The Influence of Culture on Successful Cooperation
Edited by Jan Ulijn, Geert Duysters and Elise Meijer
Chapter 9: Portrait of an Odd-eyed Cat: Cultural Crossing as a Trademark for a Dutch–Thai Strategic Alliance
Nantawan Noi Kwanjai and J. Friso den Hertog INTRODUCTION Strategic alliances inherently dictate ‘crossing’ of cultures. Most particularly, when culture is conceived to include, as well as distinguish all levels and forms it can take – national, organizational and professional, to list the most prominent in corporate world, as asserted in Ulijn (2000) – strategic alliances then involve cultural crossing at many levels. Although failures of strategic alliances are not uncommon (Park and Ungson, 1997), impressive cases of success also abound (Mohr and Spekman, 1994), motivating inquiries into the factors behind such opposing stories (Kogut, 1988; Spekman et al., 1998). How can we explain, or rather understand, the dissolution or longevity of such partnerships that involve multifaceted crossing of cultures? This chapter attempts a step forward in such understanding. We report selected materials from a study designed to build a theory of culture and learning in organizations based on observations of and open-ended interviews with Dutch and Thai employees working for four selected Dutch firms in Thailand (Kwanjai, forthcoming). The key outcome of this work – a grounded theory of cultural intelligence that we label ‘crosscultural intelligence (XCQ) amidst intricate cultural webs’ (Kwanjai and den Hertog, 2008), emerged primarily from evidence in the four thickdescriptive cases. Here we present one of those cases, a Dutch–Thai joint venture that thrived by weaving together the many intricate cultural webs to achieve a unique pattern of partnership which, metaphorically speaking, became its indispensible trademark. The case illustrates how the three levels of culture expounded in...
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