Challenges of Culture in Multinational Companies
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
As business becomes more global and the workforce ever diverse , the issue of “culture” becomes increasingly important for leaders and managers and their organisations.(Fons Trompenaars and peter [email protected] pg 3).In the present context of global business multinational companies are increasingly grappling with many challenges that arise mainly due to phenomenon of cultural complexity specially in situations where merger and acquisition, franchising ,takeovers and various other business reformation takes place. This phenomena specially call for establishment of sound system of human resource management which along with organisation culture is considered to be important requirement for modern management in such companies. The proposed study makes an attempt to investigate how the organisation culture of a multinational company gets transferred to a country other than its own with different national identity by the form of local human resource management.
2.1 Culture and nation:
There are numerous definitions of culture that have been produced over the years. In search for an appropriate definition ,it would appear that there are many facets, with emphasis shifting according to the individual author.(Goffee and jones,1998).Moreover culture is impalpable, making definitions hard to relate .(Schein,1985;Goffee and jones,1998).However, reviewing a number of definitions does lead to the identification of common thread in thinking. Formal writing focused on the organisation culture concept began with Pettigrew(1979),He was the one who initiated the concept of culture which is primarily appertaine to anthrpology and bought it to the related concept such as “symbolism”, rituals, and myth can be put into use in the context of organisational analysis. It has been demonstrated by Dandridge(1980) how the study of myths as well as symbols help in exhibiting the “profound structure” that an organisation has. More researchers conducted recently including Denison and mishra(1995),schein(1985),sieh and martin(1988,1990) and Wallach(1983) have given numerous definitions to the concept of culture. such a host of research difinitions can be assigned to varied research framework which different authors have adopted. According to Hofstede culture is viewed as software of the mind-“collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group of people from another.”(Hofstede book pg 5).Schein (1985) defines culture as “the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organisation ,that operates unconsciously, and that define a basic taken for granted fashion in an organisation’s view of itself and its environment”. [chris Brewster,pg14].
According to Tayeb (2003,p.10) culture involves “historically evolved values, attitudes and meanings that are learned and shared by the members of a community and which influence their material and non-material way of life. Trompenaars and hampden-turner (1997) also gave prominence to shared meanings within a society, arguing that culture comprised not only agreed ways of living but also the ways in which a cultural group attributes meaning to their world that is how they make sense of it.[ray French page 16].According to dennis r.Briscoe and randall s.schuler, culture is the characteristic way of behaving and believing that a group of people in a country or region(or firm) have evolved over time and share.[ dennis r.Briscoe and randall s.schuler,pg116]
A more long standing definition by hall(1959) suggests that “culture is the pattern of taken for granted assumptions about how a given collection of people should think ,act, and feel as they go about their daily affairs”(Hall,1959).While there are many other definitions of culture ,most commonly ,it is colloquially described as “the ways things are done around here”(Schein,1985;deal and kennedy:1988;Goffee and jones:1988).Although different in content,the parallel between these definitions is that culture is a collective way of perceiving things and behaving due to the sharing of an social environment. (Malcolm higgs and sally morton).Since 1990’s there has been an increasing recognition of the difference that people can make to an organisation’s effectiveness and performance.(Ullrich,1997;IPD 2000).
Organisational culture has become a important topic ,as it is seen to be underpinning, intangible infrastructure which influences how people behave at work.(Schien,1985;Goffee and jones,1998).There may be more and more companies globalise ,they may be configuring structures and systems for greater integration.(Collins and porras1997;Trompenaars and woollians,1999).Achieving commitment to a global strategy through an effective organisational culture is attractive, particularly for those operating in a highly competitive marketplace.(Goffee and jones,1998).The complexities of culture make it difficult for managers to understand and manage.(Schein,1985:Goffee and jones,1998).This is further compounded by the often confusing cross-cultural interactions required of those working in a multi-cultural setting, and invariably leads to misunderstandings.(Hofstede,1991;Garrison,1998).But if the culture is an powerful as we are supposed to believe ,then the benefits may be enormous.(Garrison,1998;Hall,1990;Sparrow,1994).Therefore sometimes it is vital that businesses understand what influences organisational culture to help determine how best it should be configured and nurtured to support the business.( Schein,1985;Hall,1990;Sparrow,1994).
Hofstede (1991) had used four terms to describe the way cultural differences manifest themselves they are symbols, rituals, heroes and values. He illustrates this is the form of onion with symbols representing the most superficial layer and ‘values’ being the deepest manifestations of culture. [Hilary harris.p16-17]
Trompenaars (1995) model of culture is almost identical to schein’s model of 1985.Both model refer to culture as being multi-layered using the terms like artefacts and products for the more visible outer layer, norms and values and basic assumptions at the centre.
Hofstede(1991) identified three levels of uniqueness in human mental programming such as human nature, culture and personality. Hofstede asserts that culture is something that is learned ,not inherited ‘and that it ‘derives from one’s social environment ,not from one’s genes’ unlike human nature which is universal and inherited ,and personality which is specific to individuals and is a mix of both inherited and learned. Schien(1985) also takes the same view that culture is learned through a group experience. Culture is multi-dimensional and therefore manifests itself in many ways. Schneider and barsoux(1997) refer to “industry ;profession; national ;religion; functional and company as the ‘interacting cultural spheres of influences’. For the purpose of this literature, the main emphasis is on company culture, also referred as corporate or organisational culture. However, as an international company is being considered the impact of national culture cannot be ignored, particularly in the dynamic and global market -place of today’s business environment.(Hofstede,1991;Barnham and oates,1991;joynt,1999). The various definition of culture are also influenced by an author’s particular field of study within the social sciences(Hall,1976).As culture is about perceptions and behaviours in groups, the study of culture is mainly had its roots in sociology, psychology and anthropology. The influence of economics, politics and religion are also considered to be key influencing factors that Garrison(1998) describes as the” culture bedrock’. The commonality between differing perspectives on culture is that there are value systems involved within groups in all of these types of social sciences-members of such groups each live by a set of common values and beliefs and system of meaning. (Malcolm higgs and sally morton).The culture of a country has been recognised for long as a major characteristic appertained to environment underlying behavioural differences in a systematic was norm as well as beliefs related to culture serve as powerful forces determining the perceptions ,behaviours and depositions of people.(Markus and kitayama,1991).culture gets reflection in common tendencies regarding enduring preference for specific state of affair over others,enduring preferences for certain social processes over others, an rules for selective attention ,interpretation of environment cues, as well as responses.(steenkamp,2001)
There are several focus on national culture. some of them may be merely for the society, others for many ,if not all the societies at the same time. The present study aims to focus on those cultural dimensions that are several societies .Earlier, research on cross-cultural aspects was occasionally considered to be not painstaking since healthy, theory based frameworks of national culture had no existence. Valid fundamental frameworks depicting aspects of variation in national culture are of crucial significant in evolving a nomological structure able to integrate various attitudinal as well as behavioural phenomena offering a strong national advancing hypotheses which expatiate on systematic variation between various cultures in attitudinal and behavioural times.(Smith,1996.steenkamp,2001)
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(Malcolm higgs and sally morton).
.(Collins and porras1997;
;Goffee and jones:1988)
Trompenaars and hampden-turner (1997)
.[ray French page 16].
.”(Hofstede book pg 5)
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