Cross-Cultural Management in Practice
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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.
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Chapter 6: When American Management System Meets Tunisian Culture: The Poulina Case

Hèla Yousfi


Hèla Yousfi1 INTRODUCTION Can companies in developing countries modernize despite their local cultural context, by struggling against it or by simply importing so-called ‘universal’ standards developed in the West? Or can such companies leverage valuable aspects of each local culture and use them to modernize management practices? Scholars who focus on management in developing countries generally fall into two camps: ‘Organizational Theorists’ and ‘Culturalists’. The former hold that the theoretical principles underlying organizational behaviour are universal in all countries. The latter argue that management practices in developing countries are rooted in local cultural values. However, when it comes to recommendations for modernizing firms in developing countries, the gap between the two camps is not as large as it first appears; both advocate a best practice – or ‘one best way’ – approach (Leonard, 1987). Several examples show that simply adopting ‘best management practices’ will not improve developing countries’ economic performance (Yousfi, 2007a). Some management tools that experts propose do not have the desired effects, and companies often abandon them after the experts leave. Furthermore, while some companies do achieve substantial technical and financial success (AFD, 1998), most reformers promoting developing countries’ integration into the global economy ascribe the results solely to ‘universal’ methods: few will examine the concrete aspects of these singular successes and their effective achievements. This makes it impossible to distinguish what is genuinely universal in so-called ‘universal’ management methods from elements that reflect the unique features of their originating context (d’Iribarne et al., 2007; Yousfi, 2010). This chapter...

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