Culture and Negotiated Meanings
Edited by Henriett Primecz, Laurence Romani and Sonja Sackmann
Chapter 2: On the Road Again: Culturally Generic Spaces as Coping Strategies in International Consultancy
Sara Louise Muhr and Jeanette Lemmergaard INTRODUCTION For a long time, research in cross-cultural management has discussed what culture is and how it can be identified (Sackmann and Phillips, 2004; Yeganeh and Su, 2006), as well as how culture influences management practices (Laurent, 1983) and organizational competitiveness (Redding, 1994). In this way, culture has long been an important part of management studies – both across countries and across organizations within the same country (Mohe, 2008). However, to obtain a deeper understanding of cross-cultural work and its effect on employees we find it important also to examine how employees, who work across cultures, cope with constantly changing working environments. This chapter therefore takes a different approach, as it is about subjective experiences in cross-cultural work. To do this, we analyse cross-cultural work in the specific situation of an international consultant. Working in constantly changing settings influenced by different organizational and national cultures makes the international consultant a ‘temporary worker’ (Garsten, 1999), who changes place of work on a continuous basis, and who’s sense of belonging is constantly defined and redefined (Fleming and Spicer, 2004). When international consultants operate in many different countries over a short period of time they are constantly surrounded by new people and new cultures. This constant change holds the risk of alienating the consultants and turning them into strangers in their temporary work environments. As argued by Sturdy (1997), the constant travelling and trying to ‘fit in’ are often experienced as pressure and anxiety – an experience the employees...
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