Culture and Negotiated Meanings
Edited by Henriett Primecz, Laurence Romani and Sonja Sackmann
Chapter 1: Culture and Negotiated Meanings: The Value of Considering Meaning Systems and Power Imbalance for Cross-Cultural Management
Laurence Romani,* Sonja A. Sackmann and Henriett Primecz What can we expect when a Brazilian and a Chinese company decide to form a strategic alliance and, for the first time in their corporate history, develop a joint-venture project? We imagine significant cultural differences, potential clashes due to their dissimilar national and organizational cultures, and the risk of a premature termination of the venture (based on, for example, Hofstede, 2001; Barkema and Vermeulen, 1997). Similarly, when a German organization transfers some of its technical operations to India, we understand that the personnel department in Germany would argue in support of cross-cultural management training for the engineers who would be working most closely with their counterparts in India. In addition, when we learn of the success of a project between the headquarters in Finland and its subsidiary in Poland, we expect their second collaboration also to run smoothly. The case studies included in this edited volume will demonstrate that, in practice, these expectations may be misleading. BEYOND CULTURAL DIMENSIONS These expectations may be misleading because they are based upon assumptions and knowledge that do not apply in the respective situations. These expectations rest quite frequently upon the notion of culture that has been developed in the international management literature. For example, they suggest that North Americans are individualistic and Chinese are collectivistic, that culture can be measured, and that it has an impact upon human behaviour in predictable ways. This abundant literature on cross-cultural dimension frameworks (see Nardon and Steers, 2009 for...