Business organisations and their environments: Culture
Business organisations and their environments: Culture

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Business organisations and their environments: Culture

Activity 2: Differences between national culture and organisational culture

Allow 30 minutes for this activity.

Activity 1 introduced you to national and organisational culture by helping you to develop suitable definitions. This activity will help you to understand more about culture. It looks at differences between national culture and organisational culture. It will also help you to understand the different ways of thinking that you may encounter in different organisations and countries. Later in the course you will be taking a look at how national culture impacts on organisational life.

The current activity concentrates on Hofstede's views about the differences between national culture and organisational culture. There are many ways of thinking about culture – which do not all accord with Hofstede's views. For example, Hofstede's view that organisational cultures are amenable to management is open to criticism. Later, Activity 10 will give you a chance to develop a critique of Hofstede's ideas.

Task: The differences between national culture and organisational culture – reading Hofstede

For this task you will read part of a very short passage written by Hofstede. It summarises his views on organisational culture.

As you read the extract, linked below, think about the following questions:

  • What are the differences between ‘organisational culture’ and ‘national culture’?
  • What do you think is the single main point that Hofstede is making in this extract?

When you have finished reading the extract (you can ignore the second paragraph), write a sentence or two in answer to each of the above questions.

Click for Hofstede extract (Hofstede, G, c. 2007a).

Discussion

Here are my thoughts as I read this part of Hofstede's article:

  • I thought that the first paragraph summarised Hofstede's views on the differences between organisational and national culture – the former operates at a more explicit level than the latter. My understanding was that organisational culture is more about symbols, while national culture is more about values. It reminded me of the onion analogy of Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner.
  • It seemed to me that the last paragraph was the key point in the piece. Both national and organisational culture are important aspects of the business environment.
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