Impacts of Globalization on the Conceptualization of Culture – National Political Culture

Culture conceptualizations based on national boundaries have faced much criticism in recent years. Arguments abound that the existence of cultural heterogeneity even within one nation, make cultural conceptualization by national boundaries irrelevant (Jacob 2005). Further, an argument that crossvergence (i.e. merging the management approaches of  two or more cultures to make them effective in most cultures) may function in most countries (Jacob 2005), implies that existence of distinct cultural identities from one nation to another as envisaged under the principle of cultural ecology (Bird & Fang 2009) may not be relevant any more. Despite such arguments, Chevrier (2009) present an aspect of culture that still differs from country to country, that of national political culture, which makes effective management practices to differ from country to country.

The concept of national political culture derives from the argument that institutions found in a country are a symbol of the inhabitants’ acceptance of such ways to be legitimate for socially organizing life (Chevrier 2009). This occurs when the country has experienced stable governance for many years with institutions formed in a legitimate way that the citizens appraise of. Accordingly, such institutions may be indicative  of ways people attempt to avert the most feared threats, with their entrenchment into a people’s culture being through such methods as myths (e.g. on how the country was formed), and laws that, even when contradicting historical facts about the country, may serve as bases from which cultural meanings are derived (Chevrier 2009).

Accordingly, managers who are sent to a given country should acquaint themselves with the host national political culture for their tenure to be effective. The importance of this can be exemplified by two cases. One of these is the expansion of Walt Disney Company to France. Although the company had managed to expand in culturally diverse locations successfully, its expansion to France was a failure due to incorrect analysis of the French culture (Barnett & Cavanagh 1994). A recent example of effect of the existence of a national political culture is the failure of Google to capture the Chinese market leadership in internet-search engine provision. National political cultures could thus provide a guide to managers to evaluate whether the practices they are employing will be effective in their country of assignment. By being aware of the most feared threat and ways through which people attempt to evade such threats, managers can avoid becoming a source of such threats by aligning their approaches towards the accepted national political culture (Chevrier 2009).


With the advancement of globalization, the existence of distinct national cultures has been heavily contested. Whereas some perspective advance that cultural differences have moved towards a common global culture, other arguments maintain cultural distinctiveness between countries still exist. This paper examined the impact of globalization on cross-cultural management, and presented an analysis of the concept of national political cultures.

Globalization has mainly reduced traditional cultural differences among nations. This has for instance made some leadership attributes become acceptable across cultures. Despite such changes, some aspects of cultural differences remain unchanged even with increased globalization. One of these is national political cultures evidenced by the existing institutions in countries with a considerable history of stable and legitimate governance. Such institutions may be representative of ways inhabitants attempt to avert most feared events. Managers thus can use such political cultures as a guide to the management practices that work in different nations.


Barnett, R & Cavanagh, J 1994, ‘But where are the French?’ Excerpt in Global dreams: imperial corporations and the new world order, Simon & Schuster, New York, pp. 108-109.

Bird, A & Fang, T 2009, ‘Editorial: Cross cultural management in the age of globalization’, International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 139-143. doi: 10.1177/1470595809335713, viewed 03 December 2010.

Chevrier, S 2009, ‘Is nation culture still relevant to management in a global in a global context? The case of Switzerland’, International Journal of Cultural Management, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 169-184. doi: 10.1177/1470595809335723, viewed 03 December 2010.

Jacob, N 2005, ‘Cross-cultural investigations: emerging concepts’, Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 18, no. 5, pp. 514-528. Doi: 10.1108/09534810510614986. Viewed doi: 10.1177/1470595809335723, viewed 03 December 2010.

Nardon, L & Steers, RM 2009, ‘The culture theory jungle: divergence and convergence in models of national culture’, Cultural Foundations (part 1) in Cambridge handbook of culture, organizations, and work, eds RS Bhagat & RM Steers, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 3-23. Excerpt viewed 13 November 2010, <>.

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