Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chapters 3 and 4

I found it strange that chapter four, which was about cross-cultural management, immediately followed the chapter about organizational culture and socialization. Nevertheless, there is valuable information locked in these chapters. I took away a few simple lessons from these 2 chapters...

In chapter three, I was impressed by the figure on page 73 of the competing values framework. To put is simply, this simple four-part framework shows there different kinds of organizational culture within a group of competing values. The four "categories" of competing values break down into:
Clans- "A culture that has an internal focus and values flexibility rather than stability and control"

Adhocracy- "A culture that has an external focus and values flexibility"

Market culture- "A culture that has a strong external focus and values stability and control"

Hierarcy- "A culture that has an internal focus and values stability and control over flexibility"

By utilizing this information, decision-makers can, in effect, set up the organizational culture of their choosing depending on what their organizational VALUES are. If they would prefer to be rigid and focus internally, then a hierarchy is the smart move for those values.

Chapter 4 brings me back to my days in international marketing. I can see it like it was just last semester (it was), and a lot of this information is a simple recap of what I learned in that class. We learned about high-context cultures, where context-sensitive language situational cues dominate interaction (many Asian countries), and low-context cultures, where written and spoken words have shared and common meanings (lazy countries like America). There are so many cultural differences that affect how business is conducted all over the world. For instance, in the Middle East, it's not only common, but considered good practice, to bribe officials to get your concerns handled faster. Unfortunately for us, U.S. law prohibits any employee of a U.S. based company to engage in bribery anywhere on the planet (regardless of which side of the bribing you're on). In the 1990's, the Iraqi Oil For Food program (which mandated that some of Iraq's oil revenues be deposited into UN accounts in order to purchase approved humanitarian goods) was the center of an enormous bribery scandal, when it was discovered in 2004 that 2,000 companies and about 40 countries had paid nearly $1.8 billion in illegal bribes to Saddam Hussein. While I don't want to play the devil's advocate here, and I never supported Mr. Hussein or his totalitarian regime, I do get the impression that, to him, he was simply conducting business.

People here would probably say that those Middle Eastern officials are corrupt despots who want nothing but money; but, in those Middle Eastern countries, it's simply the way business is done, and to them we're all a bunch of prudes for being up in arms about bribery. Cultures do business in very different ways. Differences abound, from gender equality to the spread of power. No one country does business "right." We all just have our own way.

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