Culture and Negotiated Meanings
Edited by Henriett Primecz, Laurence Romani and Sonja Sackmann
Chapter 3: Dynamics of Ethnocentrism and Ethnorelativism: A Case Study of Finnish–Polish Collaboration
3. Dynamics of ethnocentrism and ethnorelativism: a case study of Finnish–Polish collaboration Sampo Tukiainen* INTRODUCTION In the previous [project] … at the beginning we had this fight between Finns and Poles … and we tried to make people understand that this is one project, this is one company, and that we are all in the same boat … And I think we succeeded pretty well … Of course now with [the consecutive project] we have had to start it all over again … it’s still a fight about what comes from Finland and what comes from Poland, who’s the one knowing better how to do it, who should be the leader, and so on. (Finnish project manager) In cross-cultural collaboration it is common for nationalism and national cultural polarizations to break out between workgroups, splitting them into conflicting subgroups with ‘us-versus-them’ attitudes, and with the resultant cultural clashes hindering effective teamwork (Adler, 1997; Hofstede, 1980; Schneider and Barsoux, 1997). Concomitantly, ‘ethnocentrism’ (that is, the belief of one’s own culture and worldview being central and superior to others) is bound to become highly salient between the subgroups (Adler, 1997; Cramton and Hinds, 2005). Yet, contrasting tendencies have also been observed; some groups are able to develop ‘ethnorelativism’ (that is, understanding, appreciation and adaptation of different worldviews and cultures), leading to the gradual emergence of negotiated working cultures between the workgroups (Brannen and Salk, 2000; Cramton and Hinds, 2005; Earley and Mosakowski, 2000; Salk and Brannen, 2000). Moreover, it is argued that such ethnorelativism extends beyond...
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