Culture and Negotiated Meanings
Edited by Henriett Primecz, Laurence Romani and Sonja Sackmann
Chapter 8: Engineering Culture(s) Across Sites: Implications for Cross-cultural Management of Emic Meanings
Jasmin Mahadevan INTRODUCTION Cultural difference in organizations is often referred to as national cultural difference. Yet as culture provides a focus point for collective belonging, it can also be conceptualized as ‘collective identity’, a direction this chapter is going to follow. Collective identities can develop on different levels, even if different aspects of culture, for example, artefacts, might be shaped by an organization’s national cultural surroundings. This suggests that organizations are made up of more than mere national cultural identities – we can also find professional cultures, organizational cultures and site culture, to only name a few. It is often suggested that these alternate collective identities are mere ‘subcultures’ and hence of lesser importance than national cultural differences. However, from the anthropological point of view, all levels of collective identity can and might be equally powerful – depending, for example, on context, plays of power, individual or group agenda. Using the case of a German hightech company and its offshore site in India, this chapter will show when and how these alternative collective identities become salient. For the sake of confidentiality, all names have been changed. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND AND METHOD Culture is many things, depending on perspective. However, to understand the findings from this case, one has to look at culture anthropologically, and this is the reason for the first section of this chapter to be devoted to theory. Recent anthropological theory since Geertz (1973) conceptualizes culture as an open process of sense-making in interaction with changing boundaries. This making of a...
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