Chapter 1: To Understand Culture
Page 1 1— To Understand Culture A Matter of Interest Business concepts come and go. One concept, which seems to have come to stay, is culture. It looks like one of those grand concepts. It burst on to the intellectual landscape of business in the early 1980s, and it has captured the interests of academics, journalists and businesspeople alike (Pascale and Athos, 1982; Hofstede, 1984; Peters and Waterman, 1984; Schein, 1985; Harris and Moran, 1987; Deal and Kennedy, 1988; Rohwer, 1995; Trompenaars, 1995). In fact, the concept has a rich ancestry in business. It can be traced back at least as far as the writings of Mayo and Barnard in the United States in the 1930s. People can have many theories about why the culture concept was able to catch their interest so thoroughly at this time; perhaps the time was ripe. Maybe the reason was people's growing international interest or maybe it was an increase in the interest of human beings. One thing is clear, however: the cultural idea has led people to 'reevaluate the attributes of organizational success which are not part and parcel of the ''orthodox" rationalist paradigm' (Green, 1988, p. 121). Culture can be used for many different types of analysis. It can provide the foundation or the background for many different kinds of understanding. This study is an attempt to understand business leadership in five different national and regional contexts and to do this through the culture governing these contexts. The contexts are the American,...
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