“With increasing globalization, organizational culture will be more important than national culture”. Discuss and critically evaluate this statement. As our world becomes increasingly globalized, a term used by marketing guru Theodore Levitt to depict extensive developments and advancements in communications and technology, resulting in an emerging worldwide cultural homogeneity (N. Asgary and A. Walle, 2002, The Cultural Impact of Globalization: Economic Activity and Social).
With the diversification of our workforce, in terms of culture, gender and ethnicity, the argument of whether organizational culture is more crucial than national culture, or vice versa, in our current period of rapid globalization arises. In this essay, I shall discuss this argument by giving my points coupled with supporting evidence. Firstly, according to Lysons’ (2000) paper, organizational culture is defined as the system of shared beliefs, values and habits within an organization that interacts with the formal structure to form behavioral norms. (K. Lysons (2000).
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Concerning Corporate Culture. ) National culture is defined as the joint psychological indoctrination of people originating from any particular country (T. Morden (1999) Model of National Culture). This mental programming shapes the values, perceptions, behaviors and beliefs perceived to be of importance by people of that nationality. To a certain extent, I believe that with increasing globalization, organizational culture has more importance than one’s national culture. With globalization, there’s an influx of foreign talents, employees and staff from other countries into a company.
For example, when a Mainland Chinese migrates or is transferred to another branch of his American-based company located in America, he would be exposed to a new American culture that is completely different from what he is used to back at home. According to Hofstede’s framework for assessing culture, the Chinese and Americans are very different in terms of their national culture. For instance, the Chinese society is largely collective compared to the highly individualism of American societies and organizations. This means that the Chinese expect others in their group to look after and defend them while the Americans tend o look after the interests if themselves and their immediate family (S. Robbins, R. Bergman, I. Stagg, M. Coulter (2006) Management 4th Edition, Pg 141). However, if the Americans were to insistent on their national culture of individualism, the foreign Chinese is bound to experience a culture shock, where he may be feel uncomfortable and is unable to adjust to the different working environment. This may in turn lead to conflicts and fiction between the Chinese and his American colleagues due to a stark disagreement in cultural beliefs and values.
Furthermore, national culture and ‘accepted behavior’ may also differ from state to state, within one country. Hence, without a strong organizational culture, there’s no shared vision and common organizational goals. Employees may see themselves as people from different countries and cultural background who just happen to work in the same company, instead of equally capable, fellow colleagues with the same company aims, regardless of their nationality and racial background. In this case, an organizational culture of strong team and people orientation is beneficial in instilling cooperation, trustworthiness and teamwork amongst employees.
This is increasingly important with increasing globalization where the workforce is rapidly becoming diversified and varied. A strong organizational culture will allow employees from various cultural backgrounds to share common values, ideas and behavior that would promote understanding and harmony, thus negating the effects of stark differences in national culture that may serve to distinct foreigners more apart from the locals. This may help avoid possible friction, misunderstandings which are obviously detrimental to an organization’s long-term progress.
Another point which demonstrates the importance of organizational culture over national culture is that people are inherently different. As stated by Hofstede (1993), everyone is human and having grown up in a specific environment, everybody’s ideas cannot help but reflect the constraints of their individual societies (G. Hofstede (1993). Cultural Constraints in Management Theories). Everyone, especially people from different countries and societies are exposed to very different forms of social conditioning throughout their lives.
Thus different people of various nationality and society behave and react very distinctly while coping with problems and situations. For example, Hofstede’s four-culture dimension model states that societies with high uncertainty avoidance like the Japanese, are unwilling to take risks and feel threatened by uncertainties. In contrary, people originating from countries low in uncertainty avoidance, such as the Americans, feel much at ease with change and are less conservative and more inquisitive to explore new areas and risks.
Apparently, a Japanese and an American employee working in the same company would have starkly different approaches towards their work. The Japanese, having originated from a culture of high uncertainty avoidance, would be more traditional, follows by the book and probably have low tolerance towards the American’s bold, open-minded ideas and behaviors. For this reason, organizational culture is crucial to establish common goals and shared beliefs to overcome friction due to differences between each respective national culture.
According to Robbins et. al. (2004), organizational culture defines the way things are done around here. Hence, by emphasizing and redefining the system of behavior for employees to pick up, employees are indeed being subjected to “socialization”, a process that acclimatize workers to the organizations’ culture (Robbins et. al. 2006, Pg 100). Having recognizing that in fact everyone, not only people from different societies, racial groups or countries, grew up more or less under the influence of their own national culture.
Hence, inevitably people have varying perspectives of correct behavior, values and beliefs. Especially in recent decades of globalization where our societies and workplace become ever so diversified, with people having their own perception of national culture from all around the world. Henceforth, to enable these different people to come together and cooperate effectively under an organization, I believe a new system of shared values and goals, an organizational culture is crucial to overcome the differences between employees that national culture and growing-up environment had created.
However, national culture may be just as important as organizational culture with increasing globalization. This is because certain aspects of organizational culture are influenced by national culture (E. P. Sweeny, G. Hardaker (1994)). The Importance of Organizational and National Culture). The national cultures of countries are inherently different, particularly between the Western and Eastern countries. Even amongst the European countries, the national cultures for power distance and masculinity, according to that of Hofstede’s framework for assessing cultures, have stark differences.
For instance, inside the culture dimension scores for ten countries, Germany scored a low 35 points for power distance while neighbor France scored a high 68 points. (Hofstede (1993)). This shows that in German organizations, superiors are generally well-respected by employees, yet employees are not frightful of their bosses. In contrast, French employees are generally more fearful of their superiors, holding them with utmost regard and bosses have absolute authority (Robbins et. al. 2006, Pg 141). Hence, the national culture of a country, to some extent, has some influence over the organization in which the company is located in.
The organizational culture of a company based-in and located in Germany definitely differs from that of another company located in France. In interpreting and responding to problem-solving, decision-making processes and interaction with colleagues, French and German employees, supervisors and the top-management level managers all behave contrastingly in the above mentioned situations. (S. C. Schneider, A. De Meyer (1991). Interpreting and responding to strategic issues: The importance of national culture).
So, with globalization, there’s an increasing influx of foreigners from countries all over the world into say, a German company. The foreigner and newcomer into the German company must have had his own ideas and values of organizational culture which are also somewhat influenced by his own country’s culture. Hofstede’s (1993) mentioned that all countries have their own theories of ‘management’ and organizational culture differs between countries. However, the cross-national operations of many multi-national businesses have brought both employees and managers into close contact with the cultures of many nations. Sweeny et. al. , 1994). Sweeny and Hardaker (1994) stated that the organizational expectations, behavior and roles of managers and staff also differ according to the culture of the country in which they’re working and where they are managerially socialized. The national culture influences the values, beliefs and decides behavioral norms within an organization. Thus when a foreign worker arrives in an overseas country to work, while adapting to the company’s organizational culture, he is in fact adapting to certain aspects of the host country’s culture as well.
Therefore, with increasing globalization, since organizational culture is influenced by national culture of its host country, national culture is equally, if not more important in shaping common values and beliefs. National culture may be just as important, if not more so than organizational culture in our increasingly globalized world. National culture affects one’s personality. In turn, personality determines what kind of values and attitudes a person would have. At the end of the chain, a system of shared beliefs and work values would then constitute an organizational culture.
Furthermore, an organizational culture may be difficult to establish as it faces challenges such as age, gender and ethnicity of staff who may all react differently towards organizational culture. Organizational culture is especially harder to establish in today’s world, where our workforce is increasingly diversified in terms of gender and nationality. Age, gender and ethnicity affect the way employees respond and perceive organizational culture. (M. Helms, R. Stern (2001). Exploring the Factors that Influence Employees’ Perception of Their Organization’s Culture).
Even though a company may strive to instill a system of shared beliefs and values, it’s still unlikely that each and every staff will respond to and understand the organizational culture in the exact same way. It was evident that subcultures exist within a single organization (Helms et. al. (2001). This may be attributed to difference in the geographical location in the company between various divisions, where employees, although belonging to the same company, may play contrasting organizational roles and be subjected to very different external environment (Helms et. al. (2001).
Hence, a completely homogeneous organizational culture is actually highly impossible due to the challenges that differences in staff’s age and ethnicity bring and the inevitable existence of unique subcultures amongst divisions. This is especially so with increasing globalization where operations and business ventures of companies branch out overseas. In every one of these branches, the organization culture will be under the influence of the culture of the host country it’s situated in, due to constraints and limitations of business policies determine by the host country and employment of locals in the branch offices.
Similarly, immigrants who are open to experience will likely seek integration into a foreign culture and society. If the national culture is high in Masculinity, he may be forced to assimilate and adapt to the culture, or risk facing marginalization and deviation from behavioral norms. (G. Hofstede, R. McCrae (2004). Personality and Culture Revisited: Linking Traits and Dimensions of Culture). Also in the same paper, Hofstede and McCrae (2004) mentioned that national culture influences how people answer a personality test.
People tend to measure themselves against a social norm and express a component of social desirability. Henceforth, in our increasingly globalized world, our workforce is evermore diversified, a completely homogenous organizational culture is highly impossible to implement due to presence of distinct subcultures, differences in values and personalities influenced by one’s national culture. Differences in personalities would also affect whether an employee is acceptive of an organization’s culture.
Therefore, due to the ability of national culture to influence personality of a person, in turn influencing his values, beliefs and perceptions of organizational culture, I would feel that national culture is indeed increasingly more important than organizational culture. With globalization, national cultures of traditionally patriarchal societies, especially Asian countries like Pakistan and Japan, the mindset of people are influenced such that women in such societies now demand gender equity and equality in treatment regardless of gender.
Since the 1960s, the attainment of education has helped reduce disparity between men and women (Eliza W. Y. Lee, (2003). Gender and Change in Hong Kong: Globalization, Post colonialism, and Chinese Patriarchy). This is evident with the influx of female workers into the workforce and the emergence of female leaders in organizations around the world. For instance, Singaporean company Temasek Holdings is helmed by CEO Ho Ching whereas the Philippines is led by president Gloria Arroyo.
However, even though with globalization has enabled more women to receive education, with skills to work and can climb the social ladder like their male counterparts, some societies and both females and males seemingly remain with traditional patriarchal ideas deeply rooted in mind. For example in Vietnam, a definite segmentation of labor force according to gender remains, despite similar rates of employment for both men and women (Froniga Greig, (2005) Gender at Work. United Nations, Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW)). It is impossible to totally eradicate traditional beliefs and practices of a culture and country.
Long-standing, deeply-rooted traditional practices inevitably comes into play when female and male employees are working together in an organization and tension is bound to arise from gender stereotyping, disrespect, miscommunication and lack of trust, amongst many other possible reasons. Thus, organization culture comes in to instill the notion and practice of gender equity within a company and that all employees are equal, valuable assets to the corporation. Organizational culture reinforces the practice that both male and female workers are capable of rising through the ranks if they’ve got the skills and prove themselves worthy.
In conclusion, organizational culture is like the glue binding the company together, motivating and inculcating commitment in employees. (Peter T. van den Berg, Celeste P. M. Wilderom (2004). Defining, Measuring, and Comparing Organizational Cultures). However, as demonstrated above, due to presence of unique subcultures, disparity between genders, ethnicity and because of influence of every single employee’s natural culture of their personalities and attitudes, it is impossible to instill a completely homogeneous organizational culture within a company.
Globalization have led to the diversification of our workforce, influence changes in traditional values and viewpoints. Thus in this way, globalization has brought about changes in a nation’s national culture, which in turns influences people’s values and personalities and lastly at the end of the cycle affects organizational culture and how the organization is being managed in the country.
Henceforth, with increasing globalization, both national and organizational culture are equally crucial components to an organization’s achievement, as national and organizational culture are inextricably linked as key elements in the overall strategic equation, in which both are determining factors of an organization’s success in today’s globalized world. References: Book Stephen Robbins, Rolf Bergman, Ian Stagg, Mary Coulter (2006) Management 4th Edition, Pgs 141. Pearson Education Australia Journal Articles Nader Asgary, Alf H. Walle (2002). The Cultural Impact of Globalization: Economic Activity and Social Change Vol. 9 No. 3
Kenneth Lysons (2000). Concerning Corporate Culture. The British Journal of Administrative Management Tony Morden (1999) Model of National Culture ??? A Management Review Vol. 6 No. 1 General Review Eamon P. Sweeny, Glenn Hardaker (1994). The Importance of Organizational and National Culture. European Business Review Vol. 94 No. 5, pp 3-14. MCB University Press Geert Hofstede (1993). Cultural Constraints in Management Theories. Academy of Management Executive Vol. 7 No. 1, pp 81-94. University of Limburg Marilyn M. Helms, Rick Stern (2001). Exploring the Factors that Influence Employees’ Perception of Their Organisation’s Culture.
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