers to cultural adaption

Parochialism: it means that the people see the situation around them from their own
perspective. They may fail to recognize key differences between their own and others
Ethnocentrism: occurs when people are predisposed (talented) to believe that their
homeland conditions are the best. This predisposition is known as the self-reference
criterion or ethnocentrism.
Cultural empathy: is the awareness of the differences across the cultures and
understanding of the ways in which those differences can affect business relationships.
When culture empathy continues, it will result in geocentric organization which ignore
person's nationality while emphasizing employee ability in selection, assignment, and
Barriers to cultural adaption
Cultural distance: is the amount of difference between any two social systems and may
range from minimal to substantial and it can affect the responses of all people to business
issues. For instance ,expatriates managers tend to be a little ethnocentric and to judge
conditions according to their country standards and consequently ,these problems will be
magnified .
Culture shock: the employees who move to new job often experience various degrees of
cultural shock which is a feeling of confuion, insecurity and anxiety. These are related to
not knowing how to act and about losing their self-confidence when wrong things are
Overcoming barriers to cultural adaption
careful selection
Compatible adjustment
Pre-departure training
Orientation and support in new country
Preparation for reentry
Productivity and cultural contingencies
Cultural contingency: means that the most productive practices for a particular nation will
depend heavily on its culture. This lesson for both expatriate and local managers to
accept is neither home nations nor host nations practices are used exclusively.
Cultural contingencies are illustrated by theory Z ,an integrative model of organizational
behavior proposed by William Ouch. It provides a useful way in which behavioral
instructions must be adapted to fit the organizations cultural environment:
Long-term employment
Non-specialized careers
Individual responsibility
Concern for the total person
Less formal control systems
Consensus decision making
Slower rates of promotion
In addition to the desirability to speak and understand the language of
the host country the expatriates also need to gain an appreciation for
important differences in non-verbal communication (i.e. Body language).
If they do not, they risk making serious errors that might damage their
relationships with their employees, partners and suppliers.
Areas in which orientations to Cross-culture communication may differ
and are important contingency factors that must me considered carefully
by managers include:

Value placed on time efficiency,

Value placed on seeing the future

Thought patterns

Need for personal space, Eye contacts, Physical Appearance,

Posture, Gesture

Meaning of Silence

Legitimacy of touch

Transcultural Managers are those who have learned to manage employees
in several cultures effectively.
Transcultural Employees are those who have learned to operate
effectively in several cultures. These employees are low in ethnocentrism
and adapt readily to different cultures without major cultural shock.
They usually communicate in more than one language.

Transcultural employees are especially needed in large,

multinational firms that operate in a variety of national cultures.

Multinational Firm: For a firm to be fully Multinational in character, it

should have the following items truly diversified without primary
dominance of any one nation :
- Ownership,
- Operations,
- Markets,
- Managers.

Multinational Companies management look to the world as an

economic and social unit; but reorganize each local culture, respect
its integrity, acknowledge its benefits, and use its differences
effectively in their organization.