Cross-Cultural Management in Practice

Cross-Cultural Management in Practice

Culture and Negotiated Meanings

Edited by Henriett Primecz, Laurence Romani and Sonja Sackmann

Based on the view that culture is dynamic and negotiated between actors, this groundbreaking book contains a collection of ten cases on cross-cultural management in practice. The cases draw on field research revealing challenges and insights from working across nations and cultures. Each case provides recommendations for practitioners that are developed into a framework for effective intercultural interactions as well as offering illustrations and insights on how to handle actual cross-cultural issues. This enriching book covers various topics including international collaborations across and within multinational companies, organizational culture in international joint ventures and knowledge transfer.

Chapter 5: The Intercultural Challenges in the Transfer of Codes of Conduct from the US to Europe

Christoph I. Barmeyer and Eric Davoine

Subjects: business and management, critical management studies, international business, organisational behaviour, research methods in business and management, strategic management, research methods, qualitative research methods, research methods in business and management


Christoph I. Barmeyer and Eric Davoine INTRODUCTION In the process of internationalization, multinational companies (MNCs) are confronted with the challenge of harmonizing corporate culture throughout their subsidiaries, following the widely held idea that a strong global corporate culture will strengthen the company’s identity and image and reduce transaction costs within the MNC. Codes of conduct can be defined as instruments to implement a normative ‘global organizational culture’, proposing orientations for action in order to control and to regulate the employee behaviours and practices in every subsidiary. Previous studies underlined the US-American tradition of codes of conduct and showed a certain resistance in some European countries towards this kind of normative instrument. Nevertheless, more and more European companies have adopted – and adapted – codes of conduct or ethical codes. We use a case study of a US-based MNC to show how complex the intercultural challenges of the implementation of codes of conduct in European subsidiaries are. Our case study in different French and German subsidiaries of the same US company, through in-depth interviews with managers from different professional sub-groups and sub-cultures, shows a very divergent picture of this resistance. CASE PRESENTATION Codes of Conduct: An Instrument of North American Origin Corporate codes of conduct or ethical codes set out a formalization of detailed rules that aim to guide the employee in their decisions and daily behaviour in and outside the company (Gauthier, 2000; Mercier, 2001). The code of conduct represents a reference frame of values, principles and norms that must be integrated...

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