Management Styles in the European Union

Compare and contrast styles of management across at least two different member states of the European Union. Do you believe that management styles are converging to result in the emergence of the 'Euro-manager'? "Business takes place all over the entire world, in a huge diversity of societies and between widely varying organizations. The business environment has become more complex, with expanding and deepening ties between societies and between the many organizations within those societies.

No two organizations, even two with similar outward structures, will be run in exactly the same way. Differences in behavior, values and overall atmosphere are part of a business's organizational culture, and are particularly evident in situations of turbulence and uncertainty (Daniels, J, 2004, p213). " From a business viewpoint, considerable research indicates that some aspects of culture differ significantly across Europe and have a substantial impact on the conduct of business in different settings.

Awareness and understanding of cultural differences can provide businesses and their managers with a basis for behavioral and strategic modifications and can contribute to a better understanding of social-market dynamics. The history of international business ventures is littered with failures owing much of their demise to a poor understanding of how cultures differ ( Mercado 432). Cultural differences across and within nations can affect the way in which business is practiced and cross cultural competence is vital for managers dealing in an international context.

The European Commission has suggested that without increased commitment to education and training, the advantages of the Single Market will "accrue the most highly educated and dynamic who will be persuaded to move to areas where the best jobs and conditions are available (Hill 232). " There is also a growing awareness that Europe must prepare individuals for a new work practices and improve their skills within the workplace if EU firms are to survive in the increasingly competitive world marketplace.

In the United Kingdom, education has traditionally been operated independent from business with emphases on academic skills. The United Kingdom, has one of the poorest records for education and training for a developed Western economy, it has traditionally taken laissez faire approach to training, with employers responsible for the majority of training It has often been argued that British employers see training as a cost, not an investment, and are therefore concerned with doing the minimum – training individuals for specific tasks rather than broadening their knowledge base and skills (Mercado).

The United Kingdom, contrast strongly with France and Germany. Governments in France have demonstrated a clear commitment to training and have given the right to training to all working people. A legal minimum requirement has been established for training provision. In companies with ten or more employees, 0. 15% of the wage bill must be dedicated to training. Many companies spend more than the minimum. In Germany, many individuals enter into vocational training programs. These are run jointly by the state and over 500,000 approved registered training companies.

Even though the cost to firms is large, the benefits of training the workforce in appropriate skills apparently justifiable (Hill 232). The philosophy of training in Germany is also extended to management development programs in which managers are encouraged to continually improve their skills by attending courses covering various techniques. With this historical background, it is arguable that Germany is well placed to deliver the kinds of people needed to work in the new Europe.

"A high power distance culture is one where people accept and expect that power will be distributed unevenly and where people accept being told what to do by parents, teachers, , etc. A high power distance organizational setting is one marked by rigid hierarchies and by centralized authority and decision making. Employees will tend to accept that their boss has more power and expect (accept) command and instruction (Mercado 456). " Germany and the United Kingdom have relatively low power distance scores.

Germany has adopted co-determination policies for management. While many decisions are centralized at top management level, they are often made in discussion with worker representatives. Equally, as decisions are shaped in German firms by clearly defined rules, the exercise of personal command is unnecessary (Hofsted 457). In the United Kingdom, suggests Hofstede, organizations are akin to villages with decisions based on negotiation rather than command and with many operational decisions decentralized to middle-level managers.

Therefore, United Kingdom firms display steeper organizational pyramids (and are characterized by formal structures for co-determination and employee involvement), managers at different levels of the organization are often given freedom to make decisions and will make decisions after consulting with subordinates (Hofstede 456). It is apparent therefore, that different business structures can lead to similar power distance scores. The United Kingdom, encourages an individualistic culture. A great emphasis is placed on such management values as entrepreneurship and individual effort.

People are often encouraged to operate alone and, frequently, can only get on at work by competing for jobs and recognition. The United Kingdom has, for several years, been accused of taking a short term view of planning and development which tends to lead to fire fighting and strategies which can make a quick return rather than those which will ultimately result in long term competitive success (say Germany too) (Daniels 461). Germany and the United Kingdom are very similar along the power distance and masculinity index but show considerable differences along the uncertainty avoidance and individualism dimensions.