The Multicultural Organization: A Historic Organizational Theory for Gaining Competitiveness in Global Business Environment

The Multicultural Organization: A Historic Organizational Theory for Gaining Competitiveness in Global Business Environment

Tongo Constantine Imafidon (Covenant University, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-270-1.ch006
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This chapter avers that over the past years, monolithic organizations, as opposed to multicultural organizations, have been created by many top business executives in order to attain their corporate visions and missions. One particular feature of the monolithic organization is that its leaders psychologically impose the culture of the organization on their subjects (employees). Their expectation is that a business organization should be able to satisfy the diverse needs of its various stakeholders (customers, suppliers, shareholders, etc.), when a unique set of covert and overt behaviour is revered by a homogenous workforce. Oftentimes, the imposed “organizational culture” is nothing but a mere derivative or microcosm of the wider societal culture in which the organization is domiciled. This was conceivable in yesteryears, given the fact that most organizations only operated within their domestic business enclaves. However, with globalization and the increasing need for organizations to develop businesses and
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The importance of culture in the conduct of organizational life is well established in the literature of organizational theory (Jackson, 2004; Kuada, 2007; Okpara, 2007). According to Wren (1994), organizational practices have never been developed in a cultural vacuum. Stakeholders of organizations have always been affected by the cultures of their organizations.

For instance, the fact that organizational members in the West and East, and more specifically, the United States and Japan, are influenced by their cultures is well acknowledged. The U.S. organization is characterized by such cultural values as assertiveness, decisiveness, innovativeness, and risk taking, which stem from the frontier- conquering history of the U.S. (Hall & Hall, 1990). The culture of U.S. organizations is also characterized by individualism; the belief in the power and autonomy of the individual (Yeh, 1995).

However, Easterners, particularly the Japanese, complain that Americans are too legalistic and less willing to be flexible (Thorton, 1993). Hence, Japanese organizations, as compared to U.S. organizations, are more likely to have cultures characterized by flexibility, and people and detail orientation. Possibly, these cultural factors are the driving force behind the competitiveness of Japanese organizations. That is, Japanese organizations may rely heavily on the virtues of flexibility, people orientation, detail orientation, and team orientation to achieve greater business performance and customer satisfaction. Relative to Japanese organizations, U.S. organizations are more likely to have cultures characterized by innovation, outcome orientation, and aggressiveness. Further, these cultural values, which characterize the U.S. organization, are likely to impact on their performance because their business strategies and the resulting successes are attributable to their cultural values. Just as Japanese organizations utilize the cultural values that characterize them to achieve greater competitiveness, U.S. organizations will exercise the characteristics of innovation, outcome orientation, and aggressiveness as their competitive weapon to achieve greater business performance and customer satisfaction. Thus, it is expected that the relationship between organizational culture and business competitiveness should vary across national cultures.

Therefore, aside from the fact that many studies have already recognized the importance of culture to organizational life; there is also a common consensus amongst them with regards to the impact of national culture on organizational culture. Precisely, these studies have found out that the culture of a work organization is nothing but a mere derivative or microcosm of the wider national culture (Tongo, 2005). According to them, managerial jobs are carried out within organizational cultures that are akin to the national cultures in which these organizations are domiciled. As Hofstede (2001, p. 374) observed in his monumental cross-cultural study:

…organizations are culture bound. This applies not only to the behaviour of people within organizations and to the functioning of organizations as a whole; even the theories developed to explain behaviour in organizations reflect the national culture of their author, as do the methods and techniques that are suggested for the management of organizations. In the management literature, there are numerous unquestioning extrapolations of organizational solutions beyond the border of the country in which they were developed. This is especially true for the exportation of management theories from United States to the rest of the World, for which the non United States importers, are at least, as responsible as the United States exporters. However, the empirical basis for American management theories is American organizations; and we should not assume without proof that they apply elsewhere. This assumption is found not only in the popular literature; in scholarly journals-even in those explicitly addressing an international readership- the silent assumption of universal validity of culturally restricted findings is frequent…

This quotation therefore implies that as long as a national culture is monolithic in nature, all organizations within the boundaries of such a nation should inherit the monolithic culture of the host nation. Also, for organizations located within a multicultural society, it is expected that these organizations should reflect the cultural diversity of the society.

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Patricia Ordóñez de Pablos
Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Jakob Lauring, Toke Bjerregaard
This chapter deals with the role of language use and knowledge sharing in the context of international subsidiaries. The chapter analyzes the role... Sample PDF
Knowledge Sharing and Sociality: On the Linguistic Embeddedness of Knowledge Exchange in International Subsidiaries
Chapter 2
Ruth Alas
This chapter analyzes organizational changes and organizational learning in Estonian companies. During the last decades, Estonia has transformed... Sample PDF
Organizational Learning During Changes in Estonian Organization
Chapter 3
Giovanni Schiuma
Today’s global business is characterised by interconnectedness, interdependence, and an increasing level of complexity that force organisations to... Sample PDF
Strategies for Assessing Organisational Knowledge Assets
Chapter 4
Poul Houman Andersen
In order to capture market dividends and stay at par with the competition in the knowledge-based economy, firms must constantly develop their skill... Sample PDF
Division of Interfirm Activities in the Knowledge-Based Economy: The Crucial Role of Knowledge Processors
Chapter 5
Luiz Antonio Joia, Paulo Sérgio da Silva Sanz
Since the early 1990s, research has been conducted in an attempt to establish a viable and reliable manner of measuring the intangible assets, also... Sample PDF
The Conundrum of Valuing a Company's Intellectual Capital: The Role of Taken-for-Granted Indicators
Chapter 6
Tongo Constantine Imafidon
This chapter avers that over the past years, monolithic organizations, as opposed to multicultural organizations, have been created by many top... Sample PDF
The Multicultural Organization: A Historic Organizational Theory for Gaining Competitiveness in Global Business Environment
Chapter 7
Arla Juntunen
This chapter focuses on the challenges of developing a knowledge management platform to support organizational memory and knowledge transfer. The... Sample PDF
Developing a Corporate Memory as a Competitive Advantage in the ICT-Sector
Chapter 8
Corrado lo Storto
This chapter reports the findings of an empirical study whose purpose is to identify the attributes of the organization infrastructure that support... Sample PDF
Learning Organizations or Organizations for Learning? How Small Firms can Learn from Planned and Random Technical Problem-Solving: Implications for Technical Education
Chapter 9
Ernesto Villalba
The present study explores the relationship between the knowledge-enabling environment and the demand of training in 18 small private companies... Sample PDF
Learning at the Core: Knowledge Management as an Employer Strategy for Lifelong Learning
Chapter 10
Dimitris Bibikas, Iraklis Paraskakis, Alexandros G. Psychogios, Ana C. Vasconcelos
The increasing pressure of today’s highly globalised markets has lead organisations to continuously compete for knowledge and innovation. Despite... Sample PDF
An Integrated Knowledge Innovation Process Management Model: The Case of Skandia
Chapter 11
Christian Nielsen, Robin Roslender, Per Nikolaj Bukh
During the last decade, many calls for improving disclosure practices, in relation to intellectual capital and intangibles, have been uttered in the... Sample PDF
Intellectual Capital Reporting: Can a Strategy Perspective Solve Accounting Problems?
Chapter 12
Huei-Chen Hsu
The main points of this chapter are probing for the combination of information technology and virtual work, and how to change the distribution of... Sample PDF
Managing the Information Technology: Knowledge Transfer in Virtual Teams
Chapter 13
Miltiadis D. Lytras, Patricia Ordóñez de Pablos
Multinational companies (MNCs) are facing important challenges within the current economic context. Rapid technological changes, the globalization... Sample PDF
The Building of the Intellectual Capital Statement in Multinationals: Challenges for the Future
Chapter 14
Pedro López Sáez, José Emilio Navas López, Gregorio Martín de Castro
During more than a decade, the literature has provided several intellectual capital models. Nevertheless, empirical evidence is still necessary in... Sample PDF
Intellectual Capital in Knowledge-Intensive Firms: Exploring the Concept and Main Components in Boston's Route 128
Chapter 15
Weiling Ke, Kwok Kee Wei
This chapter uses organizational learning as a lens to study how firms implement the enterprise system. The core research questions are: What are... Sample PDF
Organizations and Learning Process: Its Antecedents and Consequences in Enterprise System Implementation
Chapter 16
Kholekile L. Gwebu, Jing Wang
Improvements in technology have led to innovations in training such as Electronic Learning (E-learning). E-learning aims to help organizations in... Sample PDF
The Role of Organizational Environmental, and Human Factors in E-Learning Diffusion
Chapter 17
Mikel Sorli, Dragan Stokic
Managing of knowledge for innovation in an extended enterprise (EE) environment is a key issue. This in turn requires effective utilization of... Sample PDF
Supporting Innovation Through Knowledge Management in the Extended Enterprise
Chapter 18
Luis Felipe Luna-Reyes
Contemporary organizations face the challenge of growing and advancing in a complex and changing environment (Johannessen, Olaisen, & Olsen, 2001;... Sample PDF
Government Innovation Through Knowledge Management
Chapter 19
Marc Henselewski, Stefan Smolnik, Gerold Riempp
Today’s business environment is characterized by highly transparent markets and global competition. Technology life cycles are decreasing due to the... Sample PDF
A Technology-Focused Framework for Integrating Knowledge Management into Strategic Innovation Management
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