Cross cultural management


One of the most common factor affecting organizations and workplaces is cross-cultural management. This paper intends to help usunderstand what we know and do not know about cross-culturalmanagement based on management theories and other perspectives fromthe specified readings. According to Javidan et al. (2006), tounderstand the cultures of different countries managers need tocompare their own cultures and those of other countries. The reviewof literature from Hofstede, Kluckhohn and Tramponeers revealed thatthe globe conceptualized and developed nine cultural dimensions.Those aspects are the country’s cultures that distinguish onesociety from the other and bear important managerial implications.

According to Trompenaars and Wooliams (2003), suggested theoriesthrough the incubator, guided missile, family culture and Eiffeltower culture as extreme stereotypes held by the cooperate culture.Elsewhere, Javidan et al (2006) explains the nine implications ofculture as relevant to many states. Performance orientation is howculture encourages and rewards its members to improve performance andis high in the US and Singapore while low scoring states are Greece,Russia emphasizing on the family and background. Assertiveness isanother dimension used to explain the degree to which individuals areassertive, aggressive or confrontational with their relationshipswith others. Highly assertive cultures like the US or Austria tend tobe more positive with can do attitudes and enjoy competing inbusiness. Less assertive states as New Zealand and Sweden preferbeing harmonious in their deals and emphasize solidarity and loyaltyin relationships.

Future orientations matter are common in cultural dimensions as theextent to which people engage or should engage in future orientedbehaviors such as planning, investing in the future or delayinggratification. High future oriented cultures include Switzerland andSingapore, they tend to have longer-term horizon are more systematicin their planning processes as compared to least future orientedstates like Argentina and Russia. These two are less systematic andmore opportunistic in their actions. Humane orientation, which is thedegree to which collective encourages rewards and factors like beingfair, caring, generous, altruistic, kind to others and mindful, areevident in states like Egypt and Malaysia. Germany and France areranked lowest on this cultural practice.

Institutional collectivism is the degree to which organizationalsocietal institutions and organizational practices reward collectivedistribution of resources and collective action. Collective countriesinclude Sweden and Singapore while individualistic states includeGreece and Brazil tending to emphasize more on individual rewards andachievements. In-group collectivism explains the way people expressloyalty, cohesiveness, pride in their organizations or families. Thisaspect is high in Russia and Egypt. Gender egalitarianism is thecollective ideology through which cultures minimize gender inequalityis high in European states. South Korea and Egypt are the most maledominated states. Gender egalitarian states tend to encouragetolerance for diversity of ideas in individuals.

Power distance is an aspect describes a collective aspect expectingpower to be equally distributed. High power distance countriesinclude Brazil, Thailand, France characterized by hierarchicaldecision-making processes, being more stratified in terms ofsocially, economically and politically. Uncertainty avoidance how thegroup, society and organization relies on social norms and proceduresto alleviate unpredictability in the future events. When people havehigh uncertainty avoidance they seek structure, consistency, formalprocedures, orderliness and structure to cover issues. Countries likeSwitzerland and Singapore tend to have high uncertainty and establishelaborate processes and procedures. Low uncertainties are evident inGreece and Russia who tend to prefer simple processes and broadstrategies being risk takers and opportunistic.

According to Hofstede (1993), diversity in management practices havebeen recognized in the US literature for many years. It thus is nowonder that many states compare the management to that of America.Given the cultural aspects around the globe Javidan et al. (2006),looks at what an effective American manager should do to be able tomeet the cross-cultural needs when working with different states.Managerial leadership differences or similarities in nations resultfrom assumptions regarding requisite leadership qualities. Theimplicit leadership theory explains that individual beliefs,personality characteristics, behaviors and skills contribute orimpede outstanding leadership. These belief systems include variousprototypes such as cognitive categories, schemas, mental models,stereotypes and the broader social cognitive literature.

In Germany, for example the manager is not viewed as a hero but isthe engineer who fills the role. Highly skilled responsible Germanemployees do not necessarily need a manager as in America formotivation. Their boss/meister is expected to assign roles and be anexpert to solve technical problems. German has the highest productiverole for personnel as compared to British and French organizationsbut also has the lowest leadership and staff roles assert Hofstede(1993). For Brazil, the outstanding leadership style is charismaticand value based as well as team oriented. Brazilian managers dislikeleaders who are autonomous, independent or individualistic expectingtheir leaders to be class and status conscious. They also respectauthority and prefer formal relationships with leaders and followers.

The French is similar to the American management culture in thatthey both practice moderate levels of uncertainty avoidance. TheJapanese differ from the American management style in that they arecontrolled by their family values and peer groups than their manager.Chinese managers like excellence oriented leaders who strive forperformance improvement for them and their staff. They are also likefraternal leaders and are friendly with their subordinates. Theirculture seems less assertive, future oriented and is a morecollectivist small group and socially rule oriented one. Both Chineseand American managers however like excellence and strive forperformance. According to Hofstede (1993), Holland differs from theAmerican management in terms of motivation and leadership. Whileleadership presupposes modesty in Holland, the US preferassertiveness. Management in poor countries also differs greatly fromother cross-cultural management practices

In terms of cross-cultural management from all the broad perspectivesby Hofstede, Tramponeers and Javidan little advice on how crosscultural conflicts can be managed has been given. I recommend moresuggestions on how to strike a balance for different cultures andfind an appropriate way of embracing cross cultures in management andstill retain the rich cultures. However, the perspectives are similarin that they define management based on the American management. Theyunderstand that cross-cultural management is not only aboutdifferences but is exclusively focused on cultural differences andthe implications they have for managers.


Hofstede, G.(1993). Cultural Constraints in Management Theories,Academy of Management Executive. 7(1) 81 – 94.Javidan, M.Dorfman, P. Sully, M. de Luque and Robert H (2006). In the eye ofthe beholder: Cross Cultural Lessons in Leadership from ProjectGlobe, Academy of Management Perspectives. 67 -89Trompenaars,F and Peter Wooliams, P. (2003). A new framework for managing changeacross cultures, Journal of Change Management , 3(4) 361 -375