Culture and Negotiated Meanings
Edited by Henriett Primecz, Laurence Romani and Sonja Sackmann
Chapter 4: Exploring the Cultural Context of Franco–Vietnamese Development Projects: Using an Interpretative Approach to Improve the Cooperation Process
Sylvie Chevrier INTRODUCTION When considering development projects, it is generally admitted that imported practices should be adapted to the local context, even though actors in the field are often lacking the appropriate methodology to do this. The adjustment process usually focuses on the cultural context of the ‘beneficiaries’, that is, the target population. For example, in health care, practitioners are aware that any prevention campaign is useless unless the prescribed behaviours are legitimate in the actors’ socio-cultural sense-making system. However, the way the partners, both from the North and the South, adapt to one another in project management processes is neglected. How can the main actors cooperate in a project when they do not share the same conceptions of collective action? Analysing the cultural differences affecting project management sheds light on the tensions or misunderstandings that occur between actors. Previous research has shown that multicultural teams empirically negotiate their work process drawing upon the various cultural attributes of the team members (Brannen and Salk, 2000). DiStefano and Maznevski (2000) propose a threestep approach to overcome differences and to set up management practices that fit the context. The first and second steps consist in mapping cultural differences and in making them explicit. The last step aims at integrating the different views and developing solutions that may solve any disagreements that occur. To illustrate the cross-cultural challenges in development projects and provide an example of cultural bridging, this chapter presents the case of the Franco–Vietnamese cooperation in projects managed in Vietnam...
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