Impacts of Globalization on the Conceptualization of Culture

Cultural differences influence the effectiveness of management approaches employed in different cultures. Such importance of culture has led to research on ways through which differences in culture may be evaluated to inform management practices that would be effective in different nations. One of the most used models was provided by Hofstede, who developed dimensions to measure culture based on nations; his indices indicating cultural differences to exist from one country to another (Nardon & Steers 2009). However, with globalization forces blurring most of the cross-border barriers, the existence of national cultures has been put into question (Jacob 2005). Despite such effect of globalization, various other arguments insist that some aspects of culture could still remain unchanged even by globalization forces (e.g. Chevrier 2009). This paper highlights these diverse perspectives by first assessing what globalization means for cross-cultural management, then providing a critical analysis of the concept of national political cultures.

What Globalization Means for Cross-cultural Management

Globalization has changed a lot of aspects including the way people interact. Through technological advancement such as the internet and telecommunication, cultures existing in other global regions have been disseminated to areas that could not get into contact with such cultures before. Further ease in labor mobility has meant that individuals interact more often with cultures other than their home country cultures. Accordingly, arguments favoring the hypothesis of cultural learning have become more common (Jacob 2005; others cited in Bird & Fang 2009). Cultural learning is suggested to lead to the opening up of traditional cultures forcing them to move towards a common, synchronized global culture; as people of different cultures become forced to establish a ‘working-relationship’ in their interactions in the market place and cyberspace (Bird & Fang 2009). Accordingly, cultural groups may not be considered to be completely distinct from one another (Bird & Fang 2009). Without much differences existing from culture to culture, managers from different cultural backgrounds would therefore experience less resistance in implementing management approaches informed on home-country culture. Similarly, foreign managers could find it easier to adjust to a host-country culture where cultural distances have been narrowed by globalization.

On the contrary, though globalization has altered various aspects of people’s lives, some aspects of culture may remain unchanged. This concept of cultural ecology advances that cultures remain unique as evidenced by distinct political institutions, customs, language and climate (Bird & Fang 2009). However, with interactions of different cultures occurring more often in the market place than was the case when globalization forces were curtailed, cultures could be said to have undergone change more than they have remained unchanged. Such changes that have been towards agreement on basic aspects, have for instance led to leadership styles such as being a considerate leader, to be accepted across cultures (Jacob 2005). On the other hand, not all aspects of culture may have been changed by globalization. As Chevrier (2009) notes, managers in foreign subsidiaries still encounter resistance if they try to import home country ways-of-doing things to the host country. Such for instance could occur where the people have become united under a similar political culture following many years of stable political governance (Chevrier 2009). go to part 2 here.

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