Culture plays a major role in the organizational operation front and the involved individuals need to understand its relevance so that the environmental factor can be used to the best of one’s ability to strengthen the business activities on the global platform. This essay has been designed keeping in view various aspects of culture and its impact on the operations of an organization, influence of organizations on the culture of a region, various models that are present to strengthen effective cultural leadership. The focus of the essay is on national culture and its degree of influence on the management behavior of organizations.
The numerous cultural elements that have a bearing on the organization and its functioning and its activities have been illustrated here. This knowledge is necessary for employees that operate in the global scenario so that different kinds of cultural conflicts can be controlled and the arising differences can be effectively managed. The organizations that operate in the external global scenario need to know the role of their procedure in re-designing the cultural behavior. The aspect has been covered in the essay so that the policies and processes followed by entities can be developed responsibly and the cultural convergence in organizations can be simplified. The models for effective management of culture and leadership have been highlighted so that organizations can optimally exploit the factors that operate in the challenging environment.
“Culture” refers to the social behavior and practices that are prevalent in human societies. In simple words, it can be described as the particular characteristics that are exhibited by a group of people defined by religion, language, race, social habits, cuisine, etc. The particular pattern of behavior is learned by socialization and has a significant influence on various aspects of an individual’s life. The national culture of a nation is a dominant element that shapes and designs various functions that are present in the environment such as organizations, lifestyle, etc (Dixon-Woods et al., 2013). The eastern culture is different from the western culture since the factors that govern it vary in nature. Western culture is influenced by various factors like the impact of European immigration, other ethnic as well as linguistic groups. The eastern culture is influenced by a religion that was prevalent during the early development, agriculture, etc.
The constant change in Culture
Irrespective of the particular kind of culture that is followed by people, the fact remains that culture undergoes constant change with time. The evolution of culture can be seen in various facets of human life. Today culture is said to be the key element that helps humans to be interconnected with each other. As per Deresky, Culture is fluid, and it is constantly said to be in motion since it absorbs the changes that take place around it (Deresky, 2017). Even though the changes take place on the cultural front, the past scenario is always respected and preserved so that its influence can be felt in the current cultural environment. It must be understood that culture does not just have an influence on the individual life, but it has a vital influence on the organizations that exist and operates in it.
Role of culture in Organizational set-up
The national culture influences the culture of an organization, and at the same time, it also has a direct or indirect impact on the different practices and processes that are followed in the organization. The national culture has certain key elements like religion, language, and other factors that include the manner in which the population of a place perceives behaves, and acts. In the current organizational scenario, the human elements have understood that the culture that is present in the external environment is strong and has a key influence on the overall behavior of the organization and its employees (Engelen et al., 2015). It shapes the organizational culture and molds the workplace environment of the entity. The changes that take place in the cultural front also have an impact on the organization and its functional performance. A set of cultural and behavioral aspects including values, beliefs, customs, morals, and assumptions dictate the behavior of people in the organization. Such aspects help to classify whether a certain behavior is acceptable or not. As per Hoppe, It is essential to understand the underlying relationship that exists between national culture and organizational behavior since the behavior that is influenced by the culture makes up the behavior of the entire business organization (Hoppe, 2007).
There is a need for organizations to identify and understand the national culture in which they operate so that ultimately they can use the knowledge to design the cultural framework of the undertaking. Since the culture of a nation has a vital influence on the overall organization and its functional aspects, and management behaviour, it is necessary for current employees to adapt to the present environment so that the business firms can sustain themselves in challenging circumstances.
Culture and its effect on an organization
The organizational management function that takes place on the international forum is quite different from the management scenario of the domestic environment. In layman’s language, international management is the function of an entity that is carried out in more than a single nation. To effectively function in this kind of organizational environment, the managers need to understand the various elements that are prevalent in the environment that could have a positive or a negative impact on the business performance. One such element is the national culture of the host nation (Moran, Abramson & Moran, 2014).
The culture has a major impact on almost all the activities that are conducted in an organization like teamwork, decision-making, communication, negotiation, etc. In the current business environment, managers need to understand the cultural aspects of the nations in which they operate so that the market opportunities in the international platform can be most effectively-identified and exploited (Morden, 2017). In order to survive in the competitive and uncertain scenario, the organizations need to study the cultural context and identify the areas that can be tapped so that the right message can be sent to the target audience. Some of the key areas of interest are cross-cultural communication, decision-making, cultural leadership model, etc.
The culture of a nation has a strong and vital bearing on the organization since the firm molds its operation in order to suit the specific culture where it begins its activities. The proper assessment of the culture can help a concern to avoid various cultural conflicts that might arise and affect the normal functioning of the firm.
Effect of Organizations on Culture
Muenjohn & Armstrong said that the organizations that operate in the international environment have a vital influence on the cultural aspects of a nation. Sometimes managers forget to understand the link between their organization, its performance, and the cultural environment of a nation. But ignoring this interconnection can be detrimental for the business undertaking since the attitude and beliefs of the audience as well as the organizational employees are influenced in this connected environment (Muenjohn & Armstrong, 2015). The sociocultural elements like attitude, values, beliefs, demographic trends of a nation play a key role in the overall international organizational environment. The manager operating in this setting needs to identify the effect of the firm on the cultural aspects of the people so that the same can be strengthened for the better.
The way in which organizations work is changing the normal culture that is exhibited on the national front. The manner in which various management functions such as decision-making, leadership, and communication are conducted in the organization has a significant impact on the cultural behaviour of the nation. The diverse and open attitude of concern will help the general population to be more open and welcoming in their overall attitude. Since an organizational setup shows that people from diverse backgrounds work in harmony, it has a positive impact on the cultural model of society since it encourages them to be more tolerant towards others (Thomas & Peterson, 2017).
The underlying processes that are adopted by organizations to achieve a specific goal show the society that the people need to focus less on their benefit and more on the larger benefit since this attitude can bring about a positive change in the current community. The coordinated approach and transparent communication model that is exhibited by some successful organizations show that the people that live in the society can forget their differences and work harmoniously to achieve their particular objective. The positive and fair approach followed by organizations has a favorable influence on the culture of a nation since it motivates the people to absorb the positive characteristics to bring about a new and positive change in society.
Cultural convergence is said to occur when culture becomes more alike. One of the important elements that help cultural convergence is communication. In the organizational setting, cultural convergence plays a key role since it re-designs the management style and changes the competition and coordination in the environment (Tjosvold, 2017). Many of the changes that have taken place in the organizational front are due to globalization. Globalization has brought all the businesses and undertakings on a single platform, and it has also strengthened the various opportunities that are present in the global market scenario.
Cultural convergence plays a significant role in the prevailing organizational environment since it helps to identify and understand the various cultural elements that are common between different cultures around the globe. In the earlier times, there was a significantly high number of cultural conflicts that would arise in the organizational set-up because the managers would try to force their personal, cultural views and beliefs on the employees from diverse cultural backgrounds. But today such instances have declined in number because the open mindset at the organizational level is helping them to understand the point of view of others.
The culture that is exhibited in the nation has a direct or indirect influence on the organizational culture and this, in turn, influences the cultural behaviour that is exhibited inside the entity by its employees. Different cultures focus on different aspects of the work. The Americans adopt a professional approach and give high regard to the timely completion of the assigned task (Zhang et al., 2015). In the Asian culture high regard is given to personal relationships in the working environment. Thus for the organizations that function in the international environment, it is necessary to take into account the various sub-cultural aspects such as values and beliefs.
In order to encourage peace and harmony in the organizational environment, it is necessary to have an open attitude. This kind of approach will help to inculcate the positive features of different cultures and strengthen the fundamental organizational culture. The major differences that exist in the cultural front cannot be removed, but all the positive elements of culture can be combined and adopted by the firm so that a strong and healthy work environment can be encouraged.
Models of effective cultural leadership
Leadership is an imperative component that helps an organization to survive in an uncertain and competitive environment. An influencing and strong leader can help an organization to reach great heights in the industry (Tjosvold, 2017). The culture of a nation has a strong influence on the leadership model that is followed by a business organization. The exhibited culture of a particular community is highlighted in various functional areas of the concern such as the leadership model, decision-making strategy, etc. There are a number of models for effective cultural leadership like the GLOBE research project, Edward T Hall model, and Geert Hofstede model.
Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness
The GLOBE research model was devised in 1991 by Robert J House, and its comprehensive volume was constructed as a result of obtaining data from about 17,300 middle managers from 951 organizations in 2004. While working on the leadership model an international team of 170 researchers collected necessary data on numerous subjects including cultural values, practices, and leadership (Thomas & Peterson, 2017). The major finding of the model states that leader effectiveness is contextual and is basically embedded in the social culture as well as organizational culture. In simple words, it states that in order to be effective an organization needs to change its strategy and model based on the environment in which it operates. GLOBE has established 9 different cultural dimensions that help to identify the similarities and the differences between the norms, values, and behaviors among different societies.
The different dimensions that have been covered in the model include: Power distance which reflects the extent to which the community members expect power to be disseminated equally among them, avoidance of Uncertainty highlights the degree to which a society or organization trusts the social values and practices to eliminate unpredictability of future occurrences, humane orientation shows the degree to which community encourages positive behavior like generous attitude, kindness, etc., collectivism (Institutional) discusses about the extent to which society encourages and rewards the collective distribution of resources, collectivism (In-group) highlights the extent to which individuals show loyalty and pride in the organizational set-up, assertiveness shows the assertive character of people in various social relationships, gender egalitarianism highlights the extent to which steps are taken to reduce gender inequality, future orientation discusses the degree to which people exhibit a future-oriented approach and focus on planning, and investing in future and performance orientation reflects the degree to which the society encourages excellence in performance (Zhang et al., 2015).
Edward T Model
Edward T Hall was the anthropologist who made key discoveries relating to the major cultures. He basically proposed the high context and low context cultural factors. In the high context culture, a number of factors were present that would help people to grasp the meaning of the basic rules. It can get slightly complicated for individuals who do not understand the meaning of “unwritten rules” that are prevalent in society. The low-context culture includes the factors that are deeply covered in order to avoid misunderstanding and confusion.
The various factors that have been identified are overtness of the message – As per high context culture, this message contains a number of implicit messages, so one has to analyze minutely to understand the actual meaning. According to low context culture, the message is explicit and simple to understand. Expression of reaction – In high context culture is reserved whereas the reaction in low context culture is external and visible (Thomas & Peterson, 2017). The flexibility of time – In high context culture, time is considered to be more open and flexible in nature while in the low context culture time is highly organized, and the final outcome is more important than the process. Thus ultimately he tries to tell that the interaction that takes place between high context culture and low context culture can lead to confusion among the involved parties.
Hall has also included the subject relating to space or freedom and the relationship that humans have with it. This study was termed “Proxemics”. The need for space varies from person to person. Some individuals need more space in all aspects. Personal space is the territory which an individual likes to keep private and hidden from others.
Geert Hofstede Model
Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory is the framework that emphasizes the cross-cultural communication that takes place between different members. Professor Geert did a comprehensive study for understanding the way in which the value in the workplace is affected by culture. He has introduced 6 dimensions of national culture which represent the individual preferences of one state over the other.
Power Distance Index – The PDI dimension highlights the extent to which the weak members of the society accept and anticipate the power to be distributed unequally. The issue highlighted focuses on the inequality that exists in society. Individual versus collectivism – As per the dimension, individualism refers to the culture where people are considered as individual entities and work towards their specific motives. Collectivism refers to the close-knit groups that have high unity among cultures. Masculinity versus Femininity – This model showcases the rigidity with which the roles of men and women are divided, and hence it represents the inequality between the genders (Muenjohn & Armstrong, 2015). Uncertainty Avoidance Index – This dimension is related to the manner in which culture would respond to various uncertainties. It highlights the response of culture towards risky situations. Long-term Orientation versus Short-term orientation – It represents the intent of society to work towards goals that are long-term or short-term in nature. Indulgence versus restraint – This dimension represents the manner in which culture responds to the lifestyles and choices made by people.
Fons Tromenaar Model
Fons Tromenaar has identified the seven dimensions of culture which was in 1997 in his book “Riding the waves of culture”. It was found that people from different cultures differ from one another due to specific aspects. The seven dimensions that he highlighted in the model are universalism versus particularism, individualism versus communitarianism, specific versus diffuse, neutral versus emotional, achievement versus ascription, sequential time versus synchronous time and internal direction versus outer direction.
Shalom Schwartz’s Model
The theory of basic human values was introduced by Shalom H. Schwartz, and it tries the measure the universal values that can be applied in major cultures all around the globe. It identifies 10 values namely self-direction, stimulation, hedonism, achievement, power, security, conformity, tradition benevolence, universalism and spirituality. These ten basic values are present in most cultures and help to form the connection between different individuals (Moran, Abramson & Moran, 2014).
The various elements relating to the cultural aspects have been covered in the essay. It shows that even though the cultural environment is invisible but it has a strong presence in the organizational backdrop. Since the element has a significant bearing on major aspects of the organization including decision-making, risk element, leadership aspects, and overall work environment, the organizations need to thoroughly assess the culture of the nation where they wish to conduct their business operations. Since culture plays a key role in the organizational environment its impact on organizational performance needs to be understood in a better way. The different models that focus on effective cultural leadership have been highlighted so that the readers can understand how culture influences the leadership scenario in an organizational environment.
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