An Examination of the Core Dimensions
New Horizons in International Business series
Chapter 7: Partnering Skills and Cross-Cultural Issues
THE CONCEPT OF SKILLS The skills required to undertake co-operative ventures are different from those in a normal competitive environment, and those of co-operating with a partner from a different cultural background are more complex again. This chapter utilizes personal interviews of managers from all three elements of the sample of IJVs (two parent partners and the IJV itself) to identify the key collaborative or ‘partnering’ skills deemed to be important by managers. These skills are cross-classified by the context in which they need to be utilized to provide an ‘analytical matrix’ of partnering skills. The concept of skill is not easy to define. Cockburn (1991) suggests that skill consists of at least three things: ‘the skill that resides in the person himself, accumulated over time, each new experience adding to a total ability’, ‘skill demanded by the job – which may or may not match the skill in the worker’ and ‘the political definition of skill’. Payne (1999) goes further, arguing that skill ‘has expanded almost exponentially to include a veritable galaxy of “soft”, “generic”, “transferable”, “social” and “interactional” skills, frequently indistinguishable from personal characteristics, behaviours and attitudes’. As Attewell (1990) says ‘like so many common-sense concepts, skill proves on reflection to be a complex and ambiguous idea’. In view of this complexity, we did not specify in advance the definition of skill, nor did we delimit in any way the manager’s responses. This is in accord with the ‘native category’ approach derived from social anthropology and ethnomethodology, which allows...
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