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Management: perspective and practice
Management: perspective and practice

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3.6 National cultures and organisational culture

In this subsection you will explore the nation as a ‘source’ of culture. ‘You are undoubtedly aware of the cultural differences among countries, whether you have travelled outside your home country or simply read and watched TV and movies. For instance Arab cultures differ from Asian, Mediterranean, African and western European cultures’ (Bloisi et al. 2006, p. 685). The idea that a nation has particular set of beliefs and values, a shared set of practices or a way of behaving has alerted practitioners to the need to understand other cultures in order to conduct business effectively (Holden, 2002). It has been argued that when organisations move into foreign countries or when many of their new employee recruits are from other countries, this has created many challenges for management practices, as some of the common values that might be shared begin to differ across national cultures (such as, for example, ‘providing excellent services to customers’) (Halsall, 2008).

This section therefore highlights the ways in which national cultural differences affect and are reflected in organisations, as well as drawing your attention to some of the bases on which sub-cultures can emerge within organisations.

In order to gain an understanding of national culture and its interaction with organisational culture, summaries of the seminal research on this subject of Hofstede (1994, 2001) and Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (2003) are offered below. Others working in this field (e.g. Jacob, 2005) believe that national cultures are too complex to be explained in terms of following a consistent path of progression dimensions, as used by Hofstede and Trompenaars. As a possible solution, Rarick and Nickerson (2008, p. 9) propose ‘that a better understanding of national culture can be developed through a combination of approaches in which weaknesses of one model can be supplemented by the qualities of another’.