Cultural Awareness and Implications
This chapter addresses national culture and it’s effect on the global marketplace and
By the end of the chapter, students should be able to:
1. Distinguish between national, organizational, and sub-cultures
2. Identify major dimensions of culture that affect employee performance
3. Discuss the differences and characteristics of strong and weak organizational culture
4. Describe some of the research that has been done on culture
4. Describe how an employee’s socialization occurs
5. Explain Schein’s three levels of culture model
Barriers to Student Understanding
Students should have no difficulty understanding the basic concepts presented in this
chapter. However, a great deal of information and a number of new concepts are
presented both in the text and in the Exhibits, which may make it difficult to process and
Konopaske, Global Management and Organizational Behavior 9
Notes on African Culture
The National Culture: Frameworks
The Manager and Organizational Culture
The Characteristics of Organizational Culture
The Evolution of Organizational Culture
Managing and Changing the Organization’s Cultures
Managing Across Cultures
Societal Interdependence Cluster
A Final Note on Culture
10 Konopaske, Global Management and Organizational Behavior
Students will be introduced to the following key terms:
collectivism The opposite of individualism. People view themselves as a
working and connected member of a team, family,
organization, or clan.
ethnocentrism The belief that one’s native country, culture, language,
customs, mores, and way of conducting an operation are
superior to that of any other nation.
femininity Femininity dominated cultures emphasize emotional well
being, concern for people, and work/life balance.
individualism Exists when people look at themselves primarily as individuals
and secondarily as members of teams or groups.
masculinity Masculine-dominated cultures emphasize assertiveness,
proaction, and acquisition of wealth as opposed to concern for
people, growth, and development.
national culture Like organizational culture, provides the basic assumptions
used to guide behavior.
organizational culture The system of values, beliefs, and norms in an organization. It
can encourage or discourage overall effectiveness, depending
on the nature of the values, beliefs, and norms.
organizational The process by which organizations indoctrinate and encourage
socialization new employees on the firm’s cultural norms and expectations.
power distance A measure of the extent to which those who have less power in
society accept that power is distributed unequally among
members of society.
societal A society's attitudes about individual versus group behavior,
interdependence interactions with strangers, and adaptability to new situations.
cluster Cultures low on group interdependence focus on individual
achievements, individual rights, and encouraging individuals to
excel. Cultures high in group interdependence emphasize,
reward, and encourage group achievement.
subculture Within a nation’s culture, a number of subcultures will likely
exist. The subculture is a set of values, beliefs, and norms
shared by individuals in the group making up the culture.
Konopaske, Global Management and Organizational Behavior 11
Suggested Answers to Review,
Critical Thinking, and Discussion Questions
1. If someone claimed that cultural values are the same worldwide, how would you
Student answers will vary, but they should provide examples of values that are
different between cultures. For example, Americans value individual achievement;
Japanese value group achievement.
2. Why should parent company managers learn as much as possible about a
nation’s culture in which they work and live?
Fully understanding a nation’s culture will make assignments there less stressful,
reduce the number of management and regulatory problems encountered, and increase
the likelihood of success in the assignment.
3. Can ethnocentrism be reduced? How?
This is a critical thinking question and student answers will vary.
Suggested answer: Ethnocentrism is based on (and created through) limited life
experiences, combined with national culture and pride. It is so ingrained that it is
difficult to change, although it can be reduced (albeit slowly) through exposure to
Rather than trying to reduce ethnocentrism, a better course of action would be to learn
to recognize and control the biases created by it.
4. What are the dimensions that were found by Geert Hofstede? What value is
provided to a manager by being aware of these dimensions?
Hofstede’s research led to the identification of five cultural dimensions: power
distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism, masculinity, and long-term
Being aware of these dimensions can help a manager achieve higher performance by
avoiding misunderstandings, social blunders, and risks. Recognition of the
dimensions can also help managers develop more effective incentives and rewards.
5. What is meant by the view that “cross-cultural communication must be
It means that words and gestures can have different meaning in different cultures, so
forethought should be given to everything said or done in a cross-cultural situation.
This includes postures, gestures, spoken words, written words, touching, and so on.
12 Konopaske, Global Management and Organizational Behavior
6. Why is the understanding and awareness of an organization’s culture an
insufficient knowledge base when performing managerial roles in a country
other than your own?
Understanding an organization’s culture does little to prepare one for contact with
host-country employees or the environment outside of the corporate grounds, or for
dealing with host-country customers, vendors, and competitors.
7. What did Schein mean when he referred to “observable components of an
organization’s culture”? What are examples of “unobservable” components of
an organization’s culture?
“Observable components of an organization’s culture” means things that are visible
and/or audible to people, such as the company logo, office layout, carpet color,
stories, and social events.
Unobservable components of an organization’s culture include the basic beliefs and
assumptions shared by employees. Examples would be (a) the way the people are
treated, (b) honest, (c) justice, and (d) compassion.
8. Explain each of the three stages of socialization.
During the first stage, anticipatory socialization, the new employee will gather and
evaluate data, stories, and the history of the firm to see if there is a fit.
This is followed by the accommodation stage, during which the employee adjusts to
the new role, learns job tasks, builds relationships and so forth. He/she is attempting
to fit, adjust, and cope with the organizational culture.
The third stage is referred to as role management, during which the employee learn to
perform the job tasks and cope with environmental pressures.
9. Why would it be difficult to manage effectively in a situation where the manager
lacks respect, knowledge, and understanding of subcultures that exist within a
Managers, both domestic and global, must meld a common vision and establish and
nurture a workplace culture in which optimal performance can be achieved. The glue
that keeps employees working productively together is the manager’s behavior, tone,
and competence. Without this “glue,” productivity and cohesion will suffer, and a
manager is likely to fail.
Konopaske, Global Management and Organizational Behavior 13
10. A so-called expert states that “changing an organization’s culture can be
accomplished relatively quickly if a strong, charismatic leader takes charge of
the change process.” Comment.
This is a critical thinking question and student answers will vary.
Suggested answer: Corporate culture is highly ingrained and difficult to change,
especially if a company is running smoothly and profitably. Suggested cultural
changes under such conditions would be met with skepticism and resistance, even if a
leader were strong and charismatic.
When a company is unprofitable or poorly run, however, change is often welcome. A
weak leader would likely be unable to effect changes, even under these circumstances,
as employees would not have confidence in his/her ability to turn things around. A
charismatic leader, on the other hand, should be able to effect cultural changes rather
quickly by “rally the troops” with emotionally charged calls for change.
Additional Activities and Projects
1. Have students choose a country, then do research via the Internet to determine the number
and nature of the subcultures therein.
2. Alternatively, have students identify subcultures within the college community itself, noting
if and when communication between subcultures takes place. Examples of campus
subcultures: teaching staff, administrative workers, service providers (cafeteria workers,
janitors), anti-social, geeks and nerds, Goths, athletes, and so on.
3. Have students choose a country from the following list, research the country via the Internet,
then write a paper that explains what aspects of the culture they like and dislike and whether
they would be willing to accept a three-year work assignment there.
Japan France China Holland
Canada Germany Russia Poland
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