Management interculturel

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MP A R
Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Culture as an individual process: Deficits of national cultural theories in management of cultural diversity
Lenz, Rainer University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld

May 2008

Online at http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/26629/ MPRA Paper No. 26629, posted 10. November 2010 / 23:56

UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES BIELEFELD

Culture as an individualprocess



Deficits of national cultural theories in management of cultural diversity
  Rainer Lenz (rainer.lenz@fh‐bielefeld.de)    May 2008       

Most prevalent theories in cross cultural management reduce the variability of individual relations to one single category, the national culture. Based on the assumption that the national cultural values determine individual behavior theindividual’s behavior in different national cultures becomes predictable. This over simplistic model pretends to provide “easy” answers for a complex world. In this article a new approach to culture is developed where culture is seen as a permanent individual process. The focus is the individual in its complex correlation to the society. This approach leads to a holistic view of a human being as ittakes beside the social relations the individual's personality and it’s reflexivity into account.  

Culture as an individual process
Deficits of national cultural theories in management of cultural diversity

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Introduction .......................................................................................................................................... 3Shortcomings of the “national culture” concept ............................................................................. 4 The individual as the source of culture ............................................................................................. 8 Culture as an individual momentum ............................................................................................... 13 Implicationsfor cross-cultural management.................................................................................. 14 Conclusion .......................................................................................................................................... 16 

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1. Introduction Due to the growing internationalisation of business over the past twenty years, researchers haveincreasingly acknowledged the importance of culture as a main determinant for human behavior. Surely the demand for developing an understanding of cultural aspects in business was extremely high as nowadays every company or organisation is confronted with culturally diverse workforces, negotiations across national boundaries, business communication in a foreign language or culturally orientedadvertising strategies. A comparison of research done in the area of cross-cultural management shows a common approach among scientists to conceptualize culture: Starting point is mostly the existences of a “national culture”. By defining a range of different cultural dimensions the characteristics of a national culture could be measured, clustered and compared with others. Based on the assumption thatthe national cultural values determine the individual behavior of nationals the individual’s behavior in different national cultures becomes predictable. Guidelines for managers like “how to deal with Germans” could be derived. Furthermore managers could be advised, which kind of activities and behavior are appropriate for the specific national culture.

Insert here “Figure 1: The national cultureconcept”

Obviously the strength of this national culture concept lies in its clarity and consistency. Due to the simplicity of the model it is easy to understand and has the advantage to provide clear guidance for everyone, who has to deal with different cultures. Nevertheless it is questionable if

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this concept of culture helps managers to avoid or to solve cultural conflicts in...
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