The Intersection of National and Organizational Culture
To reconsider both national culture and organizational culture, and their interdependencies, 18 scholars from 16 institutions, 13 states, and 4 disciplines were invited to a workshop funded by the U.S. Army Research Institute. This book evolved from two days of discussions and reflections.
This book reflects and integrates the contributions of over 1,000 academics across the social science and management disciplines as they reconsider cultural definitions, theories, and methodologies; explore the purposes, functions, and influences of culture; and reveal the influences of communication, language, leadership, and technology on cultural change. This is an ideal text for advanced undergraduate and graduate coursework, and those interested in cultural influences more generally.
Table Of Contents
- Advance Praise
- About the editor
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- Table of Contents
- Chapter One National and Organizational Culture: Same, but Different?
- Chapter Two Purposes, Functions, and Influences of Culture
- Chapter Three Research Methods for National Culture and Organizational Culture: Multiple Research Perspectives
- Chapter Four Culture and/as Communication, Discourse, and Language
- Chapter Five Leadership’s Influence on Culture and Contemporary Challenges Associated with Leading Culture
- Chapter Six Cultural Change: Ecological Origins, Trajectories, and Management
- Chapter Seven Technological Influences on Culture
- Chapter Eight Applications of Societal Culture and Organizational Culture
- Chapter Nine Peering into the Crystal Ball: Envisioning Culture 2.1 and Beyond
- Author Index
- Subject Index
There is general agreement that culture exists—even if it not tangible. From that basis, there are disciplinary, theoretical, and methodological approaches that differ substantially. Culture is studied by academics; created and crafted by government and organizational leaders; and broadcasted and embraced in training, human relations development processes, and public relations campaigns. Individuals are part of several cultures (e.g., national culture, social culture, geographical culture, organizational culture, professional culture, religious culture, family culture). Although artifacts provide tangible evidence of culture, not all aspects of culture exist in that form. Culture is also present in processes, procedures, formal and informal rules, uses of signs and symbols, conversations, and expressed values. These types and forms of culture provide a road map. In one map, every detail is embedded, almost to the point that the map no longer makes sense as a guide, as it seems impossible to hold all those details together--and execute them. Other maps, are general, bereft of so many details that they are nearly useless, and provide little guidance to the user.
This book examines national culture and organizational culture from an interdisciplinary perspective. At the invitation of the U.S. Army Research Institute, I developed a plan for exploring the issues and intersections of national and organizational culture. In Spring 2019, scholars from many academic disciplines across the U.S. were invited to a two-day workshop entitled, Culture 2.0: Intersection of National and Organizational Culture held in Raleigh, North Carolina, ←vii | viii→USA. The goal of the workshop was to talk and listen to one another about their perspectives on both types of culture, as well as their intersection.
Bringing together scholars from different disciplines is tricky. Attendees were more likely to know of someone based on a third person who served as a point of connection, or through a scholar’s contributions to the scholarly literature. Thus, the only established professional connections that predated the workshop were the relationships of scholars from the same discipline—even then, some attendees were unknown to others with the same disciplinary identification. Thus, we spent considerable time in discussions to encourage talking with rather than talking to one another.
Participants knew that the workshop was to help lessen interdisciplinary distances, learn from one another, and develop an edited book. Given the point in time (March 2019) when the workshop was held, I left the workshop optimistic about our conversations, and participants’ willingness to work with others who had similar research interests but with whom they did not necessarily share theoretical or methodological preferences.
In March 2020, chapter drafts were expected to be delivered—and then—COVID hit. I was in Washington, DC for spring break during the first week of March. I was astounded by the lack of traffic and people on the street. I expected to see large groups of students visiting the U.S. Capitol. After my first day of being literally the only person in the museums and art galleries, COVID was the only topic on the news (often visualized with video of Tom Hanks, the actor, and his family held in quarantine on a cruise line).
By the time I returned home, the U.S. the Centers for Disease Control recommended no gatherings of 50 or more people in the U.S. Before I could get back, my university shut down, and we began the descent into Zoom hell. Few universities had the technology available in the numbers required; many students lacked a suitable location for participating in and learning from Zoom classes; and many faculty were not prepared with home-based technology (nor a setting) from which to teach classes.
By mid-March, several countries in South America and Europe imposed a 21-day lockdown. By March 26, 2020, “the United States officially became the country hardest hit by the pandemic, with at least 81,321 confirmed infections and more than 1,000 deaths. This was more reported cases than in China, Italy or any other country at the time” (New York Times, n.d.). One of our authors was diagnosed with COVID in this early phase.
At this point, authors on the Culture 2.0 project had concerns other than writing book chapters. Many workshop attendees had children who needed their help with online learning. And they also became caretakers of other family members who were diagnosed with COVID. While scholars made transitions in their family and work roles, this book took a pause.
←viii | ix→When we picked our work back up, COVID was still the elephant in the room. Some scholars understandably dropped off the project. If you are thinking, Why would that be? Simply stated: COVID was the uninvited elephant in our project. This worldwide event encouraged many people to reprioritize their lives. Moreover, it’s really hard to think through arguments and write clearly when having thoughts, such as When will I be eligible to get a COVID shot?, Have I unintentionally exposed someone?, or Can I afford to stay home and not work so I can be with my family? These questions, and others, are indicative of the intersection of national culture and organizational culture we examine in the book.
Too often scholars are too removed from their topics of research. In this case, we were, just like millions of other people, trying to juggle our work and family lives during an unprecedent health emergency. Thus, we were negotiating cultural norms and assumptions at the same time we were writing about them.
Posing the question, “What is culture?” inevitably led to a variety of answers based on discipline history, philosophical perspectives, as well as preferred theories and methods. For anthropologists, answers were often like: “a human-created, artificial system with its own internal information . . . culture, that is, human knowledge, opinions, convictions, values, and beliefs” (Smajs, 2006, p. 637). Sociologists referenced these and similar ideas: “Culture is the explicit social constructions or products . . . that is recorded in either print, film, artifacts, or most recently, electronic media” (Crane, 1994, p. 2). For communication scholars, culture is examined as it is manifested in contextual forms (e.g., popular culture, organizational culture, intercultural communication). It is also important to note that asking about culture typically presumes that a construct of culture exists.
Alternately, asking the question about organizational culture has fewer variations, as it is already tautologically constrained. Organizational culture has long been studied by anthropologists and sociologists; more recently communication and management scholars have contributed to this area of research as well. Whereas the study of culture is most often associated with social groupings, the study of organizational culture is more narrowly conceptualized and defined as groupings of people in their work environments.
Both the study of culture and organizational culture are historically influenced by artifacts, values, and assumptions. Thus, the intersection of national culture and organizational culture is a natural one, as they are practically present in one another; and both constructs rely on the nearly identical foundational concepts of artifacts, values, and assumptions. In the case of national culture, artifacts, values, and assumptions represent the present as influenced by what has ←ix | x→happened to, with, and in geographically distinguished human groups in the past (Kroeber & Kluckholn, 1952). National cultural values are embedded in everyday routines and, thus, are learned early through familial and community practices. National culture is often located in national values, which are deeply held and change slowly over generations.
The focus of organizational culture shifted the study of culture from geographically bound groups to organizationally bound groups (Keyton, 2011). Moreover, as national culture is nation-specific, organizational culture is organization-specific. Even when organizations profess similar values, these values are likely enacted differently based on industry sector and business practices. Schein (2004) defines organizational culture as:
a pattern of shared basic assumptions that was learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems. (p. 17)
Hofstede’s Premise of National Culture
Hofstede has had considerable influence on the ontological and epistemological background of the study of culture. From survey studies, he identified four cultural dimensions: power distance, individualism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, and masculinity/femininity. Two other dimensions were later added: long-term orientation and indulgence. Yet one point is often not recalled. In brief, Hofstede’s data collection from 1967 to 1973 explicitly examined how [organizational] values in the workplace were influenced by [national] culture. Further, his data were collected in one organization (IBM) although from employees in more than 70 countries. But collecting data from one organization, albeit in different countries, his empirical observations of organizational culture could naturally be conflated with national culture. He later changed his approach and collected data in different countries from different organizations.
This raises the question: If national culture is so deeply and personally held, is it possible to separately identify the assumptions, values, and artifacts that comprise an organizational culture, which is embedded in a national culture? Hofstede would suggest that it cannot; “if organizational values are counter to national cultural values, it is the organizational values that will be undermined. Corporate culture never trumps national culture” (Organizational Culture, para. 3). That is, in any relationship of national culture to organizational culture, national culture will always dominate. Thus, organizational culture is always subordinate to national culture, making organizational cultures of organizations in one country ←x | xi→similar to some degree as they are influenced by a particular nation’s culture. Simply, an organizational culture must fit within the national culture of the country (or region) in which the organization operates. The assumption is that these two cultures would be generally aligned or compatible, albeit emphasizing different, but not conflicting, artifacts, value, and assumptions.
As Gallego-Álvareza and Ortas (2017) opined, Hofstede’s national culture model (Hofstede et al., 2010) has been widely accepted as the model and operationalization of national culture in accounting, management, economics, sociology, and other disciplines. In their study of organizations’ corporate environmental sustainability (CES) reporting data from 3,900 companies in 59 countries, and 51 industries, Hofstede’s national culture model only differentiated those organizations that actively pursued CES. These results suggest that in addition to national and organizational culture, the type of activity in which an organization participates, is also influential, and thereby disrupts the strict national culture/organizational culture link.
Others have investigated the nature of the national/organizational link in culture. Eisend, Evanschitzky, and Gilliland’s (2015) study found that value congruency of organizational values fitting national culture values enhanced organizational performance. Although these studies address the link between national and organizational cultures, they did not investigate how national/organizational values congruence appears in multinational organizations1 (e.g., Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, Facebook, Alibaba, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Tencent Holdings Limited, Visa, Inc.). The presumption is that organizational culture spans many national cultures (countries) in which their employees are based. This line of thinking supports a type of supraculture with some degree of local flexibility to allow the company to operate effectively in nations or regions. A limitation of these (and most) studies using Hofstede’s national culture model is that operationalizations are always quantitative.
Three Perspectives on Organizational Culture
Like Hofstede’s influence on the study of national culture, Joanne Martin (1992, 2002) has also been influential in the study of organizational culture. She identified three perspectives of organizational culture: integration, differentiation, and fragmentation. While there is considerable interdisciplinary dispute, especially between management and communication scholars, as to the nature and value of these perspectives, the three frameworks are regularly used in to study organizational culture.
Martin identifies rituals, stories, jargon, humor, and interior/physical arrangements of the workplace as the type of organizational communication and ←xi | xii→behavior that is manifest in an organization’s culture. Some of these more micro levels of interactions would not be triggered in Hofstede’s questionnaire. Indeed, one motivation Martin had in presenting organizational culture in this way is they would otherwise have “been dismissed as trivial” (p. 37). She explains that the pattern of interpretations of these manifestations constitutes culture.
Rather than defining cultural dimensions, as Hofstede’s model does, Martin’s (1992, 2002) model requires researchers using qualitative methods to search for patterns that evidence harmony and homogeneity (integration), inconsistency and subcultures (differentiation), and ambiguity (fragmentation). She argues that all perspectives can exist within one organization simultaneously as behaviors (and their patterns) are different at different levels of hierarchy. An example of this type of approach is Eisenberg, Murphy, and Andrews’ (1998) examination of a 25-member committee revealed how all three culture perspectives identified by Martin (2002, labels a nexus approach) were revealed in committee members’ behaviors, as well as in members’ description of their work. Thus, Martin’s approach to the study of organizational culture would reject Hofstede’s focus on values that is externally driven. Rather, she would advocate that culture is best examined from the inside out—that is, how subcultures are related to one another is the culture. Further distinguishing these two points of view, Martin’s framework would not consider distinguishing between national and organizational culture. Rather, national culture would be considered for the way it is manifested in employee behavior.
Artifacts, Values, and Assumptions
Early on, Schein (1985) drew both scholars’ and business leaders’ attention to artifacts, values, and assumptions. Even if not identified with these labels, the scholarly history of both national and organizational culture has generally been bound to the study of artifacts, values, and assumptions—or some derivative. For Hofstede, work-related values of organizations (and its members) were an organization’s culture. For Martin, the particulars of the artifacts, values, and assumptions are not central. Rather, the agreement among these cultural manifestations is the expression and analysis of organizational culture. Today, artifacts, values, and assumptions remain the most common model of organizational culture—and the language for talking about culture.
Why National Culture and Organizational Culture Matter
Across many sectors, the workforce represents many national cultures (some as second, or adopted, cultures). Organizational and team leaders need to understand the nuances of managing and leading these types of groups. Unfortunately, ←xii | xiii→research is typically focused on the set of managing/leading behaviors (e.g., Rothacker & Hauera, 2014), rather than looking for variance or differences based on the national cultures represented in a team. This issue is further compounded when researchers acknowledge the geographic distribution of the team (e.g., multinational company), but not the national cultures those team members represent (e.g., Hill & Bartol, 2016). There are very few (e.g., Aritz & Walker, 2014) studies that have begun to explore these influences in multicultural groups.
Need for Reconceptualization
Several arguments can be made for reconceptualizing the study of culture and the study of organizational culture. First, the study of national culture and organizational culture have been popularly appropriated. Just as nations can be distinguished by their enacted national culture (see Hofstede, n.d.), organizations distinguish themselves (often for marketing and recruiting purposes) by their espoused cultures as described on their websites and in annual reports. The space between these two representations of culture is important and depends largely on whose version of culture is held as ground truth. Clearly, the organizational culture is created moment-to-moment through managers’ and employees’ interactions is a not always a perfect enactment of an organization’s espoused culture. Without a spokesperson to speak for it, the genesis and evaluation of national culture is much less clear. However, Hofstede and his partners would argue that his six-dimensional model is a representation of national culture. The scores “represents individuals’ preferences for one state of affairs over another that distinguish countries [rather than individuals] from each other” (Hofstede, National culture, n.d.); however, there is no obvious way in which the survey collects demographic information to verify the nationality of the person in taking the survey.
Second, any attempt to reconceptualize national culture and organizational culture is to consider that organizational culture, particularly from the view of employees, is often viewed as a tool of management. The corollary for national culture would position it as a tool of the head of state or its ruling party. This claim has not been forwarded, but easily could in nations under dictator or military rule. Third, the two concepts are routinely linked, but with little explanation as to how or why. One reading of the literature suggests that national culture tends to emphasize expression of what citizens of a country have experienced or are creating, whereas organizational culture emphasizes the presumed expression of what organizational leaders prefer. That is, national culture is more bottom up and organizational culture is more top down. What is often missed by non-academic explanations of national culture or organizational culture is that, in either setting, subcultures exist—despite strong impetus from national or organizational leaders ←xiii | xiv→to embrace a unitary culture. Fourth, descriptions of and operationalizations of both national culture and organizational culture tend to rely on artifacts, values, and assumptions, and these three building blocks have become the de facto model of both. To replace them would require a new vocabulary.
Culture 2.0 Workshop
To start these conversations, a two-day workshop sponsored by the Army Research Institute was held in March 2019 in Raleigh, NC, USA. Nineteen scholars from Communication, English, Management Psychology, and Sociology attended. While there was general familiarity among scholars from the same discipline, introductory conversations assisted scholars from different disciplines to connect with one another.
While the grand goal was to consider alternative models for conceptualizing national culture and organizational culture, we must acknowledge that this idea is not new (e.g., Wilkins & Ouchi, 1983) and that the academic literature has not, for some time, offered new conceptualizations. As the workshop facilitator, I felt that interdisciplinary conversations should address these candidate issues:
1.Are the existing paradigms for culture and organizational culture still useful? Should culture be constrained by a focus on national and organizational culture?
2.Interrogate the concepts of artifact, value, and assumption as foundational definitions of national culture and organizational culture. For example, (a) nationality is typically used as a proxy for culture. If so, then what is used as an indicator of culture? Or, (b) do artifacts, values, and assumptions remain a meaningful basis for observing/measuring national culture or organizational culture? Or, (c) are there other constructs that better represent national culture and organizational culture?
3.What constitutes the boundaries or spaces between and among artifacts, values, and assumptions? What is the role of function (e.g., as an agent of change) of the boundaries or spaces (i.e., interstices)?
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- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Hardcover)
- ISBN (Softcover)
- Publication date
- 2023 (January)
- National culture organizational culture interdisciplinary social science anthropology communication public relations management psychology sociology Joann Keyton Culture 2.0 The Intersection of National and Organizational Culture
- New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2023. XVIII, 278 pp., 3 b/w ill., 7 tables.