What are the likely effects of national culture upon organisations?

We live in a multicultural society and because of this national culture is becoming an ongoing concern. In this essay I will try and identify its effects on organisations. National culture basically means a nations culture which includes shared knowledge, beliefs and values as well as common modes of behaviour and ways of thinking, among members of a society. Factors that contribute to the national cultural environment are shown by the diagram below drawn by Hofstede (1980) and Tayeb (1989)

Looking at this diagram here we can see that each category is common for different nations in the world like language and religions. Take someone who works in Britain. He or she would not find it difficult to adapt to the national culture of firms in Ireland or Canada but it would be difficult if he or she were working in Africa due to major differences in language, culture. Giddy (1978) gives an example of difficulties from differences in culture. He basically talks about an American firm trying to export a 'company picnic' idea into its Spanish subsidiary.

The US executives dressed up as chefs and were serving people but this embarrassed the Spanish employees and they were unsociable. They stood up every time they were approached at there table. You can see here that there is a huge amount of respect for authority figures in Spain and this is where the culture difference lies in this case. (Managing organisations (2000)) The convergence and divergence model (Lammers and Hickson, 1979) has an impact on national culture. The convergence view says that organisations are basically all the same in terms of structure, technology, bureaucracy etc.

Therefore the businesses view will overwrite national culture. The divergence view however gives superiority to the differentiating effects of national culture for example effects of history, beliefs, values and attitudes in society. Pressures on businesses may change the shaping of the organisation but so can certain individuals within an organisation who may have different beliefs, attitudes. Because of this you can get differences in motivation, time and accumulation of wealth and change which can all be identified across all national cultures.

There was research conducted by Aston researchers which was a cross national research using the variables of size, technology, formalisation and specialisation (Hickinson and McMillan, 1981). They concluded was there appeared to be a common logic among many different national cultures despite there being political differences organisations were going towards (converging) the same common purpose of using economics, competition and technology as an imperative tool. Studies that support the divergence view argue that organisational structures and processes are specific to certain cultures.

Ruedi/Lawrence (1970) and Sorge/Warner (1986) conclude national cultural factors which are to do with German and English organisations. They say that there are differences in education levels which are higher in Germany and also power which is more authoritative in Germany and British managers face increased decentralisation. Looking at figure1. I will take each of the categories into more depth. First we will start with language. Language reflects the content and nature of the culture it represents.

There are more than 3000 different languages spoken in the world therefore it is obvious that this is a major part of national culture. Because of the vast amount of different languages managers would find it a challenge to work outside their own market. There would be communication problems to deal with. But with advanced technology coming into the market communication in different languages is very important between the levels of an organisation. In some cases you may need bilingual managers who are diverse to deal with these barriers between subsidiaries.

Take for instance the Caterpillar Tractor Company which had problem communicating parts and repair manuals in a variety of languages. To overcome this barrier Caterpillar developed a system called 'Caterpillar Fundamental English' where employees acquire understandings of 800 words. Next we will look at religion. Religion is defined as 'an expression of a sense of dependence on a power outside ourselves, a power of which we may speak as a spiritual or moral power' (Radcliffe- Brown, 1945). Religious belief systems can shape individual behaviour.

People are going to behave in a different manner for a particular reason that is of value to their religion. Concerning animism he or she will conform to traditional ways and taboos come along with this religion. Concerning Hinduism what has had an impact on organisations is 'The caste system' which the caste you are when you're born more closely aligned to species. This would be the main force in controlling an economy and keeping social structure and change. Strong family bonds have meant family owned businesses set up.