Strategic Business Alliances

Strategic Business Alliances

An Examination of the Core Dimensions

New Horizons in International Business series

Keith W. Glaister, Rumy Husan and Peter J. Buckley

Strategic Business Alliances examines key issues in the analysis, management and performance of international joint ventures using a sample of UK–European equity joint ventures.

Chapter 9: Culture and the Management of IJVs

Keith W. Glaister, Rumy Husan and Peter J. Buckley

Subjects: business and management, strategic management


INTRODUCTION A paradox of co-operative activity between firms is that while differences in culture can create a barrier to effective co-operation, at the same time cultural diversity provides an opportunity to use the knowledge embodied in each partner’s culture as a valuable resource for the alliance (Child and Faulkner, 1998: 229). However, until the barriers are removed, mutual learning, which provides access to the respective partners’ culturally embedded knowledge, cannot occur. Discovering ways of bridging the distinctive cultures which partners may bring to an alliance is viewed as a major management challenge, which cannot be avoided if successful venture performance is to be achieved. While the concept of culture has been used extensively in the management literature, the phenomenon is somewhat slippery. ‘Complex, intangible and subtle, culture has been notoriously difficult to conceptualize and scale’ (Shenkar, 2001: 519). There are many different definitions of culture and different types of culture; however, when examining diversity between international joint venture (IJV) partners it is usual to distinguish between ‘organization culture’ and ‘national culture’ (Parkhe, 1991). Co-operative strategies, such as IJVs, bring into a working relationship people from different partner organizations. These partner organizations will have developed their own distinct cultures, which embody shared attitudes and norms of behaviour. These organizational cultures will encourage employees to regard their organization as different from other organizations. Where the co-operating organizations come from different countries, their employees will also have a sense of belonging to distinct national cultures. National cultural diversity may be reflected in ‘different...

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