Illustrating The Importance On Organizational Level Commerce Essay


Telecel Globe Limited, a subsidiary of Orascom Telecom situated in Egypt acquired four networks in Sub Saharan Africa. These are U-Com in Burundi July 2008, Telecel Centrafique in Central African Republic July 2008, Cell one in Namibia January 2009 and Telecel Zimbabwe March 2009. (Telecel globe 2010).

Telecel Globe Limited plans to achieve synergy of these four operating companies in Zimbabwe, Burundi, and Central African Republic and Namibia, by leveraging the image, identity, and reputation. The four companies have been operating individually since their acquisition with much of the processes left upon the operating countries to run as they see fit.

Among it strategies is the rebranding of all companies to a new corporate brand leo™. The re-branding is to enhance the equity of the main company, Orascom which TGL is a subsidiary company of. The strategy is to have Telecel Globe Limited being known for successfully operating in 4 countries in Africa. As part of achieving this unified name they intend on having a unified standard of processes, marketing being one of these. The company has rebranded in Namibia and Burundi. However they have met some challenges in Burundi. (Telecel Globe 2010)

Problem statement

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The company in Burundi has rebranded from U-Comm to leo™ but the market (particularly shop owners, who are crucial in visibility and assisting in bringing revenue) has refused material in relation to the brand as it has elements that are politically affiliated. There appears to have been no research done on the Burundi business environment before the launch. Furthermore there was no communication between the

two offices on the issue beforehand.


In light of the above it is therefore hypothesised that culture and business environment have an impact on international communication of business strategies. This research intends to investigate the reasons behind this, by taking a cultural perspective from an individual level to organizational level. The research will compare the two organizations' cultures and the business environment of Burundi to shed some light on this.

Central Question

What constitutes the characteristics of the two types of cultures including the environment of Burundi that affect communication of business strategies?

Research Objective

To make recommendations for improvement of communication of business strategies between Telecel Globe Limited in Egypt and its operating company in Burundi, by providing an understanding of cultures and environment.

Sub questions

Where do the present cultures emanate from?

How is communication done between the two cultures?

What are the major factors shaping the environment?

How much influence does the environment have business practises?

What kind of the business environment is in Burundi?

Research framework

As illustrated below this will be a study of national and organizational culture based on interviews with experts and after consultation of relevant literature yielding the assessment criteria by which means the two organizations will be evaluated. Furthermore a comparison of the two evaluations and an in-depth look at the business environment of Burundi to yield recommendations on the importance of culture in communication strategies.

Expert interview on Burundi culture


Results of analysis

Literature/Theory on organizational culture

Interviews on individual culture of contact in Egypt and Burundi

Interviews on organizational culture of Egypt and Burundi


Communication Strategies

Literature/Theory on Burundi culture

Results of analysis

Assessment Criteria culture

Results of analysis

Desk research on Burundi environment

ArtefactsDefinition of concepts






Basic Assumptions

Geographic location





Literature Review


Globalisation has seen businesses employ people from different nationalities and across borders hence intercultural aspect to be considered. Presented is a combination of theories, culture can be difficult to define within a company because organizations have multiple cultures (Dahl 2005).

Definition of culture

There is no single accepted definition of culture. Different theorists have provided different definitions. Some see culture as a shared meaning. (Hofstede 1994) defined culture as the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the member of one group or category of people from another.

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The definition of culture is further refined by Edgar Schein (1988) who views culture as often subconscious. In his view, members of a given society, internalise the cultural components of the society by learning, and act within the limits as set by the environment (Dahl 2005). This is more specific to organisations. He defines it as the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization that operate unconsciously an organization's view of its self and its environment.

From the above definitions we see culture consists of various factors that are shared by a given group, and that it acts as an interpretive frame of behaviour. It manifests itself through language, rituals, attitudes and artefacts. (Cheney et al 2004). Culture is dynamic, informed and shaped by sense-making activities (Cheney at al 2004). Culture is viewed as a control for behaviour leading and encouraging stability. (Jandt 2004)

Layers of Culture

To fully investigate culture one must be aware that culture is existent in layers. Hofstede (2001) presents cultures as an onion fig 1. This is from an individual to organisational level. Culture consists of two layers a visible one which equal 10% symbols and the invisible which is 90%.

Symbols are words, gestures, or objects that carry a particular meaning only recognized by those who share the culture. Heroes are person who serve as models for behaviour. Rituals are collective activities, considered as socially essential e.g ways of greetings. The core of a culture is formed by values. They are preferences of certain state of affairs such as right-wrong. Values remain unconscious and can be directly observed. Values can only be inferred from the way people act under different circumstances.

Fig 1

(Trompenaars and Hampden 2009) also present a model similar to Hofstede. In their view, culture is made up of basic assumptions at the core. These basic assumptions are similar to values in Hofstede model. Basic assumptions are the absolute core that influences the more visible values in the layer above (Dahl 2005). Basic assumptions are usually implicit whereas the other layers are explicit.

Another widely used model is from Edgar Schein (1988), who sees culture specifically in relation to organizations. He presents three layers, artifacts, values, and underlying assumptions. Artifacts are observed. Values are the goals, standards, and principles. Underlying assumptions are beliefs of organizations observed by behavior. According to (Schein 1988),. Schein's model indicates the inconsistence of organizational behaviours and how culture has different levels.

The concepts proposed above are difficult to apply in wider study because of lack of empirical data. It is thus necessary to look for classifications of cultural patterns reflecting deeper level than behavioural and research that is backed up by the availability of empirical data.

Investigating culture

In the study of culture different theorist have presented theories based on empirical findings. The theories presented below were initially based on individual and national cultures but have gradually been used to investigate organisational culture. The most prominent framework is from (Geert Hofstede 2001). Cultures can be described based on a large research project on culture differences he did across subsidiaries of (IBM), a multinational corporation in 64 countries. The study identified and validated four dimensions of culture, with a fifth dimension added later.

Power Distance. This measures how much less powerful members of institutions expect that power is distributed unequally (Hofstede 1994). High power distance cultures accept power concentrated in the hands of a few rather than distributed throughout the population as in low power distance cultures. In companies power is centralized at the top where all decisions are made as opposed to the low power distance organizations where subordinates are consulted and leaders are physically accessible (Jandt 2004)

Individualism vs Collectivism refers to the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. In individualist societies everyone takes care of themselves and their immediate family. In collectivist societies people are become a part of a tight knit groups, with the extended families giving protection for loyalty (Hofstede 2001).

Organizations with individualist cultured relationships are established by contacts and decisions on hiring are made based on skill and rules. In collectivism, moral terms are the basis and decisions are made through in-groups. In relation to Communication individualist culture tend to be direct while collectivists are indirect hiding meanings in spoken messages (Jandt 2004).

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Masculinity versus femininity. Masculinity pertains to societies in which social gender roles are clearly distinct. Men are assertive and concentrate on material success while women concentrate on quality of life. In feminine societies social gender roles overlap, both men and women are modest and concerned with quality of life (Hofstede 2010).

Uncertainty avoidance. This deals with a society's tolerance for uncertainty. It is the extent a culture teaches members to feel in unknown situations. Unknown situations are different from normal. Uncertainty avoiding cultures try to avoid unpredictability by rules, measures of security, and live by a belief in total Truth. (Hofstede 2010). Cultures strong in uncertainty avoidance are active, aggressive, emotional, and intolerant, cultures weak in uncertainty tend to be opposite. (Jandt 2004)

Long-Term Orientation vs Short term, the fifth dimension was added later .From the original studies, this difference could not be deduced. Therefore, Hofstede distributed a Chinese value survey across 23 countries. From the results he deduced that long term orientation is characterized by persistence, ordering relationships by status, thrift and having a sense of shame. Short term orientation is shown through personal steadiness and stability, respect and reciprocation of greetings, favors, and gifts.

According to Hofstede, Egypt which is among Arabian countries has high power distance and uncertainty avoidance. These societies are likely to follow an ordered social system. They are also highly rule-oriented with rules to reduce the uncertainty, while inequalities of power and wealth grow in the society. As a result the society does not readily accept change. Arab countries also have high masculinity and low individualism (Hofstede 2010).

Fig 2

He did not research on Burundi but characterized the countries in that region as having high power distance and uncertainty avoidance, relatively average masculinity and low long term orientation and individualism (Hofstede 2010).Hofstede's research is particularly useful, as it reduces the difficulty of culture into five easily understood dimensions however these are too theoretical to arrive at practical guidelines on behaviour in intercultural situations (Roll 2005). These are reflected in the table below.

Fig 3

Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner

Another useful theory is from Trompenaars and Hampden Turner (2005). They went a step further to present a mix of behavioural and value patterns. Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner used a survey with 30.000 survey results. Some of their dimensions are considered near to Hofstede's.


Universalism versus particularism refers how people judge the behaviours of others. Universalistic cultures are rule oriented. In organisations this means more to the point in contracts Particularistic cultures emphasis is on relationships; business contracts can be changed in accordance with new requirements. (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 2009).


Individualism and Communitarianism classifies culture according to individual and groups . Individualist see the improvements to the group as means to achieve own objectives. By contrast, communitarian cultures see the achievements of an individual as a step towards prosperity of the group. (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 2009)


Achievement versus ascription is similar to Hofstede's power distance concept. Achievement-oriented countries respect colleagues based on previous achievements and demonstration of knowledge while ascription cultures use their titles more usually are hierarchichal. (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 2009)

Neutral versus affective- neutral cultures enourage conduct that is cool and high control of feelings . Affective cultures use lots of gesturing and body language to openly voice feelings. Specific versus diffuse cultures tend to keep a separation of private and business. In diffuse cultures these such as countries, the authority can transcends boundaries into social areas. (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 2009)


Human nature relationship refers to how people relate to the natural environment and general life changes. Internal cultures are uncomfortable situations involving change and have a domineering attitude. External cultures are generally more flexible accept change easily and are harmonious. (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 2009)


Human-time relationship- identifies how different cultures have different meanings to the past, present and future. Past oriented cultures respect the elderly speak in the past tense . Present-oriented cultures prefer the activities and relationships of the present. Future-oriented cultures prefer potentials and future achievement. (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 2009)


According to (Trompenaars and Hampden 2009), Egypt has an average score on long time horizon, very low tolerance of individualism, have high specific-diffuse score and very affective and very group orientated. The theory is wider, providing some important dimensions previously missing. However not all data are freely available to give proper analysis on countries.


A last theory is by Edward T. Hall. He developed the concept of polychronic versus monochromic. This describes how cultures structure their time. The monochronic cultures deal with one thing at a time, while the polychronic cultures multi-task. The following table gives a brief overview of the two different time concepts, and their resultant behaviour.

Monochronic Culture

Polychronic Culture

Interpersonal Relations

Interpersonal relations are subordinate to present schedule

Present schedule is subordinate to interpersonal relations

Activity Co-ordination

Schedule co-ordinates activity; appointment time is rigid.

Interpersonal relations co-ordinate activity; appointment time is flexible

Task Handling

One task at a time

Many tasks are handled simultaneously

Breaks and Personal Time

Breaks and personal time are sacrosanct regardless of personal ties.

Breaks and personal time are subordinate to personal ties.

Temporal Structure

Time is inflexible; time is tangible

Time is flexible; time is fluid

Work/personal time separability

Work time is clearly separable from personal time

Work time is not clearly separable from personal time

Organisational Perception

Activities are isolated from organisation as a whole; tasks are measured by output in time (activity per hour or minute)

Activities are integrated into organisation as a whole; tasks are measured as part of overall organisational goal

Hall's model is useful cause it as it is basic of any culture . On the other hand underlying values are not explained and little, if any, statistical data available (Changingminds 2010)

Intercultural communication and Business environment

According to cultural studies communication is linked to culture. Cultures are created through communication. (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 2009) state communication is the exchange of information and can only be possible where people share a system of meaning, this being culture.

When communicating across cultures the way people view communication is part of their culture.Through open and honest intercultural communication, people can work together to achieve goals that benefit everyone, regardless of group or culture, including the global community Only through successful intercultural communication can such business potentials be realized (Neuliep 2009).(Neuliep 2009) presents a model of intercultural communication. The model presents communication as occurring within a variety of contexts.

Environmental context

Cultural Context

Perceptual context of


Culture A

Perceptual context of


Culture B

Micro cultural Context

Fig 4

The contextual model of intercultural communication attempts to identify the various contexts that define how communication occurs between two people or organisations. All communicative exchanges between persons occur within some culture. The cultural context represents an accumulated pattern of values, beliefs, and behaviours. (Neuliep 2009).

Environmental context represents the physical, geographical location of the interaction. The physical location indicates when and where specific rules apply. Environmental context is within the micro cultural and cultural contexts. This is because one's culture and membership in micro cultural groups significantly influence how one perceives the environment. (Neuliep 2009) The two circles within the environmental context represent the perceptual context. The perceptual context refers to how an individual gathers, stores, and retrieves information. It is also affected by culture. The circles connecting the perceptual contexts in the model form the socio-relational context. This refers to the relationship between the persons. When two people interact, they establish a relationship. Within this relationship, each person assumes a role (Neuliep 2009).

Environmental analysis is the study of the environment of the organizational to see environmental factors influencing organizational operations. It helps a business understand occurrences both inside and outside the organization developed will appropriately reflect organizational environment (Jandt 2004). An environmental analysis shows how organizational environments are structured.

However, these factors are outside the control of the business. External environment shapes the business activity. The major factors that constitute the external environment are political and social (Jandt 2004).The business can not control the above factors. It can only plan its business by studying the trends in these factors closely. The political factors determine what kind of relaxation the business has. The social and cultural factors of the society define the acceptability and sales of that product. (Jandt 2004)


The study will be a diagnostic research. This is because the study is intended to gain insight to the background and relevant relationships of the problem in question.


The first source will be people. They provide diversity and quick information gathering. We will use respondents - to provide information on themselves and as experts- supply us with knowledge (Saunders et al 2009). Although people may find it difficult to talk about issues as sensitive as culture or maybe unable to express themselves, however this subject of study is about people hence their use as a source.

The second source will be media mostly in the form of the internet. It provides information density, and geographical scope, with out need for travel. This will be through business media that is journals, magazines, and other scholar websites.

The last source is literature. This is to provide a wide range of different theories and previous reflections. They are also a knowledge source on theoretical insights between trends and people. The study will employ the use of books, journals, and articles. The writer will ensure to not rely too much on theory. This research will investigate culture on the basis of previous theories as provided in the literature review. Several sources will be used for triangulation. (Verschuren and Doorewaard 2005)

Research strategy

This research will employ the use of two strategies.

Case study

This will be done on the two companies Telecel Globe Limited itself and Burundi. We will investigate the culture of Telecel Globe Limited in comparison to that of Burundi. The use of a few people as research units will provide more depth. The research will be done using qualitative method of in-depth methods by telephone. The research will be done using the Delphi method. (Saunders et al 2009). The research will also be strategic sample, highly selective. This means we will use people in the organization in charge of communication from the communication department in Telecel Globe Limited and Burundi. This research should provide an overall view of the issue under study.


There will be a limit in that on the phone one cannot see the reactions and behavior of the respondents which would have been very important for research (Verschuren and Doorewaard 2005).However due to time, money, and distance face to face interviews are not possible. This research will also apply theories from Hofstede and Hall, and other elements that impact communication in as these sufficiently cover the areas to be studied. The theory from Hofstede was also chosen because he has more data to give a realistic comparison to our results.

Desk Research

We will use extensive material as there has been a lot written and researched on organizational culture. It is also appropriate as we do not have broad contact with the respondents. We will also investigate the relevance of the material now. By using it from a different perspective than the time it was produced (Verschuren and Doorewaard 2005). This will also be done through literature survey. This type of research enables for gathering a large number of data quickly.