Categories
Free Essays

The Impact of Culture Differences on Strategy Realisation in the Post-Acquisition Process

This study sets out to develop an understanding of why and how in the post-acquisition integration process, culture differences impact strategy realization. Based on clinical research, the effect of culture differences was explored in multiple integration settings within a single multinational corporation. This pointed to various degrees of perceived organizational and perceived personal uncertainty associated with different integration approaches impacting on commitment to organizational goals. A controlled laboratory experiment validated perceived uncertainty causing an individual change on the socially constructed variable culture, which affects employees’ behavior, such that it negatively impacts the process to strategy realization. The theoretical and practical relevance of these findings is discussed, as are directions for further research.

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as a strategy for growth, by their sheer size and number, carry strategic importance for companies, industries, and the economy as a whole. M&A are a select opportunity to enhance a firm’s capabilities, and though a well-traveled, not proven road to value creation. Success depends on companies’ ability to achieve their specific synergy goals by integrating their specific organizations, sharing their specific resources, and reconfiguring their organization toward value-creation processes. The needed inter- and intra-company cooperation, turning potential into achievement, reinforces the need to regard strategy formulation and implementation as aspects of the same objective.

The study develops an understanding of why, and how, culture differences impact strategy realization in mergers and acquisitions (M&A). The following three premises set the framework of the research area:

(1) M&A are a select opportunity to enhance a firm’s capabilities (Haspeslagh and Jemison 1991);

(2) The post-acquisition integration process is a crucial factor in M&A, whereby management of the post-acquisition integration process is generally considered important in achieving organizational objectives (Pablo 1994, Schweiger and Walsh 1990);

(3) Culture is found to be a plausible explanation for obstructions in the post-acquisition integration process (Nahavandi and Malekzadeh 1988)

It has been argues that culture and strategy are overlapping constructs. Culture in an organizational setting serves two critical functions. It solves both problems of external adaptation (defining objectives) and those of internal integration, namely how opportunities and threats in the environment are dealt with. Social scientists have defined culture in a myriad of ways. “Culture gives you a set of codes to deal with phenomena in a social environment”

Impact of Culture on the Post-Acquisition Integration Process

In value-creating M&A, post-acquisition integration is the vehicle to transfer competencies and to share knowledge and skills between organizations. Though cultural diversity offers the opportunity to use the competencies and knowledge contained in each organization to the benefit of the combined company, clashing cultures throughout the corporate structure are found to poison an integration process and subsequently prevent synergy from being achieved. Two phenomena have made culture harder to come to terms within present-day M&A. The first is the growing number of cross-border, cross business (e.g. retail and investment banking), and cross-industry (e.g. banking and insurance) M&A. Not only do employees have different norms, values, and attitudes, they filter the environment and acts of others through the lenses of their own experience. Cross-border M&A are even less likely to succeed than within country M&A: accommodating both national and organizational cultures results in “double layered acculturation”. The second phenomenon is the growing importance of human capital, the primary “raw material” of the service industry. In providing a service there is both a high “personal” factor and a high level of interaction. In such an environment, the acquired business’ resentment over loss of autonomy and its subsequent resistance to change are detrimental to achieving organizational objectives. Assimilating the staff of merging or acquired companies is a matter of strategic importance in the realization of synergies. Failure to integrate cultures makes for an organizational void soon filled with dilemmas and conflicts, thus making for a situation where culture clashes are unavoidable. Furthermore, caution that culture clashes between members of different sub- cultures will likely evolve from a dormant level to an overt one if business is no longer “as usual”.

Research framework

This study diverges from earlier research findings in that obstructions to cooperation are not assumed to stem entirely from formerly independent organizations coming into contact with one another. If culture differences between acquisition partners obstruct post-acquisition integration, then the degree of culture differences between the acquisition partners and the degree of contact between the acquisition partners are of a determining nature. In this study, empirical work was conducted to investigate specifically how organizational and personal uncertainty change individuals’ responses to cultural dimensions relating to goal-directed behaviors. In the specific M&A framework for investigation, it is hypothesized that dimensions of culture are affected by perceived uncertainty created by the integration approach implemented, ultimately impacting commitment to organizational goals and strategy realization. It is argued that above a certain level, perceived uncertainty causes a reaction outside the conscious control of individuals, affecting extra-role behavior, notwithstanding earlier collective programming of the mind. The specific framework for investigation allows for how and why the dimensions of culture moderate the behavioral outcomes of post-acquisition integration and, ultimately, strategy realization for the firm.

In order to understand why and how culture contributes to strategy realization, the following hypothesized relationships are tested in a controlled laboratory experiment.

Hypotheses

The following hypotheses test the perspective that the dimensions of culture are a dynamic contextual dependent variable in the post-acquisition integration process.

Null hypothesis 1: Dimensions of culture will not differ between the integration approaches.

Null hypothesis 2: The median of the answers given on the same questions in the different integration approaches does not differ between the integration approaches.

The acceptance of the null hypotheses would signify that the study provides no evidence to suggest that there is a significant within-person difference on the dimensions of culture under conditions of change.

This field study showed that, contrary to expectations, respondents did not find the culture differences problematic and/or affecting the various post-acquisition integration processes. Thus, regardless of the degree to which different cultures came into contact with each other in the different integration approaches, respondents did not object to adapting to the culture of the partner as long as the post-acquisition process was perceived to be fair, honoring employees’ past commitment to organizational goals, and free from opportunistic behavior.

In the field study, perceived uncertainty, stemming from organizational change in the integration approaches, was a major issue. Respondents described it impacting the post-acquisition integration process to the extent that it affected commitment to organizational goals and subsequently strategy realization. They considered uncertainty as a processual phenomenon of post-acquisition integration, reflecting both perceived organizational and perceived personal uncertainty. Perceived organizational uncertainty comprises the future of the company, knowing and understanding of what the goals are, the availability of resources to accomplish the goals set, legitimate concern for the protection of value drivers, and the industrial and economic environment in which the organization operates. Perceived personal uncertainty includes among other things, job security, honoring psychological contracts, altered career expectations, job satisfaction, new colleagues, work practices and/or business systems, and opportunistic behavior of others.

Discussion and Implications

The primary theoretical contribution of this study is the establishment of why and how, in the post-acquisition integration process, culture differences impact the realization of strategy. In general, the dimensions of culture as described as influence employees’ participation in bridging the gap between synergy potential and synergy achieved. The dimensions of culture are found to be a moderating variable rather than an independent factor in the post-acquisition integration approach. A within-person change on the dimensions of culture, stemming from a change in the levels of autonomy granted and interdependence required, explains why culture impacts strategy realization. The effects of this within-person change on commitment to organizational goals resolve how culture impacts strategy realization. Culture is found to be a socially constructed variable, which in the post-acquisition integration process is impacted at an individual level, regardless of earlier programming of the mind. Uncertainty as it is perceived, stemming from organizational change in the post-acquisition integration processes, has an inverse relation to behavior conducive to realization of strategy.

The research results contribute to knowledge in the field of strategy, organizational behavior, and social psychology by validating that dependent on context the dimensions of culture become dynamic. Research findings also illustrate that in the post-acquisition integration process perceived uncertainty is a dual construct and a context-dependent process variable. Particular to the field of strategy is that the absence of resistance to neither change nor employees continuing to perform their daily routines is enough of a condition to bridge the gap between synergy potential and synergy achieved. Extra-role behavior is the critical factor in the post-acquisition integration process toward strategy realization. The scale applied in the controlled laboratory experiment, measuring the dimensions of culture, shows the discretionary nature of extra-role behavior.

There is practical relevance for business leaders is that it is not necessarily the degree of culture differences between acquisition partners, nor the degree cultures come into contact with each other, nor these culture differences originating cross-business, cross-industry or cross-border that explain the impact of culture on strategy realization. The effect of perceived uncertainty on the post-acquisition integration processes is such that the importance of management action cannot be overstated. The inverse relation between the level of perceived uncertainty and employees’ extra role behavior seriously impacts strategy realization. Any integration approach can show a pattern of high perceived organizational and high perceived personal uncertainty if no clear choices are made or if internal communication is lacking. In the post-acquisition integration approach, business is not as usual and the requirements for strategy realization have not yet crystallized to the extent that they can be incorporated in job descriptions, work procedures, structures, and processes. Extra-role behavior to a large extent being discretionary and in the span of control rather than under the control of business leaders is an important finding. The more employees’ activities consist of actions that are non-fragmented, non-routine, and require interaction, the more strategy realization hinges on leadership creating an environment where value can be created. It is not so much that culture differences are incompatible; the effect of perceived uncertainty on extra-role behavior is such that employees throughout the hierarchy do not make the opening moves. The obstruction to cooperation is not so much employee resistance as that there is no platform for transfer of competencies, for sharing of knowledge and skills, or an environment for cooperation.

Limitations

The sample of the questionnaire is neither random nor has it been possible to test for non-reply. As stated earlier, in management research judgment samples are more common than probability samples. The number of respondents is sufficiently large, and deliberately composed of dissimilar respondents for external validity not to pose a problem. Eight questions following the vignettes are measuring personal behavioral intentions, while two are measuring the behavior of colleagues. Asking direct question reference absenteeism was considered too intrusive to gather answers that were not influenced by considerations of “social correctness”. The question on cooperation between divisions being smooth was purposely phrased as such cooperation is more of a group effort than that of a solitary individual.

In this study, the most widely used analytical tool to establish reliability, Cronbach’s alpha, and the Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin measure to determine sampling adequacy have been used. The use of these mean-based tests on ordinals is considered an acceptable risk as they test the scale applied. They are not used to interpret the controlled laboratory experiment results. Taking into account that the answers following the different vignettes were drawn from a true replicated sample, comparing the results of the reliability tests across the vignettes warrant attention. The application of mean-based statistics to an ordinal scale might not be without penalty or alternatively it might be that environmental contexts affect reliability tests.

Further research

This study is only the first step toward a better understanding of how and why culture differences impact strategy realization. Research into whether one or some dimensions of culture are clean in their effect while others are more of a moderating nature and/or their interrelation is deemed important. Further analysis of the data is deemed worthwhile but at the moment impaired by the unconventional premise that the difference between a discrete and a continuous solution space is such that it might seriously affect the meaningfulness of analytical statistical results. In this context, it will be a contribution to the management literature to explore whether, and how, historic events influence perceptions of uncertainty in a present situation. And, whether and how, tolerance for absorbing impact within certain boundaries explains differences in the performance of firms. It is expected that current and historic organizational modus operandi and external environmental factors will determine these factors in specific change situations. The impact of these on strategy realization in addition to perceived uncertainty stemming from changing levels of autonomy and required amount of interdependence should be taken into account. It was a core premise of the chapter that strategies and their implementation are an integral part of strategy realization. Investigating the generalizability of the research findings to other organizational change efforts might not be without significance in explaining differences in firms’ performance.

REFERENCES

Haspeslagh, P. and Jemison, D. 1991. Managing Acquisitions: Creating Value through Corporate Renewal.New York: Free Press.

Pablo, A. 1994. Determinants of acquisition integration level: A decision-making perspective.AcademyofManagementJournal, 37(4): 803–36.

Nahavandi, A. and Malekzadeh, A. 1988. Acculturation in mergers and acquisitions. Academy of Management Review, 13

Categories
Free Essays

Developing Corporate Culture

Introduction:

Developing corporate culture’s study will provide a detailed understanding of the importance of the corporate culture in organisational success and the managerial skills to influence the achievement of the culture. The development of an appropriate culture is vital to the organisation’s success. It could be said that all the best policies, procedures and technologies are supported by a culture that reinforces consistently what the organisation is all about. This study will explore the work that has already been carried out to develop an understanding of both national and organisational culture dimensions. This understanding will allow them to consider how this affects their interaction with different stakeholders from different culture group. Although it is underpinned by an exploration of relevant theory, the intention is that the study will be applied to specific organisation and situation. A very important part of this study is stakeholders, any group or individual that can affect or affected by the achievement of organisational goals, such as managers, stockholders, work groups, suppliers, distributors and customers. This detailed study of DCC will provide essential knowledge of the subject.

Literature review:

1.1 Organisational culture and Organisational Objectives

Business objectives are the ends that an organisation sets out to achieve. Organisational culture is the main aspect of any business to achieve these objectives. An organisation must create an effective culture and business plans to enable it to achieve these ends, thus plans and organisational culture are the means to the ends, to achieve the organisational goals. The objectives and plans that an organisation creates are determined by balancing the requirements of the various stakeholders in the organisation. The stakeholders are those individuals and groups that are affected by and have an interest in how the business is run and what it achieves.

Every business has a range of stakeholders. The objectives that a company establishes are based on blending the various interests of these stakeholder groupings. For example, an objective to be the market leaders will benefit all stakeholders because customers will receive high quality products, shareholders will receive high dividends, employees will receive good wages, and so on. (James L H and John P K, 1992) indicate that corporate culture is the biggest influence to the performance of the work force. It may sometimes inhibit long-term financial performance. It was suggested how managers can work at reversing such a trend. In particular, managers wasted little time and energy on people or products or plants that seemed to have little long-term potential, by creating systems that tracked non-financial data which were also sometimes able to demonstrate credible progress in even less time. Thus, the strength of cultures, their adaptability and their environmental fit as key predictor of their financial performance. (R Harrison & H Stokes; 1992) clarifies that “Culture impacts most aspect of the organisational life, such as how decisions are made, who makes them, how rewards are distributed, who is promotes, how people are treated, how the organisation responds to its environment and so on.”

All this different factors combined to create a successful and popular corporate culture for the organisation which will result in to the immense success in long term, in terms of both, financially and socially. The organisation will raise its status in the competition resulting financial gains and at the same time it will become popular amongst the employee which will allow them to create a very good social image. There are many different models of organisational culture is available. To name a few, Entrepreneurial structure and power culture, Bureaucratic structure and role culture, matrix structure and task culture, Independence structure and person culture etc. The best example is Johnson’s cultural web of organisational culture. The image shown here explains what the culture includes:

This model is called the ‘cultural web’ though it looks like more of a flower than a web. The paradigm in the centre is the set of core beliefs. Let me clarify what is a paradigm. A paradigm is a constellation of concepts, values, perceptions and practices shared by a community, which forms a particular vision of reality that is the basis of the way a community organises itself. (Capra 1997). This will take place from the multiplicity of conversations. It will maintain the unity of the culture. The ‘petals’ are the manifestations of culture which result from the influence of the paradigm. Almost all of the change programmes will concentrate on the petals; trying to effect the change by looking at structures, systems and processes. Initiatives usually have a limited success. A lot of energy and money is put into the change programme, with all the usual communication exercises, consultations, workshops etc. In the beginning things seem to be changing but gradually the novelty and impetus wears off and the organisation0 settles back into something like its previous configuration. This will happen in the most of the cases because of a very simple reason that unless the paradigm at the heart of the culture is changed there will be no lasting change.

Harrison and stock mentions that Culture impacts most aspect of the organisational life, such as how decisions are made, who makes them, how rewards are distributed, who is promoted, how people are treated, how the environment respond to its environment and so on. It is very important to understand how this different aspects of the culture help to achieve the organisational objectives. Treating all employees equally will create a very healthy environment for work. A healthy environment means harmony and co-ordination in work, good level of communication and consistency in achieving the organisational targets. This is what an organisation would ideally want from the workforce.

At this point, a very important topic is also related to the success of the organisational culture and that is the difference between organisational culture and national culture.

1.2 Organisational and National culture

Based on the research of Dr. Geert Hofstede,(www.itapintl.com), there are differences between national and organizational cultures. For global companies, it is important to understand both in order to impact organizational performance. Our national culture relates to our deeply held values such as good vs. evil, normal vs. abnormal, safe vs. dangerous, and rational vs. irrational. National cultural values are learned early, held deeply and change slowly over the course of generations as witnessed in all ages. The organizational culture is comprised of broad guidelines, rooted in organizational practices learned on the job. Experts agree that changing organizational culture is difficult and takes time. When two or more companies merge/integrate is how the underlying personal values of employees impact how they perceive the corporate culture change efforts. People can learn to adapt to processes and priorities, and a person can be persuaded to follow the exemplar behaviours of leaders in an organization. But if these priorities and leadership traits go against the deeply held national cultural values of employees, corporate values processes and practices will be undermined. What is appropriate in one national setting is wholly offensive in another. What is rational in one national setting is wholly irrational in another. And, corporate culture never trumps national culture.

1.3 Analysing the corporate culture

British Airways is operating a highly effective bureaucratic structure and role culture. At British Airways the organisational culture is to constantly work towards creating an inclusive culture that understands and respects the individual differences of each employee. British Airways seek to deliver a service which reflects and responds to the diverse range of customer needs with an aim to drive and integrate diversity into all aspects of the service to remain competitive. As a company which operates globally, BA needs to attract and retain talented individuals to reflect the diversity of customer base. Employing a mix of people from diverse backgrounds leads to potential new ideas and innovation.

BA’s strategy is driven through diversity champions representing departments across the airline and employee groups which meet regularly to discuss issues on religion, disability, flexible working, sexual orientation and ethnicity. Diversity issues are communicated to employees via corporate intranet site, diversity forums, diversity employee networks, company newspaper and in monthly newsletters. The organisational culture describes all the rules, practices, attitudes and beliefs of business and underpins the interactions of staff and customers. Organisational climate describes the morale and perceptions of the organisation and is quite subjective.

At British Airways the current climate is not harmonious between the staff and the management. As a result the organisation is facing a lengthy unrest resulting in to the walkout of the staff which coasted company a whopping ?150 million. This dispute will be the biggest obstacle in company progress to achieve the organisational objectives. The main source to achieve any company target is the workforce. If the work force is not satisfied, they present a real threat of obstructing the progress of the company. (Mullins 2002) clearly described that Organisational climate is relating to the prevailing atmosphere surrounding the organisation, to the level of moral and the strength of feelings of belongings, care and goodwill amongst the members. Organisational climate is based on the perceptions of members towards organisations. Hence it is clearly noticeable that the current management at BA has failed to gain an edge over member’s perceptions. The work force is disputing from a long time and it is clearly obstructing the organisational goals.

BA is committed to achieve highly professional goals through their different future commitments. The Colleagues at BA are engaging themselves to make British Airways a high performance workplace; by focusing to deliver consistent customer service; by developing and maintaining world-class partnerships with all key stakeholders, both internal and external; to create a performance-based culture. BA is also committed to an Operational efficiency by driving continuous improvement, short and long-term. This work is led by the Leadership team which involves and engages employee right across the organisation. But the current climate will definitely not allow these commitments to become realistic. Although recent improvements between union and management is showing some positive signs which is an indication of good times coming back to BA.

There are many different departments in BA. At some level, the different departments operate with independence structure and person culture. As mentioned earlier, his structure is based on the individuals who are responsible for their work. For instance, the cleaning department, work on terminals. Although this department have a manager and supervisor but most of the staff knows their responsibilities and knows exactly how to perform them. They hardly need the information of everyday work as they are accustomed of it. Between the staff members, the power and influence are shared with strong individual values. This is also a very effective organisational culture.

1.4 Organisational culture’s Impacts

The organisational culture combines the areas of different potential misunderstanding such as communications, management and negotiations. Moreover buyer behaviour, cultural shock, importance of developing cohesive culture in merged organisations is some of the different factors which clearly impacts on achievement of organisational objectives. Stewart mentioned that “in recent years attention has shifted from the effects of the organisation on work of people’s behaviour to how behaviour is influenced by the organisation culture. What are much more common today is the widespread recognitions that original change is not just, or even necessarily mainly, about changing the structure but often requires changing the culture too.” The impacts of organisational culture are many and varied depending on whether the company has a strong culture or a weak culture, but there are some generalities that apply. Most of the time some positive effects will occur no sooner a company makes a concerted effort to establish a strong positive organizational culture at the work place. Many workers are spending more and more time at work entirely depending on the job or company. The old axiom goes that a happy worker is a productive worker, and this is one of the effects of organizational culture. Workers want to enjoy work. They want to be interested in whatever is going on during their work span, or long term goals. Being part of something meaningful will make the worker enjoys which will change whole experience of work better. This will make them more productive. The effects of organisational culture should help providing such kind of settings. A strong organisation must be focusing on the environment it creates for its workers. This is because that will help encourage a more efficient and productive organisation. Focusing on building and sustaining organisational culture shows employees that they are considered an important part of the company. Such type of company generally has among the best response from its employees and thus will also have a much better chance of achieving its goals.

There are five major reasons for wanting to create an appropriate and positive organisational culture for your company: A strong organisational culture will attract high level talent It will also help to keep the top level talent. It creates energy and momentum. A strong and successful organizational culture should alter the employees view of work. It will also help make everyone more efficient and successful. A strong organizational culture can breed success, and its importance should not be discounted.

2.1 Climate of Organisation

British Airways is a very well-known organisation. It has been renowned for its organisational culture. BA provides the best opportunities to the staff members including many benefits and packages to enjoy. But from last few years it is experiencing workforce unrest. The main reason for that is there is a change within the management psyche at BA, driven by the chief executive. The new management team had taken some tough decisions which were not liked by the staff members. The management took away travel perks and also did not implement any increment for two years. These actions resulted highly unpopular and caused heavy colleague unrest. Thousands of staff took part in 22 days of walkouts last year, which cost BA ?150m. But now there are some positive developments. BA cabin crew voted this week to end 18 months of strife, which is sign of good times coming back to BA. The agreement includes a two-year pay deal and the return of travel perks for staff who took part in walkouts last year. British Airways cabin crew voted on a peace deal that could end the airline’s worst industrial dispute. The Unite trade union posted ballot papers to crew. It is with a letter from its general secretary recommending a vote in favour of the agreement 18 months after Unite opened its first strike ballot on the dispute. So far the only indication of support for the deal is approximate, after hundreds of crew attending a meeting at Heathrow airport this month backed a proposal to put the deal to a wider vote. BA is hoping for the best outcome of these positive talks and are keen to end this worst industrial dispute.

Source: The Guardian

2.2 Ways to improve corporate climate

There are many different factor included in organisational climate. Some key factors are flexibility, responsibility, standards, rewards, clarity, team commitment, management practise, efficiency and effectiveness. All these have a clear impact in creating a healthy climate for workforce. Organisational climate might need to change to adapt the current changes in the business. There are many different ways of improving the organisational climate. Sometimes it is important to recognise improve may mean change because a particular climate is no longer appropriate. It is very important to understand which climate is required, different management styles, effective communications and rationale and continual review. Generally a healthy organisational climate will contain the integration of organisational goals and personal goals. The most appropriate organisational structure based on socio-technical system. Mutual trust, consideration and support amount at different level of the organisation. An open discussion of conflicts with an attempt of avoiding confrontation. Managerial behaviour and styles of leadership appropriate to the particular work situations. Acceptance of the psychological contract between the individuals and the organisation. If any organisation contains all the above mentioned in their culture, the work climate will be at its best.

2.3 Organisational Values

It is becoming increasingly important to growing numbers of organisations to let the individuals experience a sense of purpose at work and to work for an organisation that puts organisational values into practice. Personal values, which can be defined as “Underlying and relatively stable dispositions which organisations use to guide their actions and decisions and to help them make judgements about what is right and wrong” can only be the product of upbringing and socialisation, with purely individual differences stemming from personality characteristics also having a bearing. In adult life it is often a worthwhile process of self-development to spend some time clarifying one’s values: reviewing and reflecting on what is really important to you in an enduring way. It is not really a meaningful thing to choose values. The new organisations emphasis on value leadership; i.e. leading through establish leadership. The frame work for developing and supporting strong corporate core value is to integrate values in HRM strategies, recruitment, progression etc. Solutions about how to deal with a new task, issue or problem based on reality values that work become belief and justify actions and behaviours.

3.1 Stakeholders of organisation

At British Airways, their main stakeholders are its Workers. BA provides them with their daily bread and butter. The workers always want BA to do well because the company pays their wages which help them to pay their regular monthly expenditure, other expenses and their mortgages. The other most important stakeholders are its shareholders. They always want BA to do well because they own the company and want their investments to increase in value. They want to get paid regular dividends and other benefits. Moreover BA suppliers are also very important stakeholders of the organisation. They make money from supplying BA with goods and services. BA buys everything from food to fuel to entertainment for customers. Suppliers want BA to do well so they can continue to make a profit. And last but most important stakeholders are the customers. Many business customers fly the same route on a regular basis. They want BA to do well so they can continue to use their service. Customers want to enjoy many benefits that BA offers including frequent flier, BA Holiday sale and many more offers which coming on regular basis. So this can be said that The workforce, shareholders, suppliers and customers are the main stakeholders of BA.

3.2 Organisations communication strategies

Culture and communication can’t be separated. For us to communicate and cooperate, we must share some common assumptions about the world we live in and some common standards by which to judge our own and each-others action. There are three main types of communications. Written, verbal and non-verbal, this can be communicated in three different ways across the organisation. The first is downward communication. From top to lower bottom in hierarchy which are often unclear and disorganised. Upward communications flow. This allows the flow of communication and information from a lower level to a higher level Prone to distortion as people lower in the hierarchy wants to present them-selves in the best light filtered information and people high in the hierarchy do not want the feedback, suggestion or criticism. The third is Horizontal communication. This means coordinating activities; sometimes this is difficult as communication usually occurs up and down the hierarchy or the restriction of the information due to the competition. Any of this communication strategy can be used effectively to create a successful organisational culture with the best climate for the workforce.

Customer satisfaction and the opinion of all stakeholders are keys to defining BA’s success. British Airways understands the stakeholders – customers, opinion leaders and employees – to better inform business decisions. Therefore, in-depth and thorough measurement and research are in place to provide this important information. The British Airways measure Customer satisfaction which is monitored by a comprehensive and detailed on going survey, which measures reaction to all the aspects of the service throughout the journey experience that are important to customers. The survey was constructed with help from NOP, one of the world’s leading experts in customer research, and was tested extensively with customers before it was launched to confirm that it was as relevant, clear and unambiguous as possible. Source: British Airways.com

3.3 Communication Strategies:

BA believes it is important to share customer feedback as widely as possible throughout British Airways in order to maintain focus on the customer. Results are available on the Intranet, in the research library, and through electronic presentations and display boards. Customer insight is presented regularly to the company directors and to managers throughout British Airways. This how both customer satisfaction and other research, such as advertising effectiveness tracking, and summarises trends in customer satisfaction and behaviour, and performance issues in different areas of the business. Where appropriate, British Airways have also advised departments on the setting of targets for customer satisfaction performance in order to encourage improved service delivery. Over the past year customer insight has been used to support a range of product and service initiatives. These include: Evaluation of more cost effective meal option. Recommendation of improvements to service routines on very long flight route, Evaluation of technical developments to provide customers with greater flexibility and control when making their booking and check-in. Evaluation of different type of on board seating configuration in addressing the need of short-haul customers. Reorganisation of resources in some of the airport lounge to provide customers with a more comfortable experience and evaluation of the success of the customer relation’s service recovery across different channels and method of complaint handling. All this are different strategies of improving the communication and reforming a strong strategy without any weaknesses.

Conclusion:

After comparing many authors’ theories, it can surely be said that developing corporate culture and maintaining a healthy work climate are the most important factors of the organisation success. It provides the path to achieve the organisational goals by maintaining a skilful staff with the desire to develop further. Now the trainings can be given at employees own pace rather than forcing it to them and moreover they don’t physically need to be there in the classroom to get train. It can easily be assessed on internet and can be completed in their convenience. Internet based learning can be called an electronic library designed to share information. But given a detailed look one can realise its potential extends far beyond that. They can be the agent of change creating a more effective and connected workplace. We have always known the powerful effects of rapid, relevant, and specific corporate culture. This makes it far easier to implement the health corporate culture at all level of training and development initiatives.

Bibliography

British Airways.com

Corporate Culture and Performance; Kotter, John P.; Heskett, James L.; The Free Press; 1992; p. 99

Harrison, Roger & Stokes, Herb (1992) Diagnosing Organizational Culture. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

www.itapintl.com

Categories
Free Essays

‘Sex and sexuality: a cultural taboo’. Critically discuss and analyse the role of culture in sex and sexuality and impact on health.

Introduction

There is high recognition for morality, family life, community life, sociability and solidarity. This is shown through initiation, stories and rites of passages, but could differ from tribe to tribe and from culture to culture. The issue of sex and sexuality is often challenging where tradition is deep into their ethos. The role of cultural taboos through the ages has an impact on one’s identity, self-esteem, relationships, health and societal traditions is more real than is often imagined. This essay will critique how cultural taboos play a role among the girl child and women as a group in the Ghanaian culture and its impacts on their sexuality and health.

Critically examine culture, look at how cultural practices impact on general health and lives of its members.

Sexuality impacts widely on our lives because it differentiates and set us apart. This starts of how we feel inside as men and women. Sexuality is central throughout life and includes sex, gender, identities and roles, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction in the view of Nye, (1999), with culture expressed in desires, thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviours. However while all these aspects can include of sexuality, not all of them are practiced. They can also be influenced by social, cultural, legal and religion (Parker & Aggleton, 1999 and WHO, 2004). These are practices that reflect their values and customs which holds the members of the group for many generations. Cultural practices consist and reflect their values held by members of the members of a given group hold, the norms they follow, and the material or goods they create. In the world today, there are many social groups or cultural groups with specific traditional cultural practices and beliefs of which are beneficial to its members, while on the other hand presents harmful and negative impact to a specific group, such as women, who such cases are the receiving end. Such harmful cultural practices include female genital mutilation (FGM); forced feeding of women, early marriage, taboos and practices which prevent women from controlling their own fertility, nutritional taboos and birth practices, dowry price and son preference and its implications for the status of the girl child (Hosken, 1994).

Identify one particular cultural group and critically examine sex and sexuality how it is accepted and portrayed

The issue and discussion of sex and sexuality is viewed as a taboo and shameful by many cultures and it is simply not discussed. Taboos in this sense are put in place to ensure that norms and traditions are adhere to such as no sex before marriage and men sleeping with men (White, 1984).

There is also some veil of secrecy surrounding sex. To openly discuss sex with older adults is considered a sign of promiscuity. Issues of sex and sexuality have great implications on women as a group to exercise their feminism. Whether for procreation or carnal gratification, sex in the traditional African context is a thing not be trifled with. Traditionally in this context, sex is restricted to family life and only persons who are joined in marriage are expected to have sex. In the view of Kosemani (2005) ‘when it comes to the question of what the African scale of value is,’ sex relates to the totality of the human condition. Any deviation from that is faced with stigmatization.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) or female genital cutting (FGC) is widely practiced among the northerners, an ethnic group mainly found in the northern part of Ghana. This practice among these groups appears to be associated with spiritual roots, tradition and tribal beliefs (ref). It forms part of the rites of passage ceremony marking the coming of age of the girl child. To this group, by removing the female’s genitals, her sexuality will be controlled; but the main aim is to preserve a woman’s virginity before marriage and chastity thereafter (Hosken, 1994).

Normally young girls from age 7 to puberty age are circumcised, however for a girl attainting puberty and not being circumcised is regarded as a taboo and an abomination. The belief is to deter these girls from experiencing early sexual activities and unwanted pregnancy, sexual transmitted infections and unsafe abortions. Also, it is believed that by performing this practice it leads to cleanliness and fidelity of the woman, therefore making her sexually attractive for any prospective husband. Women who object to this practice are regarded as unclean, less attractive and less desirable for marriage; that is how their views on sexuality are expressed (Osho, (2005). The acceptance of FGM among this group is deeply rooted in their custom or tradition and has being practiced for many years by generations. The practice of FGM leaves a negative label on women and the girl child such as psychological problems and this violates the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health of the convention on the rights of the child (United Nations, 1979).

The early marriage of girls as opposed to boys is also practiced amongst this culture. Normally girls around the ages of 11-13years and reaching the age of puberty must be given away in marriage and start having children otherwise it’s a taboo. Such practices are not only seen among this ethnic group but prevalent in Asia and Africa. Jenson and Thornton (2003) argue this practice exist because of the girl virginity of the girl and the bride-price, and believe these girls are virgin and have had no sexual contact therefore this raises the status of the family.

In many cases her virginity would have to be verified senior female relatives before the marriage. This practice robs the childhood-time essential to the development of these girls physically, emotionally and psychologically. In many cases, the man would be many years older (Singh and Samara, 1996). With this circumstance, she is to develop an intimate emotional and physical relationship and adhere to sexual contact, although she may not be physically ready. A label is placed on a girl or woman as promiscuous if she refuses or fails to abide by the tradition. Sometimes a spell may be cast on her or sent out of the village for flouting the tradition.

What are good about these practices and what is not so good

Referring to the above situations, it is clear that sexual taboos thus put a lot strain on parents and other siblings by allowing them to go through the initiation. The negative implication of sexual taboos is that it does not allow dialogue between parties. The world is now a global village with globalization spreading everywhere; this makes girls more aware of such negative practices. By keeping silence, sexual taboos are allowing indirectly unreasonable and irresponsible sex or promiscuity so that she won’t be give out to an old man in marriage therefore not be able to enjoy her youthful days and having fun. As they defy these taboos, it results in broken hearts, broken homes, sex scandal and HIV/AIDS.
On a positive note, sex taboo forms a code of sexual conduct that in a sense is deeply and highly regarded that any deviation from it is detested. However, parents especially women must stand up and break this silence of sexual taboos and cultural beliefs which fuel the spread of emotional pain, diseases and infections. The sacred manner in which sex is held isemphasizing on the positive use of sex firm and basic that it is necessary for people to understand such importance people place on sex, therefore the positive point is the need to stress on it use (Kosemani, (2000).

Health impact

The health impact of FGM on women does irreparable harm. In many cases women experience severe bleeding which can lead to death and hemorrhagic shock, infection and septicaemia. Physical effects of this practice make the wound not heal properly leading to severe pain during sexual intercourse this increases the susceptibility to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections including reproductive tract infection, infertility and increased risk of bleeding and infection during child birth (Carovano 1992). In view of that it makes the situation quite difficult for women to be informed and seek adequate knowledge about the risks, but even when informed about risk, it makes it difficult for them to be involved in the negotiating of sex which often as a result of unawareness, embarrassment and unavailability of proper service of information. As motherhood, like virginity is highly considered to be a feminine ideal, the use of contraceptives as safer sex option thus pose a major dilemma for most women (Heise and Elias 1995; UNAIDS 1999).

Health complications that result from early marriage in include the risk of operative delivery, low weight and malnutrition resulting from frequent pregnancies and lactation in the period of life when the young mothers are themselves still growing. According to Weiss and Rao Gupta (1998) this practice does not allow the girls to indulge in illicit sex, exchanging sex for money and not perusing any risky behaviour. The stigma and embarrassment associated with sex and sexuality can lead to unwillingness to discuss and address sexual health issues.

Conclusion

The role of culture in sustaining such practices cannot be overemphasized. Women often see themselves as weaker vessels and therefore accept these tradition and taboos that give men the power to dominate over women in all matters and spheres of life including the expression of sexual desire. The need for education will helps in the development of virtues of the mind.

Categories
Free Essays

Consumption and Production of Culture

Introduction

The centre for Contemporary cultural studies (CCCS) has been criticised heavily about how it talks about youth subcultures. I will show how youth subcultures have been perceived by theorists and then show why it has been criticised through those theorists.

Each subculture joined together form the whole community and brings their individual uniqueness into it. A person’s subculture is also known as their parent subculture, which is the culture they belong to through what style they associate with. Cohen suggests that working class youth subcultures, “live out a kind of symbolic or magical occupation…their parents had once called their own”. He also puts the idea across that the subculture a youth is in is a “compromise”. Each subculture is the making of what youth’s parents subcultures were. They take two other subcultures for example “mods” and “rockers” and a new subculture can be formed. As this new subculture would take the same beliefs and interests as the other two so the youth could still be associated from that of the origins of what their parent’s subcultures were. The dominant culture is the general consensus, in which most people within a community accept the subculture and adopt the norms and values within. All these ideas are taken from Gelder, 2005.

Subcultures can be taken as a form of resistance as some can be used as an act of rebellion. I believe that some youths want to act and dress differently to what their parents want them to do, so they do the complete opposite.

A subculture can eventually be incorporated into mainstream, everyday life once it is known and accepted by the dominant culture and is then taken into everyday life. “ Eventually, the mods, the punks, the glitter rockers can be incorporated, brought back into line, located on the preferred ‘map of problematic social reality’ ( Geertz 1964) at the point where boys in lipstick are ‘just kids dressing up’, where girls in rubber dresses are ‘daughters just like yours’” (Hebdige). This shows that even though when it starts out, it might be seen as not part of the norm, but it can eventually be incorporated into the norm and is eventually accepted by the society.

Hebdige (1988) ideas are along the same line as Marxists ideas. They have the ideas that each subculture takes an item or object and can change the meaning of it, by how they make it look. He looks at the meaning of the styles each subculture wears. To find out the meaning of the British youth subcultures before the war he used semiotics to understand them. The meanings of the signs were interpreted using this method. Each word or object within a culture has a specific meaning in it. Hebdige was able to know what each object meant to each individual group of people.

Hebdige believes a subculture in two forms can take a process of recuperation. One being that of the signs in which are involved in the subculture and making them into objects which are mass produced and can help make the subculture more popular. Also there is the ideological form which any deviant behaviour is labelled and redefined by the dominant groups.

Within a subculture Hebdige believes there must be two questions asked, which must be answered once the meaning of style is known better. One being “how does a subculture make sense of its members?” and the next being “how is it made to signify disorder?” Both of these questions are answered to show how a subculture can be communicated between its self and the media.

Material goods can be important to certain groups as they are symbolic to their own subcultures. They have specific meanings for different items and they are sentimental for them. Within a subculture it is not just the material goods associated with it that make it, it is also the language that specific group uses. Between some subcultures there can be different languages emerging between them. Also different words can mean different things for each subculture. When subcultures merge together whatever the meanings of their symbols merge together and create new meanings and build on what was there before.

Different subcultures can be over emphasised by the media. The media can expose them and bring them into the public eye more. They can bring across the idea on what a subculture is; can speak about them positively or negatively. They can influence everyone else in the community just by what they think. The media though mostly always tend to bring things across negatively, which I think is shocking as I believe everyone has a right to what they think is right.

Some subcultures are not always put across as friendly groups. Some are put across negatively and that is the only side that is shown of them. Soccer hooligans are put across as being bad and sometimes associated with being animals. I think these sorts of groups do one thing bad and they always get seen negatively. No one ever looks for the positives within them.

Tony Jefferson (1976) also looked into the area of youth subculture. He mainly looks into Teddy boys or Teds, which were associated with attempting to recreate the working class community. They joined together to fight for their own territory and built a sense of loyalty between each other. Jefferson viewed what was happening as a sense of them buying their own status. They started wearing items which were worn by classes higher up, in the hope that with them now wearing them, they get seen as a higher status. From this it looks like they could not accept who they had become due to their area being under threat and felt they had to do whatever they could to buy their status back. This all happened because their own territory had become under threat from urban planners.

Each subculture tends to be very short lived and will only be around for as long as it stays in fashion, which is until the next new thing, which happens all the time. So in terms of political potential, it is very low as they do not stick around long enough to make a big enough impact to get power generated. Though a subculture’s profile is easily lifted by the help of the media, this helps get a particular culture started and make a name for them. Particularly in the 50s, the time of punks, rockers, the high profile subcultures, the Government tried to get subcultures thrown away, by strongly saying the trade unions would be taken away. Instead they wanted the nuclear family promoted and did not want anyone having their own uniqueness.

The problem with each subculture is that production companies have to cater for each individual style. They produce whatever is in fashion and change it whenever the subculture changes. Each subculture is always changing and building on what it already has. Some subcultures even end up merging to form a new culture, which again has its own uniqueness about it.

As said before, the CCCS is criticised, one is that they tend to go towards ‘rigidly vertical models’ (Stahl 2004). They often don’t take into account factors like age, race and gender. Also class universally is used singularly to explain the youth subcultures. Hebdige does use working class to mainly describe the subcultures in his reports. He also uses the influences of race to observe how some British subcultures, such as punks, have emerged over the years.

Another area which is criticised is that of the fact in which the male writers work, such as Willis and Hebdige, are invisible of girls. Angela McRobbie has written about the fact they ignore females in their explanation of youth subcultures. The male writer’s always focus mainly on the males within a subculture. The females just get ignored and don’t have any influence on the rising of how they see a subculture.

Angela McRobbie and Jenny Garber focus on female youths within a subculture. They focus on females because all the other theorists just focus on the male population. From that though you cannot get a full representation of what a subculture is, as it does not look at the whole population. McRobbie looks at the reasons why they do not look at females. That they might be viewed as separate and not be seen as much. They might have a subculture which is not seen by the community and the media. Although both of them did think that girls did play less of a part in a subculture, but believed this was down to the fact that during this time it was mainly male dominance and the girls did not have a big role at this time. They believe that structurally those young girls are different to young boys. That is why they believe that hidden somewhere is subcultures for those females. I believe that the male subcultures were just highlighted as it was male theorists conducting it and they mainly looked between the male dominance sides. There were probably female subcultures just as big, but they were not as influential or highlighted by the media as much. The media did not pick them up. This is a big downfall in the area of subcultures, as it does not show the big picture.

The theories that are put across from the CCCS and Hebdige are not always on the same levels as Marxists. They tend not to agree with them and disregard them. They believe they don’t take into account of how important the economic base is and the fact it shapes our culture.

Another problem with Hebdige’s work was there was no evidence that suggests that what he puts forward is actually how the people within those subcultures interpret it themselves. He doesn’t have any research which backs up his idea, which means it’s only what he believes. The people within those subcultures could interpret those objects completely differently. He didn’t talk to the members within to get their views; he could have conducted an interview. This though shows that his view lacks validity and other sociologists could respond to it as being subjective.

Andy Bennett and Keith Kahn-Harris (2004) see the CCCS as failing to show that subcultures are class based. They show that the CCCS only look at subcultures as being working class only and that there are not different classes in between. Other sociologists to Hebdige believe that the whole idea of consumerism is not built up through class, but rather the taste of different people. They believe that through people having different views on things they can see what is in style and respond accurately. This efficiently took away the boundaries between classes and brought different groups together.

Throughout the CCCS there is not much highlighted about the ethics or locality within subcultures. They believed that throughout the UK a subculture was the same where ever it was, but other researchers have discovered that there are some which are just based locally.

There is not a lot said about any of the youths which do not follow into a subculture. Even though these youths make up most of them they do not get talked about. The CCCS does not mention anywhere a reason for why one youth follows into a subculture, but another one does not, even though they are from the same working class background.

Throughout pieces written on subcultures, there tends to be an over emphasis on resistance. They tend to talk about how each subculture is an act of resistance over something rather than being someone’s way of life and not wanting to get back at others. Some subcultures are seen as if they are resisting against something they do not want to do. They act as if they are opposing against what people believe to be the right way of life and what is seen as the norm.

The CCCS intently put the idea across that each subculture is only about being the opposite to mainstream. Also suggest that there is only one type of norm and if you’re not like that then you are part of an oppositional subculture. They do not put across that there could be several mainstream as not everyone likes the same thing. They do not know what a subculture is actually about they have only put out theories. For all they know a subculture could just be about having good fun.

The theorists that criticise the CCCS and Hebdige the most is the Postmodernists. They claim that class does not play a big part in subcultures, but they also say that there might not even be subcultures. They think that they do not exist as they cannot be defined very well. They do not think that youth culture can really be described through the subculture concept.

Even though there is many negative, there is positives about subcultures. Subcultures are very influential on showing the differences between everyone in society. If you did not have those differences between subcultures, everyone would be the exact same, no one would have their own ideas and uniqueness about them.

In society now, it is still visible that subcultures still exist. You can see different subcultures within society and everyone belongs to their own group. Subcultures are probably more visible now than before, but the difference is every subculture is accepted widely as existing, though there is some difference between subcultures. Some do not like each other and tend not to get along.

As shown the CCCS has been criticised a lot. There is no firm research evidence to confirm what these theorists say. Even though there are negatives associated with the CCCS, you can see where some of the ideas about subcultures have come from and how they show how subcultures have grown and can influence culture as a whole. Though there are the positives, I agree with that of McRobbie as when all the other theorists were talking about subcultures, they should have incorporated what they were saying towards females as that would show the whole society.

References

Hebdige, D. 1976. Subculture: The meaning of Style. In: Haralambos and Holburn. Subculture and style. Hammersmith, Collins Education. pp 772.

Hebdige, D. 1988. Subculture: The meaning of Style, Routledge, London.

Hebdige, D. 1979. Subculture: The meaning of Style. In Gelder, K. Ed. The subcultures reader. 2nd ed., pp 121-131.

Jefferson, T. 1976. Youth Subculture. In Haralambos and Holburn. Teddy Boys. Hammersmith, Collins Education. pp 772.

McRobbie, A. And Garber, J. 1978. Gender and youth subcultures. In Haralambos and Holburn. The neglect of genderHammersmith, Collins Education. pp 774.

McRobbie, A. 1977. Girls and Subcultures. [online] available from: http://www.gold.ac.uk/media-communications/staff/mcrobbie/ [accessed on: 1st May 2011]

Categories
Free Essays

Managing organizational culture

Introduction

Culture doesn’t have any specific meanings or definition it has many different definition. As (Borosky, 1994, Ortner, 1984) describe that even in Anthropology culture has not largely approved or rigid definition. Culture can be defined as a set of values and thoughts which are being followed by the group of people which resulted to the activities and behaviours of the people living in specific society. Although it is has been described as framework to understand primal societies.(Katter and Heskett, 1992).As societies have set of norm values and beliefs, every Organizations and every business has culture in shape of values, rules and framework to follow which make the Organization unique amongst the other Organizations. In many organizations culture seems to be very crucial and important and it receive a considerable concentration. Culture is as complex and important as it is hard to use and recognize in thoughtful way. According to (Alvesson and Karreman, 2001; McDermott, 1999) Culture is very important for the organizations and companies how they work from day to day leadership, strategic change, which way the knowledge is being shared, maintained and created as well as the relations and dealings of the employees and managers with the customers. Culture is very significant for the success, growth and organizational effectiveness. Organization has the survival because of sharing its system of meanings at different levels (Smircich, 1985). As different countries have different culture, organizations don’t have the same culture as well they all have different values and rites and rituals heroes and myths than each other. It is very easy to recognize the culture of any organizations like McDonalds all the outlets of McDonald’s looks same they all wear same uniform no matter which area of the world they are operating in everything will be at same standard everywhere and anywhere in the world.In some companies is it is easy to recognize culture from their infrastructure, dress code language and customer services and in some organizations it is hard to see but it does not mean there is no culture in that organization in fact culture exist there but hard to judge or see because it is been fragmented sometimes. Any organizations which have strong organizational culture have success in the business. Organizations with strong culture have high degree of influence on the behaviour of the employees and the values of the organizations not only widely share but also held with high intensity. On the other hand company which have weak culture employee’s behaviour may not be consistent.

Literature review Organizational Culture

The literature on organizational culture is as significant to the management of the private sector as to the public science management. Organizations are assessing critically how they can achieve and describe their objectives and goals. After defining the goals of the organization it is vital to concentrate on the type of culture that is needed to achieve these targets and goals and making that sure that necessary change has been implemented.

Edward B.Tylor used the term ‘’culture’’ in 1875 in English literature. After that the early development of the concept of the organizational Culture has been defined by many authors in different ways (Kilman et al, 1985) describe culture ‘‘something to do with the people and unique quality and style of organization’’ (Deal and Kennedy, 1982) has explained culture’’ the way we do things here’’ or the ‘’ expensive non rational qualities of an organization’’.

Pettigrew (1979) started to talk about organizational culture’s concept. Anthropological perception of the culture was firstly used by him and he demonstrated how ritual, myths and symbolism can be interrelated in the analysis of organizations. Dandridge et al (1980) described that to reveal the deep structure of an organizational culture how significant and helpful is to study about these symbols and myths.

When in early 1980s the concept of organizational culture was one of the favourite and emerging topics to talk and write about for that reason many scholars defined and give their prospective about organizational culture in different ways. (Van Maanen, 1979) defined organizational culture as behavioural rules in human interaction which can be observed. (Deal and Kennedy, 1982) argues about organizational culture the values which are prevailing in an organization. (Tcihy,1982) compare organizational culture with a glue he says organizational culture hold the organization in the same way the way glue hold the different objects together and don’t let them apart. According to Forehand and Von Gilmer (1964) culture is a collection of qualities of any organization that differentiate and portray it from other organizations. (Titiev, 1959) suggests that culture can be shared and learnt. Organizational culture can be illustrated through behaviours, notions, activities and analysis of associates of the organization (Hellett, 2003). Organizational culture also has been defined by the (Van Maanen, 1979) as a those rules of behaviour which can be visible in human relations. (Robbins, 1998) states organizational culture as a perception inside the organization which is consistent. Many of other authors describe that organizational culture is set of norms, mutual ethics and philosophy (Barney, 1986). As suggested by (Yanagi, 1994, p ii) organizational culture ‘’Philosophies and values shared by the members of organization and their behavioural patterns for translating them in to action’’

Schein (1989, 1992) has one of the best definitions of the organizational culture.

Schein (1989) describe organizational culture ‘’ a pattern of basic assumptions- invented, discovered, or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration- that has worked enough to be considered valid and therefore, to be taught to new members as well as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relations to those problems ‘’ (Schein, 1989, p. 9).

Conclusion

As (Graves, 1986, p, 11) states about organizational culture as a different ways to steady the performance of the employees. Organizational culture acts like a bonding agent which keep the organization together(Kramer , 19974 and Foy , 1974)

Categories
Free Essays

What is the relationship between Organizational structures, culture and theirs factors

Introduction

Organizational Behavior is a field of study that investigates how individuals, groups and structure affect and is affected by behavior within organizations, for the purpose of applying such knowledge towards improving an organization effectiveness. A consciously coordinated social unit composed of two or more people that functions on a relatively continuous basis to achieve a common goal or set of goal. An Organization is a structured social system consisting of groups and individuals working together to meet some agreed goals and objectives.

An organization is a social organization which controls the goals and objectives of the company. This report is based on the theoretical concept of organizational behavior and how these behaviors will affect the managerial decision making and improve the performance of the organization. Organization behavior helps to learn about yourself and how to deal with others. You’re part of an organization now, and will continue to be a part various organizations. Organizations are increasingly expecting individuals to be able to work in teams, at least some of the time. The main purpose of this report is to critically evaluate all these theories and reasons for studying the organizational behaviour and ways of improving the knowledge on this field. The following questions will discuss some of the important aspect of organizational behaviour.

Organizational structures/culture/factors

Organizational Structure is a topic seldom contemplated by most people working in organizational settings. We all go to work every day, go to assigned locations, and perform our jobs — and we don’t ever think about how our organization is arranged. However, Organizational Structure is critical both for a company and its employees. People should think very carefully about the organizational structure of the companies for which they work or of companies for which they intend to work. In the long run, Organizational Structure can spell the difference between success and failure for a company, as well as for the individuals who work there.

Comparing organisational structure types involves identifying related objectives of the organisations being compared and then cross-comparing those objectives with the different strategies, policies, and procedures available in accomplishing them. Functional vs. Line organisational structures – functional organisations provide support, assistance, and labour to other departments or other organisations that make an actual product. Line organisations are responsible for making a product.

Line-and –staff vs. Network organisational structures – line and staff organisational structure is combination of both a line and functional organisational structure. A network organisational structure outsources procedural tasks and exports manufacturing duties to independent organizations. Network organisations export tasks involved in making products to independent entities, those entities inherit the liability associated with providing services to network organisations. In contrast, bureaucratic organizational structures have product departments that are supervised by the organisation itself. Matrix organizational structures create tailor-made teams to addresses specific problems. Network organizational structures may harness volunteer labour and leverage user-generated problem solving to address a specific issue.

Culture consists of the learned patterns of behaviour common to members of a given society – the unique lifestyle of a particular group of people. Organisational culture is defined as a complex set of values, beliefs, assumptions, and symbols that define the way which firm conducts its business. Cultural differences and their implications for organisations have been studied by many researchers, but the way culture has been treated as a variable central to the study differs quite considerably. Cultural continuity and coherence between organisations and the society within they operate is the aspect which has to be addressed fully while doing any cross cultural research. The opinion on cultural influence on organizational structure fully represents own point of view. In order to find more general and proved relationships between culture and organisations structure dimensions wide research need to be done.

There are some factors which influence individual behaviour at workplace. Demographic factors are socio economic background, education, nationality, race, age, sex, etc. Organisations prefer persons that belong to good socio-economic background, well educated, young etc as they are believed to be performing better than the others. Abilities and skills factors are a physical capacity of an individual to do something can be termed as ability. Skills can be defined as the ability to act in a way that allows a person to perform well. The individual behaviour and performance is highly influenced by ability and skills.

Furthermore, Attitude factor can be defined as tendency to respond favourably or unfavourably to certain objects, persons or situations. The employees can perform better in the organisation if they form a positive attitude. The factors such as family, society, culture, peers and organisational factors influence the information of attitude. At last but not least, Personality factor which can be defined as the study of the characteristics and distinctive traits of an individual, the inter-relations between them and the way in which a person responds and adjusts to other people and situations.

Leadership styles and organisational theories

Research and investigation into different management leadership styles has been fragmented and inconsistent. There are various types of leaderships styles like: Autocratic leadership, Democratic, Bureaucratic, Laissez faire, and Paternalistic. In Autocratic Leadership managers seeks to make as many decisions as possible, they have the most authority and control in decision making, managers seeks to retain responsibility rather than utilise complete delegation. Moreover, managers are less concerned with investing their own leadership development, and prefer to simply work on commanded subordinates. Democratic leadership is the style that promotes the sharing of responsibility, the exercise of delegation and continual consultation. In these leadership managers seeks consultation on all major issues and decisions. Manager effectively delegate tasks to subordinates and give them full control and responsibility for those tasks.

The bureaucratic leadership style is concerned with ensuring workers follow rules and procedures accurately and consistently. Leaders expect employees to display a formal, business-like attitude in the workplace and between each other. Managers gain instant authority with their position, because rules demand that employees pay them certain privileges, such as being able to sign off on all major decisions. As a result, leaders suffer from ‘position power’.

Taylor’s scientific management theory developed by Taylor is based on the concept of planning work to achieve efficiency, standardisation, specialisation and simplification. Taylor developed the following four principles of scientific management for improving productivity:

Science, not rule-of-thumb Old rules-of-thumb should be supplanted by a scientific approach to each element of a person’s work.
Scientific selection of the worker Organizational members should be selected based on some analysis, and then trained, taught and developed.
Management and labour cooperation rather than conflict Management should collaborate with all organizational members so that all work can be done in conformity with the scientific principles developed.
Scientific training of the worker Workers should be trained by experts, using scientific methods.
Another theory which known as Weber’s approach (1947) based the concept of the formal organisation on the following principles:
Structure In the organization, positions should be arranged in a hierarchy, each with a particular, established amount of responsibility and authority.
Specialization Tasks should be distinguished on a functional basis, and then separated according to specialization, each having a separate chain of command.
Predictability and stability The organization should operate according to a system of procedures consisting of formal rules and regulations.
Rationality Recruitment and selection of personnel should be impartial.

Administrative theory (Fayol, 1949) relates to accomplishment of tasks, and includes principles of management, the concept of line and staff, committees and functions of management.

Division of work or specialization increases productivity in both technical and managerial work.
Authority and responsibility is imperative for an organizational member to accomplish the organizational objectives. Discipline Members of the organization should honour the objectives of the organization. They should also comply with the rules and regulations of the organizations.
Unity of command means taking orders from and being responsible to only one superior. Unity of direction Members of the organization should jointly work toward the same goals. Subordination of individual interest to general interest – interest of the organization should not become subservient to individual interests or the interest of a group of employees.
Remuneration of personnel can be based on diverse factors such as time, job, piece rates, and bonuses, profit-sharing or non-financial rewards. Centralization Management should use an appropriate blend of both centralization and de-centralization of authority and decision making.

Motivational theories & organisations

There are a number of different views as to what motivates workers. The most commonly held views or theories are discussed below and have been developed over the last 100 years or so. Unfortunately these theories do not all reach the same conclusions!

Taylor

Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856 – 1917) put forward the idea that workers aremotivated mainly by pay. His Theory of Scientific Management argued the following:

Workers do not naturally enjoy work and so need close supervision and control. Therefore managers should break down production into a series of small tasks.

Workers should then be given appropriate training and tools so they can work as efficiently as possible on one set task. Workers are then paid according to the number of items they produce in a set period of time- piece-rate pay.

Taylor’s methods were widely adopted as businesses saw the benefits of increased productivity levels and lower unit costs. The most notably advocate was Henry Ford who used them to design the first ever production line, making Ford cars. This was the start of the era of mass production.

Taylor’s approach has close links with the concept of an autocratic management style (managers take all the decisions and simply give orders to those below them) and Macgregor’s Theory X approach to workers (workers are viewed as lazy and wish to avoid responsibility).

Mayo

Elton Mayo (1880 – 1949) believed that workers are not just concerned with money but could be better motivated by having their social needs met whilst at work (something that Taylor ignored). He introduced the Human Relation School of thought, which focused on managers taking more of an interest in the workers, treating them as people who have worthwhile opinions and realising that workers enjoy interacting together.

From this Mayo concluded that workers are best motivated by:

Better communication between managers and workers (Hawthorne workers were consulted over the experiments and also had the opportunity to give feedback)

Greater manager involvement in employees working lives (Hawthorne workers responded to the increased level of attention they were receiving)

Working in groups or teams (Hawthorne workers did not previously regularly work in teams)

Maslow

Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970) along with Frederick Herzberg (1923-) introduced the Neo-Human Relations School in the 1950’s, which focused on the psychological needs of employees. Maslow put forward a theory that there are five levels of human needs which employees need to have fulfilled at work.

All of the needs are structured into a hierarchy (see below) and only once a lower level of need has been fully met, would a worker be motivated by the opportunity of having the next need up in the hierarchy satisfied. For example a person who is dying of hunger will be motivated to achieve a basic wage in order to buy food before worrying about having a secure job contract or the respect of others.

A business should therefore offer different incentives to workers in order to help them fulfil each need in turn and progress up the hierarchy (see below). Managers should also recognise that workers are not all motivated in the same way and do not all move up the hierarchy at the same pace. They may therefore have to offer a slightly different set of incentives from worker to worker.

Herzberg

Frederick Herzberg (1923) had close links with Maslow and believed in a two-factor theory of motivation. He argued that there were certain factors that a business could introduce that would directly motivate employees to work harder (Motivators). However there were also factors that would de-motivate an employee if not present but would not in themselves actually motivate employees to work harder (Hygiene factors)

Motivators are more concerned with the actual job itself. For instance how interesting the work is and how much opportunity it gives for extra responsibility, recognition and promotion. Hygiene factors are factors which ‘surround the job’ rather than the job itself. For example a worker will only turn up to work if a business has provided a reasonable level of pay and safe working conditions but these factors will not make him work harder at his job once he is there. Importantly Herzberg viewed pay as a hygiene factor which is in direct contrast to Taylor who viewed pay and piece-rate in particular. Herzberg believed that businesses should motivate employees by adopting a democratic approach to management and by improving the nature and content of the actual job through certain methods.

Motivation plays a huge role in any organization or company. The level of motivation can directly affect not only the quality of life but can strengthen or weaken the bottom line. Every manager and or leader should know and work to make sure they keep their employees motivated no matter what place those employee’s are in their careers. Managers can keep their employees motivated by identifying individual factors that influence behaviour, understanding and applying motivation theories and enacting effective behaviour modification that encourages a higher level of motivation for the individual employee. A motivated workforce can make any company or organization a competitive force. Employees who are motivated usually produce at a higher level, create a better product or service and can be fertile ground for innovative ideas.

Nature of groups and technology

The term group can be defined as two or more persons interacting and working together for a common purpose. When people work in groups rather than as individuals, the goals of the Organization can be easily achieved. However, working in a group is a complex task. Group dynamics refers to the interactions between the members of a group. A work group of an organization is the main foundation for the social identity of employees in that organization. Hence, performance at work and relationships outside the organization are influenced by the nature of groups in the organization. In this unit, we will discuss the nature and types of groups and the stages in development of groups along with the structure, tasks, and processes of groups.

Different types of groups are formed to achieve specific results in organizations. There are three views on the nature of interaction between members of a group or group dynamics. The first view is the normative view, which describes how to carry out activities and organize a group. According to the second view, group dynamics consists of a set of techniques which include brainstorming, role play, team building, sensitivity training, self-managed teams, and transactional analysis. The third view explains group dynamics from the viewpoint of the internal nature of the groups. The formation of groups, structure, processes, and functioning are discussed in this view along with the effect of groups on individuals, other groups, and the complete organization.

The use of new technologies can improve and in some cases hider team functioning. As technology changes teams must update and maintain their knowledge in order to function effectively. There are technologies like e-mail, mobile phones, groupware and computers which have improved team functions. E-mail allows asynchronous communication which team members do not be in the same place at the same time in order to communicate effectively. Mobile phones have come a long way from yuppie bricks of the 1980s and there are now more mobile phones in the UK then there are people. Groupware enables teams to plan meetings, collaborate, delegate all within a virtual environment which can often be accessed remotely from anywhere in the world. Computers allow team members to carry out various tasks and communicate more effectively. Laptop computers allow you to do this anywhere.

Conclusions

According to my opinion company should have use different leadership styles, motivational theories of different theorist or economist, and other organisational behaviour strategies for business operations. Basically, this report describes all these things. Company should critically evaluate all the issues of management which can directly or indirectly affecting the business operations. Many employers now expect employees to understand their own performance and to know how to adapt to meet times of increased workload, stressful situations or conditions of change. Employees are expected to respond well to change. Whilst some employers offer training, it is more typical for employers to expect graduates to arrive ready to manage both their own performance and the performance of other people.

Organizational Structure is critical both for a company and its employees. People should think very carefully about the organizational structure of the companies for which they intend to work. In the long run, Organizational Structure can spell the difference between success and failure for a company, as well as for the individuals who work there. Furthermore, culture and organisation’s structure should be interred related with each other. As I mentioned earlier about how culture affects on organisation as well as individual behaviour at work. Evaluation of theories using technologies can helps organisation to improve and growth of company.

References

a)www.bized.co.uk

b)www.businessballs.com

c)www.Thestudentroom.co.uk

d) Class notes and self knowledge

Bibliography

a)Mr. Brooks (2008), Organisational Behaviour: groups and organisation, 4th edition, Prentice Hall

b)Laurie J. Mullins (1995), Organisational Behaviour and Management, 4th revised edition, FT Prentice Hall

Categories
Free Essays

In what ways do Leaders create organizational culture

Introduction

In area of Management and leadership, one of the most crucial and effective factors that determine the performance of an organization in public sector is the organizational culture.

Organizational culture has been studied extensively for the past 30 or more years (Schein E. H., 1985). Lots of books have been written and much research has been done about it, and also wide range of words applied to describe this notion. Although much different definitions have been presented on this keyword, most of them place their emphasis on common key aspects of this word. I have gathered three comprehensive definitions in table below:

Definitions of organizational culture

The pattern of shared beliefs and values that give members of an institution meaning and provide them with the rules for behaviour in their organizations. (Davis, 1984, p. 1).
The set of important understandings (often unstated) that members of a community share in common. (Sathe, 1985, p. 6)
A set of understandings or meanings shared by a group of people. The meanings are largely tacit among the members, are clearly relevant to a particular group and are distinctive to the group (Louis, 1985, p. 74)

According to these definitions, I can extract two main features of organizational culture as first shared meanings and values among members and second introducing clear rules and behaviours in organization.

Although, some argues that culture cannot be managed (Rabin, T & Wachhaus. A, 2008, p. 1) , a correlation between culture and leadership has been identified (Frontiera, 2010). Schein announced this fact in his famous book-Organizational culture and leadership (2004):

“Culture is a dynamic phenomenon that surrounds us at all times, being constantly enacted and created by our reactions with others and shaped by leadership behaviour.”

So, attentions have been paid to culture aiming to manage and improve the performance through it. Leaders as persons who have crucial role in improving performance found it vital in organizational discourse.

Schein introduced the relation between leadership and culture by the term “intertwined”. (1992) .While culture can be affected by various factors, Senge pointed out that leaders have the most much influence on organizational culture (2002, p. 24) :

“Building an organization s culture and shaping its evolution is the unique and essential function of leadership”

In this paper the focus is on the influence of leadership on organizational culture to examine to what extent the view that leaders create organizational culture is true. The approach that has been applied in this paper is studying the ways and channels through which leader creates and affects the culture of organization. Also, the other factors that create culture have been studied and the effects of culture on leadership have been analyzed.But before the start of this study, clearing the concept of leadership is required.

What is leadershipWho is a leader?

The controversial concept of leadership has been defined in various ways. Some stated that it as a process, for instance Northouse believe that it is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. (2007, p. 3). Also, Stogdill analyzed it as influencing the activities of an organized group in its efforts toward goal setting and goal achievement (1974). By these two types of definitions, leader can be known as a person who makes decisions, sets directions, makes things happen and often He is recognisable at the top of organization. In term of person, leader is a person who carries out this process by applying their leadership knowledge and skills. (Jago, 1982)

Hence leader is placed at top of organization and clarifies strategies and directions, has most effects on the culture of organizations. In following next part I examine some ways by which leader affects organizational culture.

Leader; as a pattern

If in an organization the leadership and the behaviours of leader become an ideal pattern for followers, a stream of organizational deportment would flow from top (leader) to down (followers). This case can happen mostly in transformational type of leadership in which leader has charismatic features. (Harms, p & Crede, M, 2010). Bass and Avolio described transformational leader as able to “motivate others to do more than they originally intended and often more than they thought possible.”(1993). As the organizational culture in an aspect is made of staffs behaviours and manners, charismatic leader cultivates a particular method of comportment.

Culture of an organization constituted from different components; competitiveness, social responsibility, innovation, stability, performance orientation, and supportiveness. So, the manner of leader can affect every area of organizational culture and this top-down influence can lead to affirmative or mortal outcomes in performance. (Sarros, J. Gray, J and Densten, I, 2002) By way of illustration, this can be studied in realm of Innovation and change. Fishman and Kavanaugh claimed that the culture of an organization and how people respond to change and innovation is shaped substantially by the behaviours of the leader. (1989)

Smith revealed that leader s behaviours can be followed by employees. Leaders are the role models and when they walk the talk long enough, fairly soon these values become standard procedure. (2010).

Leaders are lent very crucial and decisive position by which they influence the culture of organization through leading motivation, attendance and attitude of followers in organizational operation. This can be found in Amabile suggestion (1998):

“By influencing the nature of the work environment and organizational culture, leaders can affect organizational members’ attitude to work related change and motivation.”

Leaders ruling organizational culture

Leaders externalize their own assumptions and embed them into structures, mission, goals and working procedures gradually and consistently (Schein E. H., 2004, p. 406). In one hand, a leader make decisions and determine rules, and in the other hand organizational culture is described as a set of structures, routines, rules and norms that guide the constrain behaviour (Schein E. H., Organizational Culture and Leadership, 2004). So, leadership manipulates organizational culture through ruling in organization. Dull reflected this fact in the other way (2010):

“Public sector leaders attempt to cultivate organizational culture as a means of controlling administrative behaviour and building organizational competence, defined as the skill and capacity to accomplish necessary tasks”

Here the culture described as a tool applied to improve procedures to facilitate achieving goal. This case can be examined when leader feels sure about a needful innovation in organization. For promoting change, beside other factors, leader has to provide a firm ground for implementing innovation. As Armenakis et al. claimed leaders can modify formal structures, procedures, and human resource management practices. (1999)

So, it is leader who initiates change and clarifies orientation of organization; he arrives to alter proceeds for reaching ends. In reality, changing culture is defined as changing procedures.

Making and interpreting strategy

Stewart declared that the strategy of an organization gives it identity based on its functions, Also it clarifies what an organization is and what it is doing. (2004)

Strategy can form culture of an organization through highlighting tasks, directions, positions and behaviours. Fernandez and Rainey interpreted strategy as a course of action for implementing changes (2006) . Also, the change management strategy or approach selected by leaders will result in shifts in organizational culture. (Kavanagh, H & Ashkanasy, N, 2006)

By understanding the importance of strategy and its relation with culture, leader enters in this relation and influence culture in two ways; first standing between strategy and culture, second use the strategy as a tool for modifying culture.

Despite strategy plays a crucial role in organization, this is the role of leader to translate it into a course of action. Goldsmith explains to CEO (chief executive officer) how leaders are needed to communicate and execute an organization s strategy. (2009)

“When leaders and their executive teams take an active role in implementing strategies, this is a commitment to ensure the ideas or strategies become part of the organisation. Insightful leaders realise that for strategies to be successfully integrated into their organisations, they must align, measure, market and package the strategy to their business, customers and investment community as they would with any marketing campaign.”

While strategy introduces direction of an organization, it is just on the paper. The best-planned strategy is no more than wishful thinking if it can t be translated from concept to reality (Hsieh, T and Yik, S, 2005) .Here it is leader who translates it from language of paper to a course of action . Robin Speculand has studied the decisive role of leadership and placed his special emphasis on leaders in success and failure of implementing strategies (2009).

So, leader as a median interprets strategy into organization procedure, role, and belief. This action forms the culture; in this area culture is sum of tasks, behaviours, and procedures that are defined by strategy. In this process leader injects strategy into the body of organization. In reality, leader makes strategy feasible, and at the same time forms culture.

But it is not whole the story about relation of strategy and culture. Leader alters climate of organization by applying strategy as a tool too. In other words, leader can stand at the top and place strategy between him and culture. Actually, leader applies strategy as a means to influence organizational culture. This can be deducted from the role of leader in designing strategies, Where Abramson and Lawrence claimed (2001):

“Managerial leaders must develop a course of action or strategy for implementing change. Convincing the members of an organization of the need for change is obviously not enough to bring about actual change. The new idea or vision must be transformed into a course of action or strategy with goals and a plan for achieving it”

Changing performance

The performance of an organization is effective factor through which leader influence the culture. Performance defined as the accomplishments of an agency, program, or employee relative to stated goals and objectives. (Technical Terms). This item is evaluated by measuring outputs and outcomes.

Unfortunately, while most available research and studies devoted their focus on the effects of leadership and culture on the performance, there is a multilateral and at the same time mutual relation among leadership, culture and performance. In other words, they are interdependent (i.e. leadership and climate are subject to affect by the status of performance of organization). To understand this linkage a circle relation between leader, climate and performance should be studied. It can be understood from this circle that leader can affect culture through changing performance.

In this network linkage leader affects culture and alter its elements through changing performance and informing employees about it. This influence occurs through the Feedback. Feedback typically consists of information provided to an individual for the purpose of an increase in performance (Kluger, A. N. & Denisi, A., 1996). A variety of feedback forms exists, which are described by different aspects. One kind of feedback is outcome feedback in which information concerning performance outcomes. (Balcazar, F., Hopkins, B. L., & Suarez, Y, 1986)

It seems positive and constructive, to inform employees about high performance and improvement of outcomes. Geister et al. concluded in their research that information and feedback about the team situation is crucial to improving the motivation, satisfaction, and performance of members in virtual teams. (2006)

Leader affects the culture of organization indirectly through improving performance and diffusing information about it, an action which leads to a healthy, motivate and more evolutionary climate.

If decisions and policies leader applied led to quality performance it can encourage atmosphere of hardworking, competition, integration and responsibility but in fragile situation and poor performance culture would collapse.

Culture creates leader, a challenge

While the impact of leader on culture is a considerable fact and has been studied and proved in many cases, some opinions challenged it. In an attempt to address this theoretical disagreement, Sarros et al. surveyed over 1,900 managers in Australia and found that leadership was a far more prominent predictor of culture than culture was of leadership. (2002)

As it has been mentioned there are an interdependent relations among leadership, culture and performance, so it is a noticeable reality that leader is affected by culture too. Hatch claimed that it is difficult for leaders to have any impact on culture, as culture has a larger influence on leaders. (1993)

Schein asserts that while leaders create culture in the early stages of an organization, culture creates leaders as an organization matures. He suggests that culture is deep, broad, and stable. It can be an unconscious determinant of who gets hired, who gets promoted and rewarded, and indeed, how the vision, mission, and strategy are lived. (2004)

Culture of organization is a very decisive factor, so leader has to apply appropriate way of leading which does work in that climate. Smith, Wang and Leung have sought for a proper model of leadership in China by regarding effects of cultural backgrounds (1997). It reflects the crucial role of culture in determining leadership style.

It seems imperfect and naif to study the relation of leader and climate unilaterally. The relation is mutual and should be studied in this way to achieve a perfect theory.

Other factors are actors

While leadership plays a core role in creating organizational culture, other factors affect climate and even can take it out of control of leader. Culture can be affected by different internal and external factors.

As the culture has defined as meanings and behaviours of members, the organizational members are effective actors. Krizek views culture as patterns of meaning and interpretation—whether these patterns emerge among management or employees. So, before that leader can decide to create culture, it has been constituted by member s beliefs and thoughts. (2005)

External forces may or may not influence the communicative and cultural makeup of an organization. (Cheney, 2001) Examples of external forces include, but are not limited to, economics, education, family, law, media, politics, religion, and technology.

External environment and constraints have a considerable role in determining climate of organizations. As, leader has to make situation and organization ready to cope with external environment, any change in environment leads to change policies, behaviours and routines and finally innovates the culture. Schein pointed out that if the environmental context is changing such conflict can be a potential source of adaption and new learning. (Schein E. H., Organizational Culture and Leadership, 2004, p. 108)

Organizational culture is influenced by social and national culture of the area in which it is situated. National beliefs, stories, type of thinking and values affect the climate of organization.

The type of function and business of organization conducts the elements of culture. (Schein E. H., 1992) In other words the mission of organization is a set of beliefs about its core competences (Schein E. H., Organizational Culture and Leadership, 2004, p. 89)

Conclusion

In this paper the view that leaders create organizational culture has been examined critically.

At the first the culture defined as a set of routines, behaviour, meanings and understandings that is shared among members of an organization. Leader defined as who make decision, determine directions and make things happen or not to happen. it has been proved that leaders have a noticeable role in creating organizational climate.

The first way through which culture forms by leader is by the stream of meaning, behaviour and beliefs as an ideal method or pattern from top (leader) to down (employees). In this statement employees are assumed as followers who are affected by the nature of leader. As a short explanation, Leadership consists of attributes and skills that determine not only the nature of enterprise, in all its manifestations, but the overall nature of society and the world (Sarros, J. Gray, J. & Densten, I, 2002). In this way leaders are charismatic persons by whom followers’ behaviours consciously or unconsciously are affecting.

The second conduit for influencing culture is ruling. Here, leader is top ruler in organization who directs routines, structures and procedures. It has been assumed that by doing these affairs in reality leader is manipulating culture or changing its elements. In this statement changing culture described as changing procedures and formal administrative process.

In third way the focus has been put on strategy. Strategy is the manifestation of mission, directions, tasks and rules and has a strong correlation with culture. It has been expressed that leader can affect strategy in two ways. First way is attempt to codify and provide it. In this state leader inject beliefs and preference into strategy and determine culture through it as a tool. The second channel is to standing between strategy and culture in order to interpret and implement it in preferred way.

The last area which has been studied is performance. It assumed that leader plays remarkable role in changing performance and the status of outcomes of organization affect the culture directly. The impact of high performance in healthy culture and poor one in weak climate mentioned in this area.

These four ways illustrate the crucial role of leadership in creating culture. But in last two sections these role has been challenged in two statements.

First is that while leader creates culture, culture can create leader too. As mentioned, culture is stable and has elements that determine which style of leadership is required and who can be the organizational leader.

In addition, some factors like external environment, employees’ beliefs, business of organization, and national culture introduced as factors which affect organizational culture.

In conclusion, it should be claimed that the effects of leadership in shaping culture is noticeable and can be realized by studying it through different ways. But the more crucial point is that the effect is not directly except in first way in which leader becomes a pattern for followers. In all conditions leader can apply some policies by which affects culture. Employees play decisive role in changing climate, and leaders don’t change culture, they merely invite their people to change the culture (Hillis). So, leader is not the exclusive actor in influencing culture. Other factors should be studied so that an effective innovation and successful change in culture can be achieved.

Another point is that while leader creates culture, culture influence leader and style of leadership. As, Schein assumes leadership and culture as two sides of one coin, cultural norms define how a given nation or organization will define leadership. (2004)

Consequently, while the role of leadership is considerable in creating culture it is not comprehensive and precise to analyze it without regarding other factors and mutual effects in organization.

Bibliography

Abramson, A & Lawrence, P. (2001). Th e Challenge of Transforming Organizations:Lessons Learned about Revitalizing Organizations. In A. &. Abramson, Transforming Organizations (pp. 1-10). Lanham: MD: Rowman & Littlefi eld.

Amabile, T. M. (1998). How to Kill Creativity. Harvard Business Review , 76 (5), 76-87.

Armenakis. Achilles, A . Stanley, G. Harris & Hubert. (1999). Handbook of Organizational Behaviour. New york: Marcel Dekker.

Balcazar, F., Hopkins, B. L., & Suarez, Y. (1986). A Critical, Objective Review of Performance Feedback. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management , 65-89.

Bass, B.M. & Avolio, B.J. (1993). Transformational Leadership and the Organizational Culture. Public Administration Quarterly , 112-122.

Cheney, G. &. (2001). Organizational Identity: Linkages Between Internal and External Communication. In F. M. Jablin, The New Handbook of Organizational Communication: Advances in Theory, Research and Methods (pp. 231-269). Thousand Oaks: CA: Sage.

Davis, S. (1984). Managing Corporate Culture. Cambridge: MA: Ballinger.

Dull, M. (2010). Leadership and Organizational Culture: Sustaining Dialogue between Practitioners and Scholars. Public Administration Review , 70 (6), 857-866.

Fernandez, s and Rainey, H. (2006). Managing Successful Organizational, Change in the Public Sector. Public Adminisration Review , 168-176.

Fishman, N & Kavanaugh, L. (1989). Searching for Your Missing Quality Link. Journal of Quality and Participation (12), 28-32.

Frontiera, J. (2010). Leadership and Organizational Culture, Transformation in Professional Sport. Journal of Leadership & organizational leadership , 71-86.

Geister, S. Konradt, U. and Hertel, H. (2006). Effects of Process Feedback on Motivation, Satisfaction, and Performance in Virtual Teams. Small Group Research , 459-489.

Goldsmith, D. (2009, May 15). A Leader’s Role in Innovative Strategy Execution. Retrieved March 2011, 2010, from CEO(Chief Executive Officer): http://www.the-chiefexecutive.com/features/feature54710/

Harms, p & Crede, M. (2010). Journal of Leadership and organizational Studies , 15 (1), 1-15.

Hatch, M. (1993). The Dynamics of Organizational Culture. Academy of Management Review , 657-693.

Hillis, L. (n.d.). Department of Leadership. Retrieved March 11, 2011, from The Banff Center: http://www.banffcentre.ca/departments/leadership/library/pdf/culture_28-29.pdf

Hsieh, T and Yik, S. (2005, February). Leadership as the Starting Point of Strategy. Retrieved March 14, 2011, from McKinsey Quarterly: https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Leadership_as_the_starting_point_of_strategy_1560

Jago, A. G. (1982). Leadership: Perspectives in theory and research. Management Science , 28 (3), 315-336.

Kavanagh, H & Ashkanasy, N. (2006). The Impact of Leadership and Change Management Strategy on Organizational Culture and Individual Acceptance of Change during a Merger. British Journal of Management , 81-103.

Kluger, A. N. & Denisi, A. (1996). The Effects of Feedback Interventions on Performance; A Historical Review, a Meta-Analysis, and a Preliminary Feedback Intervention Theory. Psychological Bulletin , 254-284.

Kotter, J. Heskett, J. (1992). Corporate Culture and Performance. New york: Free press.

Krizek, R. (2005). A Meaning-Centered Approach to Consulting: Contributing as an Engaged Communication Scholar. In J. &.-Z. Simpson, Engaging Communication, Transforming Organizations: Scholarship of Engagement in Action (pp. 127-146). Cresskill: NJ: Hampton Press.

Louis, M. (1985). An Investigator’s Guide to Workplace Culture. Beverly Hills: CA: sage.

Northouse, G. (2007). Leadership Theory and Practice. London: Sage Publications, Inc.

Rabin, T & Wachhaus. A. (2008). Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy. CRC Press.

Sarros, J. Gray, J and Densten, I. (2002). Leadership and Its Impact on Organizational Culture. International Journal of Business Studies , 1-26.

Sarros, J. Gray, J. & Densten, I. (2002). Leadership and its Impact on Organizational Culture. International Journal of Business Studies , 1-26.

Sathe, V. (1985). Culture and Related Corporated Realities: Text, Cases, and Reading on Organizational Entry, Establishment, and Change. Homewood: IL: Irwin.

Schein, E. H. (1992). Organizational Culture and Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Schein, E. H. (2004). Organizational Culture and Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Schein, E. H. (1985). Organizational Culture and Leadership; a Dynamic View. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Senge, P. (2002). The Leader’s Now Work: Building Learning Organizations. In D. .. Morey, Knowledge Management: Classic and Contemporary Works (pp. 19-52). Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Smith, J. (2010, November 1). Face of Quality: Leading the Quality Culture. Retrieved March 11, 2011, from Quality Magazine: http://www.qualitymag.com/Articles/Column/BNP_GUID_9-5-2006_A_10000000000000928974

Smith, P . Wang, Z & Leung, K. (1997). Leadership, Decision-Making and Cultural Context: Event Management within Chinese Joint Ventures. Leadership Quarterly , 413-431.

Speculand, R. (2009). Beyond Strategy: The Leader’s Role in Successful Implementation. Singapore: John wiley & sons (Asia) pte. Ltd.

Stewart, J. (2004). The Meaning of Strategy in the Public Sector. Australian Journal of Public Administration , 63 (4), 16-21.

Stogdill, R. (1974). Handbook of leadership: A survey of theory and research. New york: Free Press.

Technical Terms. (n.d.). Retrieved March 12, 2011, from PEW; Centre on the State: file:///E:/Study%20and%20University/university%20of%20nottingham/courses/Leadership/final%20essay/helpful%20sites/template_page.aspx.htm

Categories
Free Essays

Explore the relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision amongst UK fashion retailers

Chapter 1

Introduction

1.1 Introduction

Marketers, nowadays, are confronted with increasingly multicultural marketplaces.

Globalisation of markets and international competition are requiring firms to operate

in a multicultural environment. In addition, migration patterns and communication

media i.e. satellite and televisions are developing multicultural mind sets in single

domestic markets and exposing consumers to alternative behaviours and activities

(Douglas and Craig, 1997 cited in Luna and Gupta, 2001).

United Kingdom is one of the biggest countries in the world supporting immigrants.

Immigration made up more than half of Britain’s population growth from 1991 to

2001 (www.bbc.co.uk 2008). The net difference between immigration and emigration

was 191,000 in 2006, which is expected to increase due to inflow of Eastern European

migrants (Statistics.gov.uk). These immigration patterns are making UK a multicultural country rather then homogenous and single cultured as it was in 1970s.

This inflow of immigrants from different cultures has brought diverse cultures

together in distinct country. Individuals from sundry cultures are living and working

together while possessing unlike mind sets and behaviour for similar products and

commodities. These contrasting mind sets are affecting high street retailers as they

have to serve diverse markets apart from local population including migrants from

Asian countries which are working here for years and recent migrants from Eastern

European countries.

The women’s outerwear market has been characterised in the past five years by

falling prices and rising volumes as women have adopted fast, throwaway, celebrityinspired fashion (Mintel 2008). The UK clothing market has many drivers; it is Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

sensitive and remains as multi-level and eccentric as has been increasingly the case

since around 1975, recognised as the emergence of the modern market (Hogg Bruce

and Hill 1998). This modern era is fairly been attractive and catching for marketers

and high streets retailers.

1.2 Significance of Study:

Several attempts by different researchers around the world have been made to

highlight the cultural influence on consumer behaviour (Jamal 2001). Most of the

research papers have focused on the influence of culture as a explanatory tool for

marketing purposes (Craig and Douglas 2005; Dmitrovic and Vida 2005; LeBlanc and

Herndon 2001) and very few researchers have spotlight the elements of culture and

their influence on consumer behaviour (Luna and Gupta 2001).

Furthermore these research studies regarding effect of culture on consumer behaviour

do not offer a framework in which literature can be adequately integrated, are not

firmly grounded in theory, or do not contain a full account of how specific cultural

dimensions affect specific consumer behaviour components. As a result, Douglas et

al. (1994) call for further research in this area stating that strong theoretical and

conceptual frameworks are needed, integrating constructs from the different research

subjects and disciplines.

Additionally, most of the cross-cultural studies in past had focused on different

cultural aspects and values. Very few works have been done on aesthetics and its

influence on consumer behaviour. Aesthetics is an important element of culture and

represents the idea of beauty and appearance in material culture (Hofstede 2000). It is

one of the visible parts of culture that gives an idea to outsiders about cultural values

and beliefs. It also plays an importance role in shaping new trends and consumer

behaviour in a society (Usanier and Lee 2005).

Moreover, market conditions are changing very rapidly now-a-days. Between 1975

and 1990, the total retail market grew from 40 per cent to 70 per cent (Jones and Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

Hayes, 2002 cited in Priest 2005). Even with the current medium term jitters, the UK

clothing market have very attractive prospect.The UK clothing and fashion market

remains attractive because of its size and growth. Retail sales climbed 0.8 per cent in

January – a marked improvement on the 0.2 per cent fall recorded for December –

according to the Office for National Statistics. UK retail sales rose 1.2% on a like-forlike basis, compared with July 2006, when sales were up 3.4%. July’s growth was the

weakest since November 2006 and half the monthly average for the second quarter.

The three-month trend rate of growth fell to 2.1% from 2.5% in June, for like-for-like

sales, and to 4.1% from 4.6% for total sales, reflecting the continuing slow growth of

retail space (Retail week 2008)

Lastly, in the present situation of multi-ethnic groups with manifold and growing

demands for apparel in sole market, it is very thorny for retailers, marketers and

entrepreneurs to develop strategies. According to Jamal (2001), in a multicultural

market place, consumer of different ethnic groups coexists, interact and adapt to each

other. During this adoption process, demands changes and new commodities are

expected in market.

Fig 1.1: Research Pattern

Source: Adopted from Foxel et. al. (1998) Consumer Psychology of Marketing 2

nd

Edition p. 148

Values

and

beliefs

Aesthetics

(Material

Culture)

Life-Style

Self Concept

Consumer Behaviour

(Brand selection and

lifestyle products

SRC

Culture Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

This research paper opts to address the above-mentioned problems and future market

potentials by looking in to the cultural factors that influences the consumer behaviour,

as shown in figure 1.1. It will look in to consumer’s brand selection decision on the

basis of one of the cultural elements i.e. aesthetics. This element of culture is far

above the ground important for apparel brands and retailers and will be researched

with respect to self reference criterion (SRC).

1.3 Aims and Objectives

Consumers may allocate a portion of their purchase time and money to express their

personality and lifestyles (Kahle and Kennedy 1989). Consequently, an understanding

of the basic values and beliefs of consumers should improve our understanding of

unseen buying motives and provide specific guidelines for marketing strategy.

This research is intended to explore various cultural aspects that influence female

customers’ decision for different outerwear and clothing brands operating in UK. It

seeks to comprehend the influence of consumers’ back-home culture when they make

a decision to buy ready-to-wear clothing from apparel retailers.

1.3.1 Objectives:

The research objectives of this study are as follows:

1. Identify and explain the cultural factors that influence female consumers’ decision

and behaviour for casual in-home and outerwear clothing (Women’s outerwear

including coats, dresses, tops, T-shirts, jackets, trousers, jeans, blouses, skirts,

shirts etc. but excluding accessories (e.g. belts, hats, gloves), lingerie and hosiery

whereas in-home include casual skirts, jeans and tops)

2. Identify and describe the social pressure and motivation for shopping culturally

acceptable fashion wear Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

3. Explore the perception of female consumers from different cultures for wearing

cross cultural dresses

4. Identify the advantages and disadvantages for clothing fashion retailers to sell

multi-cultural outfit ranges

1.3.2 Research Question:

The primary research questions of this study are:

1. How cultural values affects self concept of individuals which in turn influence

consumer behaviour?

This dissertation will try to find relationship between consumer culture and behaviour

while focusing the aesthetical part of their value system. This paper will also spotlight

the concept of self image in individuals while discussing self-reference-criterion

(SRC). Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

Figure 1.2: Research question

2. What are the implications of these cultural values for apparel companies operating

in United Kingdom?

From the result of consumer interviews and focus groups, this study will explore the

ways by which the retail apparel brands are affected and what would be the

implications in future for their higher sales and profitability.

1.4 Structure of Dissertation

This dissertation is divided into six (6) chapters. A brief description of these chapters

is presented hereafter.

Chapter1: This chapter covers introduction of dissertation and significance of this

study for different stakeholder. Research aims and objectives are also covered in this

chapter.

Pakistani Indian Bengali British Polish Italian German

Zara

M & S

Primark

Next

Top

Shop

Debenhams

Cultural Influence

Cultural Influence Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailer

Chapter 2: This chapter covers previous studies conducted in the field of topic in

hand. Culture, consumer behaviour and relationship between them are discussed in

details. The final part of this chapter covers significance of apparels and clothing in a

society followed by research question.

Chapter 3: This chapter entails description of research methodology involved in this

study. Research strategy, methods and context of study are important features of this

chapter.

Chapter 4: This chapter wrap-up the finding from the participants’ responses. These

findings are an analysed using content analysis method, which is explained in

methodology chapter.

Chapter 5: This chapter preset the findings of this reports with respect to the

literature review. Previous studies presented in chapter 2 are compared with the

results obtained in chapter 4.

Chapter 6: This is final chapter of report and presents a final conclusion of project.

At the end of chapter, brief recommendations and recommendations are given for

managers and retailers. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

Chapter 2

LI T E R A T U R ERE V I E W

Dealing distinctive consumers in various countries is becoming a necessity for today

multinational organisation. These multinationals achieve their marketing objectives

whilst serving consumers in a country according to its cultural preferences and values.

These cultural values play an important role in consumer’s decision making and

choice of product. As mentioned by Poon (2003), economic and cultural differences

lead to substantial variations in the behaviours of consumers.

The relevant literature presented in this part will discuss the studies related to culture

and cross-culture, consumer behaviour and relationship in between them. It will also

highlight the studies which unfold the importance of culture in the selection of

apparels’ brands.

2.1 Culture

2.1.1 Concept of Culture

Culture, a thorny word, is translated differently in various civilisations around the

world. It is too complex to be defined in one line or paragraph. Authors around the

world have developed more then 164 different definitions of culture (Usanier and Lee

2005). It is a lens, shaping reality, and a blueprint, specifying a plan of action. At the

same time, culture is unique to a specific group of people (Fan 2008). Groups,

organisations and individuals identify and relate themselves with the culture they

belong. Civilisations use culture they inherit as guidance for their acts and beliefs.

Keegan (2005) elucidate the term culture as ‘ways of living, built up by a group of

human beings, which are transmitted from one generation to another’. This means that

culture identify the ways of life, actions and symbols of past generations and their Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

significance to present civilisation. Hofstede (1991) view culture as “the collective

mental programming of the people in an environment. Culture is not a characteristic

of individual; it encompasses a number is people who were conditioned by the same

education and life experience”

Culture acts like glue, binding together individuals, groups and civilisation in a

patterned way (Kluckhohn 1962). Without this patterned way of living, it is

impossible for people in a society to live together. It collectively defines the

boundaries of actions and values carried by a society. Cultural orientation has been

the central construct used in psychology and other social sciences (Oysermann et al.,

2002) in order to understand and define society and culture (Aaker and Maheswaran,

1997; Aaker, 2000). As mentioned by Goodenogh (1971) cited in Usanier and Lee

(2005), culture is set of beliefs or standards, shared by a group of people, which help

the individual decide what is what, what can be, How to feel, what to do and how to

go about it. This makes culture important in individual and groups psychological

developments while shaping their norms, values and rituals.

Culture can be defined in terms of national culture, sub-culture and counter-culture.

Whereas national culture is collective fingerprint of a country, sub-culture is practiced

by smaller number of people. National culture and sub-culture are coherent by values

but apparently different (Keegan 2006). Counter-culture is a culture or sub-cultures

whose values and beliefs are apposite or in disagreement to that of national culture

(www.bl.uk 2008).

2.1.2 Importance of Culture

Culture drives behaviour of members in a society. It is the most important block of a

civilisation that defines and explains its origin and history (Lukosius 2004). Culture is

concerned with the development of coherent viewpoints which bring a cumulative

effect to ‘otherwise’ isolated experiences of a group, making them feel special yet

allowing others to have a parallel experience (Veltman 1997). Individuals and groups

usually associate themselves with the culture they belong to and feel proud of it. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

According to Craig and Douglas (2005), culture has a profound influence on all

aspects of human behaviour. Its impact may be subtle or pronounced, direct or

oblique, enduring or ephemeral. It is so entwined with all facets of human existence

that it is often difficult to determine how and in what ways its impact is manifested

(Jamal 2001). Adding to the complexity of understanding culture is its inherently

dynamic nature.

Fig 2.1: Cultural importance framework

Source: Adapted from Mooij (2005), p. 106

The impact of culture can also be viewed in every day life of individuals in a society.

According to Hofstede (1997), culture influences behaviour through its manifestations:

values, heroes, rituals, and symbols. This influence is visible at personal level as well

as organisational and group levels. Culture influences change and evolves as the

political, social, economic and technological forces (Usunier and Lee, 2005). Figure

2.1 presents a framework that highlights the importance of culture in individual’s

social participation, which is affected by individual behavioural domain. The

behavioural domain possesses visible and non-visible culture, values and beliefs,

religious base and concept of heroes.

Language

Material culture

Institution/Family

structure

Visible Culture

Values

Beliefs

Non-Visible

Culture

Individual Behavioural

Domain

Individual Social

Participation Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

2.1.3 Manifestations of Culture

Hofstede (1991) defined four main manifestations of culture in his famous Onion

Model shown in fig 2.2. According to him, values, rituals, heroes and symbols reflect

important parts of culture and need to be studied in order to understand it. These

manifestations are important to study because different cultures perceive different

things differently.

According to Mooij (2005), symbols are words, gestures, pictures, or objects that

carry a particular meaning recognised only by those who share a culture. Symbols are

at the outer most layer of onion model and include dressing and hair styles, special

hand or face gestures, status recognition and pictures possessing some meaning for its

viewers. Usunier and Lee (2005) describe heroes as persons, alive or dead, real or

imaginary- who thus serve as a role model for common societal behaviour. These can

be fantasy figures or real heroes. Rituals are the collective activates considered

essential for culture and are carried out for their own sake. These three manifestations

are visible and are termed as expression of culture that an outsider can observe (Mooij

2005).

Fig 2.2: The onion model

Source: Hofstede, G. (2000) Culture Consequences, Comparing Values, Behaviours, Intuitions and

Organisations across Nations, 2

nd

edition. p. 11

At the core of culture are values and are defined as broader tendencies to prefer a

certain state of affairs over other (www.trompenaars.com 2008). Developmental

psychologists believe that values are among the first things children learn, not

Values

Symbols

Heroes, Stories

Ritual

P r a c t i c e s Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

– 12 –

consciously but implicitly (Mooij 2005). Members of a society are not conscious of

the values they hold, but act according to them.

It is important to note that value system is placed firmly in mind of child by the age of

10, and they act according to that in later stages of life. These cultural values, in

which child is brought up, play an important role in evaluation, organisation and

selection of commodities and brands. Not only it steer members of society to choose

from alternative choices and brands but also affect their consumption patterns. The

value system, once developed, is very difficult to change and affect individual

throughout there life (Douglous 2006).

Salter (1997) further elaborates the concept of culture after the values that arise within

the way of life of people. According to him, these values give members of society

solidarity, identity and authoritatively judge what is good or bad, real or false, not

only in art but in everyday life. So it can be argued that these judgements or

perceptions of external stimuli are jointly accepted in individuals from same cultural

background or civilisation.

2.1.4 Elements of Culture

There are four major elements of culture explained by Usunier and Lee (2005) i.e.

language, institutions, material productions and symbolic productions. These elements

are further divided in to sub-elements. We will discuss only three elements which

have relevance to this research paper including language, aesthetics and institution.

A county’s language affects people’s thoughts and mental representation and is one of

the building blocks of culture (Usunier and Lee 2005). Language illustrates culture

and it reflects all manifestations of culture, the expressions and the values. According

to Mooij (2005), there are two ways of looking at language i.e. either language affects

culture or language is expression of culture. In both views, language plays an

important role in culture related studies. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

Fig 2.3: Elements of Culture

Source: Adopted from Luna, and Gupta (2001) “An integrative framework for cross-cultural consumer

behaviour” International Marketing Review Vol. 18 No. 1, 2001

Aesthetics are the ideas of beauty, taste and appearance mainly expressed in colours

and fine arts (Blocker and Flint 2007). Aesthetics play an important role in selections

of ensigns and related commodities. Lastly, institution reflects the idea of family

structure in a society (Usunier and Lee 2005). Institution plays and important role in

spending of capital and product range required by a family.

2.1.5 Sources of Culture

The national culture is not always the main source of culture when regarded as

‘operational culture’ (Goodenough 1971 cited in Mizik and Jacobson 2008). Man is

an intelligent animal and learns cultural values and activities from society around him.

He learns from people around him, adopt things and then respond accordingly. Some

of the main sources of culture which help individuals to act in a pertinent way are

family, religion, social class and language. Usunier and Lee (2005) gave a framework

to explained ten (10) different sources of culture, which are shown in figure 2.4.

These factors affect an individual’s personality directly and indirectly, modify and

design behaviour while determining new values.

Language

Material culture Institution/Family

structure

Symbolic Productions

CultureRelationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

Fig 2.4: Sources of culture

Source: Usunier and Lee (2005) Marketing Across Culture, 4

th

edition. p. 11

2.1.6 Cross Cultural Studies

There are two main types of cross culture studies, etic and emic. Etic approach looks

at a culture while comparing it with other culture. Researchers, who use this method,

try to find common elements between diverse cultures and then compare them for

further understanding. According to Luna and Gupta (2007), this approach is

commonly used in typical cross-cultural psychology and other comparative social

sciences.

However, there is another point of view for cross-cultural studies i.e. emic

methodology, which focuses upon the understanding culture from the view point of

subject being studied (McCracken 1988). Researcher studying consumer behaviour

from emic methodological views are more inclined towards the culture which subject

hold rather then general national culture. Emic methodology is more appropriate for

Sources of

culture

Profession

(specialised

education)

Nationality

Group

(ethnicity)

Corporate

culture

Family

Religion

Education

(general)

Social Class

Sex

(male/female)

Language Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

the studies apt for multicultural consumer studies. So it can be argued that the etic and

the emic philosophies seem to refer to similar constructs but from different perspectives

(between-cultures versus within-cultures).

As explained by Luna and Gupta (2007), consumer ethnocentrism is a construct often

studied by cross-cultural researchers. The construct could be viewed as an

instrumental value (Rokeach, 1973), as used by Shimp and Sharma (1987). In their

study, Shimp and Sharma (1987) found that consumers’ ethnocentrism determines

their perceptions of domestic versus foreign values (cognition), as well as their

attitudes and behaviour.

2.2 Consumer Behaviour and Decision Making

2.2.1 Consumer Behaviour

The field of consumer behaviour is complex, changing and is in flux. Perspectives

from different disciplines around the world cross-fertilise with it to obtain required

data. Consumer behaviour’s researchers include different theories from diverse

subjects to conclude results. So it can be argued that consumer behaviour is series of

actions and reaction to certain stimuli.

As commercial global integration unfolds in the world’s marketplaces, decision

making is becoming increasingly complex for consumers. The introduction of new

products and brands in market has not only confused customers with a massive

display of choices but also has created scarcity of places in retails stores. Brands are

now commonly assessed by customer mind-set measures (e.g., awareness, attitudes)

(Mizik and Jacomson 2008).

Consumer behaviour encompasses consumers and their reaction to environment.

Customer reaction is the key elements in consumer behaviour. Consumers recognise

that they have a need; search for a product that can meet heir need; use the product to

satisfy their need; and then dispose of the product once it has met the need (Wells and

Prensky 1996). Hence, the central concept in consumer behaviour is exchange. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

According Solomon et. al. (2006), consumer behaviour is defined as the study of the

processes involved when individuals or groups select, purchase, use or dispose of

products, service, ideas or experiences to satisfy needs and desires. This definition

demonstrates consumer behaviour as a study of process which starts from product’s

selection till its disposal.

On the other hand, American Marketing Association (AMA) defined consumer

behaviour as the dynamic interaction of affects and cognition, behaviour, and

environmental events by which human beings conduct exchange aspects of their lives.

This definition elucidates consumer behaviour as a dynamic and changing, involves

interaction between individuals and groups and finally hold exchange.

Consumer decision-making style, in simple terms, can be defined as “a mental

orientation characterizing a consumer’s approach to making choices” (Sproles and

Kendall, 1986, p. 267 cited in Lysonski, Durvasula and Zotos 1996). This definition

looks at just one aspect of consumer behaviour i.e. making choices.

All of the above definitions explain consumer behaviour and decision making from

different angles but focus on one thing i.e. the consumer’s mental cognitive process.

Consumer behaviour mental process involves the thoughts and feelings people

experience and the actions they perform in consumption process. It also includes the

things in environment that influence their thoughts, feelings and actions (Peter and

Olson 2005).

2.2.2 Understanding Consumer Behaviour

Consumer decision making process is complex and ever changing. It varies from

individual to individual, group to group, organisation to organisation and across

country borders. This understanding of consumer behaviour affects the level and

intensity of exchange between marketers and consumers. Consumer behaviour subject

has gripped the attention of researchers in recent years. The popularity of

customisation has hanged the focus of marketing from macro consumer behaviour to Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

micro consumer behaviour. It is impossible to satisfy the needs and wants of a society

without cramming consumer values and the road to consumer values, attitude and

behaviour is culture.

According to Lysonski, Durvasula and Zotos (1996), consumer decision making can

be categorized into three main approaches: the consumer typology approach (Darden

and Ashton, 1974; Moschis 1976); the psychographics /lifestyle approach

(Lastovicka, 1982; Wells, 1975); and the consumer characteristics approach (Sproles,

1985; Sproles and Kendall, 1986; Sproles and Sproles, 1990).

The unifying theme among these three approaches is the tenet that all consumers

engage in shopping with certain fundamental decision-making modes or styles

including rational shopping, consciousness regarding brand, price and quality among

others.

Fig 2.5: The pyramid of consumer behaviour

Source: Solomon M. et al (2006) Consumer Behaviour: A European Perspective, 3

rd

Edition, p. 24

Cultural anthropology

Macroeconomics

Demography

Semiotics

Sociology

History

Social Psychology

Microeconomics

Human ecology

Developmental psychology

Clinical psychology

Experimental psychology

Macro Consumer Behaviour

(Social Focus)

Micro Consumer Behaviour

(Individual Focus)Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

– 18 –

Fig 2.5 shows the pyramid of origin of consumer behaviour and interdisciplinary

influences on the study of consumer behaviour. These disciplines explain the

importance of consumer behaviour as a whole.

2.2.3 Consumer Decision Making Processes

Consumer behaviour is outcome of mental processes and judgements that individual

goes through every time before taking an action. These processes are explained by

researchers around the world in various ways and steps, such as AIDA by Strong

(1925) cited in Kotler (2003), Hierarchy of effects by Lavidge and Gary (1961) cited

in Antonides and Raaij (1998) and Innovation-adoption model (Rogers (1962) cited in

Kotler (1999). Most of these processes generally include need recognition, search for

alternative, evaluation of alternatives and action (Foxall et al 1998). Some researchers

have divided this process in further sub-steps (Wells and Prensky (1996), Solomon

(1999), Peter and Olson (2005), Solomon et al (2006)), but the idea remains the same.

2.2.4 Factors affecting consumer behaviour

A number of researchers have given several explanations of different factors affecting

consumer behaviour. Wells and Prensky (1996) explained different factors including

demographics, personality, psychographics, lifestyle, values and reference groups,

which affect consumer behaviour. It is worth mentioning here that all of these factors

are affected directly or indirectly by culture. Other factors that influence consumer

behaviour at the point of purchase are price, product perception, brand loyalty,

celebrity endorsement and people using product (Kotler 2003).

2.3 Relationship between Culture and Consumer Behaviour

Culture and consumer behaviour are intimately knotted together and “untying the

rope” is almost an impossible task (Lukosius 2004). Anthropologists have long

theorized about the influence of culture on decision making (Stewart, 1985).

Consumer culture is premised upon the expansion of capitalist commodity production

which has given rise to a vast accumulation of material culture in the form of Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

consumer goods and sites of purchase and consumption (Featherstone 1990). This

expansion of material culture has raised desire of leisure and expectations in

consumers.

The empirical study conducted by Henry (1976) shows that culture is underlying

determinant of consumer behaviour. Culture affects consumer behaviour, which itself

may reinforce the manifestations of culture (Peter and Olson, 1998). Culture

influences behaviour through its manifestations: values, heroes, rituals, and symbols

(Hofstede, 1997). These are the forms in which culturally-determined knowledge is

stored and expressed. This knowledge in-turn reflects consumer living style, attitude,

and behaviour. Each cultural group possesses different cultural manifestations which

are important for marketers to assess consumer behaviour, as shown in figure 2.6

(Luna and Gupta 2007).

Fig 2.6: Relationship between culture, marketing and consumer behaviour

Source: Luna, and Gupta (2001) “An integrative framework for cross-cultural consumer behaviour”

International Marketing Review Vol. 18 No. 1, 2001

The analysis of culture also offers some useful starting points for consumer attitude

and behaviours. Some recent studies have explored the influence of national culture

on cultural value perceptions (Overby et al., 2004; Furrer et al., 2000). But these are Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

largely limited to consumer contexts. For example, in a cross-cultural consumer

context, Overby et al. (2004) find that consumers’ national culture influences the

content and structure of value perceptions through the way customers attach meaning

and importance to various aspects of a firm’s products. This show that consumer’s

national cultures, in which they are brought up, hold utter importance in their

selection and perception of products and services.

2.3.1 Culture, Consumer Behaviour & Brand Selection Decisions

Consumers often choose certain products, services and activities over other because

they are associated with specific life style. This lifestyle reflects trend and fashion

expression and influences the choices made by consumer in their own anticipatory

consumption or the purchase of aspired lifestyle products (Brandon 2003 cited in

Forney, Park and Brandon 2005). These life styles techniques are provided by

different brands around the world (Kotler 2003). Consumer preferences for specific

brands are growing stronger day by day. Brands are one of the important factors that

influence groups to accept or reject an individual in a society.

An important study conducted by Aaker and Schmitt (1997) found that both

individualist and collectivist consumers use brands for self-expressive purposes (as in

McCracken, 1988). Moreover, this study clearly shows the difference of two cultures

i.e. eastern and western, as eastern consumers are more collectivist then western. Both

of these use brands, however, in different ways: collectivist consumers use brands to

reassert their similarity with members of their reference group, while individualist

consumers use brands to differentiate themselves from referent others.

Moreover, those who cannot keep up with the latest brand styles and knowledge

forms the ‘‘out’’ groups and those that can keep up are seen as members of the groups

as ‘‘cool’’ and ‘‘popular (Auty and Elliot 1998). The influence of brands is increasing

gradually in the form of consumer satisfaction to preference and repeat purchases and

then to next level i.e. brand loyalty. These branding decisions are influenced by

consumer behaviour which is reflection of individuals’ culture. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

2.3.2 Cultural adoption and reinforcement:

According to the empirical study conducted by Henry (1976), culture is underlying

determinant of consumer behaviour and it affects consumer behaviour, which itself

may reinforce the manifestations of culture (Peter and Olson, 1998). According to

Nguyen and Barrett (2008), individual from a sub-culture adopt manifestations from

mainstream or dominant culture. These adopted manifestations became part of

consumer mind set and reinforce further behaviour. Framework in figure 2.7 explains

cultural adoption and reinforcement process, which holds its very importance in study

of immigrants’ culture.

Figure 2.7: Framework of ethnic and mainstream cultural affects on consumer behaviour

Source: Adopted from Wines and Napier (1992) “Towards an understanding of cross-cultural ethics: A

tentative model” Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 11, Iss. 11. Pp. 831

2.3.3 Self Reference Criterion (SRC):

Self reference criterion is the unconscious reference to one’s own cultural values or

one’s home country frame of reference (Lee 1966). It was introduced from

managerial point of view to handle cultural differences and eliminate the root cause of

international problems, but it can also be used from consumers’ perspective. Culture

is subjective (Schutte 1999) and the people in different cultures often have different

ideas for the same object (Usanier and Lee 2005). When travelling overseas, it is

virtually impossible for a person to observe foreign culture without making reference,

Mainstream

Culture

Consumer values &

attitude sets

Values

& Ethics

Attitude

Reinforcement

Adoption

Consumer

Behaviour

Cognitive

Non-Cognitive

Ethnic/

Sub-Culture

Adaptation Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

perhaps unconsciously, back to his own cultural values. Individual’s opinion about

another culture is also heavily influenced by the media (Peter and Olson, 1998).

Through the tinted glass of parent culture, individuals see things in a foreign culture

not as what they are, but according to what he sees in them according to his own

perception (Fan 2008). For example, dog is man’s best friend in west but in Arab

countries it is considered as a filthy animal. This explains the differences in consumer

behaviour in different cultures about same object.

Moreover, McCort and Malhotra (1993) cited in Luna and Gupta (2007), describe

number of studies on the effect of cultural values on information processing issues

such as perceptual categorization, perceptual inference and learning. An individual’s

behaviour is result of that individual’s cultural value system for a particular context

(Loader 1999). Figure 2.8 explains the influence of demographics and personality

development on lifestyle, self concept and eventually on consumer behaviour.

Fig 2.8: Demographics & personality variables with lifestyle, self concept & consumer behaviour

Source: Adopted from Foxel et. al. (1998) Consumer Psychology of Marketing 2

nd

Edition p. 148

2.4 CLOTHING AND FASHION APPAREL

Clothing is primarily a mean of communicating, not personal identity, but social

identity (Noesjirwan and Crawford (1982) cited in Auty and Elliott 1998), which

strengthen the idea of cultural bond and group belonging. Researches conducted in

clothing behaviour have shown that consumers differ in attitudes, values and

expectations of clothing. Clothing is a way by which people identify themselves with

Demographics

Personality

Life Style

Self Concept

Consumer

Behaviour

S R C Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

a social class, project or group of people. Researchers have proven the construct of

symbolic meaning of clothing and its use in social environments (Hwang, 1996; Horn,

1975 cited in Alexander, Connell and Presley 2005). Clothing used positively

contributes to one’s feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.

Fashion is defined as currant mode of consumption behaviour or in other words style

or styles being worn by consumers of clothing (Evans 1989). Fashion, like all other

industries move in cycles (Miller and Merrilees 2004) and defined by consumers as

exciting, continuously changing and display of status, contribute to self confidence

and personally development (Evans 1989). This is a way by which consumers define

themselves as who they are and how they want others to perceive them. It is a way by

which individuals relate themselves with a group, celebrity, culture or country.

“Amongst the functions of fashion is to create uniformity amongst equals whilst at the

same time differentiating status and background, signposting preferences and

commitments. Reflecting the resulting market complexity, fashion forecasters have

developed a range of detailed and colourfully named descriptors to differentiate

consumer groups, identify, and recognise trends” (Priest 2005).

Fashion clothing means different things to different people from various backgrounds.

Consumers attach different perceptions to fashion which may be not same as their

family and friends’ beliefs. The use of fashion clothing enhance consumer’s

confidence and self-image concept. Empirical study conducted by Cass (2004) proved

that fashion apparel increase confidence and satisfaction among individuals. The

study presents a framework and proves that materialism, gender and age are important

antecedents of consumer involvement in fashion clothing and plays an important role

in enhancing consumer confidence.

According to Shim et al. (1991) clothing is an extension of the bodily self and has

important symbolic meanings in social interactions. Fashion concept is often a

manifestation of self image. There is an increase desire of self-expression (Evans Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

1989) and fashion is one of the most important methods for it. Figure 2.9 shows the

impact of fashion clothing on consumer confidence.

Fig 2.9: Fashion clothing impact on consumer confidence

Source: Cass (2004) “Fashion clothing consumption: Antecedents and consequences of fashion

clothing involvement” European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 38, Iss. 7. p. 869

2.5 PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION

As mentioned earlier in chapter 1, most of the cross-cultural studies in past had

focused on various cultural aspects and values. Very few works have been done on

aesthetics and its influence on consumer behaviour. Aesthetics is an important part of

culture and represents the idea of beauty and appearance in material culture. It is one

of the visible parts of culture that gives an idea to outsiders about cultural values and

beliefs. It also plays an importance role in shaping new trends in society.

Furthermore, studies conducted by various researchers specifically focused on the

cultures of various countries rather then various cultures in a single country, as it is in

case of Great Britain. The immigration trends in UK have made it a diverse cultured

country, while making it difficult for retailers and business to handle multi-ethnic

customers.

This research will identify the differences or gaps between the preferences and

choices of these consumers belonging to different cultures and answering the question

Materialism

Age

Gender

Fashion

clothing

involvement

Consumer

Confidence Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

“How does culture influence buying behaviour of female consumer for apparels and

clothing?” It will help identify the aesthetical part within the cultural values and

believes while focusing on visible aspect of material culture i.e. clothing and apparels.

Furthermore, this study will look into the different aspects of culture that influence

consumer’s buying behaviour and implications of these differences for women

clothing brands in Great Britain i.e. Zara, M&S, Next, Top Shop, Primark and House

of Frazer. The multicultural environment requires fashion retailers to be more flexible

and responsive when designing outfits. This study will help these retailers to achieve

multi-cultural consumer’s satisfaction via knowing their preferences and offering

diverse clothing ranges.

Figure 2.10: Research question

Pakistani Indian Bengali British Polish Italian German

Zara

M & S

Primark

Next

Top

Shop

Debenhams

Cultural Influence

Cultural Influence Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

– 26 –

2.6 Summary

This chapter has discussed in detail the previous studies explaining the concept of

culture, consumer behaviour and relationship between them. Moreover, the

importance of fashion and clothing with respect to consumer confidence was also

discussed. At the end of chapter, the gap within the previous studies is identified

which will be the focus of this research by using the methodology explained in next

chapter.

Here the 1

st

research question is revisited i.e. How cultural values affects self concept

of individuals which in turn influence consumer behaviourThis is done through the

exploration of relationship between culture and consumer behaviour and its impact on

self image i.e. Self Reference Criterion. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

Chapter 3

ME T H O D O L O G I C A LAP P R O A C H

This chapter will elucidate the research strategy and design used for the data

collection. The context of study, data collection among main-stream and ethnic

participants and the methods of data analysis are also explained. In the end of chapter,

limitations of are presented.

3.1 Research Strategy

This project is intended to explore the values and attitude of individuals from western

and eastern cultures. On the basis of these values and beliefs, consumer preferences

within clothing and apparels will be explored. These preferences will help determine

the idea of beauty and appearance within that culture. For this reason, the inductive

theory method is used. An illustration of this method is given in figure 3.1.

Fig 3.1: The concept of induction

Source: Bryman and Bell (2003) Business research methods p. 11

In this method, the researcher on the basis of findings and observations deduce a

result that draws generalised inferences. In other words, with an inductive stance,

theory is the outcome of research (Bryman and Bell 2003). This dissertation also

constructs generalisable results on the basis of research conducted.

3.2 Research Design

There are different kinds of research designs available, but for this study comparative

design is used. Hantaris (1996) has suggested that such research occurs when

Findings Theory Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

individuals or teams set to examine particular issues or phenomena in one, two or

more countries with the express intention of comparing their manifestations in

different socio-cultural setting (institutions, customs, traditions, value systems,

lifestyles, language, thought patterns). According to him the main aim of this study

design is to seek explanations for similarities and differences to gain a greater

awareness and a deeper understanding of social reality in different national contexts.

Moreover, the typical forms of comparative research design are qualitative i.e.

ethnographic or qualitative interviews on more then two cases (Bryman and Bell

2003), which are discussed in section 3.3.1.

Usunier (1998) further classified the comparative study in to two approaches.

According to him cross-cultural approaches are the one which compare national

culture and local customs in various countries. An example of this approach is

Hofstede (1984) study, which conducted research on IBM in more then 40 countries.

The second approach is intercultural approaches which focus on the study of

interaction between people and organisations from different national/cultural

background. This research project is more focused on intercultural approaches as it

will look into interaction of people from different cultural backgrounds and their

influence on each other.

3.3 Research Methods

Historically qualitative research has been given less than a fair sense of appreciation

and has been criticized for lack of scientific rigour, small samples, subjective and

nonreplicable efforts (Goodyear, 1990). Today, researchers and buyers of research

still see qualitative research as the provision of a homogeneous data collection method

based on group discussions or in-depth interviews (Wright 1996). This method has

proved to be beneficial for exploratory as well as for non-quantitative researches.

Qualitative approach is selected as in this research there are more exploratory

objectives which need deep insight analysis of consumers’ behaviour. Qualitative

research emphasises more on words rather than quantification in the collection and

analysis of data (Bryman and Bell 2003). The research methods used for this study are Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

primary research methods secondary research methods. Primary research is carried

out with the use of qualitative research tools, which was in accordance to the

objectives

Not only that qualitative method helps to identify people’s attitude towards a product

category through group brain storming, it also assist exploring customers behaviour,

lifestyles, needs and desires in a flexible and creative manner. Another reason of its

preference is that researcher can ask probing questions to clarify something they do

not fully understand or something unexpected and interesting that may help to explain

consumer behaviour (Dibb & Simkin 1997).

3.3.1 Primary Research Methods

The primary research methods used are interviews and focus group. These two

methods are used in semi-structured pattern (Bryman and Bell 2003) as they give a

deep understanding of market trends and people’s behaviour. Among the different

interview methods, semi-structured interviewing is focused. This term covers a wide

range of instances and typically refers to a context in which interviewer has a series

of questions that are in the general form of an interview schedule but is able to vary

the sequence of questions. Moreover Semi-structured interview also covers in-depth

interviews (Bryman and Bell 2003).

The second primary research method used is focus group. The focus group method is

a form of group interview in which: there are several participants (in addition to the

moderator/facilitator); there is an emphasis in the questioning on a particular fairly

tightly defined topic; and the accent is upon interaction within the group and the joint

construction of meaning (Merton et al. 1953). This technique help researcher to

develop an understanding about why people feel the way they do (Hutt 1979). Focus

group also offer research opportunity to study the ways in which individuals

collectively make sense of phenomenon and construct meanings around it (Wilkinson

1998) Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

3.3.2 Secondary Research Methods

Secondary research included the material from secondary research reports (Mintel,

GMID, Snapshot and Fame), books, articles, journals and newspapers related to

culture, brand identity and personality, consumer behaviour and UK fashion industry.

This data from secondary sources was used parallel with primary research for

valuable results.

3.4 Context of Study

This research is based on study of western and eastern cultures in Britain. For this

reason, it was conducted in London, a city which is famous for attracting different

immigrant groups from different parts of the world, as it won’t exist without mass

immigration (www.britishlibrary.co.uk 2008). Moreover, according to 2001 census

survey, more then 20% of Londoners are from an ethnic minorities (www.bbc.co.uk

2008), which make it suitable for ethnic minority studies and researches.

3.5 Participants of Study

The sample size consisted of a 13 eastern (Asian, 8 Pakistani and 5 Indian) and 12

western consumers (white, 3 Italian and 9 English). For the purpose of this research,

they are termed as “ethnic participants” and “mainstream participants” respectively

(Jamal 2003). All of 25 participants were female and were randomly selected on the

basis of social relations in both communities. Out of 13 ethnic minority participants, 5

were born and educated in UK whereas rest 8 came from Pakistan for educational

purposes and had been in UK for 1 to 4 years. These ethnic participants are bilingual,

single and their age ranges from 21-27 years. Out of total 12 mainstream participants,

9 were born and educated in UK whereas rest 3 came to UK in past 3-4 years from

Italy. All of these participants are single and involved in education or working

activities. Moreover, mainstream participants had exposure to ethnic participant’s

culture during their stay in London. Most of interviews conducted for this study were Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

inside british institute of technology and e commerce from students whereas focus

groups were conducted at university Halls and at researchers’ home facility.

3.6 Data Collection among Ethnic Participants

Data among female ethnic participants was collected through interviews and focus

group discussion. Total 8 interviews were conducted each lasting for an average of

10-15 minutes. 4 interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed with permission

whereas rest 5 were written in detail after they were conducted.

Name Age Nationality Profession

Marital

Status

Interviewee-1 23 British-Pakistani Student/Doing job Single

Interviewee-2 22 British-Pakistani Student Single

Interviewee-3 24 Indian Student Single

Interviewee-4 24 Pakistani Student/Doing job Single

Interviewee-5 26 Pakistani Student Single

Interviewee-6 21 Indian Student Single

Interviewee-7 24 Pakistani Student Single

Interviewee-8 23 British-Indian Student/Doing job Single

Focus Group

Participant-1

27 Indian Student Single

Focus Group

Participant-2

23 Pakistani Student Single

Focus Group

Participant-3

26 Pakistani Student/Doing job Single

Focus Group

Participant-4

21 British-Pakistani Student/Doing job Single

Focus Group

Participant-5

24 British-Indian Student/Doing job Single

Table 3.1: Ethnic participants’ demographic details

A focus group within these ethnic participants was also conducted with 5 members to

get maximum feedback on consumer behaviour, while they perform daily life Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

functions as member of group or community. Open ended questions were used for

probing purpose during 30 minutes session of focus group. The demographic details

of ethnic participants are given in table 3.1.The detail questions asked from ethnic

participants are given in appendix A.

3.7 Data Collection among Mainstream Participants

The data among mainstream participants was collected in same manner as for ethnic

participants. 7 interviews were conducted with one focus group. None of the

interviews were tape recorded but written in detail after they were conducted. Each

interview lasted for an average of 10-15 minutes.

Name Age Nationality Occupation

Marital

Status

Interviewee-1 21 British Student/Doing job Single

Interviewee-2 22 British Student/Doing job Single

Interviewee-3 24 British Student Single

Interviewee-4 24 British Student/Doing job Single

Interviewee-5 26 British Student Single

Interviewee-6 21 British Student Single

Interviewee-7 28 Italian Professional worker Single

Focus Group

Participant-1

25 British Student Single

Focus Group

Participant-2

23 British Student/Doing job Single

Focus Group

Participant-3

25 British Student Single

Focus Group

Participant-4

24 Italian Student Single

Focus Group

Participant-5

23 Italian Student Single

Table 3.2: Mainstream participants’ demographic details

A focus group of 5 people was also carried out while using open ended questions. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

This focus group lasted for 30 minutes. The demographic details of mainstream

participants are given in table 3.2. The detail questions asked from mainstream

participants are given in appendix B.

3.8 Method of Data Analysis

The method of data analysis used in this research is content analysis. According to

Bryman and Bell (2003), content analysis is an approach to the analysis of documents

and texts and is further classified into semiotic and qualitative content analysis or

ethnographic content analysis. The term ethnographic content analysis (ECA) was

first used by Aitheide (1996) and comprises a searching-out of underlying themes in

the materials being analysed while illustrating extracted themes-for example, with

brief quotations from newspaper articles or magazines.

Qualitative content analysis offers an important method for the cultural studies

because it enables researcher to analyse values, attitude and behaviour (Kabanoff,

Walderse and Cohen 1995). Furthermore, content analysis is highly flexible, nonreactive and transparent research method (Bryman and Bell 2003). It allow researcher

to gather information about social groups that are difficult to access and observe

(Maylor and Blackmon 2005).

3.9 Limitations

This section will present limitations of research methods and whole research study.

Some of the limitations of research methods are as follows:

1. The research methods used in this study are primary and secondary, which have

some limitations.

a. More time is required for primary data collection whereas reliability and

validity are major issues in secondary data collection methods (Bryman and

Bell 2003). Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

b. Interviews takes a lot more time then questionnaire and some time require

physical presence of researcher.

c. Major issue with focus groups is that there is the possibility of groupthink i.e.

people expressing an opinion which is in line with the rest of the group even if

that opinion is at odds with their own personal one (Dibb & Simkin 1997).

2. Likewise above-mentioned limitations of research methods, content analysis

method also have some disadvantages. It is accused of being too much

‘atheoretical’ (Bryman and Bell 2003) and most of the times cannot explain the

answers of question ‘Why’ (Maylor and Blackmon 2005)

Limitations within research study are:

3. Due to lack of time, limited numbers of participants were interviewed. Inclusion

of more participants would have increased the level of validity and reliability.

4. Limited numbers of questions were asked from participants of interviews and

focus groups. Detail interviews and focus groups would have given more handy

results on cultural influence on participant’s behaviour.

5. Participants from other nationalities in mainstream and ethnic cultures might also

have included for further deep understanding.

6. The participants selected for this study had similar demographical data i.e. single

and students. Data strength would have been increased with the selection of

varied demographic participants.

3.10 Summary

This chapter has discussed in detail the methodology of research design, data

collection techniques and participants’ description. Furthermore, the method used for Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

depicting findings of collected data and its analysis is also explained. The next

chapter will cover the outcomes of data gathered and its implications. Based on the

results, first three objectives of this study (given in section 1.3.1) will be met. The last

objective i.e. implication of this research study for high street retailers will be given

in conclusion and recommendations. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

Chapter 4

FI N D I N G S

This chapter will present the results of interviews and focus groups gathered during

this research study. It is divided into two sections. The first section elucidates the

results from interviews from two different cultural participants’ i.e. ethnic participants

and mainstream participants. The second section covers the findings of focus group,

also from ethnic participants and mainstream participants. These results are analysed

using the content analysis method explained in methodology i.e. section 3.8.

4.1 Findings from interviews

During the research study, semi-structured interviews were conducted among 15

participants from ethnic and mainstream cultures. Both interview groups were asked

the same questions apart from minor changes in selection of apparel preferences,

which were changed with respect to their cultural norms and values. For the

convenience of participants, they were also shown the pictures of other groups’

cultural apparels.

As stated in previous chapter, aesthetics are the ideas of beauty and appearance in

material culture. The interview questions were designed according to research pattern

given in figure 1.1, to assess the participants’ involvement with apparel aesthetics,

attachment with their values and beliefs, life style patterns in different seasons and

their preferred apparel brands. They were also questioned to assess the level of

confidence and peers pressure while wearing eastern or western clothes.

The interview questions were selected from surveys conducted by O’ Cass in 2004

and 2000, Flynn and Goldsmith in 1999, Auty and Elliot in 1998 and Richins and

Dawson in 1992. The main theme of these questions was to assess involvement and

attachment with their cultural values and beliefs and its impact on consumer

behaviour. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

4.1.1 Ethnic Participants Interviews

Total 8 ethnic participants interviews were conducted, 4 of which were tape recorded

and transcribed. One of the interviews is given in appendix C. These participants

were from Pakistan and India and age between 21-27 years. Moreover, these

participants are in UK for past 1-4 years and going through their undergraduate and

post-graduate degree programmes in different universities. The interviews were

conducted in a time period of 2 weeks. The findings from ethnic group are explained

and analysed hereafter.

The 1

st

two questions of interview were taken from Aron O’ Cass’s (2004) research to

assess the involvement in apparels. The first question was about an average

percentage of total monthly budgets spent on apparels. The answers were in range of

20pc-30pc, which shows participants’ interest at a significant level in apparels. As

interviewee 4 added:

Yes, I am fashion-oriented and like to buy clothes which ever I think

will suits me. In the winter or summer season’s start, I plan with my

family for shopping and buy whatever is ‘in’ fashion. Some times my

spending is more then what I had planned from my budget, but I

manage it with my forthcoming monthly budgets.

According to Kotler (2003), consumers plan ahead for the purchase of ‘shopping

goods’ only, which require high level of involvement. Furthermore, in order to

measure the involvement in 2

nd

question, participants were given a scale from 1 to 5,

1 being lowest level of involvement and 5 being highest level of involvement. Most

participants fall in the range of 4, which verify the result of 1

st

question.

The next block of questions was about the consumer preference for winter and

summer clothing. These questions were asked in order to check consumer preferences

within their cultural clothing and apparels. A very interesting dilemma is noted in the

replies of these questions from British born immigrants and the immigrants staying Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

for a short period of time. According to interviewee 2, from London:

Well, I usually wear Shalwar-Kameez (a Pakistani Dress) at home.

That is more casual, comfortable and relaxing. But I think it is more

about my values, parents and the relative who are visiting our palace.

They expect me and my sisters to be more Pakistani and culturally

bound. As far as university or work place clothing is concerned, I am

free to select what ever I want, but within my religious and cultural

limits.

As shown in graph 4.1, 87% of British-Pakistanis and British-Indian participants were

more inclined towards jeans or trousers with shirt or ‘Kurta’ (a type of embossed

shirt) as out-of-home dresses. Moreover, 75% of participants rejected any western

dress at home including jeans, as shown in graph 4.2. These replies clearly indicate

that the migrants are trying to go along with the mainstream culture of UK while

practicing the norms and values of their previous cultures. These values are fed in the

minds of children in the early stages of youth and are practiced through out the life

span of individuals.

Ou t-o f-H ome App a rels

13%

87%

Ethnic Apparel

Mainstream Appareal

Graph 4.1: Out-of-home apparel selection by ethnic participants Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

– 39 –

Ou t-o f-H ome Ap p a re ls

75%

25%

E thnicA pparel

Mainstream Appareal

Graph 4.2: In-home apparel selection by ethnic participants

The participants were also questioned to assess their attachment with their cultural

values. They were asked the reason to choose those dresses. Most of the participants

put their weight in categories of fashion, practicing social norms and following family

traditions, as shown in graph 4.3.

38%

25%

6%

31%

Fashion

Tridtion

Celebrity Endorsement

S oc ial Norm s

Graph 4.3: Values preferences by ethnic participants Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

– 40 –

These answers clearly indicate attachment with social values as well as desire to keep

pace with ‘in’ fashion. This is due to the peer pressure, which further raise the

question of confidence in individuals.

When it was enquired that in which dress do they would feel more confident i.e. their

native cultural dress or mainstream cultural dress; most of the answers were vague

and unclear. According to one interviewee 8:

It all depends on situation and circumstances, for example, if you are

going in a party or celebration where all of your close relative will

wear Sari or Kurta, you can’t wear jeans or skirt in between them.

Obviously you will feel confident looking like hem, not a separate

identity. Same is the case when you go for job.

The peer pressure directly affects the confidence level in individuals. The fitting of

apparels, brand name and ‘in’ fashion are at secondary importance. Cultural values,

norms and rituals hold the most important place in ethnic minority groups, who are

pushing to keep their culture alive.

The final segment of questions was asked to assess the brand loyalty. Most of the

respondents said they are brand loyal and purchase from Next, H&M, MKone and

Doherty Perkin0073. According to them, they prefer these brands as they are fashionoriented and keep the latest inventory of clothes. Participants also showed high level

of interest in buying their ethnic minority clothes from these brands. This response is

support the idea that respondents would go for increased shopping from places which

take care of their interests.

4.1.2 Mainstream Participants Interviews

Total 7 mainstream participants were interviewed whereas none of the interview was

tape recorded. The participants were from England and Italy and age between 22-28

years. These participants were students and doing their postgraduate or undergraduate Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

from universities. The same questions were asked from mainstream participants apart

from minor changes in dress choices. The data was collected for a period of 2 weeks

and is explained henceforth.

Even though the involvement in clothing brands was found at level 3 (from scale 1-5,

1 being lowest and 5 being highest involvement) in mainstream participants, but the

spending was between 15pn-20pc, which is quite less then ethnic participants. This

indicates that the high level of involvement do not suggest amplified spending.

The next questions were asked in order to check consumer preferences within their

cultural clothing and apparels. The major preferences during summer season were

mini skirts, sleeveless shirts, jeans and hot pants whereas for winter season were

jumpers, coats, jeans and jerseys or sweater. It is important to note that unlike ethnic

participants, mainstream respondents were more determined to practice their cultural

values and beliefs at home, work place or any social gatherings by wearing their

preferred clothes. Graph 4.4 shows mainstream participants in-home and out-of-home

apparel preferences.

InH ome&Ou t-o f-H omeAp p a re ls

14%

86%

E thnicA pparel

Mainstream Appareal

Graph 4.4: In-home & out-of-home apparel selection by mainstream participant Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

Moreover, when it was enquired that why do they wear their preferred clothes, the

answers were fashion and fashion, tradition, celebrity enforcement. Because of the

impact of these traditions and values, majority of participants rejected any possibility

for ethnic cultural clothes, as they do not relate to them.

37%

19%

31%

13%

Fashion

Tridtion

Celebrity Endorsement

S oc ial Norm s

Graph 4.5: Values preference by mainstream participants

According to these participants, they will not look good in these dresses and their

confidence will be shattered. According to interviewee 6, from Oxford:

It is impossible for me to wear Asian clothes, not at all. I have never

tried them on me and I don’t think there is any chance that I would

look good in it. Also, I don’t want to be bullies by my friends. They will

not accept it even if it is fashion or culture, until and unless it is

planned.

As mentioned by her, there is no chance that their peer groups accept it even if it is

‘in’ fashion. These responses clearly indicate a hard line drawn between eastern and

western culture by mainstream participants. The pressure from peer group and the

idea of ‘self image’ is very much visible from these answers and holds utter Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

importance. Also the major brands identified by mainstream participants for shopping

were Next, Top Shop, H&M, MKone, and Gap. According to these respondents, they

don’t hesitate to buy from other brands in high street if better things are available

from them.

Lastly, the respondent’s involvement level in mentioned brands was found healthy,

even if these brands sell ethnic cultural wears. This shows a high level of brand

loyalty within mainstream participants. According to one interviewee 3, from London:

I live near-buy South-hall, one the biggest shopping markets of Asian

clothes in London. Some times I visit it with my mother or sister for

routine shopping. There are a lot of things that you can use casually

like sandals, flip flops, summer tops and jumpers and especially

jewellery. I have bought a lot of my things from their and no doubt that

I will buy them, if these things are available in high-streets brands.

It is important to note there that participants showed their interest in buying the

commodities which match their own culture from an ethnic shopping mall; the

implication is that mainstream cultures accept to buy possessions from places where

ethnic cultures buy. This also shows that mainstream cultures adopt, accept and adjust

with ethnic cultures.

4.2 Interview questions tabulation

In order to assess the popular and non-popular themes, the interviews were divided in

5 different domains. The comparison of ethnic and mainstream cultures by using this

coding technique is given in table 4.1. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

Themes

Ethnic Participants

Responses

Mainstream Participants

Responses

Domain 1: Involvement in

apparels. (2 Questions)

High level of involvement at

4 (1 being lowest and 5 being

highest)

20pc-30pc monthly budget

spending.

Moderate level of involvement

at 3 (1 being lowest and 5

being highest)

15pc-20pc monthly budget

spending.

Domain 2: Preference for

winter and summer clothes.

(2 Questions)

Different preferences for inhome and outdoor wears

Same preferences for in-home

and outdoor wears.

Domain 3: Attachment

with cultural values. (2

Questions)

Positive towards fashion and

following social norms

Positive towards fashion,

maintaining identity and

following social norms

Domain 4: Confidence and

peer pressure. (4 Questions)

Mixed opinion for western

clothing.

Increased level of confidence

with western cultural clothes

at job or work place and

Asian clothes in eastern social

gatherings

Highly positive towards peer

pressure.

Strong negative opinion for

Asian clothing and apparels.

Decreased level of confidence

and shattered self image with

Asian clothing.

Highly positive towards peer

pressure.

Domain 5: Brand loyalty (3

Questions)

Positive towards brand

loyalty

Aim for increased shopping if

these brands keep Asian

clothes.

Moderate signs of brand

loyalty

Interest in brands found

healthy if they start keeping

ethnic wears.

Table 4.1: Interview questions tabulation Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

4.3 Findings from Focus Group

During two focus group sessions, questions were asked from 10 participants from

ethnic and mainstream cultures. Both groups were enquired the same question apart

from minor changes in selection of apparel preferences, which were changed

according to their cultural norms and values. Alike interview sessions, pictures of

other groups’ cultural apparels were also shown to participants.

The question were structured according to research pattern given in figure 1.1, in

order to assess the participants’ involvement with apparel aesthetics, attachment with

their values and beliefs, life style patterns in different seasons and their preferred

apparel brands. They were also questioned to assess the confidence and peer pressure

while wearing eastern or western clothes.

The focus group questions were similar to those of interview questions and were

selected from the same surveys conducted by different authors mentioned earlier. The

main theme of these questions was to assess involvement and attachment with their

cultural values and beliefs and its impact on consumer behaviour.

4.3.1 Ethnic participants’ focus group

Ethnic participants’ focus group included 5 members from Pakistan and India and age

between 21-26 years. These Participants are living in UK for past 1-4 years and going

through their post-graduate and undergraduate programmes in different universities.

This focus group was conducted at researchers’ home premises and had duration of 30

minutes. The findings from ethnic focus group are explained and analysed henceforth.

Most of the participants spend an average of 20pc-25pc of their total monthly budget

on apparels. The big amounts are spent on seasonal sales or monthly special offers in

big stores. According to the respondents, they look for sales or offers through out the

year and save considerable amount of money from these benefits. It is important to

note here that the budget mentioned by these participants is less then the budget cited Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

by interviewed participants. Social pressure within the group led to a precise budget

figure rather then estimated numbers. Moreover, the hunt for sales promotions in high

streets shows a high level of involvement and interest in apparels and clothing.

The preferences of clothes, in-house and out-of-home, were identical to those of

interviewed. According to the respondents, they wear Shalwar-Kameez or Kurta at

home whereas jeans, trousers or full-sleeves shirts for work or university purposes.

The reasons mentioned by these participants were also similar to the interviewed

respondents i.e. keeping the native culture alive at home whereas participating and

sharing equally with mainstream culture. These answers show a resistance from

members and groups of ethnic cultures to completely accept and practice mainstream

or counter culture.

Moreover, all members of group unanimously declined to wear western clothes such

as mini-skirts, hot pants or deep necks. According to them, these clothes will not be

accepted by their family or friends and certainly will shatter their confidence in social

gatherings, even if they are ‘in’ fashion and accepted by society at large. The agreed

behaviour of whole group for western clothes shows a high level of peer pressure and

strong commitment with their values and beliefs.

At the end, the group as enquired for their loyalty towards high street brands. Most of

the participants buy from Next, Debenhams, New Look, Primark, Top Shop and

Doherty Perkins. All the participants had encountered sale experience from these

brands once or more. Increased interest and elevated buying were mentioned by group

members if these brands start keeping ethnic cultures dresses and apparels.

4.3.2 Mainstream participants’ focus group

Mainstream participants’ focus group included 5 members from United Kingdom and

Italy and aged between 22-27 years. 3 of these participants were born and living in

UK whereas 2 participants came from Italy last year i.e. 2007. This focus group was Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

conducted in British institute of technology and e commerce Halls for duration of 25

minutes. The findings of this focus group are as follows:

According to the respondents, the average monthly budget spent on apparels is

between 15pc-25pc, which is slightly less then ethnic participants’ budget. The

members showed their interest in buying dresses and apparels from sales as well as in

normal shopping days. According to these participants, they don’t just wait for

seasonal or monthly sales but also go along with fad and fashion and buy what ever

they think will suits them. These answers show a high involvement in apparels

throughout the year.

The preferences of clothes, in-house and out-of-home, were identical to those of

interviewed. According to them, the major preferences during summer season were

sleeveless shirts with jeans or trousers, mini-skirts and hot pants whereas for winter

season were jumpers, coats, jeans and jerseys or sweater. When it was enquired that

why do they wear their preferred clothes, the answers were to look fashionable and

following cultural and social norms. These answers indicate a strong sense of

association with ‘in’ fashion and their cultural values and beliefs.

Moreover, these respondents were also determined to wear their native cultural

apparels at home, work place or any social gatherings. Because of the impact of these

social gatherings and norms, most of participants rejected any possibility to wear

ethnic cultures apparels. According to these participants, their close friends and

family members will not accept them in those dresses. From these responses, it is

clear that peer pressure plays an important role in buying behaviour of society.

Lastly, the important brands identified by the mainstream participants for shopping

were Next, Top Shop, H&M, Zara, Debenhams, asos and Gap. The respondent also

showed interest in these brands even if they sell ethnic cultural wears. This shows a

high level of brand loyalty within mainstream participants. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

4.4 Summary

This chapter has discussed the results of interviews and focus groups. Participants’

involvement, interest and association with cultural values and beliefs were also

discussed. In addition, these results and findings were assessed by using content

analysis method. Moreover, these results have helped meeting the 1

st

three objectives

given in section 1.3.1. The next chapter will discuss these objectives and obtained

results with respect to the literature review presented in chapter 2 followed by

conclusion and recommendations. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

Chapter 5

DI S C U S S I O N

This chapter will analyse the finding with respect to the literature review presented in

chapter 2. Based on the research objectives, literature review and findings, the

discussion will advance to examine three concepts: the effects of culture on

consumers’ selection of apparels and wears followed by effects of clothing and

fashion apparels on self image and confidence. Lastly, the influence of culture on

consumer behaviour and brand selection decision will be discussed.

5.1 Culture and its influence

The visibility of sub-cultures (Keegan 2006) in mainstream culture is noticeable in

this research. These sub-cultures are practiced according to the native national

cultures of consumers. Consumers act and behave according to these sub-cultures’

values and beliefs and pass them to next generation. Moreover, the selection of

eastern dresses by ethnic participants and western dresses by mainstream participants

for social gatherings reflects profound group pressures for cultural coherence. These

group pressures are concerned with development of unique experiences for

individuals, which makes them feel special as well as part of their native society

(Veltman 1997).

The dilemma of in-home and out-of home apparels’ selection reflects motivation of

eastern participants to keep a balance between ethnic and mainstream cultures. This

balance helps them to maintain their social identity as a mainstream cultural member

as well as allowing them to buttress manifestations and values of ethnic culture

(Hofstede 1991). These values are fed by immigrants in the minds of their children at

young age (Douglous 2006), so that new generation can keep these traditions alive.

These traditions also allow them to go parallel with mainstream cultural values. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

Furthermore, the reasons mentioned by ethnic as well as mainstream participants for

the selection of their preferred clothes are similar i.e. ‘in’ fashion, keeping up their

cultural identity and pursuing social norms. According to Salter (1997), norms and

values arises within the way of life of people and give them solidarity and identity.

Hence, relationship with native culture gives a sense of identity and cohesion within

individuals. Moreover, individuals’ selection of ‘in’ fashion was also found to be in

accordance to the cultural values and beliefs, which strengthen the Salter (1997)

social norms concept.

Moreover, when the individuals from ethnic culture were inquired if they could use

some western culture apparels (jeans, tops, jerseys, jumpers and etc), a positive

opinion was received. According to Nguyen and Barrett (2008), individual from a

sub-culture adopt manifestations from mainstream or dominant culture. These

adopted manifestations became part of sub-culture and consumer mind set while

reinforcing further behaviour. The adoption process is shown in figure 2.7 and is

clearly support by this study.

5.2 Effects of culture and apparels on self confidence

Empirical study conducted by Cass (2004) proved that fashion apparel increase

confidence and satisfaction among individuals. Participants of this study also showed

a high level of confidence in wearing fashion apparels and wears in social gathering.

Confidence in participants was found significantly low and shattered while going for

out of fashion and old clothing apparels.

Moreover, as mentioned by Shim et al. (1991), clothing has important symbolic

meanings in social interactions. These social interactions are family, relatives, peer

groups and other social groups within society. Social gatherings in ethnic or

mainstream culture represent their traditions and values. Aesthetics, clothing and

apparels are one of the ways by which these traditions and values are visible to outer

world. Participants showed their concerns for odd or culturally unacceptable apparels

in social gathering and interactions, as these will not be accepted by stakeholders. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

There is an increase desire of self-expression (Evans 1989) and fashion is one of the

most important methods for it. Fashion concept is often a manifestation of self image.

This self image is projected in society with apparels and wears used by individuals.

Also, the participants of this study showed a positive relationship between self image

and apparels. Some participants never tried opposite culture’s clothes as they thought

that they will not look good in it. The imagination of bodily self-image did not allow

them to wear those apparels.

Here the concept of self reference criterion (SRC) is revisited in figure 5.1. Self

reference criterion is the unconscious reference to one’s own cultural values or one’s

home country frame of reference (Lee 1966). Individuals grown up in different

contexts possess negative and unfavourable feelings for customs and values of

opposite cultures, especially the ones which are unacceptable in their native culture.

Participants of this study also showed a strong negative response to the apparels

which are undesirable in their national cultures.

Fig 5.1: Demographics & personality variables with lifestyle, self concept & consumer behaviour

Source: Adopted from Foxel et. al. (1998) Consumer Psychology of Marketing 2

nd

Edition p. 148

Moreover, as mentioned by Loader (1999), an individual’s behaviour is a result of that

individual’s cultural value system for a particular context. Demographic and

personality development milieus play an important role in shaping concept of self

image and life style patterns. These personality and demographic traits are

strengthened in initials childhood stages of ethnic and mainstream participants’,

where parent and peer group appreciate culturally acceptable clothing and apparels.

These personality traits and life style patterns have permanently shaped their

behaviour towards opposite cultures

Demographics

Personality

Life Style

Self Concept

Consumer

Behaviour

S R C Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

5.3 Culture, consumer behaviour and brand Selection

Brands are one of the important factors that influence groups to accept or reject an

individual in a society. Most of the participants of study were found brand loyal and

regular buyers from specific brands. Among the most mentioned brands are Next,

Doherty Perkins, Gap, MKone, Top Shop and H&M. All of these are well known

brands and exist in every famous high street of UK. It is important to note that no one

mentioned M&S, one of the biggest high street brands. Consumers often choose

certain products, services and brands over other because they are associated with a

certain life style (Brandon 2003 cited in Forney, Park and Brandon 2005). None of

the participants wanted to be associate with M&S as it is considered for old

generation life style in UK.

The study by Aaker and Schmitt (1997) shows difference between eastern and

western consumers decision for brand selection. As eastern consumers are more

collectivist then western, they use brands to reassert their similarity with members of

their reference group. This study paper proves the previous research in this regard.

When it was inquired from ethnic participants, if they would still buy apparels from

theses brands, if they start keeping ethnic apparels, a highly positive response were

received. These positive answers from ethnic participants show their high association

towards these brands as majority of their social groups will buy from these them. The

association with these brands will make them confident and satisfied in social

gatherings and interactions.

Moreover, individualist consumers use brands to differentiate themselves to referent

from others (Aaker and Schmitt 1997). This statement was found contrary in this

study as healthy involvement in above-mentioned brands was identified even if they

sell ethnic apparels. Mainstream participants will buy western apparels from these

brands as eastern or ethnic apparels will not b accepted by their peer groups. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

5.4 Summary

As mentioned by Poon (2003), economic and cultural differences lead to substantial

variation in behaviour of consumer. These differences guide societies and civilisation

to varied way of life and value system. This chapter have looked into these

differences with respect to literature review presented in this report. The next chapter

will present conclusion and finally the recommendations for managers, entrepreneurs

and researchers for further studies in this regard. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

Chapter 6

CO N C L U S I O N&RE C O M M E N D A T I O N S

6.1 Conclusion

With growing migration patterns throughout the world, it is becoming difficult for

entrepreneurs as well as for researchers to depict and meet demands of society. These

migrations, which result in interaction between different cultures, play an important

role in moulding consumer needs and wants. Consumer values systems, attitudes and

mind-sets are modifying accordingly with the changes in society. These values,

beliefs and attitude plays important role in our daily lives and shape them

accordingly. Our feelings, involvement, and reactions towards certain objects are

developed and silhouette by members of society.

This dissertation has sought to discuss the factors that effect consumer behaviour in a

multi-cultural society. The differences between eastern and western cultures are

highlighted in this report while focusing their values and attitude towards apparels

and clothing. The influence on consumer behaviour is then analysed from the

participants’ feedback is and linked to the previous studies conducted in this regards.

Revisiting objectives of this dissertation report, first 3 targets of this dissertation are

achieved and examined in discussion and analysis chapters. The last objective, i.e.

advantages and disadvantages for retailers, is explained here. One of the main

advantages for keeping cross-cultural apparels will be higher turnover which in turn

will boost sales of company. Higher sales will bring more profit for retailers in high

streets. Another advantage for retailers would be brand reorganisation amongst

different buyers from different countries. This will reduce entry barriers in those

countries. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

These benefits will also bring some disadvantages with them. One of the main

disadvantages will be issue of brand reposition in UK market. According to Aaker

and Schmitt (1997), individualist consumers use brands to differentiate themselves to

referent from others. The focus of new position would be to attract more and more

customer, keeping brand superiority and uniqueness at side. This might repel

hardliner western customers who wanted to buy from these brands for differentiated

products.

6.2 Recommendations

Suggestion for managers and retailers are presented in this section based on the

finding and discussion. Suggestions for researchers are as follows.

1. This study was conducted in West London, amongst the students and part time

jobbers. Further research can include other areas of London, Birmingham,

Manchester and Bradford, as these cities have high ratio of immigrants from

different countries. Diverse answers from participants of these cities can further

clarify relationship of culture and consumer behaviour. Moreover, recent

immigration trends can base further research in this regards. The immigrants from

Eastern Europe include Poland and Lithuanian citizens.

2. Further study in self reference criterion needs to be carried out. This concept can

unveil consumer understanding of different objects and commodities. Moreover,

it can help in development of frameworks that elucidate culture and its influence.

Further studies on SRC are very much necessary for deep insight into aesthetical

element of culture.

3. Some of the participants mentioned religious factor for selecting apparels.

Religious beliefs play a very important role in individual’s life. It is very difficult

to separate culture from religion and its influences. Religious factor become more

important while conducting research on Eastern or Asian values and beliefs. This

aspect of culture can be carried out in future researches on culture and its

influence. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

4. Cultural influence on brand loyalty is discussed very briefly in this report. Culture

plays an important role in binding consumer emotions, feelings and attitude

towards a brand. These cultural influences on brand loyalty and attachment can be

carried out in further researches.

Moreover, some of the important recommendations for retailers and managers are

also presented here.

1. As mentioned before, keeping cross-cultural apparels in different outlets would

increase their sales and ultimately profits. This will increase store traffic which

can influence brand sales.

2. The cross-cultural traffic might hit the existing customer’s perception for brand

negatively. Hard-line mainstream customers might not like to shop from outlets

where ethnic consumers buy apparels. For this reason, separate outlets can be

introduced in ethnic consumer’s majority areas. This will increase profits while

safeguarding brand’s position in consumer mind. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

RE F E R E N C E S

Aaker, J.L. and Schmitt, B.H. (1997), ‘The influence of culture on the self-expressive

use of brands’, Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 25, p. 12.

Alexander, M., Connell, L.J., Presley, A. B. (2005), ‘Clothing fit preferences of

young female adult consumers’, International Journal of Clothing Science and

Technology, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 52-64

Antonides G. and Raiij W.F. (1998) Consumer Bheaviour: A European Perspective.

John Wiley & Sons, West Sussex, England

Auty, S., Elliott, R. (1998), ‘Fashion involvement, self-monitoring and the meaning of

brands’, Journal of Product & Brand Management, Volume: 7 Issue: 2

BBC (2005) BBC News: British immigration map. Available at,

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4218740.stm [Accessed: 31-07-2008]

Blocker C.P, Flint D.J (2007), ‘Exploring the dynamics of customer value in crosscultural business relationships’, Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol.22

No.4 pp. 249–259

Blythe, J. (1997), The essence of consumer behaviour. Prentice Hall, Hertfordshire,

UK

British Library (2006) Online Library: London, a life in maps. Available at,

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/londoninmaps/2006/12/why_london_woul.html

[Accessed: 31-07-2008]

Cass, A.O. (2004) ‘Fashion clothing consumption: Antecedents and consequences of

fashion clothing involvement’, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 38, Iss. 7.

Dibb, S. & Simkin, L. (1997), Marketing-Concepts and Strategies. 3

rd

Edition,

Houghton Mifflin, New York.

Evans, M. (1989), ‘Consumer Behaviour towards Fashion’, European Journal of

Marketing, Volume: 23 Issue: 7

Forney, J.C., Park, E. J., Brandon, L. (2005) ‘Effects of evaluative criteria on fashion

brand extension’, Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, Vol. 9, Issue. 2

Goldsmith M, Ronald E, Stith, Melvin T. (1992), ‘The social values of fashion

innovators’, Journal of Applied Business Research. Vol. 9, Iss. 1; pg. 10, 7 pgs Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

– 58 –

Hofstede, G. (1991), Cultures and organisations: Software of the mind. London:

McGraw-Hill

Hofstede, G. (1997), Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. McGrawHill, New York, NY

Hofstede, G. (2000), Culture Consequences, Comparing Values, Behaviours,

Institutions, and Organisations across nations. 2

nd

edition, Sage Publication,

Thousand Oaks, CA

Huo, Y., Richard M. (1993), ‘Cultural influences on the design of incentive systems:

The case of East Asia’, Asia Pacific Journal of Management. Vol. 10, Iss. 1; pg. 71,

15 pgs

Kluckhohn, C. (1962), Cultures and Behavior. New York: The Free Press

Kotler, P. (1999), Marketing Management. 7

th

Edition, Pearson Education Inc. New

York

Kotler, P. (2003), Marketing Management. 11

th

Edition, Pearson Education Inc. New

York

Lee, J.A., (1966), ‘Cultural analysis in overseas operations’, Harvard Business

Review (March-April 1966), p. 106-114.

Loader I. (1997), ‘Consumer Culture and the Commodification of Policing and

Security’, Journal of Sociology Vol. 33 No. 2

Lukosius, V., (2004), ‘Consumer Behaviour and Culture’, The Journal of Consumer

Marketing, 2004; 21, 6

Luna, D. and Gupta, S. F. (2001), ‘An integrative framework for cross-cultural

consumer behaviour’, International Marketing Review Vol. 18 No. 1, 2001, pp. 45-69

Lysonski, S., Durvasula, S., Zotos, Y. (1996), ‘Consumer decision-making styles: a

multi-country investigation’, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 30, Issue. 12;

pp.10

Marieke de Mooij (2004), Global Marketing and Advertising: Understanding cultural

paradox. Sage Publications

McCracken, G. (1988), Culture and Consumption: New Approaches to the Symbolic

Character of Consumer Goods and Activities. Indiana University Press, Bloomington,

IN

Miller, D., Merrilees, B. (2004), ‘Fashion and commerce: a historical perspective on

Australian fashion retailing 1880-1920’, International Journal of Retail &

Distribution Management, Volume: 32 Issue: 8 Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

– 59 –

Mizik, N., Jacobson., R. (2008), ‘The Financial Value Impact of Perceptual Brand

Attributes’, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. XLV, 15–32

Peter, J.P. and Olson, J.C. (1998), Consumer Behaviour and Marketing Strategy.

McGraw-Hill, Boston, MA

Peter, J.P, Olson, J.C (2005), Consumer Behaviour and Marketing Strategy. 7th

edition, McGraw-Hill New York, NY

Petty, R.D., Mullikin, J.L., (2006), ‘The regulation of practices that promote brand

interest: a “3Cs” guide for companies’, The Journal of Product and Brand

Management, Vol.15, Issue. 1

Poon, P.S., Hui, M.K. and Au, K. (2003), ‘Attributions on dissatisfying service

encounters – a cross-cultural comparison between Canadian and PRC consumers’,

European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 38 Nos 11/12, pp. 1527-40.

Priest, A. (2005), ‘Uniformity and differentiation in fashion’, International Journal of

Clothing Science and Technology, Vol. 17 No. 3/4, pp. 253-263

Retail week (2008), searching from Retails week website [www.] available from;

http://www.retail-week.com/marketdata/index.html [Accessed February 2008]

Roper, S., Shah, B., (2007), ‘Vulnerable consumers: the social impact of branding on

children’, Equal Opportunities International, Vol. 26 No. 7, 2007 pp. 712-728

Salter, D. (1997), Consumer Culture and Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press

Samuel, C., Douglas, S., (2006), ‘Beyond national culture: implications of cultural

dynamics for consumer research’, International Marketing Review, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp.

322-342

Schutte, H. (1999), Asian Culture and Global Consumer. Financial Times- Mastering

Marketing, 37-43, FT Prentice Hall

Shim, S., Kotsiopulos, A. and Knoll, S.D. (1991), ‘Body cathexis, clothing attitude,

and their relations to clothing and shopping behaviour among male consumers’,

Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, Vol. 9, pp. 35-44,

Solomon M., Bamossy G., Askegaard S. and Hogg K.M (2006), Consumer

Behaviour: A European Perspective. 3

rd

Edition, Prentice Hall Education UK, p. 24

Stewart, E.C. (1985), Culture and decision making. Sage Publications, Beverly Hills,

CA, pp. 177-211.

Usunier, J.C. and Lee, J.A. (2005), Marketing across Cultures. 4th ed., FT PrenticeHall, Harlow Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

– 60 –

Usunier, J.C. (1998) International and Cross-Cultural Management Research,

(London: Sage)

Vitell, J., Saviour, L., Barnes, K., James, H. (1993), ‘The effects of culture on ethical

decision-making: An application of Hofstede’s typology’, Journal of Business Ethics,

Vol. 12, Iss. 10; pg. 753, 8 pgs

Veltman, K.H, Retail week (2008), searching from Google website [www.] available

at;http://www.sumscorp.com/articles/pdf/1998%20Computers%20and%20the%20Im

portance%20of%20Culture.pdf [accessed 04-07-2008]

Warren J. Keegan (2005), Global Marketing Management. 7

th

Edition, Pearson

Education Inc

Wells, W.D, Prensky, D. (1996), Consumer Behaviour, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Wines, W.A, Napier, N.K (1992), ‘Towards an understanding of cross-cultural ethics:

A tentative model’, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 11, Iss. 11. Pp. 831Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

– 61 –

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Watson, L., Spence, M.T., (2007), ‘Causes and consequences of emotions on

consumer behaviour: A review and integrative cognitive appraisal theory’, European

Journal of Marketing, Vol. 41 No. 5/6, pp. 487-511

Tanja Dmitrovic, T., Vida, I., (2007), ‘An examination of cross-border shopping

behaviour in South-East Europe’, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 41 No. 3/4,

pp. 382-395

Hogg, M.K., Bruce, M., Hill, J.A., (1998) ‘Fashion brand preferences among young

consumers’, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 26 No.

8. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers

[/level-freee-rstricted]

Categories
Free Essays

the importance of Organizational Culture in management

Introduction

Organizational culture, the most influential of the past several decades has been the largest and concepts of management buzzwords. Hofstede (1997) report that the term as a synonym for organizational culture, organizational climate appeared during the 1960s. “Corporate culture” after the publication of several popular press in the 1980s, general management buzzword (Deal and Kennedy, 1982 Davis, 1984) has become. Interrelated academic and popular management literature the culture and its impact is reflected in the subjects, there is widespread belief that the organizational culture, organizational effectiveness near (Denison and Mishra, 1995; Kilmann Saxton, and Serpa, 1985; Weiss, 1996) is related. The culture of organizational problems often cause a comfortably vague and is all inclusive.

Some examples of the proposed impact of organizational culture remains strong interest in why the concept can underscore. Culture, a source of competitive advantage (Ott, 1989; Peters and Waterman, 1982, Wilkins and amp; Barney, 1986 Ouchi, 1983) as has been explored, although others have limited empirical evidence (Denison and Mishra, 1995 strongly support, Fey and Denison, 2003). Attention post-merger/acquisition integration (Olie, 1990 and 1994; Vaara, 1999; Veiga, Lubatkin, Calori and 2000 very,; Nahavandi and Malekzadeh, 1988 very Calori and Lubatkin, 1993) has been in the organizational culture . Also, organizational culture, success or failure of large-scale efforts to change (Beer and Nohria, 2000 has emerged as a major factor, Brill and Worth, 1997; Burke, 1994; Jick and Peiperl, 2003; Pascale Millemann and Gioja, 1997).

In a review of recent diversity literature Jackson, Joshi and Erhardt (2003) report results of studies exploring effects of organizational culture on diversity dynamics. Ely and Thomas (2001 ) contend that diversity is more likely to lead to positive outcomes if organizational culture stresses integration and learning. Cox and Tung (1997) argue that the degree of structure and informal integration in an organization will influence outcomes of diversity. Polzer, Milton and Swann (2002) suggest organizational cultures may influence the process of identity negotiation and that teams are more likely to benefit from diversity when team members’ identities are verified by reflected appraisals of other team members.

Definitions of organizational culture reflects the dichotomy in the conceptualization, although some researchers have developed integration frameworks (eg Martin, 1992; Ott, 1989). On the one hand, culture is seen in practices and behaviors – “how things are done here” (Drennan, 1992, p. 1). Other conceptualize culture in practices that support. In 1992 Hunt say about culture as the value, beliefs ??and attitudes which shows how the company perceive and Interpretation of events. The same applies to Davis (1984), involves the culture of beliefs and values ??that give meaning and organization provide members with rules of behavior. Schein (1985) argues that organizational culture “should be reserved for the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization, that operate unconsciously and define in a basic” taken for acquired “fashion an organization seen by himself and his environment” (p. 6). Others, such as Hampden-Turner (1990) see culture as a concept fill levels and function at the subconscious level visible and concrete. Hofstede (1997) defines organizational culture as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of an organization from another” (p. 180), but he also argues that “the common perception of daily practices must be considered the core of an organization of culture “(p. 182-83).Multicultural Organizations: Opportunities and Challenges

Much has been written about problems and benefits of diversity in cross-cultural management and diversity literature (e.g. Adler, 2002; Cox & Blake, 1991;Elron, 1997; Ely & Thomas, 2001; Gentile, 1996; Robinson & Deschant, 1997; Watson, Johnson & Merritt, 1998). During the past decade, however, there has been an interesting shift in the rhetoric of diversity. Thomas and Ely (1996) cite the increasing emphasis on diversity as a spur for greater organizational effectiveness. Robinson and Deschant (1997) argue that diversity makes good business sense. Popular diversity discourse aside, however, diversity does not automatically lead to greater organizational effectiveness. Although there is general acknowledgement that cultural diversity offers numerous potential benefits to an organization, those benefits may not be realized unless they are purposefully pursued. Moreover, the challenges presented by diversity may negatively impact organizational performance unless properly managed.

What are the benefits and challenges of a multicultural organizationWhen employees representing nine nationalities, who work in eight multicultural organizations in Luxembourg answered those questions they discussed advantages and disadvantages for both organizations and individuals (Trefry, 2001). Without exception those interviewed saw multicultural diversity as an important asset for organizations. They reported organizational advantages such as: a) the possibility of matching employees with diverse customers/clients; b) ability to apply knowledge of different cultures to business projects; c) better decision-making and problem-solving after considering diverse perspectives; and d) more creativity and innovation in products, services and organizational processes. In addition, however, to echoing benefits described in the diversity literature, Luxembourg respondents emphasized personal benefits such as: a) greater personal ability to cope with the unexpected; b) broadening of their perspectives on any given issue; c) greater tolerance and acceptance of others’ differences; d) greater flexibility in their own personal behavior, communication and interaction styles; and e) enhanced self-insight. Interestingly enough, it is understanding the logic of personal benefits cited and applying it at an organizational level that offers insight on how organizations can achieve maximum value from a culturally diverse workforce.

Implications for Multicultural Organizations

Although multicultural organizations are increasingly the norm, most are just beginning to strategically deal with their cultural diversity. Thus we come back to the primary premise of our exploration: organizational culture has the potential for even greater impact in multicultural organizations because it can intensify both the benefits and the challenges of cultural diversity, and thus indirectly, affect potential competitive advantage. Yet how is it that multicultural organizations manage the challenges and achieve the maximum benefit from their cultural diversityThe answer lies in the nature of the organizational culture as well as a strategic approach to harnessing diversity for benefit of the organization. It is the strategic utilization of cultural differences that creates real competitive advantage for the organization (Schneider & Barsoux, 2003).

A metaphor of organizational culture as a double-edged sword that cuts in numerous directions seems appropriate. Organizational culture can exacerbate the challenges of diversity. It can also intensify potential benefits. At the practices level organizational culture can facilitate integration; at the level of business assumptions and shared frames of reference guiding how the work of the organization is accomplished there is potential danger that a strong culture can downplay or even negate the advantages of cultural diversity. Too much uniformity in mental models about ways work is approached may encourage employees to accept existing paradigms for the organization’s work without ever questioning them.

How can organizations create a culture that values differences and purposefully facilitates “cultural synergy,” as it has been labeled by Adler (2002)The question leads us to a paradox which needs to be explored at both practices and underlying values, beliefs and assumptions levels of culture. At the practices level organizational norms are operationalized by processes, procedures and policies. Yet acceptance of the value of multiple perspectives and approaches means there is both individual and organizational flexibility to sometimes act outside of delineated policies, processes and procedures and that diverse approaches can co-exist and influence each other. Pascale (1990) describes this paradox as a vector of contention between mandatory and discretionary systems and charges managers with responsibility for “orchestrating the tension and harnessing contending opposites” (p. 34).

Managing this tension between opposites, however, is a significant challenge. The traditional western managerial mindset has stressed consistency of policies and procedures in order to reduce ambiguity and promote internal integration (Senge, 1990). Indeed the common assumption has been that effective organizations have strong, highly consistent and well integrated cultures (Saffold, 1988). Yet there has also been increasing recognition of an organizational irony: well-integrated organizations are often the least responsive to changing conditions (Kanter, Stein & Jick, 1992). Success in today’s continually changing environments requires that people in organizations think in different ways, learn, and adapt to evolving circumstances. It is such requirements that underscore the need to purposefully explore organizational culture at the underlying beliefs, values and assumptions level.

Thinking in different ways, learning and appropriate adaptation can only happen if there is continual questioning of organizational frames of reference – those constellations of beliefs, values and assumptions that determine how the organization approaches its business. Here the insight regarding personal benefits of working in a multicultural environment seems applicable. Multicultural team members in Trefry’s study (2001) attributed their broadened perspectives, increased personal tolerance, flexibility and adaptability to their exposure to different ways of thinking and their consequent reexamination of their own perspectives. Thus as Gentile (1996) so eloquently asserts, “it is precisely through our interactions and confrontations with difference-of perspective, of prior experience, of style, of identity- that we come to recognize the limits of our own perspectives, experiences, and styles” (p. 1).

The same logic can apply at both individual and organizational levels. Exposure to different values, beliefs, assumptions and perspectives can lead to broadening our frames of reference, whether at a personal level or an organizational level. Indeed Trefry & Vaillant (2002) suggest that individuals and organizations actually “learn” from expanding the frames of reference through which they view and interpret what they see and experience – thus increasing their awareness of alternative ways to act. Developing a greater range of options can promote organizational flexibility, enabling adaptation to the needs of specific contexts. Insight facilitated by expanded frames of reference can be used to generate new approaches to business issues and practices.

Conclusion

Thus challenging existing organizational assumptions and broadening frames of reference offers a rich potential for increased effectiveness and competitive advantage. The organizational “learning” must go beyond exploration of differences, however. The goal is to integrate different approaches and frames of reference into new, more sophisticated approaches and organizational frames of reference. Adler (2002) argues that “culturally synergistic organizations reflect the best aspects of all members’ cultures in their strategy, structure, and process without violating the norms of any single culture” (p. 108). They utilize the naturally divergent thinking of people with different cultural backgrounds to solve problems, make decisions, and develop new approaches to products, services, and organizational processes

Categories
Free Essays

Under the Influence: the role of alcohol in culture

Introduction

Drinking alcoholic beverages existed as early as the Stone Age era, and there it remarkably spread across the globe from the ancient pyramids of Egypt to the popular Silk Road of China. This cultural tradition begun only for the sole purpose of religious rituals based upon sociological and geographical conditions of the empire; but now, it has spread to where ignorant humans would never imagine possible. Consuming alcoholic beverages has made a vast transition and now it is merely seen as a jubilant event for excitement. Drinking has commenced its aim on the immature youth with the assistance of modern-day media and influential pop culture. This admired custom developed into the latest social trend that can only disperse to more innocent peers. Juvenile drinking should not be kept active and is in an immense need of an immediate stop. The dangers of drinking are taken carelessly when they should be taken into cautious consideration. Juvenile drinkers do not believe the seriousness of this crisis. Drinking severely clouds human judgment and therefore humans have the natural outcome to perform poor decisions that can become regrettable, since mature drinking is beginning to target the adolescent youth, alcoholic advertisement must be banned and juvenile drinking laws should become strictly enforced with consequential punishment.

The advertisement of alcohol is growing seemingly toward the audience of innocent minors. This universal advertising can only lead to a heavy youth exposure. Advertisements of merchandise is made for the purposes of increasing sales and revenue and to strike the audience to become interested in the product shown. The extent of alcohol marketing comes from all directions to target the youth, such as on common television, everyday magazines, ordinary in-store beer displays, local billboards , standard beer promotional items or branded merchandise, etc. If these advertisements are coming from all directions then the youth is bound to eventually give in and become a drinker. One of the biggest brand of beer is Bud Light and, with their sport beer commercials, they capture the audience of minors based upon their slogan “A sure sign of a good time” and “Here we go” Alcoholic beverages are displayed on television as an important aspect for an enjoyable time and these advertisements only accelerates the youth to start drinking. Young people are more likely to start drinking than smoking cigarettes or using illegal drugs, therefore the earlier teenagers begin to drink, the chances of becoming more dependent on alcohol later in life are at a greater risk (Jernigan 3). Drinking comes with a mature sense of responsibility and an understanding of the effects of consuming alcohol. Heavy advertisement only increases the chances of a person drinking before the age of twenty one, thus depicting advertisement as the initial spark that encourages the adolescent youth to drink without understanding the important consequences. A 2001 to 2007 poll was taken, by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, stating youth ages twelve to twenty were twenty two times more likely to see the product shown in the advertisement than the industry-funded “Drink Responsibly” message (Jernigan 5). The “Drinking Responsibly” message is spotted at the end of the commercial just seconds before ending; it fails to deliver its purpose to prevent audiences from drinking alcoholic beverages because the audience sees the exaggerated product and ignores this pointless, pathetic message.

If the banishment of alcohol advertisement cannot be met then the only choice is to regulate beer and liquor advertisement for the benefit of alcohol education. Alcohol is the leading drug problem among the youth therefore the ads should be regulated in a public manner because the people have a long lasting tradition of regulating drug ads to protect and secure the public interest (Leo 2). The public can regulate the advertisement of beer commercials to display at certain scheduled times, such as 1:00 AM- 6:00 AM or anti-alcohol organizations can develop more commercials about the consequences of alcohol like drinking and driving and health problems. This could be beneficial to the community because, if more realistic visuals was displayed on national television, it could maybe strike the youth how drinking is a responsible privilege that should not be taken casually (Lowe 1). Alcohol advertisement gives a negative outcome toward the youth by increasing their chances to become more dependent on alcoholic beverages, therefore alcohol advertisement should be banned, but if not then it should be at least regulated with better commercials that will intimidate the youth to wait for the right age and become aware of the outcomes of drinking.

The minimum age ,21, drinking law is enforced inadequately and should be reenforced strictly. Only two get arrested out of every thousand occasions where a minor has violated illegal drinking under the age of 21 and then in every 100,000 juvenile drinking occasions 5 result in an administrative action against an alcohol outlet (Wagenaar). With the arrest at hand the punishment for underage drinking should be increased by the violators and with this an effective administrative system to rule the penalties. As the community, the public interest should reduce the alcoholic accessibility how the youth is able to obtain alcoholic beverages so therefore there can be a less probability of alcohol-related occasions. By an increase in the juvenile drinking laws prohibiting the sales or provisions of selling alcoholic beverages to the youth and consumption and prohobition of the minor, resource limits the quantity a business could sell and other barriers to make an increase in the arrest rates for minors in the possession of alcohol (Wagenaar). The community can stop the valuable lives being thrown away for a can of alcohol and stop the ignorance of the youth by just preventing the alcohol accessibility being sold over the counter where it is taken advantage of by the minors.

The most important component of juvenile drinking is to contain and reduce the audience of minors. The public can follow through with the demands of the strict law enforcement and effectively support anti-juvenile drinking by striking the youth at a young age, therefore it will give them the opportunity to learn how to drink carefully and responsibly. This obtainable goal can be met with police outreach organizations, a better drinking awareness program, and with the aid of parent and community guidance the young minors can learn how to drink responsibly with knowing the consequences of their actions as well as the dangers of illegal abuse (DiMatteo). After the community can invite the well-informed youth to training sessions that offer information about the health issues related to alcohol and penalties of alcohol. The guidance counselors need to be motivational to, “Teach, and Not Preach,” this causes the young adults to be treated fairly and equally like adults, thus showing how much the youth want to do the right thing and shown in the right direction (DiMatteo). This will cause a chain reaction for all of the youth to become unified and respond to each lesson learned according to their own special gifts. The local police can play a significant role by assigning one local officer to juvenile drinking, therefore a reduction in minor drinking will occur. Law enforcement agencies often receive a lack of support from their local communities and from their own departments; for a successful effort to reduce the audience of influenced drinkers and enforcing the minimum drinking age, a political will of the public will determine to take a meaningful stand against juvenile drinking.

Reference

David Jernigan. “Children Are Overexposed to Alcohol Advertising.” Opposing Viewpoints: Advertising. Ed. Roman Espejo. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Cypress Falls High School. 24 Mar. 2011 .

Leiber, Laurie. “Alcoholic Beverage Advertising Should Be Restricted.” Contemporary Issues Companion: Teen Alcoholism. Ed. Laura K. Egendorf. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2001. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Cypress Falls High School. 24 Mar. 2011 .

Leo, John. “Television Liquor Ads May Promote Underage Drinking.” Opposing Viewpoints: Alcohol. Ed. Scott Barbour. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Cypress Falls High School. 24 Mar. 2011 .

Lowe, Paul. “Perhaps Madam Would Prefer Something Less Robust.” Alcohol Cartoons and Comics. 27 March 2011 .

National Clearinghouse For Alcohol And Drug Information. “Teenage Drinking Can Lead to Automobile Accidents.” Contemporary Issues Companion: Teen Alcoholism. Ed. Laura K. Egendorf. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2001. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Cypress Falls High School. 24 Mar. 2011 .

Ralph DiMatteo. “Education And Police And Community Support Are Necessary.”At Issue: Should the Legal Drinking Age Be Lowered?. Ed. Stefan Kiesbye.Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Cypress Falls High School. 27 Mar. 2011 .

Services, U.S. Department Of Health And Human. “Underage Drinking Is a Serious Problem.” Opposing Viewpoints: Alcohol. Ed. Andrea C. Nakaya. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Cypress Falls High School. 24 Mar. 2011 .

Wagenaar, Alexander C, and Mark Wolfson. “Minimum Drinking-Age Laws Should Be Strongly Enforced.” Opposing Viewpoints: Alcohol. Ed. Scott Barbour. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Cypress Falls High School. 24 Mar. 2011 .

Categories
Free Essays

What are the Key Building Blocks in Organizational Culture: International Human Resource Management

Introduction

Today’s economic challenges require organizations to find new ways to not only reward top performers, but also to motivate all workers to improve performance. This must be done in a cost effective manner.

Supporting organization culture is very critical for attaining the strategic goals of an organization. Strategy usually focuses on incentives, because it deals with the way goals are achieved. Culture usually focuses on recognition, because it deals with the organizational values of organization. The key building blocks of the organizational culture are values.

Types of recognition:

1. Extrinsic or Cash Rewards:

The various types of cash rewards are giving bonuses, performance incentives, pay hikes etc. As per Peterson and Luthans (2006, p.157), ‘money serves as an incentive primarily because it can be exchanged for other desirable outcomes’ and thus helps employees to satisfy human needs. The informational value of money can provide feedback on employee on employee performance, enhancing employee perception of self-efficacy (Eisenberger, Rhoades and Cameron 1999).

It is thus clear that money should have considerable motivational value, and the empirical evidence indeed finds strong linkages between monetary incentives and employee performance (Rynes et al. 2005) as well as business-unit performance (Peterson and Luthans 2005).

Extrinsic or Non-Cash Rewards:

Non-Cash can be identified as verbal motivation, mementoes, certificates, plaques, vouchers etc. According to Luthans and Krietner (1975), although non-cash rewards can be positive motivators, they have some drawbacks. They involve costs for the organization and they tend to lead to extreme contention very quickly. This means that employees gets too satiated by the non-cash rewards

Theories of Motivation:

Many factors beyond cash or tangible (non-cash) reward influence whether an employee is satisfied and ready to give 110 percent to the job. Maslow’s and Herzberg provide an important insight into this issue. Abraham Maslow’s identified a hierarchy of five basic needs that are interconnected and may viewed a kind of pyramid for a person to be motivated and need must be satisfied in an ascending order. Starting with the most basic needs, the list is as follows: Physiological (breathing, food, water, sleeps, etc.), Safety (security of body, health, resources, etc.), Love/belonging (friendship, family, etc.), and Esteem (self-esteem, confidence, respect of and by others, etc.), and Self-Actualization (problem solving, morality, creativity, etc.). It is a complex state of being in which people have clear goals and a self-sustaining desire and ability to achieve them. This theory was called as the “HOLY GRAIL OF MOTIVATION”.

Another seminal work to consider is that of Frederick Herzberg Theory who brings Maslow’s thinking into realm of job performance. He called it as “DUAL FACTORY THEORY”. Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation has been used by corporations as a way to motivate employees for nearly five decades. Herzberg postulated that there are two types of factors that motivate workers. The first thing was called “Motivators.” This included rewards such as achievement, recognition and responsibility. The second type was identified as “Hygiene Factors” such as salary, company policies and working conditions. Herzberg makes clear that no reward will inspire people if their basic needs are not met or if they get little satisfaction from the work process.

Advantages and of Cash and Non-Cash Rewards:

Advantages
Cash

Non-Cash

Instrumental ValueRegular
Symbolic ValueFrequent acknowledgement of employee’s contribution.
It can be exchanged for other desirable outcomes-control over satisfying personal needs.Timely basis
Lesser cost to company
High visibility
Attention producing trophy/prize.

Disadvantages of Cash and Non-Cash Rewards:

Disadvantages

Cash

Non-Cash

Less flexibleTotal absence of cash rewards/bonuses can lead to loss of confidence in employer
Less frequent
Occurs long after the successful contribution
Increases total costs
Short term motivator
Discourage co-operation among employees
Cash rewards/bonuses effective as recruitment, retention tool rather than reward for good performance.

Relationship between cash and non-cash rewards:

Three possibilities can be highlighted to find the relationship between cash and non-cash rewards:

Non-Cash rewards can be considered as a substitute to cash rewards.
Non-cash recognition serves as a compliment to cash based recognition. or
There is no considerable relationship between cash and non-cash rewards.

Many prominent ideologists suggest that non-cash recognition is superior to cash recognition, in both effect and cost and thus it should substitute for cash recognition. As per Nelson (1996, p. 55), he suggests companies the idea of ‘Dump the cash, load on the praise’. Many prominent writers of compensation do not see cash and non-cash rewards as substitutes of one another.

Predictors of cash and Non-cash Rewards:

1. Presence of labour Union:

Union presenceabsence has a powerful effect on reward plan choice and configuration of non-managerial workers (Renaud 1998; Bergmann and Scarpello 2002, pp. 21, 140-150; 509-510; Milkovich and Newman 2008, pp. 493-506). Unions generally believe in fixed time based pay over ‘at risk’ pay and that they will be particularly be against individual performance incentives as they have the potential to undermine worker solidarity. Thus it can be said that there is a negative relationship between union presence and some widely used individual performance pay plans such as merit pay (Guest and Hogue 1994; Wood 1996), although the evidence on some other individual forms of performance pay, such as piece rates, is mixed.

2. HR Strategy:

Another factor that may influence a firm’s configuration of rewards is its general approach to human resources management and there is ample of evidence to suggest that the organization’s overall strategic approach to managing human resources does influence rewards system configuration (Balkin and Gomez-Mejia 1990; Gerhart and Rynes 2003, pp. 227-255; Shields 2007, pp. 88-120).

3. Use of work Teams:

Use of work teams is another phenomenon is the increasing use of self- managing work or project teams. While the experimental evidence relating to the influence of team working on reward practice remains relatively limited (Balkin and Montemayor 2000; Lawler 2000, pp. 193-219), it is easy to understand that this may have a major influence on the choices firms make between individual and group recognition practices, both cash and non-cash.

Scientific support for cash and non-cash rewards:

The way by which the brain processes information is responsible for the fact that non-cash rewards have a greater motivational impact on people than cash. Left Hemisphere of the Brain deals with analytical, logical and mathematical functions and the right hand of the brain deals with creativity and emotional expressions. Cash promises are visualized by left side of the brain and it fails to create the aspirations. So the cash is analyzed to determine the time required to earn the amount. Since right side of the brain deals with creativity it generates positive emotions. Emotional response compared to the rational thought drives behaviour. That’s why motivation rewards are greater compared to emotional behaviours.

Case Study:

Study #1-Diamond Fiber Products, Inc

Power of Non-cash Rewards

When employees were asked to identify most important aspect in the work place in a survey, the unanimous response was full appreciation for work done

*Source: Aetna Life & Casualty Employee Survey. Business Excellence, Inc., (2007)

Danny E Boyle, Vice President, relates a simple example of power of tangible non cash awards:

A teller at a local bank told me that a woman came in and proudly modeled for both customers and employees a jacket she had won.

She said, My employer gave me this for doing a good job. Its the first time in the 18 years I’ve worked there that they’ve recognized the things I do every day

During those years she had earned $230,000 in wages, which had paid for cars, a home mortgage, food, vacations, college education and other essentials.

The money was not recognition of her work, but the jacket was.”

To counter these perceptions, the company developed a program called the 100 Club, which recognised through non cash awards, attendance, punctuality, and consistent top performers. Their internal report shows significant increase in employee satisfaction.

-*Harvard Business Review (2007)

Conclusion:

Based on the above theory and case study, we can conclude the following ideas on Cash and Non-Cash Rewards:

A key finding, exemplified by these case studies, is that

A high correlation between recognition and improved employee engagement, which in turn improves job performance and captures business value.
Recognition programs need not be expensive. In fact, studies show that non-cash awards usually work wonders. Recognition programs are a proven, low-cost method for creating improved productivity in organizations.
Recognition programs need to include multiple forms of awards—e.g., what is recognition for one worker will not necessarily work with all.
The 2 HR practices of cash and non-cash rewards, if treated as truly substitute to one another increases the total costs and fails to increase performance
Making use of cash and non-cash rewards simultaneously can help organizations to improve the employee morale and provide better and efficient work culture.
References:
Rynes, Gerhart and Parks 2005, p.575
Stajkovic and Luthans (2003)
McAdams (1999)
Gibson, J. L., J. M. Ivancevich, , and J. H. Donnelly Jr. Organizations. Boston: Irwin (1991)
Jeffrey and Shaffer (2007)
Aetna Life & Casualty Employee Survey. Business Excellence, Inc., (2007)
The Value and ROI in Employee Recognition: Linking Recognition to Improve Job Performance and Increased Business Value, HCI Report available on www.hci.com
Daniel C. Boyle, Vice President, Diamond Fiber Products, Inc,Harvard Business Review
Survey Report, Bob Nelson, Ph.D. (March 15, 2002)
From Delta, 2008 RPI Best Practices Recipient, white paper publshd by Diamond H Recognition, 2008, and Stephanie Merchiore, “Giving Recognition a Lift,” HR Today, September 2008.

Categories
Free Essays

Analysis of Organisational Culture at Google

1.Introduction

Analyzing an organization is no more than studying first its genesis its mottos and beliefs and the future it holds for the society that it resides in. For most companies, an organization is neither a science nor an art; it’s an oxymoron. It is not a result from systematic, methodical planning but, shaped more by politics than by policies. However, perceiving an organization from a critical point of view would overshadow all the development and technology that many organizations have contributed to our society. In the words of Walt Disney co-founder of the Walt Disney Company states that “Whatever we accomplish is due to the combined effort. The organization must be with you or you don’t get it done… In my organization there is respect for every individual, and we all have a keen respect for the public”.

The author has chosen to talk about the Google culture from an Interpretivism perspective as she worked as an Ad Words Representative for the organisation.

2. Organizational Background

Google Inc an American public corporation earns its proceeds primarily from its advertising which is related to its Internet search, e-mail, online mapping, office productivity, social networking, and video sharing. Google is not a conventional company and with no intention to become one either. Throughout Google’s evolution as a privately held company they have always done it differently, where the emphasis is laid on the creativity and challenge of its people which has resulted in providing unbiased, accurate and free access information for its users.

The genesis of this organization begins with its co- founders Larry Page and Sergey Bin alumni of Stanford University where it was incorporated as a privately held organization on September 4, 1998 and then was moved to public ownership on August 19th 2004. The organization is globally spread across starting from the Head office in Mountain View California, with some of its subsidiaries being India, United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Czech Republic, Poland, South Africa, etc. With approximately 20,000 employees working for this organization it has been voted by Fortune Magazine as ‘The Best Company’ to work for the second time in February 2008.

3. Analysis

3.1 Data collection

The analysis of the organization is done with respect to the Indian subsidiary that is geographically located in the south of India- Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. The author worked as an As Words representative for the organization. The data collection for this analysis is based on a subjective and objective perspective, the subjective data being the author’s observations, perceptions and experiences, and the objective being that which is communicated and believed within the organization over the years. The author relates the analyses to the one year work experience, work relationships, work climate and culture, training and evaluation methods which was gained and undergone at the organization. The author also takes into count the strength of the workforce and the significant department in concern in which the author was a count for and worked for. The strength of the workforce noted to be an exact number of a 1000 employees for the year 2007- 2008 who worked for this subsidiary handling the Online Sales Operation for Asia Pacific, with Ad Words being the main revenue generating product other than that of Ad Sense.

3.2 Theories applied

The analysis of the organization has been done on the transformational factor, Organizational culture, with a correlation to that of the author’s paradigm on Burrell & Morgan’s Sociological Paradigms and Organizational Analysis, Heinemann, 1979 . Geert Hofstede’s ‘Cultural dimensions theory’ has been used as the main model of analysis, however, to move beyond the national culture dimension and towards the organizations levels of culture Edgar Schein’s ‘Three levels of culture’ has also been applied.

Burrell & Morgan’s Sociological Paradigms gives an outlook of the author’s quadrant of perception on the company. Furthermore, the focus of study is from a radical humanistic point of view, the author falls under this paradigm believing that change begins with individual. The below given study also covers the founders view of organizational culture which is supported by the interview with Fortune Magazine.

4. Paradigm

Organizational Perception & Interpretation

4.1 Burrell & Morgan’s Sociological Paradigms

Understanding that the paper necessitates a more focused and specific analysis Burrell & Morgan’s Sociological Paradigms and Organizational Analysis, Heinemann, 1979 paradigms has been applied as this synchronic model makes sense, which it places to time dimension on the study and understanding of organizations. It can be comprehended that a paradigm is a lens through which we perceive the world, each lens giving their own meaning and assumptions about the nature of the world and the way it is ought to be made sense of. There are many different lenses, which exist for viewing and understanding the world, and what follows will be a necessary simplification of a complex and constantly shifting set of boundaries that define the current paradigms (Penny cook, A. 2001). Explaining Burrell & Morgan’s Theory it is developed by a 2?2 matrix scheme to help classify and understand existing sociological theories based on four major paradigms. The matrix was structured based on the four main debates in sociology, which was then further consolidated into two fundamental issues that form the axis of the 2?2 matrix.

Sociological Paradigms

Functionalist Paradigm (objective regulation): Individuals in this paradigm rest upon the premise that society has a real concrete existence and a systematic character and is directed toward the production of order and regulation. The social science enterprise is believed to be objective and value-free. This paradigm possess a pragmatic orientation, it is concerned with understanding society in a way that produces useful, usable knowledge. (Craig & Paul, 1991)

Interpretive Paradigm (subjective regulation): From this perspective, social reality, although possessing order and regulation, never realizes an external concrete form. Instead it is the product of inter-subjective experience. The goal of this paradigm is of developing a purely ‘objective’ social science is a specious one. (Craig & Paul, 1991)

Radical Humanist Paradigm (subjective radical change). The perception in this paradigm shares its assumptions with that of the interpretive paradigm that everyday reality is socially constructed and maintained. Theorists in this paradigm are mainly concerned with releasing social constraints that limit human potential. They see the current dominant ideologies as separating people from their “true selves”. (Craig & Paul, 1991)

Radical Structuralist Paradigm (Objective Radical change): This paradigm believes that social reality is considered to be largely independent of the way it is socially constructed. It has an external existence of its own. The social world is featured by intrinsic tensions and contradictions; these forces serve to bring about radical change in the social system as a whole (Craig & Paul, 1991).

The paradigms correspond to theories of organizations, that which coexists symbolizing and expressing confirming and contradictory views about what and organization is and what it is ought to be and how could we go about acquiring such knowledge.

Figure 1 Sociological Paradigms

After having being administered the Sociological Paradigm questionnaire, the author’s paradigm was established as being on the Interpretivist Paradigm of the Quadrant.

Although, a radical humanist may share the assumption that everyday reality is socially constructed and maintained with that of the interpretive paradigm, this social construction is tied to’ pathology of consciousness’, a situation in which the author finds herself a prisoner of the social world that she creates (Craig & Paul, 1991). However, as well said by David Collins (1996), understanding the person’s paradigm from a questionnaire cannot give the person the right view of which paradigm we fall in as its just simple exercise and the reader understanding and mood at that point of brings a big impact on the way the reader answers the question. Therefore, though this evaluation may give the authors paradigm further scrutiny on various occasions would help confirm the evaluation.

4.2 Definition of Organizational Culture with Google culture

Louis, (1980) defines culture as an understanding or meanings shared by a group of people. Similarly Edgar Schein goes a little further and explains organizational culture as “apattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned 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 you perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems” (Schein. H,1997) Although, the shared cognition or beliefs may seem the simplest understanding of organizational culture, it also interprets a team effort and the significance of sharing the same views and progressing that belief or perception but not regressing.

Google also maintains its organizational culture on the simple terms of futuristic and selfless thought which is to be shared and followed, as rightly put across by one of its founders Sergey Brin “I actually don’t think keeping the culture is a goal. I think improving the culture is”. (Adam. L, 2008) Furthermore, as described by Google’s Chief culture officer Stacy Savides Sullivan “I would characterize the culture as one that is team-oriented, very collaborative and encouraging people to think non-traditionally, different from where they ever worked before–working with integrity and for the good of the company and for the good of the world, which is tied to our overall mission of making information accessible to the world” (Elinor, M. 2007) Following the strategies of the global market Google understands that the organizational culture should be modified with accordance to the national culture making it one among the best in the industry. Which increasing globalization, performance and values of the employees aligned with the company’s strategy and manipulate culture to achieve the organizational objective according to (Ogbonna and Harris, 2002).

4.3 Evaluation of Google organizational culture on the Cultural Dimension Theory

Noting that the analysis is done on Google’s Indian subsidiary, there is no appropriate theory than that of the cultural dimension theory, judging that the theory was structured to observe the interactions between the national culture and the organizational culture. Geert Hofstede study demonstrated that there are national and regional cultural groupings that affect the behaviour of societies and organizations, and that are very persistent across time. Applying the skills of an ‘Interpretivist paradigm’ and comprehending and analyzing the organization an evaluation has been done on the five dimensions of the theory. The five dimensions being power distance, Individualism and collectivism, Masculinity and feminity and uncertainty avoidance Hofstede. G, (1997).

Figure 2. Cultural Dimensions of India

PDI– Power distance, IDV– Individualism, MAS– Masculinity, UAI– Uncertainty avoidance index, LTO– Long-term orientation.

4.3.1- Power Distance

On this dimension there is an insignificant distribution of power distance between the superiors and subordinates of the organization. The distance, which is even brought to notice, can be accounted for because of the employee’s job profiles or experience within the organization and not because of the kind of inequality brought among the employee relationship. Bringing to notice Hofstede’s dimensions for culture in India on the dimension of Power distance India ranks 77 as compared to the world on an average of 56.5 Hofstede.G, (1997), Google India Pvt. ltd seemed distant from this dimensional score. On reflection, the author recollects that even though the work experience in the organization was the first of her professional life, her start at the organization did not give her a distant feeling. The right of expression and freedom of thought and creativity was encouraged in the organization. Employees are supported, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working in what they think will most benefit the Organization. The organization believes that many of their significant advances have happened in this manner for example, Adsense and Orkut.

Additionally, the company falls under the flat organization structure, emphasizing on the importance of nooglers (new employees) taking up team responsibilities and thereby creating a sense of belonging. Furthermore, to remove the distribution of power distance the company believes in transparency of information from the CEO Eric Schmidt sharing information with that of a junior most employee such as that of an Ad Words Representative. Portals are constantly created for employees to voice their opinion and come up with solutions and ideas for existing and futuristic problems. Though, the organization being based nationally in that of India the organizational culture has not been influenced as yet by the national culture.

4.3.2 -Individualism

Hofstede.G, (1997) stated that management in an individualist society is management of individuals. Subordinates can usually be moved around individually; if incentives or bonuses are given, these should be linked to an individual’s performance. Understanding that Individualism is appreciated with a stress on collective effort or team work, recruiters are always on the search of such employees who can maintain their individualism as well as perform collectively as a team. The organization encourages and motivates collective and team work, for which the appraisal is given on an Individual performance.

Individualism holds that the individual is the primary unit of reality and the ultimate standard of value. This view does not deny that societies exist or that people benefit from living in them, but it sees society as a collection of individuals, not something over and above them. The organization is concerned about its employees well being and gives every opportunity to learn best practices through teams. Team meeting and inter team events are highly supported and are undertaken with a serious candor. In addition it promotes other employee clubs funding Googler network, Google Women Engineers and the Glbt- Gay, Lesbian, bisexual and transgender googler. Google being an American based organization with an Indian investment there is no difference on this dimension.

4.3.3 -Masculinity

Defining the value placed on traditionally male or female value systems this dimension evaluates as to whether the organization gives importance to competitiveness, assertiveness, ambition and accumulation of wealth characteristics of the masculine culture or emphasis on relationships, and quality of life which represents that of the feminine culture. As explained by Hofstede, G. (1997) masculinity and femininity when comparing the culture prevailing in one organization can be analyzed in he view of values in the organization. Morgan (1986:54) talks about modelling the behaviours implied in the values statement ‘The modelling of appropriate behaviour must occur at each level of the organization result in employees being modelled in these same behaviours.’ Looking at the Google culture it can be roughly said that the organization promotes a masculine value system in the organization because of the benefits it provides to its employees. Benefits such as, along with the basic salary a quarterly bonus and a company an annual bonus in the month of December, furthermore, transportation and food requirements which I provided with no charge and in abundance, health facilities as a gym and a spa along with a medical check up and medical coverage of Rs.5, 00,000 Indian currency on the employees and their immediate dependants. Additionally, day care centres for working parents and quarterly outings and entertainment (called movie nights) are held along with a total support to adventure, book and drama clubs, also, employees are given a discount in the most affluent stores and restaurants in the city. However, this may seem as a totally dominating masculine culture the founders of the Organization have not forgotten their corporate social responsibility and also believe in encouraging the feminine culture within the organization. The most significant commandment of the organization ‘Don’t be Evil’ this belief relies on the fact that company ought to do good for the world even if it has to forego some short term gains. Moreover, as users believe in their systems it is their duty to provide and unbiased and objective service. In addition to this it promotes the concept of team development and peer feedback to better the level of employee relationship within the organization. From a radical humanist paradigm though this may seem a balanced organizational culture it seems to be a strategy for the company to get hold of the employees from moving to different organization.

4.3.4 -Uncertainty Avoidance Index

This dimension reflects the level of anxiety of the organization that is the extent up to which the organization attempts to cope with anxiety by minimizing uncertainty. Cultures that scored high in uncertainty avoidance prefer guidelines and structured circumstances, and the employee’s tenure in the company is longer. As expressed by Hofstede, G. (1997) “Laws and rules are ways in which a society tries to prevent uncertainties in the behaviour of people.” However, with regards to the organization there is awareness that business environment changes rapidly hence there is no hesitation to take high risk. The organization believes in funding projects that have 10% chance of earning a billion dollars over the long term as in the past pursuit of such projects have resulted in long term success. Although it cannot be quantified the specific level of risk that the organization is willing to undertake, as the ratio of reward to risk increases, the organization is ready to accept projects further outside the current businesses, if the initial investment is small relative to the level of investment in our current businesses. To evaluate this as a high or low level of uncertainty avoidance is difficult to tell as it seems but natural that most organizations would definitely keep this as an ideal margin. Furthermore, the organization prides itself on doing business with and selling its products on policies and guidelines. With respect to policies and rules outside the business scenario for the employees it can be said that the regulations are minimum that which is in the best interest of the employee example ID badges, and transportation checks for the security of the employees. As clearly seen from the above graph India among all cultural dimension uncertainty avoidance is the lowest where it is always people likes or has a habit of breaking rules with regards to the organization it can be said there are no rules to be broken in the first place. However, if minor offenses are committed employees are aware and are mindful of the fact that time is money and in time serious offenses can cost them their employment. As Brown(1998) states that rules and regulations of an organization bonds to have a good ethics in the work place and not which impose emotional stress on the behaviour of employees in the organization. Nonetheless, the rules and regulations in Google understand the freedom of the employees with knowledge of the importance of the national culture of the location of the organization.

4.3.5 -Long term orientation

This dimension describes the time horizon, the long term or short-term vision of the individual. Hofstede.G, (1997) explains this new dimension of long term orientation verses the short term orientation can be analyzed related to the job security and the long term vision of the employee in the organization with respect to growth in an organization. Google determines that employees within the organization are happy with their current job. They have an added advantage of requesting the manager to give a work experience in different projects. Employees are moved to different project where Google aims to use employee rather than firing them, this shows that Google cares about its employees. The organization believes that business decisions will be made with the long-term welfare of the company and with share holders in mind and not based on accounting considerations. Therefore it can be stated that Google has a long-term oriented culture with respect to seeing the future of its employees.

5. Evaluation of Google organizational culture on Edgar Schein’s Three levels of Culture

To understand the organization the best way to do it would be understanding the culture. Schein divides organizational culture into three levels:

5.1 Artifacts:

This is being the most surface level of the organization example being the dress code in the company.

5.2 Espoused Values:

Just below the level of the artifacts this level consists of the conscious strategies, goals and philosophies

5.3 Basic Assumptions and Values:

the last lever is the core or essence of culture which is represented by the basic underlying assumptions and values, which are difficult to discern becausethey exist at a largely unconscious level.

Figure 3. Schein’s Three levels of Culture

Figure 4. Google’s Three levels of Organizational Culture

6. Criticisms

Although the above models have been applied to help analyze the organizational culture, like any other theory they have their shortcomings.

6.1 Cultural dimension theory:

Schwartz, (1992) argues that Hofstede’s survey based on one organization (IBM) in his view of culture in an organization; one cannot conclude that culture in all organization in that country practice the same. Furthermore, Brown (1998) criticizes Hofstede’s claims that he identified multiple national cultures or differences between such cultures, challenging his research approach. Brown also questions whether national culture dimensions uniform national actions and institutions agree with brown as a challenging environment in the present world organizations are challenging culture of work irrespective of the national culture. Finally, McSweeney, Brendan (January 2002) states Hofstede’s work has not just also been criticized because he seems to identify cultures with nations based on the supposition that within each nation there is a uniform national culture. Other types of cultures are acknowledged to exist but allowed little, if any influence.

6.2 Sociological Paradigm:

Though the sociological paradigm has been a well-accepted theory in Organizational management its acceptance within the social sciences have done so with little regard to the model’s internal consistency. Pinder and Bourgeoise (1982) state that Burrell and Morgan’s application of ontology has been misplaced. In addition, another fundamental issue is that whether the intra paradigm perspectives adhere to similar images of the subject matter. Hence, like most significant theories every shortcoming gives thought for future theories.

Conclusion

In conclusion the task has been challenging and educative for the author in comprehending the structure and culture of an organization though in many instances the observations could be in many aspects be influenced as an employee or my inadequacies of being a good observer to have noticed any kind of pro’s within the organization. However, my opinion on Google have changed understanding the difference of culture in an organization challenging the national culture in certain areas and understanding the cultural practice comparing other organization in different parts of the world. The author being in the quadrant of the Interpretivist Paradigm identifies with the organization being a merge of care and value systems.

References
http://www.google.com/
Adam Lashinky(January 29, 2008) ‘Google wins again’. From the link http://money.cnn.com/2008/01/18/news/companies/google.fortune/index.htm. Retrieved on 29th July 2009.
Brown, A (1998) Organisational Culture, London, Financial Times.
Burrell, G., & Morgan, G(1979). Sociological Paradigms and Organizational Analysis:Heinemann, pp. 1-37
Collins, D. (1996) New Paradigms for Change: Theories of Organisation and the Organisation of Theories. Journal of organisational change management, Vol. 9 No. 4 pp9-23
Craig, S., & Paul, D. (1991). The Management research handbook. London: Routledge, 318, pp. 24-38..
Elinor Mills (April 17, 2007)’ Meet Google’s culture czar’ from the link http://news.cnet.com/Meet-Googles-culture-czar/2008-1023_3-6179897.html Retrieved on 1st August 2009.
Hofstede, Geert. (1997) Culture and Organisations: Software of the Mind, Newyork, Mcgraw Hill.
Louis, M.R (1997) Organizations as culture.
McSweeney, B. (2002). Hofstede’s Model Of National Cultural Differences And Their Consequences:A Triumph Of Faith- A Failure Of Analysis. Human Relations , 89-118.
Mills, E. (2007, April 27). news.cnet.com. Retrieved 07 21, 2009, from Meet Google’s culture czar: http://news.cnet.com/Meet-Googles-culture-czar/2008-1023_3-6179897.html
Mintzberg, H(1983). Structure in Fives – Designing Effective Organizations:Prentice Hall Inc.
Ogbonna, E. & Harris, L.C.(2002), Organizational Culture: A ten year, two phase study of change in the UK food retailing sector. Journal of Management studies, 39 (5), Culture pp. 673-706.
Penny cook, A. (2001) Critical applied linguistics : a critical – introduction. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum., 2001.
Schein, E. (1997, October). Organizational Culture & Leadership . Retrieved 07 21, 2009, from www.tnellen.com: http://www.tnellen.com/ted/tc/schein.html
Schein’s model

http://www.12manage.com/methods_schein_three_levels_culture.htmlWeber, M (1987). Economy and Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.Yu, E. S. K., & Mylopoulos, J(1994). From E-R to “A-R” – Modelling strategic actor relationships for business process reengineering. Manchester; 13-th Int. Conf. on the Entity-relationship Approach.

Categories
Free Essays

Culture is mutual values, principles and rituals in which a set of people follow the policy and convention locate by the intimates.

Introduction

Culture is mutual values, principles and rituals in which a set of people follow the policy and convention locate by the intimates. Apiece person morals, beliefs and rituals depending on their birth of starting point, Family type, faith, Education, languages. In the minority countries still they go behind the old tradition which is centuries old.

It seems to know that the different types of strategies in culture the majority important are associate the different cross culture and culture communication. In addition, the various government predominantly institution face a major troubles because one country culture will be completely different from other culture.

In the Educational institution student are facing a lot of problems because they are from a mixture of parts of the world and they will face like blend with the other students who are completely different of their culture.

It seems to know that the organizations were sending their employees to various parts of the world so that they can learn their culture. The organization will get the information regarding their culture. Based on this information provided by the employees who had worked their concerning what’s the culture they are adopting for working they will go behind if it’s good and they would execute such culture.

In this description below we can clearly understand how the managing across culture was adopting.

PROCEDURE

Procedure for this report is:

Two links have been used for managing across culture

i. A number of examples have been mentioned and analysis basedon managing across culture.

ii. A range of types of comparison have been made for culture.

iii. Various culture differences have been conducted.

DESCRIPTION

The main role differences in cross culture communication and managing across culture which the performance select primary role in the stage.

Cross culture communication: The areas which are separated because of cross culture commutations it seems to know that it is integrating. A variety of scholars describe the cross culture communication as mixture of various factors such as anthropology, cultural studies and psychology.

Anthropology: It chiefly deals with civilization. It seems to know that the people were having a various feeling and sensitivity way which affects their emotion among the personality which special effects having the ability in different opinions.

Cultural studies: It mainly deals with earlier period of olden times concerning with the culture. It may also clearly state the learning of similar type of education, communication, media theory, sociology and history.

Psychology: The human beings can easily understand the behavior.

In view of the fact that the communication is very interactive, relationship with main others is given below.

They can realize that what we are trying to tell
There should be patient while getting the information
There should be clearly listened while getting in sequence
Their answer make us that they have realize the meaning of what we are trying to tell

When we are communicating to the people we can easily analyses the different mind of people while communicating with people.

Importance of managing across culture

Since Cross culture is very important in olden period. It depends on how we can easily communicate individual sensation with each other.

Each entity will show his own expression in a different way depending on the origin when he arrived from and also society and which it might role a fanatic in expressing his outlook. Different countries should not be in a lone way while communicating with different countries. But it should be a two or more ways to communicate where the information should be accurately know by many more entity that is from different country.

A set of role have a major different regarding the cross culture communication in various countries. For example European education system is totally different from Indian countries. An Indian student who wants to persuade his master’s in European countries should understand their method of teaching and if any major

situation occurs it could appropriately corresponding the situation orals it might be not getting a major trouble. For that motive he should be more skilled in the good quality communication.

For this situation it seems to know that getting a good practice in single way and having a good skills personality, it might be a time management or well know in various countries.

The communication having a major apparatus of the vital for effective is knowledge.

Experience and hard working were gained from the knowledge

Communication had a two major effective role.

It is very difficult to analyze the various problem of cross culture communication and to get outline the problems.
On the other hand, people are changing to involve to the behavior and culture.

Managing across culture differences

It seems to that the above culture is collective among the values, belief and rituals. Collecting different cultures of other country will provide confusion and big differences.

For example the student hadn’t submitted the assignment on time due to reason of sickness he could ask a better chance to complete the assignment for few more days because while talking the eye to eye contact it notice that weather the student is telling lie. It seems that the culture plays a major perform in trust between the tutor and student.

Modifying cross culture awareness is one of the major things of differences and where to identify culture differences are identified and working atmosphere has to urbanize in a positive situation. If we want to aware a skills it could a proper communicate and enjoy the way that what we were accepted how to learn the skills and the thing and what we want to say and various methods to be developed because of various awareness.

The main criterion in Cultural differences is to trust. In culture differences trust should be a proper exhibited because in cultural misunderstanding might be happen for a vital role.

Training across culture differences

For reducing the culture diversification we should learn the techniques of proper skills and to teach how to implement them.

Knowledge, experience, society are arises from different cultures.
It seems to know that the act of the every Culture results in act with individual wills its shine that we can easily analyze the culture not in sequence way.
The creativity in culture it acts like Culture skills require the shared values, prospect, and creativity so that individual will be more interested in training and he will develop the skills quickly where there is creativity. The new skills have to learn by individual.
Study culture: It is also one of the important components in cross culture. For an illustration a Indian student while entering to the university when he opening the door he will never see whether someone is entering after him he will straightly walk forwards, but in united kingdom the person will see any one is coming and then will keep the door open until they entire near the door and then they will walk. It seems that countries having the various cultures. So we can recognize how the culture is different in various countries.

Culture perception: Different culture having their own beliefs and feeling in the various countries.

CONCLUSION

It is apparent that this reports managing across culture which affects a major role in various countries. It seems to that the most Culture having its attitude that act as different culture in business, private companies, education field and even in government situation it might change some culture behavior, but it seems to know that the most of the problem are avoid by faith or fear in different culture in various countries, but it will work strongly towards new generation it affects a good atmosphere culture across in several division and it provide a locating information in different culture and a lot of people can trust in faith. In addition, suitable training and methods should provide in different culture, because it will help a lot to people to recognize the various culture across the world.

REFERENCES
Cross-cultural communicationhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-cultural_communication
Managing cross-cultural differences http://www.1000ventures.com/ten3_operations/customized/cross-cultural_differences_china-us.html

Categories
Free Essays

Cross culture awareness for managers

Introduction

“A Fish only discovers its need for water when it is no longer in it. Our own culture is like water to a fish. It sustains us. We live and breathe through it. What one may regard as essential, a certain level of material wealth for example, may not be so vital to other cultures.” (Trompenaars et al, 1999, p.20)

To put it in simple term, culture is inclusive of the information, principles and awareness of the society. Demonstrate the different method of people who lives in various environments.

With a wide range of approach in which cultural ideas are carried out. According to Ziauddin Sardar their features are as follows: Their aim is to carry out subjective study of cultural practices and how they are associated to control. It includes culture as both the object of study and the locations of political criticism and action. They are devoted to an ethical valuation of society and to political action (Olivier Serrat, 2008).

“A value is a conception, explicit or implicit, distinctive of an individual or characteristic of a group, of the desirable which influences the selection from available modes, means and ends of actions.” Values are feelings with arrows to them,i.e. it has a plus and minus pole. Hofstede, G (2003)

A culture is adjusted in the direction of history and the future is the repetition of the history. Culture primarily directed to the present does not involve past or future. individuals are directly relate it with demands of everyday life. (Provenmodel, 2005)

Past events of culture does not affect the future prospects of culture. Efficientway of interacting with the people in other countries, we should look into its deep roots on different cultures as per Geert Hofstede. Well understanding and its implication, the data will reduce concern and frustration. Apart from the Geert Hofstede will give you ‘edge of understanding’ which convert to more flourishing results. Below mentioned are the five dimensions:

(Luciara N and Richard S, 2009)

Power distance:

It is true to say that the less developed and low powerful associates believe that power is dispersed unequally. (Provenmodel, 2005)

Individualism:

The true face of nature is that the people in the society are selfish, i.e. they are concerned for themselves and the family members only. (Provenmodel, 2005)

Masculinity:

The leading communal values are success, money, and things. (Provenmodel, 2005)

Uncertainty avoidance:

Nature is place where uncertainty happens, so the individuals living in that society are feared by the unhappening scenarios and feels that it is wise to avoid such scenarios. (Provenmodel, 2005)

Long Term Orientation:

It represents the values like economy, determination, and conventional value of social obligations. (Provenmodel, 2005)

Trompenaar and Hampden –Turner gathered data over 10 years using a process that relied on generous respondents , predicament or distinct tendencies. Here the problem consisted of two options which are mentioned as follow:-

(Anonymous , N.D. )

Universalism vs. Particularism:

Universalism is the ideas/practices which can be applied everywhere, high universalism countries and these are close adhere to business contracts while particularism are those circumstances which dictate how ideas/practices apply; high particularism countries often modify contracts. (Provenmodel, 2005)

Individualism vs. Communitarianism:

In Individualism, people as individuals and countries with high individualism are included, and are stress personal and individual matters which assumes great personal responsibility. On the other hand, in communitarianism public look upon selves as part of group and value group-related issues and take committee decisions for which they are joint responsibility. (Provenmodel, 2005)

Neutral vs. Emotional:

Neutral: culture in which emotions not shown. In high neutral countries, people maintain serenity. While in emotional, emotions are shown in open and they act as they are, i.e. they don’t behave in different way, they behave naturally. (Provenmodel, 2005)

Specific vs. Diffuse:

In Specific, huge public areas are used by many while small areas are looked after closely. In Diffuse, public and private areas are similar in size wherein public areas are guarded as it is common with the private areas. (Provenmodel, 2005)

Achievement vs. Ascription:

In Achievement culture, it doesn’t matter who does it, what matters is how is it done (job, performance, etc.) while Ascription culture is truly based on who does it and what is done. (Provenmodel, 2005)

Time:- In simple way, it means the whether the role is done one by one or all the things are done together. Sequential means that the activity is conducted in a series or pattern wherein the line of performance is pre decided. Synchronous means all things are done together, i.e. multi tasking. The last method is present v/s future. (Provenmodel, 2005)

The Environment:

Inner-directed people believes in control of outcomes while Outer-directed people are opposite to them.(Provenmodel, 2005)

Let us see the comparison between Hofstede and Trompenaars which are out of seven dimensions of Trompenaars, two are closely reflected in Hofstede’s dimensions. Also there is a practical similarity between their communitarians value orientation. Trompenaars and hofstede’s studies are not entirely similar, Hofstede’s power index is related to how the status is accorded and to the power distance that is acceptable with the society, while Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner has not discussed anything about power distance.

Trompenaars achievement value orientation is related to Hofstede’s power distance index. Which shows that status is accorded not by achievement but by the nature, this gives greater acceptability to power distances. Trompenaars other dimensions seem to focus on the feelings, and the extent to which they are expressed. Thus it only focuses on the behavioural aspect, not on the value. Trompenaar’s universalism value orientation holds relationships above the rules, which appears to relate to hofstede’s uncertainty avoidance dimension and also to collectivist dimension to some extent.

Trompenaars specific value orientation is not identical to any of the Hofstede’s dimensions. However, human time relationship and Hall’s polychromatic and monochromic time perceptions are quite similar to each other. There is also a similarity in their findings. For eg. according to them, india and japan are weak as far as individualism is concerned, on thte other hand UK, Denmark and USA are comparatively individualistic.

According to Hogget’s and Luthans, the difference between the two studies is due to the difference in time frames in which they were conducted. Thus, Hofstede’s findings are becoming outdated. For eg. mexico’s step towards being global, can be taken as a moving away from its communitarian values. According to Trompenaars findings, communist countries that is Hungary, Russia and CrechRepublic are quite individualistic, with a communist past. According to Trompenaars, UK and the North America have egalitarian cultures, while, Spain and France are Hierarchical. As per Hofstede’s research spain and france are high when it comes to power distance as compared to UK and the North Ammerica.

Trompnaars and Hofsdete hold different views about Germany. According to the former, Germany’s corporate culture is hierarchical, while the latter considers Germany as low in terms of power distance. Trompenaars research is extensive, he has examined corporate cultures in terms of nationality, for which he introduced another dimension named equality versus hierarchy.

Now contrasting the two approaches of the Geert Hofstede , dutch expert and Fons trompenaars & Charles Hampden-Turner. The findings and studies of Geert hofstede and Fons Trompenaars have been adopted by many businesses, for the purpose of understanding the differences in individual and organizational cultures across the globe. Other anthropologists, sociologist have grave misgivings and are important for analysis used by Hofstede. Hofstede’s 5 dimensions have a strange similarity to national character studies that were conducted in 1940’s and WW II on which intensive research was carried out by researchers, the research was spoilt and was not of any use because it was prone to bias and simply created sterotypes of other cultures. Hofstede and trompenaars work should not be associated with WW ii studies, except the fact that lessons learnt from the past should be remembered.

In the current state of affairs, anthropologists might be uncomfortable in popping down the trap of understanding the culture to “5 dimensions of culture” which can be notched up. (Hassoun R, 2006)

Similarly, Trompenaars and Turner have framed a seven dimensions model, which can be taken as varying from the idea of reducing cultural dimensions. Culture, as defined by most anthropologists is that which is adapted and passed to next generations and the structure through which the world is viewed cannot be condensed into a set of simplistic parameters. (Hassoun R, 2006)

The Anthropological have looked into the model given by Hofstede and Trompenaars and Turner. But the point to be noted here is that in the anthropological technique concentrated on an overall knowledge of cultures and the sub-cultures. The problem could occur in anthropological approach which will be like raising cultural proficiency in a small guidance wherein the psychological pattern for understanding cultural complexity matters a lot and have significant affect on it. When the guidance which is provided gets completed, it takes bit more time to know the real competency which itself is also a as a procedure. It is very realistic to know that there is desperate need to be patient with good listening skills and open mindedness to grasp the knowledge of different culture which will then guide to know cultural competency. (Hassoun R, 2006)

The personal features on the behaviour was not identified by both, Hofstede and Trompenaars. The dimensions of their theories has bifurcation on cultures but what they failed to know and provide guidance was that how to work with some specific cultures. Apart from this, no declaration could be placed ahead that the seven dimensions were the only one and the list was full. Authors such as including Ohmae (Borderless World) and Levitt (Globalisation of Markets) didn’t went ahead with the thing that there is need for different companies to admit there is no similarity in cultures of countries in which they operate (which was said by Trompenaars and Hofstede), rather they said that the world is one and is not filled with different cultures and different countries. (ProvenModel 2005)

It is imperative for every manager that he has an understanding of the different cultures. Managers who are more successful their values seem to favour dynamic, pragmatic and achievement – oriented, along with this they believe in interacting with others. On the other hand, managers who are less successful have passive and static values; and are relatively inactive in interacting with others. Cultural competency is focuses on promoting self – confidence of individuals and the teams, this can be achieved through empowerment and by breaking down barriers.

A person with interculturally effective skills has attributes which are discussed below:He has the skill of communicating with people of different cultures in a manner that earns them trust and respect.He has the ability to adapt his managerial and technical skills in a way that fits in well with the local constraints and the local conditions.He has the ability to change personally so that he has mental peace, is content and at ease in the mass culture

References:
Olivier serrat (2008) Cultural theory [Internet] Available from : [Accessed on 19th March 2011].
Hofstede, G. (1994) Uncommon Sense About Organisation 1st Edition USA.
Hofstede, G. (1980) Culture[internet] Available from:< http://wallaby.vu.edu.au/adt-VVUT/uploads/approved/adt-VVUT20080910.150544/public/04chapter3.pdf> [Accessed on 19th March 2011].
Proven Model (2005). Seven dimensions of culture [Internet] Available from: [ Accessed on 19th March 2011]
Ananymous , n.d. Home and Host Country determinants of International Bank Entry [internet] Available from:< http://www.scribd.com/doc/43918450/Factors-Affecting-International-Bank-Entry>[Accessed on 20th March 2011].
6. Luciara N and Richard S, (2009).The cultural theory jungle:divergence and convergence in models of national culture. 1st editionCambridge ,Uk.
Hassoun R, (2006) Intercultural/Cross-Cultural Training: Rejecting Hofstede and Trompenaars [internet] available from:< http://www.goldfinchtraining.biz/hofstederejected.htmls> [accessed on 19th march 2011].
Titre F (2005) Cultural dimensions and social behavior correlates:Individualism-Collectivism and Power Distance. Journal of cultural Dimensions 18(1) .
Trompenaars et al (1999) (p.20)10. Hofstede, G (2003) Available from: Culture’s consequences: comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations. SAGE. (pp. 5,6)

Categories
Free Essays

Above the throng: identity achieving in the consumer culture

Introduction: post-traditional society

For the liberal wing of modernity, pushed forward mankind and those who are high on consumption enter into post-traditional society, which contains more complicate social order. Meanwhile, the traditional culture is substituted by a new mass-produced culture, which is called ‘Consumer culture’. With the emergence of consumer culture, people who are in the stable social order seek for individual autonomy, followed with deregulation of desire and economic prosperity without restriction of social values. People start to achieve superior social situation by purchasing symbolic products and imitated products of upper class.In fact, the consumers refer in particular to middle class, who

Middle class

Both of the authors have mentioned middle class in a high frequency. The idea of American “middle class”, constructed out of images, attitudes, acquisitions, and style, was emerging (Ewen, 1988).Historian Karen Halttunen defined middle class as people who occupied a static social position between the extremes of peasantry and aristocracy. (Ewen, 1988).Due to the overturn of the traditional culture followed by human’s rapidly rising desire, the middle class has developed several significant characters. First of all, they spend excessive labor force and time whereas earn neither more nor less money, sometimes are worried about insufficient funds when the expenditure exceeds income. In fact , they suffer from live from hand to mouth. Secondly, in response to the situation, the middle class people are dissatisfied with their current lives and eager for aristocratic and luxury lives, what’s more, they want to be closed to upper class. Furthermore, they are sensitive and anxiety to be regarded as the poor, because it represents they have failure of lives. Therefore, they buy symbolic goods and products that imitate economic elites’ style, in order to argue others’ incorrect impression to them.

Due to the emergence of post-traditional society, people are more likely to judge one’s status and identity by what they have rather than what they do .Therefore, symbolic products and superfluities are used for creating and strengthen personal status. In order to be thought rich and show their personhood, middle class has done a series of investment. They buy stylish clothes in order to show their distinctive personalities, and buy symbolic products to show their social status, although some of the products are replaced by imitated goods.

Slater and Ewen all think the middle class is external flashy whereas their inner world is flatulent, even though they try to masquerade the space. they lived suspended between current tough social status and the dream, which they took for their economic future (Halttunen, 1982) On the one hand, they dress stylish suits with smiling faces, speak good language with a proper “genteel” manner; on the other hand, it is continuous that they impose restriction on real feeling, and wear a mask of the nobel identity, however they still feel anxious whether they are approved by the society.

Slater

In Slater’s view ,the consumer culture brings about huge detriment in the post-traditional society.‘ organic community’, whose substituted notion is the traditional culture ,has already died out and replaced by consumer culture. And people achieve personal status by the means of consuming, which the original fixed social order is taken placed by a material world.

It is used to be a fixed and unchangeable society, and it is naturally that people are identified by fixed status when they were born, and they also own fixed ‘blood and soil’, birth and land.(Slater,1997)It is legitimately to regulate a world , and people all follow the rule.

However, consumer culture overturns the primary way. As Slater said: ‘Consumer culture is defined as an ersatz, artificial, mass-manufactured and pretty poor substitute for the world we have lost in the post-traditional society(Slater,1997)Consumerism focus on seeking for profits and economic growth rather than caring about people ‘s life. In the consumer-oriented world, everything are attached a tag, that is, you can but anything you want as long as you have money.

Slater think buying luxury goods is not just a fundamental activity in people’s daily life, but also is malignant to destroy legitimate social order. People who buying luxury products by passion other than by reason. Some arguments point out that the power of money has already changed the whole cosmic order, which means people are able to buy status, positions and reputation if they have enough money.

Take Britain history as an example. In 1688-1756, British government started a “financial evolution”, which changed a series of trade and economic regulations, and the regulations all tend to approve the power of money .The consequences is that the central charge is corruption, and money took charge of the authority. People can use money to fulfill their needs. For example, if a person who was used to be a farmer, and he wanted to be conferred orders. It should be impossible in the past because he had his fixed status when he was born, however, only if he own enough money, he can buy a title. In addition to, the peoples were no longer loyal to the monarch anymore. As can be seen from the example, the world became complex and disorder because of ‘cash nexus’.

On the other hand, it is luxury goods that will bring about crime affairs and threaten to people ‘s life.

In a word,Slater think culture should not counted by money., mediated or ruled because it was defined that way. (Slater,1997)

Ewen

In Stuart Ewen ‘s book,all consuming images,he states some crucial arguments which have some similarities and differences with Slater’s views.

On the one hand, their similarities tend to point out the criticism that people achieve high status and personal distinction by undying consumption, although Ewen speaks in a soft tongue.

Firstly, he thinks that people distinguish them and others by consumptions, which is regarded as an epic crisis of identity. This view is strongly consistent with Slater’s view. And the advanced right can be owned by anyone who desire it, because it says more about you than anything you can buy with it (Ewen, 1988).This kind of concept push people to get status and distinction rather than become an ordinary fellow within the mass.

Similarly Ewen takes the past records as an example. In the United States,by the 1830s,the entire people sake for becoming merchant middle class. As historian Edward Pessen said, these people “went to great pains to match the lavish living of the older upper classes of the eastern cities, succeeding to a large degree.”(Edward Pessen, 1969).The conspicuous consumption of luxury goods can provide people desirable status. As a result, at that time, even the people who in the small village, all lived in villas which are fit up grandiose decorations and furniture. All of the unnecessary efforts were serve as showing their social status.

In response to people’s dissatisfactions to current social status and identity, some cheap luxury goods were used for those who want to be distinctive but cannot afford expensive products. It was called kitsch.These goods are characterized as inexpensive, volume-produced substitutes of real luxury goods that are normal purchased by economic elites.These people were called white-collar employees,and be in a condition of “genteel poverty”. (Edward Pessen,1969).They wanted to be close to economic elites’ lives and then bought imitated goods.

However, there are some differences at the aspect of consequences to the mass-produced culture. Ewen thinks it would increase the gap between the poor and the rich. The evidences are shown in the Fourth Annual Report of Massachusetts Bureau of Larbor in 1873, the wealth is distributed unfairly. To be exactly, more and more money goes into the merchant people, because they earn profit from the increasingly mechanized and consolidated means of production .At the same time, the energies, labor power and time of working class people are consumed in order to serve industrialism and factory capitalism. Therefore, poor people own even less money, compared with wealthy people become more and more rich. And Ewen also thinks it will work out untruthful dream that people enjoy their unreal identity.

Conclusion

On the other hand, Slater thinks the consumer culture will bring out the disordered social order which should be identified by ‘blood and soil’, birth and land. And the prevailing wind of consumer culture will destroy the real culture which cannot be counted by money. And the proliferation of vanity psychology will produce motivation of crime, which will threaten citizen’s daily life.

Categories
Free Essays

Building organisational culture that encourages innovation in Higher Institutions in the UK

Introduction

The motive for researching this topic is to examine how the way of doing things in an organisation influences innovation from the perception of education. Organisational culture is a very essential determinant of the employees’ behaviour in an organisation and encompasses what the core strengths of an organisation are and what has worked well in the past. It influences how innovative individuals or groups of people are in an organisation. Every organisation that exists has their own culture of doing things. Organisational culture in the higher institutions influences the quality of students produced by a school and the level of knowledge sharing determines how innovative the students are in their learning.

The reason why I am looking into the education sector is that the kind of student produced by a school will determine the kind of employees in the working environment. Graduates are the products being produced by higher institutions. These students are the determinants of the culture existing in an organisation whether strong or weak, and quality of employees we could find in organisations in the future. The stakeholders in the academics have a great impact of change to make on their economy through whichever organisation they find themselves. The culture in every organisation influences the products or services they offer. Innovation is not only restricted to manufacturing firms, service industries and so many other industries but also education sector is there with lot of ideas to consider innovatively. Any organisation where learning and knowledge sharing occurs, there is tendency for them to be innovative.

The school should ensure maintaining a strong organisational culture to keep the students and tutors informed and build them to be innovative , creative based on the learning given to them and knowledge sharing they have gained during their experience as a student. They are able to represent a good image of the school wherever they go and employers can see those quality students who are qualified, being able to perform and deliver value to any organisation they find themselves. Is it all about a strong organisational culture or quality organisational cultureIt appears organisational culture has a great influence on the quality of graduates produces by University of Wales, Newport. It is imperative that the culture of an organisation should not only be strong but also be of a good quality that has great values to add to individuals in the organisation. There should be connection between the culture of the organisation and its values. Blanchard, K et al (2008) argued that, ‘anytime there is cessation between specified values and the way an organisation function, the ethics displayed are ignored. He also said the genuine culture and values always speak louder than the specified ones.’

In the process of ensuring effective culture in an organisation to achieve success, there is tendency for an organisation to make changes at some point in time, which needs to be managed effectively to make sure it does not affect the individuals in the organisation. It is in the process of these changes that learning and knowledge sharing still continues. It is therefore based on this learning and knowledge that innovative and creative ideas comes up and every organisation try to work towards building good corporate values in order to accelerate innovation, learning, knowledge, and creativity in their organisation. Creativity and innovation is not only for organisation but can also be related to individual people. The tutors and the school top management must try to be innovative and creative in the way they function in University of Wales, Newport in order to materialise the mission of the university.

Students are the major stakeholders in the university, therefore, they should be able to deliver good work innovatively, and creatively more than what the tutor has taught them. This can also be linked to the way organisational culture may be stimulated in an organisation through learning, knowledge, creativity, and innovation. Various authors have talked on these and I will build on it by making sure I add to the existing knowledge which is from the perspective of educations and I will be giving some authors’ works and thought from articles and textbooks to defend my explanation.

LITERATURE REVIEW

LITERATURE REVIEW: ON MAIN THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

The organisational culture of an organisation is a picture of what and how things are done in the organisation. I have found some major frameworks developed by other authors in the process of my research. The literature review will consider different definitions about organisational culture and its role in the organisation. However, the popular definition of organisational culture is, ‘the way we do things around here.’ Terblanche, F et al (2003) defined organisational culture as, ‘mutual beliefs, and values genuinely placed in an organisation.’ Campeanu-Sonea, E et al (2010) cites the work of Armstrong (2006) that, ‘organisational culture is the form of beliefs, customs, and attitudes that are unlikely to be expressed but structures the mode of people’s behaviour and getting things.’ These standards and assumptions are preserved as people continue to relate with one another in the organisation.

Terblanche, F et al (2003) discussed some roles of organisational culture by citing the work of Furnham and Gunter (1993) that, ‘it helps in internal integration such as socialising and commitment of employees’ to the organisation. It also helps create a competitive advantage, understanding the environment and enhance communication and mutual understanding.’ Johnson, G et al (2010 p.168) conferred that, ‘organisational culture contributes to how groups of people respond and behave in relation to what they face.it has an influence on the development and change of organisational strategy.’ I will consider more of these definitions and roles of organisational culture by analysing in details in my literature review.

More so, the concept of innovation is very crucial for the success of an organisation. Huczynski and Buchannan(2010) inferred that, ‘innovation is unrestricted to new products and most organisations wants to construct an inventive style to organise, develop new and better working practices, and deliver customers and clients with novel service.’ This definition is limited by not considering why they develop ideas and commit to creative process. Brychan, T et al (2011) strongly argues by citing the work of Baregheh et al (2009 p. 10) that innovation is, ‘the multi-stage process whereby organisations transform ideas into new/improved products, services or process in order to advance, compete and differentiate themselves magnificently in their marketplace.’

It appears most organisations makes attempt to be innovative and creative in their activities. When an organisation comes up with ideas, there is need to implement it because without implementation, there cannot be innovation and the innovation will bring about changes to the organisation. Rogers (2003) argued that, ‘innovations is perceived by individuals as one with numerous fundamental benefit, consistent, apparent and less intricate can be easily acknowledged than others.’(Haggman, K.S 2009) To manage innovation effectively, knowledge is very essential. Henry, J (2001 p.64) conferred that, ‘the moment organisations becomes innovative, they construct fresh knowledge and information, from the inside out, in order to express again both the problems and solutions and reform their environment in the process.’

Furthermore, organisational culture and innovation tends to relate in some ways. Martins and Terblanche (2003) described some key determinants of organisational culture, ‘which are strategy, structure, communication, supporting mechanism, and behaviours that encourage creativity. These determinants rely on and interact with one another.’ There is a strong link between organisation culture and employee’s attitude. Gregory, B et al (2009) argued that, ‘individuals in an organisation use the culture as a determinants for their expected behaviour to decide the kind of behaviour that fits a particular situation.’ Valencia, N et al (2010) argued that, ‘organisational culture is one of the aspects that encourage innovative behaviour among individuals in the organisation.’ Terblanche et al (2003) concluded that, ‘organisational culture affects the degree to which inventive clarifications are stimulated, sustained and realised through socialisation process of organisations, individuals learn what behaviour is acceptable and how activities should function.’ It shows it is very vital for an organisation to ensure innovative ideas in whatever type of business they are in and maintain a quality and strong culture.

Valencia, N et al(2010) conferred that, ‘to ensure a competitive edge that is sustainable and succeed in the market, innovation is very crucial because firms that are innovative can sustain themselves when the environment is unstable, respond quickly to changes , create novel opportunities and take advantage of existing market to a greater extent than the competition.’ Organisational culture is a facilitating factor for learning to take place in an organisation and every organisation needs to imbibe a learning culture as a basis for openness for innovative ideas. Rebelo and Gomez (2009) concluded that, ‘learning culture concerned with elevation and facilitating of employees learning, sharing, and spreading in order to contribute to the growth and performance of the organisation.’(Rebelo and Gomez, 2011)

Different definitions were even given for a learning organisation. King, W (2001)argued that, ‘ a learning organisation is one that focuses on developing and using its information and knowledge capabilities in creating highly valued information and knowledge, to change behaviours and improve final outcome.’ Senge, P (1990) defines a learning organisation to be, ‘an organisation that is escalating its capabilities unceasingly to build its future.’(Graham and Nafukho, 2007) This literature review will be critically assessed comprehensively by the start of my dissertation.

LITERATURE ON THE CHOSEN SECTOR

The education sector is one of the important sectors in the entire sector in the UK. It is very challenging and has a very significant influence in the career of individuals because people continue to learn and add to their knowledge every day. My sector will be narrowed down to University of Wales, Newport and the Newport Business school and School of art will be coming together in the next session, the reason for this will be researched later. Recently, there has been increase in school fees of home students, which has caused protests from students. Jamila, M et al(2008) argued that, ‘it is imperative for higher institutions to have customer focus in pursuing excellence in education and top management must ensure quality of undergraduates and graduates students by developing professional abilities of individuals involved in the delivery of teaching and learning. More so, cultivate fresh and flexible ways of learning, teaching and assessing, and exploiting new technologies whenever necessary.’ The school fees remains the same in Wales except for Aberystwyth University that has given it consideration and concluded that only students from other places are going to be paying the ?9000 by September 2012.

According to Eddie, B et al in their paper research, there is a vision 2035 with the aim of reducing foreign students and globalise as they realise the students do not get adequate work experience to complement their learning. The students need to study in their home country to be able to benefit their economy and society as a whole. The Higher Education Funding Council in England is also planning for a 10 years vision to increase merged Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) institution as Joint Corporation.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

5.1. Research Paradigms: In order to achieve my aims and objectives, the research paradigms that will be used is positivism because it will test hypothesis and it will help me to show I have achieved validity and reliability. More so, this research will focus on facts from the respondents. It would give me the chance to consult different students from different departments and backgrounds. This will also help me to develop ideas through induction from data collected.

5.2. Research Approach: The approach taken to this research is a quantitative research, as it will help analyses of measurement within data. The research approach will be carried out by conducting a primary research that involves collecting original data from management that makes decision and plan for the running of the university. The secondary data will be gathered from information that will be useful for critical arguments in the literature review and help to explore different authors’ opinion and arguments. Secondary data would be collected from proper journals, refereed articles, textbooks, and official reports from departments/international organisation.

5.3. Research method: The Research Methods to be used in carrying out this research is a questionnaire and observation. With my experience in the University, I have observed a lot but more will still need to be done to carry out a successful work. Bryman and Bell (2011) concluded that, ‘it is possible to record incidents, observe, and record for a short period of time at some intervals or for a long period of time.’ However, the questionnaires will be administered to students in order to test hypothesis because it allows anonymity and can be much clarified but it takes long to analyse. The questionnaire will be self-administered after considering necessary ethical issues.

5.4. The sampling criteria are targeted towards students from different background, age group, course, and discipline. The reason for choosing student is to gather their opinions about how the culture of the university influences their performance and if in any way makes them to be innovative in their learning or keep to the same mode of doing things. It will also enable me to know whether the culture of this university influences them positively or someway negatively. The sample size will be 50 students to ensure my research will be realistic, as it will give me better opportunity to know the extent to which students will agree with some issues in the university, as they are the key determinants for the existence of this university. This would help draw on the existing data to get information from respondents to justify the literature review.

METHODS OF ANALYSISNG PRIMARY DATA

Since a quantitative method would be used to carry out my research, the data collected will be analysed using a SPSS. The relationship in my questions will determine whether to use univariate, bivariate or multivariate analysis. I intend to undertake more readings to ensure a well-presented analysis is carried out. I will research more to know the better options to do a quality and effective analysis.

ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

The identity of my respondents will be kept confidential as they would want to be sincere about their opinions and might not want their names to be disclosed. I will ensure I protect their privacy as I know the research will give people the chance to give their honest opinions about the school whether the university is really building organisational culture that stimulates innovation through their students or not. I will ensure I get the consent of people before giving the questionnaire out to them and ensure I do not disclose the name of the respondents. I will ensure I use people’s data to support my dissertation with their consent. I will also ensure good behaviour even when some people failed to accept to fill the questionnaire or fail to turn up for the appointed time. The location to be chosen for filling questionnaires will be a suitable and comfortable place with adequate safety because without them, there cannot be a successful dissertation.

REFERENCES
BLANCHARD, K et al. 2008. Who Killed ChangeSolving the problem of leading people through change. London: HarperCollins Publishers
BRYMAN, A., and BELL, E. 2011. Business Research Methods. 3rd edn. United States: Oxford University Press.
BUCHANNAN, D.A and HUCZYNSKI, A.A. 2010. Organisational Behaviour. 7thedn. Harlow: Pearson Educational Limited.
CAMPEANU-SONEA, E. et al. 2010. Organisational culture in a transitional economy. Employee Relations. 32(3). pp. 328-344
EDDIE, BLASS et al. (PAPER RESEARCH). VISIONING 2035: THE FUTURE OF THE HIGHER EDUCATION SECTOR IN THE UK. [WWW] Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.. (15 June 2011)
HAGGMAN, K. S. 2009. Functional actions and perceptions of innovation attributes: Influence on innovation adoption. European Journal of Innovation Management. 12(3). Pp. 386-407
HENRY, J. 2001. Creative Management. 2nd edn. London: Sage Publications
GRAHAM, M. C. and NAFUKHO. M. F. 2007. Employees’ perception toward the dimension of culture in enhancing organizational learning. The Learning Organisation. 14(3). Pp. 281-292
GREGORY, T. B. et al. 2009. Organizational culture and effectiveness: A study of values, attitudes, and organizational outcomes. Journal of Business Research. 62(7). Pp. 673-679.
JAMILA, M et al. 2008. The role of organisational culture in stimulating creativity and innovation among engineering students. Conference paper. 05-December 2008. P 269- 276
JOHNSON, G. et al. 2011. . Exploring Strategy. 9th edn Harlow: Pearson Education Limited
TERBLANCHE, F and MARTINS, E.C. 2003. Building organisational culture that stimulates. European journals of Innovation Management. 6(1). Pp. 64-74
BRYCHAN, T. et al. 2011. INNOVATION AND SMALL BUSINESS- VOLUME 1. [Online book] http://bookboon.com/uk/textbooks/economics/innovation-and-small-business-volume-1. Cardiff: VENTUS PUBLISHING. (04 May 2011)
REBELO, M and GOMES, D. 2011. Conditioning factors of an organisational learning culture. Journal of Workplace Learning. 23(3). Pp. 173-194.
Valencia, N. J. et al. 2010. Organisational culture as determinants of product innovation. European Journal of Innovation Management. 13(4). Pp. 466-480

Categories
Free Essays

American Neo-Imperialism: the Export of Culture and Democracy

Abstract

This dissertation explores neo-imperialism and its manifestations in US foreign policy. It focuses on the export of democracy and American culture as two of the core mechanisms for the sustainment of US influence in the developing world. It aims to define the ways in which the export of American-style democracy and culture has become one of the key sources of US foreign policy. To achieve its aims, the dissertation looks at the spread of democracy, using the US intervention in Iraq as an example. The spread of democracy has been theorized through the notions of “soft power”, as developed by Joseph Nye in the 1990s. The spread of culture, on the other hand, is discussed through the prism of the growing demand for American mass entertainment, and its ability to produce American-oriented social norms, in the age of capitalism and mass consumerism. Both democracy and culture are looked at as complex historical and socio-economic processes, designed to keep the American influence in the contemporary international system.

Chapter 1Introduction

1.1 Background

After the end of the Cold War, the distribution of power in the international system had to be to revised and adjusted to the newly emerging actors in international relations. The end of the simple and predictable bipolarity of the Cold War world pushed the great powers towards the reconsideration of other elements of the international system such as non-state actors in the face of INGOs and Transnational Corporations. A new world order, enhanced by the forces of globalization, and new threats to security transformed the global agenda for peace and universal human rights. Development economics and the integration of the poorest regions of the world became a renewed topic of political debate, and the US found itself on the edge of a multipolar world, where its own hegemony was challenged from the rising Asian superpowers. It was in this challenging environment, the US began to reconsider the continuities in its foreign policy, and re-modelled its grand strategy (Boyle, 2008; Ikenberry, 2008; LaFaber, 2008). The rise of terrorism and ideology as signifiers for a new, more radical identity politics pushed the US to reconsider its regional interests, and the promotion of democracy and liberal values gained higher prominence than ever. The ethnic nationalism, which triggered the collapse of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, and the conflicts in Rwanda, Sudan and Somalia, necessitated a dramatic return to the US promotion of democracy abroad, as a pragmatic and goal-oriented approach for the preservation of world peace (Ikenberry, 2008; Mead, 2001; LaFaber, 2008). Here it is important to mention the role of recipients of US exported democracy, which is related to the notion that the political system of other states is crucial for the sustainability of collective peace and security. In this sense, since the end of WWII, the US has made several attempts to export its political structures and vision of democracy in different countries. Some of the more recent examples include Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, where the overall foreign assistance offered by the US included not only foreign aid, but also development programmes related with political reconstruction, state-building and democratic pluralism. This dissertation will explore the aspects of the notion of exported democracy, and will trace its ideological and historical roots. In an innovative way, it will also investigate its implications for the countries, where democracy was exported and will establish the extent of its presence in American foreign policy as a form of soft-imperialism. It will look at exported democracy not only as an ideological conception, but as a wide set of policies and programmes, implemented in several countries. It will trace the transformation of neo-imperialism from a predominantly economic concept into a political construct, which resulted in the spreading American influence across the globe.

1.2 Historical background

The promotion of democracy has always been part of the US foreign policy agenda, indifferent stages of US history. Its features can be found in the historical origins of American national identity (Hunt, 1987; Levy, 2001). A brief historical account of US foreign policy would reveal the complexity of US national identity and its main features – the export of democracy and liberalism.

The twentieth century has seen a major ideological transformation in USFP. At the beginning of the last century, USFP was marked by Wilsonian idealism and the international agenda for peace and cooperation, with the USA at its core (Mead, 2001; Muravchik, 1991; Cox & Stokes, 2008; LaFaber, 2008). The League of Nations demarcated a new stage of USFP with the boom of liberal internationalism, which was ended by its institutional collapse.

In the Cold War’s bipolar world, America’s containment of Soviet communism was a key feature of US Foreign Policy. After the end of the Cold War, US Foreign Policy was marked by a revisionist agenda for economic and political recovery of post-communist countries. In Latin America, the set of policies of what became known as the Washington Consensus demonstrated the economic effects of globalization on USFP, and once again – its attempt for supremacy over less developed parts of the world. The period after 9/11 saw a radicalization in US Foreign Policy with the war on terror in America’s grand strategy (Boyle, 2008; Walt, 2001). It was also marked by what John Ikenberry described as America’s security trap and its grave violations of international legal standards (Ikenberry, 2008).

From a historical perspective, the major tendencies in US Foreign Policy from the past century and the turn of the new one look like a mosaics of contrasts. A deeper consideration however reveals a consistency in foreign policy. Democratization and economic liberalization have always been in the American basket with goods for political export. During the nineteenth century, America was still groping its way to economic dominance, but its adherence to a policy to isolationism or aloofness was a basic feature of its foreign policy (LaFaber, 2008; Trubovitz, 2008; Hunt, 1987). In 1845, John O’Sullivan coined the phrase Manifest Destiny. It implied that the US is destined to spread its values for democracy and economic liberalism, and therefore its territorial expansion across the North American continent is justified (Hunt, 1987; Levy, 2001). For many Manifest Destiny is a concept, which belongs to history, but it was the basis for two of the main features of USFP – American Imperialism and American Exceptionalism.

Exceptionalism is viewed by some as an ideology, related to concepts such as national identity, race, and religion (Levy, 2001; Deudney & Meiser, 2008; Nau, 2002). Deudney and Meiser extend the definition of American Exceptionalism beyond ideology, and reflect on the political reality that it brings. They argue that levels of exceptionalism may vary and can coincide with “imperial foreign policy that serves to justify conquest and overseas expansion” (Deudney & Meiser, 2008, p. 32). They also discuss its relatedness to cultural or civilizational greatness or claims for economic development.

In US Foreign Policy, exceptionalism has been a mixture of all these elements, which leads us to a second key concept, related to the export of democracy and culture– American imperialism. It is the practical expression of exceptionalism and the historical visions of American national identity. However, it is different from it because it is related to policy and the policies for democratization and economic liberalization, purported by the USA in different countries from the developing world. It also rests on the assumption that American values, political system and culture are unique to the rest of the world. It is important to note that imperialism will not be discussed in the traditional sense of the word, which implies territorial invasion or militancy. It will be related to soft politics issues such as the export of democracy as a form of governance and cultural predispositions. American imperialism can be viewed as an expression of both American exceptionalism and internationalism. One of the most comprehensive views on American imperialism belongs to Michael Cox, who argues that the concept has its historic origins in economic expansion and liberalism, but it has also retained its ‘particularly liberalistic and moralistic tone’ because ‘its aim was not to conquer other people, but to liberate them from despotism’ (Cox, 2003, p. 9). Unlike most definitions of American imperialism, which focus either on its benign or malicious side, Cox does not automatically dismiss America’s self-interest and political gain as an incentive for its imperial behaviour, but he also takes into consideration its benevolence as a global provider.

As already mentioned, this dissertation will focus on the issues, related to the export of American culture and democracy. It will focus on the historical roots of American national identity and its features, enshrined in the American Dream – the export of democracy and liberal values. It will critically look at important developments in American history, which have shaped US national identity in foreign policy such as the Washington consensus, deployed in the 1980s and 1990s. The dissertation will look at the contemporary expression of these values and the ways they were perceived by their recipients. It will also argue that through the export of culture and democratic values, the US is corroborating one continuous feature of its foreign policy, which modern observers often class as neo-imperialism (Cox, 2003; Fouskas & Gokay, 2008; Little, 2002).

1.3. Structure of the dissertation

For clarity, this dissertation is divided in several main chapters: 1) Research question, which highlights the general as well as specific research aims of the paper 2) Literature review, which provides an overview of key works, definitions and a theoretical framework 3) Chapter 3 will look at America’s road to economic supremacy, and the transformation of this historic trend into a capitalist mode of production, which led to the core-periphery reorganisation of the world 4) Chapter 4 will look at the export of mass culture and entertainment, and its existence as a form of social control, in the context of neo-imperialism 5) Chapter 5 will summarize the main findings of the dissertation .

1.4 Innovation and importance of the research proposed

Despite the rearrangement of the balance of power since the end of the Cold War, the influence of the United States as a global power remains significant. This research will propose a creative approach to understanding the role of American culture, and the export of democracy as mechanisms for sustaining US power in the developing world. It will look at neo-imperialism not only as an expression of economic primacy, but also as a fusion between power and national ideals.

1.5 Research questions

1.5. 1 General research aims and objectives

This paper will look at the spread of American culture in the developing world and the export of democracy as mechanisms of foreign policy. It will focus on the following research aims and objectives:

Establish the parameters of the export of culture and democracy as instruments of US Foreign Policy, helping to sustain the position of America on the international scene
Assess the way in which the export of democracy and culture has become a source of US foreign policy and how this has influenced their relations with the United States
Assess their scope in maintaining US political and economic influence in the developing world

1.5.2 Specific research questions and hypothesis

The paper will attempt to establish the connection between the export of American culture and notions of democracy as a means of foreign policy. The paper will hypothesize that in an age when military force is less significant in foreign policy, global powers like the US rely on soft power means such as the spread of culture and democracy. The paper will argue that this is a form of ‘cultural’ or ‘soft’ neo-imperialism.

“Cultural” or “soft” neo-imperialism is an abstract concept, which is difficult to measure and investigate, unless operationalized. Therefore the author has decided to look at this from two important perspectives – the spread of democracy (1) and the spread of popular culture (2).

1) To explore the spread of democracy, the author will mention key tenets of the US foreign assistance in Iraq related to state-building, based on the American vision of democracy and liberal values. Also, the spread of democracy will be theorized through Joseph Nye’s concept of soft power (1990). These observations will be made in the context of the political strategies, which America has used in order to keep its position and its capitalist interests.

2) The spread of culture will be “measured” with a discussion on the growing demand for American mass entertainment and its ability to produce social norms in the age of capitalism. Mass entertainment will be looked as a process, related to the commodification of culture, as a means to the preservation of American influence in the world.

For clarity, the author has proposed to look at neo-imperialism as an evolutionary process, which started with the accumulation of wealth and power by the US after WWII, and continued with the export of democracy and mass culture in the post Cold War period. In this dissertation, neo-imperialism will be looked at as a fusion of power and ideals.

In order to understand how these features stand in US foreign policy and how they have been exercised as such, the next section will look at some of the key works, related to US foreign policy and the export of democracy.

Chapter 2
Literature Review/Theoretical framework

2.1 Introduction

The purpose of this section is to provide overview of relevant literature, as well theoretical framework and key definitions.

The topic in discussion involves several components, which are interrelated – export of culture, export of democracy, and neo-imperialism. To provide a critical review of the existing literature on the subject is a formidable task due to the fact that the subject has provoked intensive academic attention in the last several decades. Therefore only hey works will be examined. For clarity, chapter is divided in the following sections – works related to globalization and culture, works related to neo-imperialism and US Foreign Policy, and finally theoretical framework.

2.2 Works related to globalization and culture

In the study of democracy and culture as political exports, it is important to mention the role of globalization and technology. Authors such as Tomlinson (1999), Robertson (1992), Hopper (2007) and Featherstone (1990) focus on the connection between globalization and the export of culture. They differentiate between political, economic, technological and cultural globalization. While the first three types of globalization easily relate to a changing world order and re-distribution of economic, social and political power, the last type is the most difficult one to explain. It is related with the export of values and the constant exchange of ideas, which transcends spaces and borders. Cultural globalization, these authors suggest, is also related with existing cultural and social divisions, and the sovereignty of the nation-state. Cultural globalization, these authors suggest, is a way to abolish existing differences and can act as a unifier, through the export of ideas, values and commodities. It is interesting to note however, that none of these authors draws a direct link between cultural globalization and its capacity to be transformed into a tool for soft domination by existing hegemons. In the context of globalization, American popular culture began to be exported and easily perceived by developing nations. One example comes from the former Soviet and communist republics, who embraced Western (and mostly American) modes of governance, related to democratization and economic liberalism. They also however leaned towards consumerism and the spread of American films, movies, television and education, which led some IR theorists such as Robert Kagan to famously conclude that globalization wears “made in the USA label” (Kagan, 2003). Authors such as Tay explain globalization as Americanization. Although he points at the rise of Asian culture as the next wave of globalization, Tay (2010) manages to discover the mechanisms through which the export of American culture creates commercial interdependence. Although his observations target the future of US-Asian economic relations, he reveals the globalization of culture as a product of American foreign policy, successfully executed within historical circumstances. A similar view, although in an entirely different context is revealed by Brown (2003), who visualizes globalization as a process, initiated by the US after the end of WWII. He points at foreign trade and economic liberalization as the corner stones in the American recipe for a global world, and discovers the complexity of their implications in the developing world. Brown reflects upon the commencement of an era of expansion, which brought American values, dressed in policy reforms into light. Of course, to argue that globalization is a necessarily American invention would oversimplify the matter. Authors such as Rosenau (1990, 2000) and Cerny (1990) who view globalization as an autonomous process, which exists outside and despite the boundaries of the state, would be critical of the above perception of globalization as a pure manifestation of “Americanness”. However, to deny that America has corroborated its position through the spread of its global values would be narrow-minded as well. Since the end of the Cold War, it has chosen the spread of culture and ideas as a way to preserve its identity of exceptionalism. Even before the Cold War, Brown argues, the US spread its values in the non-Soviet dominated part of the world, and the world had to adjust to its mores, ideas and language (2003). This is a complex process which began as a reaction towards the Soviet threat, but it also reflects the perpetuation of the notion of exceptionalism, introduced in the first chapter of this dissertation. Reactionary or no, this trend defined the face of US foreign policy for the decades to come. The next part of the review will reveal how cultural globalization is related to another important concept – neo-imperialism in US Foreign Policy.

2.3. Works related to neo-imperialism in US Foreign Policy

The export of popular culture and the export of democracy in this dissertation are viewed as tools of US Foreign Policy. Therefore it is important to mention some works related to neo-imperialism in US Foreign Policy. Authors such as Boyle (2008) Cox (2003) focus on the American imperialism as a manifestation of cultural globalization, and the growing use of soft methods, related to the spread of American influence. These authors offer an interpretation of neo-imperialism, which is subtle and relates to the US Foreign Policy as a means to corroborate existing American identity of provider and protector of weak countries. Gowan (2004a; b) looks at American imperialism as an expression of the American grand strategy for liberalism and democracy. He focuses on the political strategies, which America has maintained in order to keep its supremacy as actor in foreign affairs and its interests as a capitalist state. He looks at the patterns in US foreign policy as a prerequisite for the attempts to build a world order, which would be suitable for the American vision of democracy and freedom. Although Gowan rejects the notion that the world order was built as containment to Soviet communism, he admits that it was the US which bound the Western world against the Soviet threat during the Cold War. In this sense Gowan sees the American grand strategy as a political-military one, which also had economic goals, related to the political preservation of American business interests and centres of capitalist power. Similarly, Cox and Boyle focus on the American strategy as an attempt of the country to preserve its position of a global leader, through intensive export of the notion of democracy, political cooperation and open trade. They also contemplate on how other countries perceive the US in the context of its attempt to preserve its national identity. Cox and Boyle suggest that it was these notions of exceptionalism and superiority, embedded in US foreign policy, which made countries from the Middle East and Latin America hostile to the US, and point at the rise of radical Islam and fundamentalism as one of the counter-reactions towards US imperialist behaviour since 9/11. Chomsky and Archar (2008) and Ikenberry (2008) develop this argument and even pose criticisms towards the US inability to cope with its own prescriptions for democracy and universal peace, through a violation of human rights in a series of foreign interventions in the Middle East, instigated, ironically enough in the name of peace and democracy. Little (2002) offers an interesting explanation of the connection between ideology and the export of democracy, and reflects upon American Orientalism and the ways in which the US has come to view some nations from the Middle East as “other” and “foreign”. This “otherness”, Little suggests, has become the dividing line between them and us in US foreign policy, and also a turning point for the classification of nations or communities, where democracy of the American type is still on the demand side. The Orientalism in US foreign policy towards nations from the Middle East is explained by Little as an ideological construction, embedded in the notions of Manifest Destiny and American Exceptionalism (Hunt, Levy) explained in the first chapter of this dissertation. Similarly, Fouskas and Gokay (2008), Nau (2002) and Mead (2001) focus on US presence on the global stage as a fusion between power and ideals, and the resulting convergence of countries recipients to the American values of economic liberalization as a means for democratic reform. Despite the numerous occasions, in which this approach has led to mistakes, it is also a distinctive feature of the American grand strategy, which is to remain unchanged despite and because of the rise of Asin superpowers, these authors conclude. Here it is interesting to note that while the above works manage to explain the ideological and political roots of the export of democracy, which is envisioned as a tool, they offer little, of any clarification of how this tool actually works upon other nations and the challenges, which arise from its implementation. The next section will fill this gap and will attempt to place the observations in this literature review in a theoretical framework.

2.4. Theoretical framework

The literature review will conclude with the allocation of the main ideas in a concrete theoretical framework. To understand the theoretical implications of the export of democracy to many authors means to simply understand the theories of foreign policy, as related with the classical and critical theories of international relations. This is not an appropriate method for classifying the theoretical knowledge on the subject, firstly because it oversimplifies the matter, and secondly because a clear cut distinction between the theories is impossible because of the abstract nature of the subject. Another option is to attempt to understand the export of democracy through proper imperialist theories, proposed by Kautsky (1914) (Ultraimperialism or superimperialism) and Wallerstein (2003) (World-System Theory). Both theories overemphasize the role of capital and its accumulation as a means of powerful states to dominate over weaker ones. None of the two however, mentions the role of identity, ideology and their historical projections – issues, which are crucial for understanding the subject of research in this dissertation. A more relevant, although less theoretical observation is proposed by authors such as Hunt (1987) and Levy (2001) who argue that identity is crucial element in the formation of US foreign policy, and the notion of exceptionalism, as a historically developed collective psychology, is what triggered the export of democracy. Although their observations cannot be classified as theories of imperialism or neo-imperialism in the classic sense, they offer a flexible framework for understanding the export of democracy as the manifestation of neo-imperialism. For the purposes of this review, Hunt and Levy’s observations will be classed as identity neo-imperialism. If Hunt and Levy offer an explanation of neo-imperialism as a projection of national identity, Joseph Nye (1994) develops the concept of soft power as an approach to world politics. Although he refuses to label the existing world order as neo-imperialistic and the US as a new empire, his concept of soft power, as a means for achieving political power, rests upon the idea of the spread of values and culture. Nye’s analysis, although designed to explain the state of the world system after the end of the Cold War, can serve as a sufficient basis for understanding the export of democracy and culture, in the case of the US. Nye’s approach is not dedicated to theoretically classifying neo-imperialism, but it does reveal the connection between soft power, culture and values, and its translation into policies.

2.5 Summary

This literature review has revealed that there is an intricate connection between cultural globalization, American identity and notions of exceptionalism and concepts such as soft power, which offer a new approach for understanding the export of democracy. Literature on the subject suggests that the export of democracy is a manifestation of US neo-imperialism, although a sufficient gap in research exists on works which directly relate American exceptionalism, the export of democracy and soft power. Therefore the three sections outlined in this literature review therefore remain unconnected. The reminder of this dissertation will fill this gap in research, by ascertaining the connection between culture and the export of democracy as manifestations of American neo-imperialism.

Chapter 3
The Image of an Empire

3.1 Introduction

As previous chapters have already highlighted, neo-imperialism is an abstract concept, which is not directly measurable in the context of existing foreign policy strategies. This is largely due to the fact that it is interpretative and related with the re-construction of already existing social and political habits, in the context of the current political environment. In order to operationalize the concept of neo-imperialism, and to make it at least partly quantifiable, the author will look at neo-imperialism as an economic strategy for the accumulation of wealth, on which the idea of the export of democracy lies. Specific examples will be provided to illustrate the connection between the two.

3.2 The imperial face of a liberal strategy

The concept of neo-imperialism is not new, and despite its rhetoric revival in the last decade, it has existed as a policy since the beginning of the twentieth century. Although in the beginning it was considered by many to be a hidden strategy, America’s neo-imperialism in foreign affairs has many recognizable manifestations, such as the export of democracy and democratic structures to the developing world, or in countries, torn by instability and conflict.

Observers like Ikenberry (1999) and Nye (1990) have famously argued that this is a strategy, related with America’s liberal agenda for human rights, civil freedoms and social equality, embedded in the very notion of the American dream. The historic juxtaposition between the American dream and its expression as a doctrine of liberal world order has led many to the conclusion, that it was the result of America’s attempt to preserve its position as a political and economic leader. What Ikenberry (1999) calls “distinctively liberal grand strategy” is built around the idea, that stable political order can be encouraged and maintained through democratic politics, economic interdependence, international institutions, and market liberalism. These have been the signposts of the liberal strategy that some recognize as neo-imperialism (Fouskas & Gokay, 2008; Nau, 2002; Mead, 2001). Neo-imperialism can have many progenies and forms, and different observers put emphasis on different components. For proponents of the view of capitalist imperialism such as Gowan (2008) and Wallerstein (2003), the industrial dynamism of the American capitalist primacy in the post-war period is a priority. For those who observe the political implications of neo-imperialism, such as Ikenberry (1999) and Chua (2004), the export of democratic structures in the context of the American liberal tradition is the most important component. In any case however, the American presence in the post-war world is to be described by a term, which is invariably close to the notion of empire. To illustrate why this is a valid point, it is important to split the neo-imperialist concept into two parts – economic liberalism and the export of democracy. Both will be looked at closely.

3.3 Economic liberalism and America’s road to wealth

One of the tenets of the image of global empire is related with the export of economic liberalism. Those who share the view of the global empire are adamant, that the export of economic globalism is the result of historic political and military expansionism, embedded in the American national identity (Ikenberry, 1999; Gowan, 2008; Levy, 2001; Hunt, 1983). Some of its historic expressions can be related to President Theodor Roosevelt’s famous Dollar Diplomacy, and Franklin Roosevelt’s Good Neighbour Policy, interpreted by some as a form of trade regional expansionism, undertaken by the United States (LaFaber, 2008, Little, 2002; Hunt, 1983). The Dollar Diplomacy (1913) was coined as a term by Theodor Roosevelt and was implemented as a system of foreign loans to countries from Latin America and Asia, in the early twentieth century. It was the policy continuation of the 1853 Monroe doctrine, and established the economic supremacy of the United States in Latin America. Its political replication could be found in President Franklin Roosevelt’s Good Neighbour Policy only twenty years later (1933). It was related with the principle of non-intervention of foreign powers in the affairs of Latin American countries (LaFaber, 2008). More importantly, this policy was related with the establishment of new reciprocal trade agreements, and economic opportunities, which would establish a leading role of the United States in the region.

These early policies were important in establishing the sphere of economic influence for the United States and the expansion of the markets for its growing industrial sector. The turn of the twentieth century saw the first signs of the rising American economic model, which would soon lay the foundations of international organizations, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The Dollar Diplomacy and the Good Neighbour Policy are both evidence for the rising capitalist model and economic liberalism, which the United States started to export in Latin America, and later on in Asia. The first place where it exported its economic models however was Europe. In the years following WWI and during the Great Depression, the European countries suffered what historian Mark Mazower describes as the “crisis of capitalism” (Mazower, 1999: 106-141). The staggering levels of unemployment and the scarcity of economic resources, which the European countries had to face after the war, led to some trade unionists and industrialists to call for an economic model, based on the American one – high wages, high volume production and high productivity (Mazower, 1999: 113). This was the initial stage of what Mazower calls “the Americanization of Europe”, which would take place in the 1950s (113). Despite the fact that the American model was not accepted very well by all of the countries, and as a result the term empire was attached a necessarily negative and invasive connotation, the American economic mode and industrial dynamism became a landmark of the industrial relations after WWI. It is a widespread view that this type of economic expansion was based on the model of core-periphery, with the spread of capitalist markets to serve the production needs of the United States. According to some Marxist theorists such as Wallerstein (2003), the United States was the production core, which would attract other capitalist nations, in order to expand its production and therefore political influence in the world. Based on this core – periphery model some argue, America would turn the other capitalist centres into “members of an American-managed security zone”, (Gowan, 2008: 348). This economic gravitation towards the American controlled production periphery has been related to another type of political arrangement – security management of allies. The economic dominance established by the US in the post-war era led to the creation of security management model, with the United States at its core. In other words, the United Stated pledged through the concept of collective security embedded in the NATO principles, that it would protect its allies. Most of the times, these allies were also the United States’ partners in trade, and the US-centred security establishments triggered the construction of an integrated capitalist world economy. In this light, it is important to mention that the rise of American capitalism was not only the result of the containment of the communist threat during the Cold War.

There is no doubt that the Soviet presence played an important role in the American military-political approach, which found its replication in international development. The countries gravitating around the American capitalist core have also become part of the cooperative strategies, related to international development and a globalist agenda for human rights and global peace. In this sense, there has been a spillover from economics and industrialization, into politics and military influence, with the United States at the core of this transition. Many are willing to argue that the most obvious expression of this global model of economic interdependence was the development programmes in the 1980s and 1990s, which exacerbated global inequalities, and placed America at the centre of this political arrangement. The structural adjustment loans and the Washington consensus, which were designed to enhance the economic development of the poorest regions in Africa, Latin America and the republics of the former Soviet Union were based on open trade, rapid privatization and austerity (Stiglitz, 2002; Easterly, 2002; Sen, 1999). According to the critics of the development mechanisms, set by the capitalist core, these programmes corroborated the presence of a less benign American empire, where exploitation and economic dependency rather than economic recovery and eradication of poverty were the outcomes (Stiglitz, 2002; Easterly, 2002). It is now widely observed that the policies set by the United States, related with the export of trade liberalism in countries where there were no proper economic institutions had resulted in failures. Examples from the former Soviet republics and the Asian recession of the 1990s are still fresh and the unsatisfactory response from the countries recipients – not a reminiscence of the past. American economic liberalism, some development experts argue, failed to create sustainable growth and more jobs because of what critics call the one-size-fits-all approach (Stiglitz, 2002; Easterly, 2002). Many developing countries did not have the institutional capacity to meet the criteria set by the Washington consensus and the structural adjustment programmes, which opened their borders and removed any signs of government protectionism. These reforms made the recipient countries exposed to the risks of global trade, and their production and export rates could not meet the requirements of a very competitive global market. However, the purpose of this paper is not to provide an assessment of the development programmes, set by the US or US-centred institutions, but to trace the imperial element in the policies of economic liberalism, implemented by the United States since WWII. The economic models of capitalism and open trade were exported to the developed world, and the United States was at the centre of a capitalist-military alliance, where other capitalist oriented countries gravitated towards it. In the 1980s and onwards, these models were also exported in the developing world for the economic recovery of the poverty stricken regions. It is to be mentioned these economic strategies were designed to create markets, favourable for the American capitalist visions of productivity. They have expanded the US influence in the developing regions, and according to many, have sustained an economic hegemony, characterized by enhanced capitalist strategy, and especially devised market exchanges.

3.4 From economic wealth to the export of democracy

As already mentioned, the capitalist mode of production embraced by the US started as a historic trend and continued as a socio-economic one, nut it has a political dimension. The previous section mentioned the economic-security alliance, established during the Cold War, in which the United States was the guardian of states with capitalist interests, similar to its own. However, in order to illustrate clearly the tenets of American neo-imperialism is important to mention its political dimension.

The spread of American democracy has often been equalized with what Joe Nye famously called “soft power” in the 1990s. The concept rests on the assumption that in order to make other actors in the international system want the same things that you want, you need to have certain resources and hold a favourable bargaining position. The originality of Nye’s concept comes from the fact that these sources of power were not necessarily military. In the post Cold War era American neo-imperialism was a subtle and less of a strategic phenomenon, because it was related with the ideological spread of American values and democracy to the world’s most troubled regions. After the demise of the Soviet Union however, this stance obtained a different shade, because there was no ideology, omnipotent enough to compete it. Therefore the spread of the American democratic ideal was often compared to hegemony and imperialism. It was the source but also the justification of a revised agenda for a world order, where human security and cooperation in the name of peace and stability became the norm. After the end of the Cold War, territorial invasion for the purpose of economic gain was unacceptable, and new means of power replaced the classic state-to-state conflict (Shaw, 2005; Smith, 2006; Kaldor, 1999). A new form of colonialism, characterized by the exercise of soft power and political presence began to exists, and despite the fact the here the term colonialism is deployed metaphorically, the outcomes are still related to expanded (although not necessarily territorial) influence and presence. It is important to differentiate soft power from hard power, and in this Nye’s observation can be considered quite useful. He writes that “soft power rests on the ability to set the political agenda in a way that shapes the preferences of others […] The ability to establish preferences tends to be associated with intangible power resources, such as an attractive culture, ideology and institutions […] If the United States represents values that others want to follow, it will cost us less to lead (Nye, 1990: 552). In Nye’s terms, a country can obtain the positions it wants to obtain without necessarily coercing others, but by making them want what it wants. In this sense, soft power is the ability not only to influence and persuade, but to “entice and attract” (Nye, 1990:552). Nye’s definition of soft power reveals not only the political dimension of neo-imperialism, but the ideological platform, on which the American society rests. Therefore, discussing the political parameters of neo-imperialism is a formidable task. As mentioned earlier, it is difficult to measure, and its existence in the international system is not entirely commensurate with economic and military power, or existing structures within the system itself.

Soft power in this dissertation is understood as the ability of the United States to inspire similar cultural and political models in different parts of the world, by exporting its ideals and visions. One of the most direct expressions of soft power is the export of democracy, and the American ambition to bring democracy to the world’s most troubled regions. The case of Iraq is only one of the myriad of cases, where the American democratic model has been exported in non-Western and non-democratic societies, and has provoked a heated discussion, as well as criticism and controversy. The American democratic model in the post Cold War era here is discussed as one of the tenets of neo-imperialism. It shows how modern foundations of power have moved away from the traditional military, territorial and economic capabilities, and have shaped a new stage in international affairs, with the United States at its core. The transformation of democracy from an American cultural tradition into a source of foreign policy and means to gain influence in a global world is easy to detect if we look at the case of Iraq, where efforts have been directed not only towards military and financial assistance, but also towards the political reconstruction of a heavily traditional society, and the establishment of Western political institutions. Whether the endeavours of the United States to bring democracy in Iraq have been successful or no is a matter of another discussion. For the purpose of this paper it is more important to identify how this process of exporting democracy relates to American neo-imperialism.

The democratic ideal has already been discussed as on of the most important dimensions of the American dream and the historically constructed notion that it is the freest country, and its values and ideals can transform the world. However, in order to measure the export of democracy as a source of foreign policy, we need parameters, in which to accommodate this view. Archibugi (2006) proposes three possible criteria or dimensions, which can make the export of democracy detectable and thus researchable in the context of developing, non-Western, ethnically mixed societies. The first concept he points at is the internal context and the levels of support, which the existing regime enjoys. The second one is related with the democratic history of the country – recipient, and whether it has enjoyed democracy and political freedoms in the past. The third one is related to aggression and the means, which have been used to implement democracy and democratic institutions. In the case of Iraq, it is not difficult to observe how these three criteria have (not) been fulfilled. Saddam’s regime was detested by the people of Iraq, especially by ethnic groups such as the Kurds, because of their poor treatment and human rights violation. In this sense the export of democracy was a viable alternative to an oppressive and monolithic regime. The second criteria which is related to restoration, has not been fulfilled in the case of Iraq. The country did not have a history of democratic rule, especially if one bears in mind the strong presence of the Baath Party since the 1960s. The third criterion however, is where the implementation of democracy in the case of Iraq raises some concerns. During the invasion, it was used as a justification for military intervention. In the eyes of its critics, the invasion of Iraq was disguised as a larger economic project, with oil and economic gain at its core (Chomsky, 2006; Chomsky & Archar, 2008). Some experts were even willing to argue that democracy was forced upon the Iraqi people, which led to exacerbation of the ideological and political tensions between the Middle East and the West, and the United States more specifically (Chomsky, 2006; Chomsky & Archar, 2008).

Apart from giving us a clear view of how the export of democracy can be measured, the three criteria proposed by Archibugi provide the opportunity to see how democracy as an ideal can be quantified and utilized to fulfil particular foreign policy agendas. American neo-imperialism has been corroborated by the export of democracy, and Iraq is only one of the examples of how democracy can be a continuation of capitalism and military ambitions.

3.5 Summary

This chapter has provided a critical overview of America’s road from wealth and economic primacy to an exporter of democracy. It is largely a transition which began as a historical ideal, embedded in the notion of the American dream and the exceptionalism of the American nation, and became a powerful source of US foreign policy after WWII. This chapter has observed the linkages between the accumulation of capital, and the preservation of other capitalist societies. It has also observed the establishment of a security-military sphere of influence, enhanced by industrial dynamism and political ascendancy through economic means. The basis of the export of democracy therefore has been the economic supremacy and capitalist ideology embraced by the United States. Although a core-periphery model of a neo-empire might seem like an oversimplification to some, its format helps us identify the economic relations existing between the United States and the rest of the capitalist countries on a global scale. It also helps us detect the sources of neo-imperialism, which is the topic of this dissertation. One last tenet of neo-imperialism will be discussed in the following chapter – the export of culture and entertainment.

Chapter 4
Cultural imperialism and the United States

4.1 Introduction

So far we have explored neo-imperialism as a pattern of political presence, measurable through the economic strength, acquired by the United States in the post-war period, and as the export of democracy, resulting from accumulated wealth and capitalist mode of production. This chapter will focus on one last tenet of neo-imperialism which relates to the export of American popular culture, as another identifiable dimension of Nye’s concept of soft power. The spread of American values, movies, music, sports and food has marked a new, ‘made in America stage’ in the world of entertainment and consumerism, which followed immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

4.2 Culture as a commodity

First in order to understand how culture has been exported by the United States, it is important to explain how it came to exist as a commodity. Marcuse (2002) famously argued that industrialization has involved individuals in the process of production and consumerism, which creates “false needs” and the artificial projection of these needs in a system of excessive consumerism, enhanced by advertising, media images and industrial relations. His most important contribution however is the idea that consumerism is a form of social control, which makes individuals dependent on the constant consummation of “cultural goods” and the ways their perceptions and morals are shaped depends on the trends, dictated by the system of production. In this sense Marcuse’s idea relates very closely with contemporary consumerism and partly explains the processes of commodification of culture in the case of the United States. It also relates to Hall’s vision of culture as a theatre of popular fantasies (1996). In the context of capitalism, images are created to meet certain demands, and these images are perceived by the audience (McRobbie, 2005; Barkers, 2008). Through mass campaigning and marketing, these images become accepted. Sooner or later, they become a social discourse and thus easily identifiable as a norm. When the norms are created, they need obedience in order to exist as such, and this obedience comes from the consumers, who follow the false needs, to use Marcuse’s term, because they identify themselves with certain cultural products or trends (Marcuse, 2002). A good example comes from the creative industries, the music and film industry in particular, where power lies within those who create particular products (McRobbie, 2005). The messages that celebrities and pop idols send to people become a norm of social behaviour, and are gradually transformed into a social discourse, or to use another term suggested by Marcuse– a form of social control (2002). In this sense it would not be exaggerated to say that popular culture does not really give us what we want, but what we think we want. It is not a form of freedom of expression, but in contemporary societies – a form of social control. Popular culture is supposed to break the cliches and transcend the traditional confinement of society, but in reality, it often fosters stereotypes.

In order to understand the commodification of culture, it is also important to understand the connection between culture and capitalism. There are two important factors, which have largely shaped the contours of modern culture. These two factors, as outlined by Rutherford, are the “utilization of culture and knowledge as economic source”, and the influence of neo-liberal ideas on economic policy, which sought to enforce individual freedom through market deregulation (Rutherford, 2008: 9). This resulted in a general trend of eradication of economic collectivism, and optimization of the conditions for capital accumulation. The latter explains why popular culture is fostered by capitalism – its mechanisms for economic freedom allow mass production, and mass consumption. They also allow the commodification of culture, which becomes commercial, because it is easily transferable from one social group to the other. In other words, capitalism does not only allow the commodification of culture, it does so by removing the constraints of the class. Class divisions have no significance when it comes to popular culture, because the latter is accessible for everyone. The major transformation of world markets has largely impacted the production of culture and its perception by the general public. In a widely industrialized and deregulated market, it was easier for culture to become accessible, and thus – more easily consumed. America has been at the heart of this process of commodification of culture, because of the advent of technology and the economic might, which the country gained in the post-war period. In the last couple of decades the United States has become the symbol of popular culture, and the world’s biggest entertainment exporter. The reasons for this are obvious — America’s economic wealth, enormous and versatile market of consumers, as well as its modes of economic production. These factors have made it the world’s largest exporter of popular culture as a commodity. Another reason why in the age of globalization the American cultural exports have found unlimited markets is the overall trend for increased levels of disposable income and wealth, despite economic turmoil and regional recessions in Asia and Latin America (Washington Post, 1998). This has made America’s products much more affordable, and the rise of the internet and social media has made them accessible worldwide.

The sociology of this mass cultural phenomenon is interesting, because it reveals the fusion between economic power, capitalism, culture, religion and national character – all of them manifested in the rapid spread of images and products, made in America. These images and products send universal messages, which penetrate even geographically remote regions and gradually become the social norm in the sense implied by Marcuse (2002). Another reason for this is the fact that global society has been transformed into a mass society, which has demands for mass entertainment and culture. American television, video, and movies have found more and more channels of distribution in the last several decades, and their utilization is possible only in the context of capitalism and economic freedom – two of the progenies of neo-imperialism, already discussed in the previous chapters.

Having identified the sociological and theoretical foundations of the American commodification of culture, the next section will focus on its practical dimensions.

4.3 The dimensions of exported culture

The dimensions of the export of American culture are easily quantifiable if one looks at the production speed of popular American products, such as the rate with which the MacDonald’s chain is growing or the increased popularity of Blockbuster movies. In 1996, the international sales of software and entertainment products totalled $ 60.2 billion, which was more than any other US industry, according to Commerce Department data (Washington Post, 1998). Since the end of the Cold War, the export of intellectual property from the United States has had a rise of 94 per cent in terms of dollars, the same records indicate. American popular culture and the symbols that it carries have permeated each sphere of public life, and have shaped new trans-cultural perceptions, images and visions of how societies need to communicate. America’s accumulated economic wealth has allowed for the export of culture in a borderless world of free trade and market liberalism, designed as its own socio-economic platform as the previous chapter has shown. In this sense, the United States has used its economic strength and enormous production capacity in the post war period to establish the boundaries of its own growing industry, with culture being at the peak of this massive production. It is also true that many of the countries, which are recipients of American mass culture, are not able to produce for themselves, which makes the entertainment industry exported by the United States a convenient filler of this economic gap.

4.4 Culture and neo-imperialism

Previous sections have theorized on the sources of mass culture and its recipients in global society. In order to understand exactly where the connection between culture and neo-imperialism lies we need to discuss one important feature of mass culture or what Marcuse calls the culture industry (2002). As already mentioned, culture industry can be a form of social control, and a shaper of preferences, choices and popular demands. This does not mean that it is easy to show how culture can exist as a form of social control, despite the fact that its depersonalization in the American context is one of the landmarks of modernity. In order to understand how cultural imperialism works, it is important to get back to the notion of soft power, developed by Nye (1990). The other necessary concept – the commodification of culture, we have already explained in the previous section. Cultural imperialism has been a source of American foreign policy in the last couple of decades, in the sense that it has established its own norms, categories and classifications, which are easy to grasp and absorb by the public. The ideas and images, designed by American culture and its various products from MacDonald’s to “ER” are a reflection of the basics of the American dream and despite its numerous variations they bear the features of liberty, freedom and mass capitalism. To deploy Nye’s concept in the context of culture therefore is not difficult. By penetrating global and domestic markets, the United States has left its strategy of coercion, and has begun to use what Nye calls cooperation and enticement instead. In the last several decades American popular culture has demonstrated the ability of the United States to attract and entice others, which has lead to a gradual and almost subtle universalization of values, cultural norms and beliefs. To say that American values have eradicated cultural differences of course would be naive, especially in the context of a multipolar world, where ideological and sub-state conflict has become the new type of war (Kaldor, 1999). But to ignore the almost imperial dimension of America’s influence in terms of values and norms is just as unreasonable.

4.5 Summary

This chapter has summarized the main aspects of American popular culture and its commodification in the age of capitalism and excessive consumerism. It has explained the connection between the American accumulation of capital, the economic framework of mass production and the export of culture as its content. It has also provided explanation of how culture can become a means of social categorization, and can lead to newly constructed forms of socio-economic normativity. To a large extent, the United States has been the manufacturer of new cultural norms, and this most pervasive aspect of its “soft power” approach has become a landmark of the post-Cold War order, as much as it has been enhanced by it.

Chapter 5
Conclusion

The author of dissertation had a formidable and challenging task – to quantify and to a certain extent to measure a concept which, despite its popularity and polemic attractiveness, is abstract and for many remains obscure. American neo-imperialism is not detectable, because it is not a tactics, or a particular strategy. On the other hand, its tenets have become the main sources of US foreign policy after the end of the Cold War. They were transformed from historical predispositions, resting on national ideology, into economic models of the organization of capital, and later on into democratic models and culture, which is being exported as America’s greatest commodity.

As this dissertation has attempted to show, American neo-imperialism is a mixture of power and ideals. Its deep historical roots relate to the notion of American exceptionalism. These concepts, which became primordial to the American national identity, were later on translated into economic expansionism, the accumulation of wealth and the establishment of core-periphery model, with America at its centre. The growing influence of the United States, enhanced by its strong presence in the world markets, made the export of democracy and democratic political models possible – an outcome, which many have classified as America’s liberal strategy for world peace and cooperation. Finally, the export of culture and mass entertainment became another ostensible element in the American neo-imperialist equation, and also a strong shaper of categories, norms and a whole new set of values. It is interesting to note that while in this dissertation these processes were presented as chronological follow ups, in the post war period they have existed almost simultaneously. This is because these are not historical processes, and their attempted ‘eventalization’ in this dissertation has been for the mere purpose of a clearer presentation of the arguments. In reality, the processes, which have constituted the complexity of the American neo-liberalism, do not exist in a perfect sequence, and their imprint on the world will provoke intense debate, admiration and as well as criticism in the decades to come.

Bibliography

Archibugi, D. (2006) “Can Democracy be Exported”Widener Law Review, Vol 13

Barkers, C. (2008) Cultural studies:: Theory and practice, 3rd edition , London: Sage

Boyle, M. (2008) “The War on Terror in American grand strategy”, International Affairs 84:2, pp. 191-209

Brown, D.C. (2003) Globalization and America since 1945 Scholarly Resources INC: Wilmington

Bush, G.W. (2002), “Text of Bush’s Speech at West Point”, Published on 1 June, New York Times

Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/01/international/02PTEX-WEB.html

Cerny, P.G. (1990). The Changing Architecture of Politics:Structure, Agency and the Future of the State, London

Chomsky, N. & Achcar, G. (2008) Perilous Power. The Middle East and US Foreign Policy. Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War and Justice. Penguin Book, London

Chomsky, N. (2006). Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy. Penguin Books Ltd., London, UK

Chua, A. (2004) “Our Most Dangerous export”, Guardian, Saturday, February 28

Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/feb/28/globalisation.iraq

Cox, M. (2003) “Empire’s Back in Town. Or America’s Imperial Temptation – Again”. Millennium: Journal of International Studies. ISSN 0305-8298. Vol.32, No.1, pp. 1-27

Cox, M. & Stokes, D. (2008) “Introduction: US Foreign Policy- Past, Present and Future”, in US Foreign Policy, Cox, M. and Stokes, D. (eds), Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 3-23

Gowan, P. (2004a) “Contemporary Intra-Core Relations and World-Systems Theory”, Journal of World Systems Research X 2: 471-500

_______ (2004b) “Triumphing Towards International Disaster. The Impasse in American Grand Strategy”, Critical Asian Studies 36 (1) 3-36

________ (2008) “Global Economy”, in US Foreign Policy, Michael Cox and Doug Stokes (eds), Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 335-357

Deudney, D. & Meiser, J. (2008) “American Exceptionalism” in US Foreign Policy, Cox, M. and Stokes, D. (eds), Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 25-39

Easterly, W. (2002) The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics. Cambridge, Ma: MIT Press.

Featherstone, M. (1990) Global culture: nationalism, globalization, modernity London: SAGE

Fouskas,V. & Gokay, B. (2005) The New American Imperialism: Bush’s War on Terror and Blood for Oil. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International

Hall, S., Morley, D. & Chen, K.H. (1996) Stuart Hall: Critical dialogues in cultural studies, London: Routledge

Hopper, P. (2007) Understanding Cultural Globalization, Polity Press

Howard, M (2002), quoted in Boyle, M. (2008) “The War on Terror in American grand strategy”, International Affairs 84:2, pp. 191-209

Hunt, M. (1987) Ideology and US Foreign Policy. Yale University Press

Ikenberry, J. (2008). “America’s Security Trap” in US Foreign Policy, Cox, M. and Stokes, D. (ed.), Oxford University Press, pp. 421 – 429

Kagan, R. (2003). Of Paradise and Power. America and Europe in the New World Order. Alfred Knopf, New York

Kaldor, M. (1999) New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era. Cambridge: Polity Press

Kautsky, K (1914): “Ultra-imperialism”, September, From Die Neue Zeit,, Available at:

http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1914/09/ultra-imp.htm

Retrieved: 01/03/2012

LaFaber, W. (2008). “The US Rise to World Power 1776-1945”, in US Foreign Policy, Cox, M. and Stokes, D. (eds), Oxford University Press, New York, p. 45-63

Levy, S.M. (2001). American Exceptionalism and US Foreign Policy. Palgrave, New York

Little, D. (2002) American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945, I.B Taurus, London

Marcuse, H. (2002) One Dimensional Man. Studies in the ideology of advanced industrial society, London: Routledge

Mazower, M. (1999) Dark Continent. Europe’s Twentieth Century, London: Penguin Books

McRobbie, A. (2005), The Uses of Cultural Studies, London: Sage

Mead, W. R. (2001) Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How it Changed the World, Routledge, New York

Muravchik, J. (1991). Exporting Democracy: Fulfilling America’s Destiny. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute Press. pp. 91–118.

Nau, H.R. (2002) At Home and Abroad: Identity and Power in American Foreign Policy, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY

Nye, J. S. (1990) ‘Soft power’, Foreign Policy (electronic source), issue 80 (Fall), pp.153-71.

Robertson , R. (1992) Globalization: social theory and global culture London: SAGE

Rutherford, J. (2008) “The culture of Capitalism”, Seminar Paper for 23 of November, Soundings, London: Lawrence & Wishart, Limited

Available at: http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/journals/soundings/articles/02%20s38%20%20rutherford.pdf

Retrieved 08.03.2012

Rosenau, J.N. (1990) Turbulence in World Politics: A Theory and Continuity, London

____________(2000) “Governance in a New Global Order”, in The Global Transformations Reader. An Introduction to the Globalization Debate, 2nd edition, D. Held and A. McGrew (ed), Cambridge, Polity Press, pp. 223-235

Sen, A. (1999) Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Shaw, M. (2005) The New Western Way of War: Risk Transfer war and its Crisis in Iraq Cambridge: Polity Press

Smith, R. (2006) The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World London: Penguin

Stiglitz, J. (2002) Globalization and its Discontents. London: Penguin Books.

Tay, S. (2010) Asia Alone: The Dangerous Post-Crisis Divide from America John Wiley and Sons

Tomlinson, J. (1999) Globalization and culture Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Trubovitz, P. (2008) “Regional Shifts and US Foreign Policy”, in US Foreign Policy, Cox, M. and Stokes, D. (eds), Oxford University Press, New York, p. 146-160

Wallerstein, I. (2003) Historical Capitalism with Capitalist Civilization London: Verso

Walt, S. (2001) “Beyond bin Laden. Reshaping US Foreign Policy”, International Security, Vol. 26, No. 3, pp.56-78

Washington Post (1998) “American Pop Penetrates World Wide”, by Paul Farhi and Megan Rosenfeld, 25 October, Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/mia/part1.htm

Retrieved 08.03.2012

Weinberg, A.K. (1935), Manifest Destiny Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore

Wittkopf, E., Kegley, C. and Scott, J. M. (2003). American Foreign Policy, 6th ed. Thomson and Wadsworth, USA

Zakaria, F. (1998) From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America’s World Role. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press

Categories
Free Essays

Discuss the role of gang culture and ideas of masculinity within youth culture.

Introduction

There is an increasing concern over the issue of youth gang culture in various parts of the UK. While there are no specific figures over the increase, according to research, the level of people who are in gangs with less than 15 years of age has doubled within the last four years.

The existence of such gangs differs with every region. For example, in Manchester it is estimated that youngsters are initially joining gangs within the age of 12 and 14 and many are becoming involved as young as 9 or 10. There are even generations of gang members wherein there are children of earlier gang members joining the same gangs and following the gang culture. Such an increasing growth of youth joining the gangs has created issues like gang culture impacting upon schools.
Conceptual meaning
The definition of a gang has been quite subjective so far in the literature reviewed, however one can draw the conclusion that gangs are not a singular phenomenon. This definition gets more complex due to the social lives of young people who form groups in their schools. An example of this could be a gang of youths wherein they have a name for the group like ‘Fire Rangers’, wear similar clothes, listen to common songs and have their own slang with a common hangout place (Anderson, 1994).

Whilst not all violence between youths may stem from gang culture, most of the recorded conflicts are due to gang fights. At the same time it is not feasible to create a demarcation within violent behavior either descriptively or analytically since violence may have elements of other behaviour as well. Also, common group and other characteristics occur in gangs which lead to gang formation, identity, and behavior.

Historically, gangs have dominated most debates and generated an interest among various researchers ever since the beginning of the twentieth century. Generally, most fights between two or more groups are studied because this is attributed as a key, if not defining, trait of gangs. According to Frederic Thrasher, the first social scientist to investigate gang culture systematically, gangs are “an interstitial group originally formed spontaneously, and then integrated through conflict” (Thrasher, 1927). There have been many other investigations which confirm the significance of conflict within gang culture; particularly with regard to the formation of gangs and their identity. Violent conflict is also significant with regards to the lives of the members of gangs.

Criminal tendencies

In a research by Malcolm Klein, he focused on “the versatile behavior repertoire of street gangs,” and added “commitment to a criminal orientation” within the study’s central criteria. Klein tried defining the issue by paying particular attention towards “the tipping point beyond which we say, aha—that sure sounds like a street gang to me” (Klein, 1995). This angle suggests that “play groups” are not gangs. However, what is confirmed is that “quite ordinary play groups often become delinquent and thus acquire the gang appellation” (Klein, 1995).

This is evident in the current literature review that shows a fair display of aggression in male adolescent gangs including gangs that are supervised or sponsored by adults. One of the key factors in such gangs is the status symbol related to fighting ability especially in males coming from families living on benefits. In a research by Walter Miller on gangs, he discovered “7 out of 10 aggressive acts committed by members of the Junior Outlaws were directed at others within the gang” (Miller,Geertz & Cutter, 1961). About 90% of violent acts which were observed were actually verbal acts, rather than physical.
This also showed that most of the gang members reflected upon these gang attitudes and behaviors which often led to a developed sense of group solidarity and cohesion. Moreover, this has helped in the facilitation of collective acts, and secured group relations between members. Ultimately, it is ensuring reciprocity in intergroup relations, and “displaying personal qualities that served as criteria of group acceptance” and “prestige conferral” (Miller, Geertz, & Cutter, 1961).

Graffiti

Studies have shown that graffiti is a significant aspect in forming group or gang identity. It is often seen as a symbolism for a respective gang, or conflict (Klein, 1995). The terms “taggers” and “tagger groups” are associated with conflict-oriented gangs because of disputes regarding graffiti. Ray Hutchison and Charles Kyle (1993) studied the features and functions of gang graffiti in the areas of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Chicago in America. The role of graffiti served to identify certain gangs or to mark out a gang territory, or expand a gang’s “image” (Yablonsky, 1962). Also, graffiti can be used as a weapon to slander or deface another gang. However, some graffiti advertises the activity and presence of the gang in the wider society.

Ethnicity

“Ethnic antagonism” has been observed as forming the basis for much of the disputes that arise between a community and the gangs within it (Schwartz, 1987). Street gangs generally comprise of male youths of a similar race or ethnicity. However, there have been exceptions observed by researchers, such as Sanchez-Jankowski (1991) who found that 24% of the gangs were made up of both black and Latino youths. “Black gangs”, as classified by Schwartz, generally comprised young African-Americans or Jamaicans; whereas “Latino gangs” included “Chicanos (Mexican-Americans and Mexicans), Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Salvadorans, and Nicaraguans” (Schwartz, 1987).

It is important to note the different types of street gang violence. There has been an increase in violent acts being committed by “wilding groups” (Decker, 1993). “Conflict gangs” generally are akin to Street Gangs in that they earn a reputation through violence, fighting and criminal acts (Decker, 1993). However, in actual fact these groups do not spend much time in engaging in fights with rival gangs. Wilding Groups have been shown to have little-to-no preexisting structures. They generally comprise of adolescents with a vast majority of their aggressive acts that seem to be the “spur of the moment” events, which target an opportunity (Cummings & Monti, 1993).
Scott Cummings & Monti (1993) observed “that wilding may not be compatible with the protection of turf, the maintenance of group honor and reputation, or the monopolization of the drug marketplace.” These are all popular street gang behaviors. Whilst these observations imply similarities between wilding and street gangs, these remain a subcategory of gangs. Howard Pinderhughes (1993) engaged in a study of young people living in New York at a time when racially and gang motivated crime increased (1980-1990). Pinderhughes observed the gang culture within the two districts that had experienced the most severe levels of gang activity attributed to it.

Pinderhughes study presented an issue with racially motivated antagonism that was founded in a deficit of economic opportunity, fears of “black power”, as well as the perception that minorities were criminals. Whilst the majority of young people who committed ethnically motivated aggression were exiles of their own respective communities, feelings of antagonism were still directed at people who “did not belong” in this area. This became the justifying rationale for “group missions” in which strangers were assaulted at random. Pinderhughes described this situation as “bias-related crimes.”

Whereas drug taking and distribution are so central to the popular image of gang culture, it is necessary to recognize the difference between street gangs and diminutive groups of individuals who operate only to sell drugs or partake in drug-related activities. It is also common for much bigger-scale groups and syndicates to partake in drug-related crime within particular cities or regions. It has been observed that these forms of syndicate “are more entrepreneurial than street gangs and otherwise more instrumental in their behavior” (Klein, 1995). Aggression and violence is at the heart of these syndicates and their drug monopoly, which is similar to street gangs, despite their difference in the manners of etiology and control.

The direct contrast of members of gangs, with young people who are not in gangs, is not often carried out. Thus, investigation into the individual personalities and traits of gang members are not consistent and tend to vary “wildly.” For example, one study depicts gang members as socially adept and intelligent, whilst another shows them to be “emotionally handicapped” or driven by the lust for “sneaky thrills” (Katz, 1988). Lewis Yablonsky (1962) led one of the very first studies into gang culture and characterized the members as “impulsive, unable to distinguish right from wrong or to empathize with others”, and “violently aggressive when their immediate needs were not satisfied.”

Sanchez-Jankowski also rejected the argument that gangs are exiled from society, and subverted the “social disorganization thesis” by showing gangs to be “a formal element” functioning “on an independent and equal basis with all the other organizations active in the low-income community” (Sanchez-Jankowski, 1991). Sanchez-Jankowski observed a number of community services that are offered by gangs, and the services on offer for them. The gangs provide a wide variety of services such as the sustaining of “gang-community traditions” as well as “psychological identification” within the gang culture. For example, offering escorts for old people or disabled people, as well as defense against any possible threat provided by strangers in the community (Elliott, 1994). The services that are offered to gangs from a community can be: “provision of safe havens from which gangs can operate in the facilitation and recruitment of new gang members and provision of information that is vital to the gang” (Sanchez-Jankowski, 1991).

Various races have moved to the United Kingdom and now live in big inner-city districts. The racially motivated acts of aggression in these areas have been seen to be an indication of the racial and social classes which populate the inner-city areas. For example, Black gangs in Acton town, Korean gangs that exist in New Malden, or Bangladeshi gangs who function in places like Bricklane (Bursik & Grasmick, 1993).

Investigations into gang culture and activities do not necessarily use the phrase “social capital”, because almost every study into this area has observed that “traditional forms of social capital produced by conventional intergenerational relationships in families and communities have changed dramatically” (Coleman, 1988). James Coleman (1988) noted that “social capital reflects the quality of personal relationships in individual’s lives and in the lives of communities.” “Social capital”, like physical capital and human capital, has been described as “a personal and a community resource” (Hagan, 1993). There is a vast potential for the economic and human capital to develop amongst youths, especially for people who are disadvantaged by their economic status or level of education. For example, the human capital of parents “is employed exclusively at work or elsewhere outside the home.”

As already mentioned, significant inroads have been made into understanding the way that gangs have been formed, act, and the nature of macro- level forces. The distribution of gang culture amongst youths and an increasing growing underclass are paramount. More than ever, youths are being targeted by business and commercial exploitation which is detached from mainstream adult roles. Thus they confront the economic problems which they cannot influence. Other factors include economic decline, severe unemployment, and the unavailability of “good jobs.” This is widely attributed to street gangs as well as their change into “economic gangs”. This is where class and racial identities become tied together. These are the same factors that drive the intergang relations amongst youths in gangs and the community.

Conclusion

What is evident, therefore, is that the unsupervised groups of young people are more likely to deviate towards criminality or violence. Thus, adult supervision is crucial: as young people require people to give them attention and care. This permits youths to increase their personal independence. Adult intervention within violence-producing or threatening situations can be effective in many situations.

References

1. Anderson, E. (1994, May). The code of the streets. Atlantic Monthly, pp. 81-83, 86-94.

2. Bursik, R., & Grasmick, H. (1993). Neighborhoods and crime: The dimensions of effective
community control. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

3. Cummings, S., & Monti, D.J. (Eds.). (1993). Gangs: The origin and impact of contemporary youth gangs in the United States. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

4. Coleman, James S. (1988). “Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital”, American Journal of Sociology.

5. Decker, S. H. (1993), The family gang connection: Windows on prevention. School Intervention, Report 6(Spring):3,6–9.
6. Elliott, D.S. (1994). Serious violent offenders: Onset, developmental course, and termination. Criminology, 32 – 44.

7. Hagan, J. (1993). The social embeddedness of crime and unemployment. Criminology, 31, 465-491.

8. Hutchison and Charles Kyle (1993), The gang initiation rite as a motif in contemporary crime discourse, Justice Quarterly, (13):383–404

9. Katz, C. M. (1988), Issues in the production and dissemination of gang statistics: An ethnographic study of a large Midwestern police gang unit, Crime & Delinquency, 49, 485-516.

10. Klein, M. (1971). Street gangs and street workers. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
11. Miller, W.B., Geertz, H., & Cutter, H. (1961). Aggression in a boys? street-corner group. Psychiatry, 24, 266-270.
12. Pinderhughes, Howard. (1993), The Anatomy Of Racially Motivated Violence in New York City: A Case Study of Youth In Southern Brooklyn, Social Problems 40:478-492
13. Sanchez-Jankowski, M.S. 1991. Islands in the Street: Gangs and American Urban Society. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

14. Schwartz (1987), Beyond conformity or rebellion: youth and authority in America, Chicago, University of Chicago press

15. Thrasher, F. M. (1927), The gang: A study of 1,313 gangs in Chicago, Chicago, University of Chicago Press

16. Yablonsky, L. (1962). The Violent Gang. The Macmillan Co.: New York

Categories
Free Essays

The Impact of Culture and Performance Management in the Work of the UNFPA in Afghanistan

Chapter 1: Introduction

Organisations operate in a variety of arenas and contexts. They have to work within a broader economic framework, operate in accordance to political demands and legal structures, and deal with other technological and infrastructural realities. The wider social and cultural context also impacts the operations of any organisation. Prevailing values, traditions and attitudes amongst clients, users or other ‘stakeholders’ of the organisation in a particular area of operation impact strongly on both its internal performance and whether it can meet its goals and targets (Aluko, 2003). A study of an organisation’s performance in an especially challenging social and cultural context should, therefore, provide evidence as to how far cultural impacts influence and alter the operation of a modern organisation.

The reconstruction of post-Taliban Afghanistan since 2001 represents a striking example of a sharp clash between the operation of organisations and a specific cultural reality. Many international bodies, institutions and NGOs have become involved in Afghanistan, providing humanitarian aid, re-building infrastructure, and encouraging political and social changes in the wake of an on-going Western military involvement in the country as part of the global confrontation with terror after 9/11. Afghanistan is an additionally challenging environment for the work of international humanitarian and non-governmental organisations, as it has suffered many years of virtual state collapse and the imposition of strict Islamic traditions and law under the Taliban ‘emirate’ that controlled much of the country preceding 2001.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is one of the international bodies at work in post-2001 Afghanistan. The Population Fund was set up in the postwar period to work towards ensuring that the equal rights of women are recognised, and to promote reproductive health. An important part of this work has been the conducting of surveys to draw up nationwide strategies on rights and healthcare. The UNFPA has been involved in Afghanistan since the late 1970s, but it has only been with the establishment of the Western-supported Karzai government following 2001 that it has had a significant role to play in building institutions and developing the networks to promote its goals in the area of reproductive rights and health.

Afghanistan and the UNFPA thus form an excellent case study to determine the extent to which an international organisation has had to adapt its performance management in a way that tallies its worldwide experiences, resources, and indeed operating assumptions, with its particular goals and challenges in a given cultural context. Afghanistan also has a history of defying the expectations forged in Western institutions and publics. Those ‘on the ground’ have often argued that in Afghanistan things take much longer than expected and never fit the original plan (Johnson, 2011, p. 300). Indeed, the first years of the UNFPA’s post-Taliban involvement in the country were largely confined to the capital city Kabul and it is only recently that a more nationwide strategy – based on selected Northern and Central regions – has been implemented.

This study will also benefit from the fact that the UNFPA has its own distinctive Performance Appraisal and Development System (PAD), which provides unique insight into its performance and the management of adaptations in Afghanistan. The PAD system encourages continuous feedback and training, and, notably, links individual work planning to the broader management plan and the overall organisational priorities in the Fund (UNFPA, 2011). ‘On the ground’ work and approaches are directly connected with the organisation’s management and its overall goals, and should afford it maximum flexibility and performance in its operations while still meeting its original targets and international concerns. This study aims to determine how successful this attempt to marry UNFPA’s goals with the socio-cultural realities in Afghanistan has been.

Background

The UNFPA first started its work in Afghanistan in the late 1970s, cooperating with Afghan ministries. During much of the 1980s, Afghanistan was consumed with a civil war and a military intervention by the Soviet Union. In the preceding 1960s and 1970s, Afghanistan had seen a modernising state; much of the development and infrastructure built up in this period was destroyed during the conflict of the 1980s. The capacity of the central state was reduced, allowing the development of warlordism and regional loyalties, often reinforcing conservative attitudes and concerns amongst the local population.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Moscow-supported government in Kabul quickly collapsed. Out of the struggles between various groups and armed factions, the Taliban established a form of centralised authority over about 80% of the country by the mid-1990s. In what is often seen as a deeply conservative country, the Taliban was able to establish some social support for its harsh implementation of summary justice and strict reading of Islamic tradition, filling the vacuum left by a collapsed state. The Taliban earned international condemnation for its extreme approach on the issue of women’s rights, to the extent of denying women basic education and healthcare. At this time, the UNFPA cooperated to only a very limited degree with central Taliban authorities.

Since the overthrow of the Taliban and the establishment of the Karzai government, the UNFPA has seen four distinct phases of ever-greater involvement in Afghanistan. The first stage, during 2002-4, was largely combined to Kabul, when the Fund cooperated with the new Afghan Ministry of Health and other NGOs in rehabilitating three major maternity hospitals in the capital. In the next two years, the Fund’s work was still largely confined to the Afghan capital, in the elaboration of strategies for Afghanistan nationally. The years 2007-9 saw the increasing implementation of a national strategy in accordance to the Fund’s goals. Cooperating with the Afghan Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs, and in a move that shows the UNFPA’s cognisance of and adaptation to cultural realities, the Fund encouraged the training of religious leaders on the harms of gender-based violence and the importance of healthy families. The Fund also became actively involved in building new central institutions rather than working with (in this case, non-) existing state institutions, by developing an Afghan census data processing centre.

In the most recent phase since 2010, the Fund has attempted to make an impact well beyond the relatively heavily guarded confines of Kabul, by working towards the Afghan National Development Strategy and realising Millennium Development Goals on governance and stability, and the provision of sustainable livelihoods and basic social services. This period has seen an expansion of the Fund’s role in North-Central regions of Afghanistan to provide training in reproductive health in rural areas.

Afghan Conditions

Even with the absence of an effective state presence in much of rural Afghanistan, the work of all humanitarian organisations in the country has been made extremely challenging given the security situation. South-Western regions of the country are currently convulsed by a ‘neo-Taliban’ insurgency, making it very difficult for aid agencies to work. A compounded challenge is the Western military’s strategy of combining aid with their military presence in order to win ‘hearts and minds’. This ‘growing politicisation and securitisation of aid’ (Jalalzei and Jeffries, 2011) has resulted in some aid workers being attacked as they have been seen as connected to the ISAF and NATO forces present in the country.

Many other local Afghans are thus understandably wary of cooperating with Western agencies for fear of reprisals for ‘collaboration’. Insurgents have used and abused Afghan and Islamic traditions of hospitality to move amongst local people, obtain shelter and get information (Johnson, 2011). The Karzai government, on the other hand, has often been seen as corrupt, and has very little presence in rural areas. As a consequence, insurgents have been able by weaving amongst the local population to obtain some support, dispensing of summary justice, regulating disputes between local clans, and intimidating those who might wish to work with the representatives of Western organisations.

In the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Taliban, many agencies arrived in Kabul with differing agendas for development of the country. Afghan officials in the Karzai government complained of a ‘revolving door’ of specialists who did not understand the actual situation and stuck rigidly to what could be seen as ‘neo-colonial’ conceptions of Afghanistan’s problems and their solution. The presence of so many different agencies and various donor agendas complicated the reconstruction effort in the first years of reconstruction. The UNFPA, consequently, in its most recent phase of operations, has made clear its intention on ‘Delivering as One’, to work with all other UN agencies in major areas of its operation.

Organisations such as the UNFPA also have to contend with other difficulties, in particular the division between urban and rural Afghanistan. Notably the Fund’s operations in the first four years of the Karzai government were largely confined to the capital, in the ‘Kabul bubble’. This general situation had led to accusations that Western NGOs were ‘remote’ from ordinary Afghans’ and particularly women’s concerns (Jalalzei and Jeffries, 2011). There is also a rural-urban divide to be overcome, where widespread illiteracy in rural areas has meant that supporters of Western organisations championing the rights of women such as the UNFPA have felt less empowered than their educated, urban compatriots, and who are more vulnerable to attacks from those resisting changes to the conservative status quo.

The social, political and cultural conditions in Afghanistan have thus put particular constraints on the UNFPA, in particular concerns over the strength of the ‘security envelope’ and to avoid the impression of working with military forces. The Fund as a consequence has been obliged to implement its nationwide programme unevenly, focusing on the relatively calmer North-Central regions of Bamyan, Badakhshan, Faryab and Daikundi. As the Fund states these areas meet ‘minimum required levels of stability and security.’ These are also the regions where local communities have demonstrated a ‘willingness to come halfway’ and work with UN agencies (UNFPA). It would seem that local cultures also have to adapt to the presence of organisations, as much as vice versa, if significant change is to be attempted.

Culture and Organisations

Organisations do not exist in a vacuum, but inhabit a socio-cultural arena. Culture, in the broad sense, which includes the ‘aggregation of attitudes, norms, style, values, consumption patterns, general world-view, perceptions and expressions that distinguish a people from others’ (Aluko, 2003: 165) is a vital factor that determines an organisation’s performance. Organisations therefore should pay due attention to the way the operational environment influences in manifold ways the working and success of its operation and how established procedures and processes in one area may not run true in another.

Performance management, which aims to realise an organisation’s goals in the most efficient manner, has an important role to play in this. It encompasses not only the performance of the organisation as a whole, but also that of its internal departments, employees, processes and service delivery (Armstrong and Baron, 2004). Performance management seeks to integrate employees’ work with the overall aims of the organisation, combining the ordinary actions and operations of an organisation with its mission and vision (Williams, 2002).

Culture and performance management are thus important factors influencing any organisation’s capacity to meet its key goals over the medium to long term. In the case of the UNFPA, which operates in a number of diverse countries and societies, it is even more important that its ability to perform in a culturally adaptive way is managed in the most effective way. Organisations that are present in multiple locations should allow that their operations cannot always be uniform, and that performance management systems should not only be aware of the cultural context in which they are functioning but also leverage that culture in order to improve the performance of employees and their organisations in that context as a whole.

This study of the UNFPA’s performance management and work in Afghanistan discusses below the specific and general outcomes of cultural impacts on organisational success. Describing and drawing on how cultural conditions in Afghanistan have obliged the UNFPA to adapt its programme and organisational behaviour, broader conclusions will be made on how far cultural realities force organisational adjustments. It will be argued that effective performance management has a key role in an organisation’s adaptation, and suggestions will be made on how cultural impacts can be leveraged for an organisation’s on-going success in meeting its goals.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Culture and its Impact on Organizations

‘Culture’ should be understood as distinct from high culture, culture with a capital ‘C’; rather, the understanding of culture employed here reflects theoretical developments since the 1960s that see culture as a web of human significance that encapsulates all expression and activity, providing meaning and communication. Many theorists (Foucault, Derrida) postulate, in particular, the structuring qualities of language; how language itself creates identities, gives meaning, provides ‘knowledge’. Most challengingly, theorists of ‘discourse’ – i.e. the structural and cultural power of language – have even argued that it is very difficult for there to be an independent authorial voice, that the language, ideas and culture within which an individual expresses themselves largely shape one’s consciousness and behaviour.

There are two conclusions to be reached from this. One, that the multidimensional, all-encompassing, and pervasive nature of culture makes it difficult to exhaustively define or conceptualize (see for instance Hofstede, 1984; Tomassello, 1999; Kroeber and Kluckhohn, 1952). In this sense culture is fluid and changing, unpredictable and different, as well as being all-pervasive. However, there also appears to be some level of agreement that culture is external as opposed to innate – emanating from environmental and social influences on individuals in society. In line with this general idea of culture, there have been many definitions of the concept, each seeking to conceptualize culture from the different perspectives of the respective authors with regard to its defining hallmarks.

Cotgrove (1978) explains that culture entails a social system’s shared values and norms that are considered a very important aspect of the society. Similarly, Hofstede (1991) contends that culture involves a collective ‘programming’ of the minds of members of a group, and that it is what distinguishes members of a group or society from others. The foregoing definitions essentially conceptualize culture as the range of influences that shape the behaviours, orientations and worldviews of members of any given human collective, such that sets them apart from other groups.

A number of authors have pointed out that, irrespective of the different ways of defining culture, it generally consists of two distinct aspects: material culture and non-material culture (see for instance Aluko, 2003). Material culture is the dimension of culture that is explicit and palpable, involving tangible elements such as local technology, infrastructure, handicrafts etc. Non-material culture, on the other hand, encompass intangible elements that pertain to attitudes, norms, values, philosophy, language, knowledge, and other such aspects of culture that can be felt but not directly perceived (see also Kroeber and Kluckhohn, 1952). It is this somewhat intangible quality of non-material norms and values in a given cultural and social context that will have very significant effects for the reception and working of an institution in that context; a legal system that enshrines individual property rights will not have the respect, nor indeed popular support, from a society in which property is considered a collective, not private resource. Similarly, liberal-democratic institutions and organisations will have less political influence within polities and broader cultures where there is little tradition, or indeed the language, of civil society and respect for the intrinsic autonomy of the individual. Western companies, based on maximum transparency in business, will also find the going tough in parts of the world where bribery is seen as a daily reality.

Thus, culture has effects on organizational performance, particularly in terms of identifiable differences in the way that organizations perform in culturally disparate environments. Zakaria (1997) also suggests that there is a sense in which culture affects organizational performance from the perspective of employee behaviour. In this contention, employee behaviour is a key determinant of organizational performance, and employee behaviour itself is attributable to broader cultural factors, which include beliefs, values, background, perceptions, and attitudes to work. Employees work with the assumptions, norms and values that they have acquired from their own cultural background. This is also reinforced in organisations that have their origins in the same culture; the dominant ‘working culture’ within that organisation is then doubly the result of its culture of origin and that from where its employees come.

Indeed, with specific regard to the UNFPA, the impact of culture on the organization’s functions is based on a combination of salient assumptions that arguably underpin the very nature of culture itself. The UNFPA (2009: 1) suggests ‘culture matters’ in the discharge of the organization’s work in its respective locations due to the assumptions that cultures encompass “realities of history and geography”, and that culture represents the unavoidable context within which development and humanitarian aid can only take place in respective societies. It also indicates that culture is important to the organization’s work in view of the assumption that the implementation of international human rights agreements – a key facilitating condition for the UNFPA’s intervention programmes – are usually possible in the context of culture. All international bodies are dependent on the patchwork of nation-states, regional interests, and cultural accommodations for the success of their interventions, for these are the real structures ‘on the ground’ that can give expression to the universal aspirations of global institutions. These assumptions suggest the overriding importance of culture as well as its contextual value in an increasingly globalised world, with its tensions between the local and the supra-national, for shaping the environment within which the UNFPA seeks to perform its core duties and achieve its goals.

Conceptualizations of Performance Management

‘Performance management’ emerged from an increasing awareness, since the 1950s, of the impact human resources approaches could have in an organisation’s success. As Elizabeth Houldsworth and Dilum Jirasinghe (2006) have concluded, organisations may ‘benefit more by focusing on their human resources than they would by focusing on competitor strategy, quality focus or R&D investment’ (p. 34). With this growing appreciation of how employees’ performance can shape success, so too have increasingly sophisticated performance management approaches become a more extensive and familiar feature of an organisation’s strategic planning.

From the end of the 1980s and throughout the 1990s, many global organisations developed their human resources processes to combine two distinct approaches, and which reflected the theoretical models developing in the academic study of business performance, employee motivation and assessment. These two approaches can be considered ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ (Houldsworth and Jirasinghe, 2006). The ‘hard’ approach emphasised employee assessment in relation to targets, quantitative indicators and compliance to company-wide macro-parameters. ‘Soft’ approaches focused on an employee’s individual development, self-regulation and striving towards personal goals in collaboration with managers.

‘Hard’ and ‘soft’ approaches could be said to mirror McGregor’s (1971) seminal arguments on employee motivation. McGregor argued that there could two ways to consider why employees performed, a Theory X and a Theory Y. Theory X postulated that people essentially do not like work, and that as a consequence organisations to enforce sanctions in order to guarantee performance. Theory Y, on the contrary, posits the idea that people work creatively when the responsibility and structure exist to do so.

It is this latter hypothesis of people’s motivation at work that has informed the understanding of performance management. Performance management encourages employees to take on responsibility for their goals, working towards them in dialogue with managers. This emphasis, though, has still been combined with a simultaneous recent trend towards ‘harder’ macro-criteria of assessment within companies, which gives the opportunity of linking individual development of employees’ roles and performance with the broader aims and expectations of an organisation as a whole. This combined approach to performance management can afford organisations the flexibility and direction to succeed both in meeting their goals ‘on the ground’ and at a global level. Thus, performance management can increasingly be equated with a holistic management of the organization’s resources – including employees, processes, learning and development – for the ultimate purpose of enhancing the organization’s capacity to perform effectively and realize its specified goals.

Performance management can be understood as an increasingly sophisticated outgrowth of the practice of the employee appraisal that was first widely introduced in business from the 1960s. In contrast to the appraisal’s emphasis on the employee meeting certain benchmarks, and its rather formal, one-way discussion from manager to employee, contemporary performance management approaches rely on ‘360 degree feedback’ and communication between all stakeholders in meeting an employee’s goals. Performance management also encourages positive outcomes, looking at how problems can be solved rather than assigning blame. It involves, too, a great deal of trust between manager and employee; ‘employee empowerment’ expects employees to take many of their own decisions.

Part of the aim of performance management has been to foster a ‘clear line of sight’, so an employee understands what is meant by ‘doing well’ in concrete terms. It encourages employees to understand how their role contributes to the goals of the organisation as a whole. This has the added benefit of reducing hierarchical decision-making processes; with a fuller understanding of their functions, employees may not need to throw up decisions to line managers, and can take greater initiative. In a sense, managers can ‘get out of the way’ and employees can get on with their jobs, giving the organisation greater flexibility as a result.

Performance management relies on managers gathering a broad range of data, in the macro sense but also informally; observing and planning; and also, importantly, mentoring employees to reach their goals. In dialogue with employees, they can diagnose the cause of problems and coach employees for future performance, in a positive process of reviewing and improving. In this process, it is important that the manager is not only able to articulate and translate the organisation’s values into the personal work goals and approach of the employee, but also to include the employee as a stakeholder in that dialogue. As Richard Williams has argued ‘if the mission/strategy statement is to provide direction and serve as a basis for action, to promote particular values and act as a guide to behaviour and such like it seems only reasonable that those who will be affected by this should have some say in shaping its content.’ Ultimately, successful performance management can have the effect of combining broader aims of the organisation with those of the individual’s, of marrying short-term employee performance with the long-term mission of a company.

For Armstrong and Baron (2004), performance management entails the process that facilitates the effective and efficient management of individuals and teams towards achieving considerable organizational performance. The authors suggest that performance management brings about shared understanding about what the organization seeks to achieve, as well as an approach to leading and developing the organization’s people in order to ensure that specified aims are achieved. Furthermore, Armstrong and Baron (2004) stress that performance management essentially involves the strategy that relates to all activities that an organization engages in, particularly in the context of the organization’s culture, human resource policies, culture, operational style, and systems of communication. However, the organizational context typically determines the nature of the adopted strategy in this regard, and it may vary across different organizations.

A number of other scholars have also highlighted the strategic element of performance management. In this regard, De Waal (2002) suggests that performance management is a process that aims at enabling the organization to deliver predictable and consistent contributions to value creation goals. Flapper et al (2006) similarly contend that the degree of success attained by an organization depends on the extent to which it can execute its operations in line with its strategies. Accordingly, performance management should involve strategic processes that ensure the harmonization of efforts within the organization particularly in terms of facilitating collective contribution by all members and parts of the organization towards shared objectives. This is best achieved by means of measurements embedded in the performance management system.

On the other hand, Edis (1995) explains that Performance management involves the integrated and systematic approach that seeks to improve an organization’s performance towards achieving corporate strategic aims and promoting the organization’s mission and values. Armstrong (2006) therefore argues that performance management’s main purpose is to establish a culture of high-performance in which the individuals and teams that make up the organization take full responsibility for continuously improving business processes and organizational output within a clearly defined framework.

Several authors (e.g. Armstrong, 2006; Lockett, 1992; Bratton and Gold 2007) indicate that the performance management process consists of a cycle, which includes activities pertaining to four key stages: planning, action, monitoring, and review. Armstrong (2006) explains that in the performance management cycle, planning involves outlining the agreement on objectives and standards that the organization sets out to achieve. Action refers to activities towards implementing the plans in order to achieve the specified standards and attain the clearly outlined objectives. On the other hand, monitoring has to do with the strategies and activities instituted to monitor continuously the actions of members of the organization – as implemented in their day-to-day work. Lastly, Armstrong (2006) explains that the review stage of the performance management cycle serves the purpose of taking stock of the progress being made in terms of how much has been achieved in the implementation of the plans and actions, and thereafter proffering recommendations for improvement where necessary.

However, some criticisms of performance management systems exist in the academic literature. Brown and Benson (2003) for instance argue that the emphasis and high premium that performance management systems typically place on the improvement of organizational performance leads to undue pressure on employees and managers who are pushed to enhance performance often to the detriment of their welfare. On another level, Bevan and Thompson (1991) claim that in spite of the supposed performance improvement goals of most performance management systems, there is insufficient evidence to prove that a correlation actually exists between perceived high-performance in organizations and the existence and operation of performance management systems in such organizations. This perspective therefore attempts to refute the notion that performance management systems have clear and direct implications for organizations’ level of performance.

Ultimately, though, performance management has clear benefits for the organisation. It fosters and entrenches a ‘cross-organisational working culture’ (Houldsworth, p. 92) and can ‘harness the individual [employee] to the organisation as a whole.’ This has especially positive implications for ‘on the ground’ interaction between the employee and the customer, or other stakeholders. It is important to keep all stakeholder needs ‘in some kind of balance’ (Sohein 1992: 53) for the longer-term activities of any organisation; an organisation that does not listen to either its customers, employees, or other stakeholders is cut off from a feedback loop, and will make increasingly unrealistic business decisions. As Richard Williams identified (2009), ‘ideas of getting close to the customer wants so as to identify and meet changing consumer demands and expectations/requirements are now widely accepted.’ This legacy of the trend to performance management: getting to know the customer, the client, the stakeholder, and for managers and employees to work in close dialogue, are clearly crucial for the work of the UNFPA, and in the culturally sensitive interactions between an international organisation and a volatile and often quite alien Afghan environment. Performance management at the interface between the organisation and the people it is meant to help is central to the UNFPA’s work in Afghanistan.

Performance Management Culture and the UNFPA

There is also a sense in which a performance management culture needs to be created in order to maximize the chances of an organization to reap the benefits of effective performance management. In this regard, Blakinger (2006) points out that there are two elements involved in the implementation of an efficient Organizational Performance Management System: the system itself and effective leadership that is required for the successful achievement of the organization’s goals. Blakinger (2006: 1) begins by defining organizational performance management as the “ongoing process that quantifies and monitors organizational performance, and aligns that performance to the needs of the organization’s stakeholders”. He subsequently argues that for such performance management to serve its intended purposes there needs to be concerted efforts to entrench the system in the culture of the organization by means of effective strategic leadership.

Indeed, the importance of performance management culture can also be situated in the context of the UNFPA’s experience. In this regard, DFID (2011) reports that although the UNFPA has made considerable efforts towards improving strategic and performance management, the organization is nonetheless encumbered by a relatively weak culture of evaluation, which makes it difficult to determine that strategic decisions by the organization are truly based on performance information generated through the established performance management systems. DFID (2011) therefore concludes that present performance management in the UNFPA is weak, suggesting that an efficient performance management culture needs to be instituted in the organization to facilitate the achievement of goals and meeting stakeholder needs in the locations where it operates.

The performance management culture at the UNFPA cannot be discussed in isolation of the performance management framework of the United Nations system as a whole, including the performance management systems at the programme and project level. The UN (2000) states that the United Nations’ performance management framework consists of several layers and multi-level stages of development including medium-term planning that spans a four-year period, programme budgeting on a biennial basis, programme implementation monitoring with periodic performance reports, and various levels of evaluation such as self-evaluation, in depth evaluation and internal/external evaluation. With regard to performance management at the project level, which encompasses the work of the UNFPA, Mizutani (2002) reports that United Nations agencies have typically applied relatively sophisticated instruments to monitor and evaluate the progress being made, which also permits stakeholders and funding/partner organizations and governments to be apprised of the information gathered from performance measurement. Mizutani (2002) further argues that the difficulty in establishing effective performance management at the programme level is partly brought about by the challenge posed by accountability obligations to the respective governments and to the executing and funding organizations in general. This is consistent with Lane (2000), who contends that accountability issues are critical to the evaluation of performance management systems, particularly in organizations whose work straddles public management

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

Research methodology is essentially a strategic outline of the methods and approaches by which he researcher hopes to accomplish the purpose and aims of the research, and its main goal is to connect the research questions with the focus and direction of the research in order to ensure the consistency of the research outcome (Mouton and Marais, 1992). Accordingly, the research methodology encompasses the research approach, research strategy, data collection methods, and method of data analysis that the researcher would adopt in conducting the research. In line with the foregoing, and in order to accomplish the aims of the dissertation in the most effective manner, the proposed dissertation will feature a research method that is largely qualitative in design. It adopts the inductive approach, which is based on the collection and analysis of sizable qualitative data to facilitate understanding of the research context(s), and gain functional knowledge of the meanings that, as suggested by Saunders et al (2000), individuals attach to phenomena.

It is pertinent to point out that knowledge is arguably has to do with subjective interpretation, and the degree to which the impact culture and performance management is functionally linkable to the performance of the UNFPA in Afghanistan is best evaluated with a research method that permits an in-depth investigation of the correlations between separate and interconnected variables. The qualitative or inductive research approach is therefore deemed appropriate for the proposed dissertation given that it would enhance the capacity of the researcher to examine researcher data in detail and uncover both tacit and explicit information that would help the understanding of the research subject.

Research Strategy

The research strategy I intend to use for the proposed study is the case study strategy. The strategy involves a focused investigation of a phenomenon by means of an in-depth study of the subject of the research in a real life context that helps the researcher gain practical insights and contextual understanding of the research topic (Yin, 1984; Bryman, 2001). It would ideally be appropriate to use a large number of organizations and locations for the purpose of investigating the impact of the respective cultures and performance management on the organizations’ performances, thus gaining broader insights and making more valid conclusions. However, constraints on time and resources makes it clearly impracticable for the case study to use too many organizations, and therefore makes it necessary to choose an organization that would suffice for the purposes of the research. Accordingly, the UNFPA and its performance in Afghanistan is chosen as the case study because the global nature of the Fund implies that it necessarily contends with cultural issues that may differ substantially across its operating locations. Furthermore, Afghanistan offers an interesting example of a country in which extant cultural issues and volatile operating environment may have considerable implications for the UNFPA’s performance, and present challenges for its performance management framework.

Data Collection

Two categories of data would be collected for the proposed study: primary data and secondary data.

Primary Data

The Primary data for the dissertation is obtained from semi-structured interviews and online questionnaires administered to employees and representatives of the UNFPA selected from those stationed in Afghanistan as well as from the Fund’s global administrative headquarters in the United States. The interviews will be structured in a way that aims at extracting contextual and relevant information pertaining to the UNFPA’s experiences with culture and performance management in Afghanistan, and its performance management system in general. The questionnaires are also designed to sample the views of respondents pertaining to the specific kinds of impact that culture has on the UNFP’s performance, as well as the impacts of the Fund’s performance management system on its performance in Afghanistan.

Secondary Data

The secondary data collection for the proposed study relies on various open sources of academic materials relating to the research subject and context. Some of the resources that provide materials for the research include books, journal articles, and online publications on culture and its impact on organizations, as well as performance management and its impact on organizational performance. Electronic databases such as Google Scholar, Emerald Insight, Questia, and Jstor also provide valuable materials on the subjects of culture and performance management in the context of organizations. Secondary data that provides information pertaining to the UNFPA operations and Afghanistan’s socio-cultural environment will also be obtained from the aforementioned sources as well as from the web-based resources of the United Nations and the UNFPA.

Method of Data Analysis

Thematic analysis would be applied to analyze the research material obtained for the proposed study. I consider the thematic method of analysis to be appropriate for the study because it avails the researcher of a framework for systematically defining, detecting, and exploring the most relevant issues involved in the research context (Bernard, 2000). With the thematic analysis, it would be easier for me to identify patterns that are recurrent and pertinent within the obtained data; this facilitates a more accurate interpretation of the information contained in the research data.

Justification and Limitations of the Preferred Research Method

The rationale for the choice of the qualitative/inductive research method is that it enables the researcher to have a broader interpretation and deeper understanding of ordinarily complex phenomena. Using the inductive research method would enhance my capacity to obtain case-relevant and contextual information concerning how culture and performance management respectively affect the UNFPA’s performance in Afghanistan, especially in terms of the Fund’s ability to deliver value to stakeholders. Furthermore, the choice of interview and questionnaire as data collection methods reflects the researcher’s confidence in these methods for generating sufficient and in-depth information in order to achieve the objectives of the study.

There are nonetheless a number of limitations associated with the research design in spite of the observed strengths of the adopted method,. One of the most noticeable limitations of the inductive research method is that it imposes constraints on the validity, reliability, and generalizability of research outcomes and conclusions due to its proneness to subjective interpretation, and the difficulty in replicating research contexts. In this regard, the findings pertaining to how culture and performance management affects the UNFPA in Afghanistan may not be replicable elsewhere or apply in the context of other organizations and/or locations.

Chapter 4 Culture in Afghanistan.

Given that the UNFPA is an organisation aware of cultural difference and sensitivities, it is itself an excellent of source of information about the specific socio-cultural reality in Afghanistan. The UNFPA’s own Action Plan for 2010 to 2013, agreed with the Karzai government, provides a great deal of ‘on the ground’ insight about the cultural dynamic that the organisation has experienced during its increasing activities in the country since 2001. Three specific features of Afghan society are brought out in the report: a rather low rate of urbanisation, an unusually large youth population and very limited rights for women.

Afghanistan’s ‘very low urbanisation rate’ implies that in practice the overwhelming majority of people live in ‘highly dispersed small rural settlements’ (UNFPA, Action Plan 2010-2013, p. 8). While the UNFPA points to the inevitable high ‘transaction costs’ of distributing reproductive health commodities in such a fragmented and underdeveloped geography, there are also of course cultural ramifications of this dispersion of settlements. Isolation and distance from central intervention indirectly allows the consolidation of conservative attitudes within small and often quite vulnerable communities. Agriculture is often barely above a subsistence level and requires full individual participation with, and adherence to, the community as a whole for the pooling of resources. Beyond this, the historical weakness of security provided a central state has been compensated for by local allegiance to tribal structures. As a consequence, two traditional sources of authority hold great sway over local people and families: village and/or tribal elders and religious leaders.

Traditional local or tribal governing structures, in particular the tribal ‘qawm’ or ‘solidarity group’ and local councils (shuras) and meetings (jirgas), have provided Afghans the ‘social capital’ in the past to carry on without an effective central political authority (Mikhael, 2009). On the other hand, though, such ‘solidarity groups’ can blunt modernising or interventionist initiatives, especially by enforcing collective loyalty to the established social pattern and its hierarchy. Afghan tribes also provide a degree of justice, law and rules on conduct that can give a degree of stability but also constitute a barrier to alternative forms of public life. The Pashtun majority, and particularly in the rural areas in Afghanistan, subscribe to the Pashtun code of conduct – the Pashtunwali. Central themes of the code are equality, the protection of female family members and wealth, and honour. Other important aspects are tribal cohesion and the protection of outsiders living in villages.

These cultural norms thus tend to reinforce what might be understood as a ‘household’ focus of rights and entitlements, rather than the contemporary Western stress on the intrinsic human rights of the individual. It is the household, and its eldest, who are seen as the basis of full and respected participation in the community, and, indeed, of economic survival. If a Pashtun loses his namus, his ‘homeland’ or household, he loses his ezzat, or honour, in society. He will ‘not have a place in the family, village or larger Pakhtun [sic] society’ (Mikhael, 2009: 3). The ‘honour’ of the household has to be maintained; the family within, as the source of labour, is also in a sense an economic means over which the elder expects untrammelled authority. From this, it becomes apparent why women and girls are often treated almost as a form of property within households and sometimes transferable between households in lieu of payment for debts and so on. The hold of elders over households and communities also leads to generational tensions and frustrations of youth who wish to have more of a voice in decision-making. The household focus is also, finally, the source of Afghanistan’s famed hospitality to strangers. It is a source of pride and standing in the community to be able to provide for the guest, and protect them as part of their namus; it is, however, this very tradition that insurgents have used to maintain links and keep a hold over the local population, and to bedevil the security and humanitarian mission.

Sufi religious sects and informal madrasas (Islamic teaching schools) at work in local communities often espouse more conservative interpretations of the Koran, which parallel some of the attitudes of the Pashtunwali code of conduct, in particular attitudes to women. The public respect and protection of women as a symbol of the honour of a man and his household has a long history in the Islamic world, but this has been made particularly sharp in Afghanistan following the influence of radical Mujahadeen in the 1980s, and the Taliban ‘emirate’ of the 1990s. This has also been partly a reaction to the anxieties and intrusions of a globalised world, and notions what should constitute honour and conduct, leading to the ‘seclusion’ of women by in extreme cases ‘veiling’ and separate facilities, public spaces and services for men and women. In practice this has often amounted to what could be seen as worse than second-class status for women, denied a political voice and even rudimentary healthcare and education provision.

Thus, the socio-cultural reality for women is of concern for international bodies such as the UNFPA, which has a mandate to work to protect the human rights and reproductive health of women. The UNFPA Action Plan argues that the ‘conservative interpretation of Islam and traditional values prevalent in Afghan society’ also has rooted within it ‘violence’ that is ‘widespread’ against women and girls. Honour and livelihood are so central to the elder’s hold over the household that violence is often exercised over the female members of the family to maintain it. Such ‘harmful traditional practices’ include ‘rape, honour killings, early and forced marriage, [and] sexual slavery’ (p.11) Afghanistan is unusual in the degree of violence against women; some 87% of women have experienced some form of physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage, and a sizable majority of 62% have experience multiple forms of violence (ibid.). The Action Plan quotes the Afghan Ministry of Women, which reports that 82% of violence committed against women is from family members, by both men and women, suggesting that some women themselves have acted, while themselves possibly its victims, to maintain this traditional attitude.

Early and forced marriage of girls is particularly pronounced in Afghanistan, as well as the expectation of early motherhood. The Action Plan notes that some 57% of girls are married off before the age of 16, even though the law states that women should be of 16 years of age to do so (p. 8). On average, the husbands are up to seven years older than their wives. The relative youth of the wives does not facilitate the independence and sexual rights of women within wedlock, and divorce is practically an impossibility. While the Karzai government in Kabul has introduced much legislation committed to establishing the equal rights of women, Afghan traditional attitudes have even made their presence felt here, with the passing of the Shia Personal Status Law, which stipulates that women should ask husbands to leave the house, and not to refuse sex if their husbands demand it (Human Rights Watch, April 2009).

The Action Plan also stresses how young the Afghan population is as a whole. Over 50% of its population is under the age of 15, which is a much higher proportion in neighbouring Iran (26% under 15), Pakistan and Tajikistan (39% respectively) (p.8). Because of traditional structure and cultural attitudes, focusing on the authority of the household elder, the Action Plan reports that youth are generally ‘disenfranchised, lacks educational and employment opportunities, and rarely participates in decision-making at local and national levels.’ Less than a quarter of boys enrol at secondary school, and 50% are literate. Only 18% of girls can read and write, and only 7% are fortunate enough to attend secondary school. This latter statistical reality is a major stumbling block for the UNFPA’s desire to improve women’s advocacy, reproductive health knowledge and empowerment.

Male youth is at risk of under-employment. This, according the UNFPA, means their ‘increased risk of induction into the narcotics industry, illegal armed groups and terrorist organisations’ (UNFPA Action Plan, p. 8) Generally lacking ‘sufficient alternatives and initiatives’ for empowerment, youth are liable to continue to participate in the violence and dislocation that earlier generations have already endured. It may prove difficult to reach out to youth and educate them against violence towards women in a society which is already deeply traumatised and simmering in various forms of armed conflict.

The UNFPA in Afghanistan

Indicating the difficulties the UNFPA face in statistically measuring the reproductive health needs of the Afghan people, there is no agreement on the precise extent of the population, with estimates varying from widely from 23-32 million (UNFPA Action Plan, 2010: 9). Compounding the problems of a weak central state and straining local resources, Afghanistan has seen the return of 5 million refugees in the past few years, and another 2.7 million are officially known still to be in Iran and Pakistan. In terms of the UNFPA’s key goals of improving sexual and maternal health, the Action Plan notes that it is the socio-cultural norm to have large families, on average 6.3 children per woman (p. 7). This stems from the Afghan perception that large families are necessary to ‘ensure security and social support’ from the local communities, and an approach to families somewhat at odds with the organisation’s goal of improving women’s freedom of choice on issues of maternity. This, along with the influx of refugees, and combined with the healthcare deficits resulting from years of conflict, has meant that Afghanistan has very high rates of infant mortality.

Other factors also impact greatly the success of international organisations in Afghanistan. On-going security concerns, and in some areas outright insurgency, have prevented the crystallisation of a smoothly functioning administrative system. The Action Plan notes that the establishment of ‘sustainable governance and service delivery systems’ is threatened ‘at all administrative levels’ (p. 7). This makes the delivery of development efforts, and reaching out to intended beneficiaries, unpredictable and thereby costly. Realities of Afghan geography and infrastructural under-development also pose logistical difficulties for the rolling-out of sustainable national-level intervention programmes. This situation is also only made more unfortunate by the over-lapping competencies, and lack of communication and cooperation between the many various organisations, such as the European Commission, USAID and the World Bank, at work in regions of Afghanistan (UNFPA Action Plan, 2010: 10). Some agencies distribute reproductive health goods through a centralised network centred on Kabul; others have a decentralised approach periodically assigning reproductive health goods and commodities to local health centres. The Action Plan notes at the time of its composition – 2010 – that coordination between the various agencies ‘has so far been virtually non-existent’ (p. 10).

Compounding these logistical and inter-organisational difficulties for the work of the UNFPA in improving sexual and reproductive health are specific Afghan cultural obstacles that need to be overcome. A key part of a sustainable change in matters surrounding reproductive health is spreading basic knowledge about sexual heath and family planning. Eliminating violence against women (also referred to as Gender Based Violence – GBV) also will necessitate open discussion of its unacceptability. However, as the Action Plan notes: ‘issues regarding the family, Reproductive Health (RH) and gender relations are strongly governed by cultural norms and traditions, which do not favour free access to Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) related information and services… neither do they promote any free discussion within society, not even between married couples’ (p. 9). Thus, the work of the UNFPA is directly at loggerheads with Afghan cultural norms that dictate such matters are not the subject of open discussion, even between couples. It may all be very well to establish certain services in Afghanistan, but their success will only be muted unless a broader social perception is encouraged that such services should and need to be accessed.

The Action Plan contains a revealing section on so-called ‘lessons learnt’ within the organisation, with have implications for its performance management going forward. Traditionally, the UNFPA has tended to operate on a national and strategic level in promoting awareness of reproductive health, reducing maternal morbidity, and obtaining and utilising socio-economic and demographic data for overall development planning. The Action Plan (2010) admits, though, that in Afghanistan the organisation needs to ‘further strengthen its efforts’ in these traditional areas where it ‘has shown to have comparative strengths’ (p. 12). The organisation in Afghanistan has clearly not yet succeeded in realising and implementing a nationwide framework for reproductive health planning; the organisation’s earlier and established approach to conducting business was not conducive to the success of its goals.

Suggesting that the organisation has had to adapt its behaviour and performance management, the second item contained in the ‘lessons learnt’ section it is stated that it has to be ‘acknowledged’ that in ‘Afghanistan not all of the development goals may be achieved through a straight forward approach.’ In other words, a centralised implementation of a reproductive health framework and simply setting up services and making goods available – where the security and infrastructural conditions allow this – cannot completely provide the necessary and expected results. The Action Plan goes on to stress the need for ‘indirect’ approaches: ‘indirect interventions, such as the livelihood and life-skills approach, are sometimes required and preferred as entry points to address the UNFPA’s mandate’ (p. 12). It seems that an initially somewhat technocratic approach based outwards from Kabul has had through experience to give way to finding different ‘entry points’ for the organisation to realise its goals. This would seemingly involve closer work ‘on the ground’ to develop relationships between the organisation and its intended beneficiaries, building a relationship of trust rather than merely the implementation of nationwide approaches. Like any other organisation, success is not dependent on the mere provision of goods and services but, as performance management indicates, but depends greatly on getting to know the customer ‘on the ground’ so goods and services can be transacted in a collaborative relationship between the client and the organisation’s representatives.

Other ‘lessons learnt’ give strong indications that the organisation’s initial strategic and technocratic approach, based on its established behaviour, did not get the results that were expected. While working to build up national monitoring institutions, local institutional development – essential for delivery ‘on the ground’ – perhaps did not receive sufficient consideration; one lesson learnt was to focus ‘on [building institutional capacities] at the sub-national level’ (p. 13). Another intriguing lesson was the necessity to ‘involve religious leaders and tribal elders to promote behaviour change [on gender based violence]’ (ibid.). This suggests that initially the organisation had not taken sufficient consideration of Afghan cultural authorities. The ‘lesson learnt’ was that these key local and influential figures would have to be brought on board is to realise its mandate. (This cooperation however poses its own problems, as the UNFPA will be reliant on and will have to change the attitudes of those very leaders responsible for maintaining many Afghans’ deeply conservative cultural values and associated attitudes towards women.)

Suggesting that the UNFPA initially only had a general appreciation of its ‘customers’ another ‘lesson learnt’ has been to ‘promote [the] participation of young people’ and to encourage ‘livelihood approaches’ to address some of the ‘socio-cultural barriers faced by women, particularly young women.’ It is evident that the UNFPA has now begun to adopt some of the approaches of contemporary performance management: sensitivity and flexibility to clients’ needs, and an effort to keep all stakeholders in some form of balance: another lesson learnt was the need to ‘establish partnerships with non-traditional entities.’ The Afghan cultural reality thus had put severe limitations on the success of the UNFPA during its initial presence after 2001, but the organisation has shown a preparedness to learn from these mistakes, to interact with the surrounding culture and to maximise the potential leverage it offers in realising its goals going forward.

The Action Plan shows that the UNFPA intends over this current period of activity (2010-2013) to make use of more effective performance management approaches for the success of the organisation in meetings its overall goals. It will combine awareness of key Afghan cultural obstacles and the attempt to adapt them for the UNFPA’s mandate. It intends to reach out to the essentially politically disenfranchised youth, where discussion of reproductive health issues as well as other questions regarding the overall authority of elders is essentially prohibited, by promoting the participation of young people, and developing ‘advocacy materials for youth leaders… religious leaders and the general public on the participation of… young people’ (p. 16). The Action Plan includes the provision of the ‘tools’ to stakeholders for the planning and monitoring of UNFPA concerns. Reflecting performance management’s emphasis on mentoring stakeholders for greater success in meeting organisational goals in the long-run, the UNFPA plans to expand the ‘training’ of adolescents, religious leaders and community elders to act as ‘change agents’ to advocate for the benefits of empowering women (p. 19). The organisation also hopes to create an ‘enabling environment’ for the socially and culturally excluded through ‘dialogue’ with decision makers, gender-sensitive life-skills-based education, particularly for young women, and ‘youth friendly’ sexual and reproductive health services (p. 14). The overall strategy essentially revolves around ‘establishing partnerships with key stakeholders’ (p. 16) while maintaining the organisation’s traditional role in developing national strategies.

The Action Plan elaborates a culturally sensitive way of adapting Afghan socio-cultural realities towards meeting the UNFPA’s aims as regards increasing the participation of women in local decision-making and developing self-reliance that have a bearing on issues of reproductive health. Under the slogan of ‘healthy family, fortunate society’ the UNFPA astutely will attempt to link the traditional Afghan focus on the household and its honour in the community with the notion of women taking a more empowered role within it on matters regarding reproductive health and certain economic matters, for the benefit of both households and the community as a whole. This advocacy strategy will not only aim at helping women and girls ‘identify opportunities to improve their livelihoods’ but also to sensitise, through knowledge sharing and advocacy meetings, key community ‘gatekeepers’ such as religious leaders and teachers in the ‘importance of the role of women in building sustainable livelihoods’ (p. 19).

It is apparent that Afghan cultural realities were a significant break on the realisation of the UNFPA’s goals in the first few years of its activity following the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. Many of the issues that it seeks to highlight are simply taboo in Afghan life, and it is only progressively that the UNFPA has more fully recognised the need to work with Afghan authority figures to advocate for a positive appreciation of women’s contribution to public and local life that can still fit with the traditional Afghan socio-cultural framework focusing on the honour and strength of the household within the community. The UNFPA has also moved somewhat away from its established national, technocratic planning approach – one in many ways frustrated by the geo-political fragmentation and unique socio-cultural resilience characterising Afghanistan – to adapting and collaborating with those groups culturally marginalised in Afghan life, by developing life skills for women and encouraging the independence of youth, and in the process increasing general familiarity with the UNFPA’s emphasis on certain rights. In this process of organisational adaptation, the main emphases of performance management have been central; that, ultimately, organisations must work closely with customers and clients, and attempt to keep all stakeholders and their interests in balance. The training of adolescents and religious leaders to act as ‘change agents’ and battening the empowerment of women to the success of a household and the community are key examples how the UNFPA has subsequently attempted to balance all stakeholder interests and work closely, and even mentor, those with whom the organisation interacts on the ground. Organisations cannot only operate in a top-down manner, and this may be a fair description of the UNFPA’s activities in its early Afghan involvement, but it is now clearly benefiting from a more collaborative performance management relationship between the client and the representative on the ground, and with those with managerial responsibility for the strategic direction of the organisation.

Chapter 5: Performance Management at the UNFPA

As is clear in the last chapter, culture in Afghanistan has had an organisational impact on the UNFPA, particularly pronounced in the first years of its post-Taliban involvement in the country, but the organisation has adapted to this cultural reality and has even laid out in its 2010 Action Plan aspirations to leverage the Afghan socio-cultural situation as a means to help realise its long term organisational goals. Part of the UNFPA’s success in making this adjustment lies in its embrace of ‘cultural sensitivity,’ which is, crucially, reinforced by it sophisticated Performance Appraisal and Development (PAD) processes, which take full inspiration from performance management emphases on planning, constant dialogue and development. It can be no accident that the UNFPA’s adjustment to Afghan cultural realities has come about in an organisation with strong performance management processes; indeed the first item of the PAD’s checklist of performance indicators recommended for supervisors is the staff member’s ‘cultural sensitivity.’

The 2011 PAD Guide produced by the Human Resources division of the UNFPA in New York provides valuable evidence as to the workings of the organisation’s performance management process. The Guide is very clear on the overall aims of such a process, namely to support the ‘UNFPA’s transformation into an open, transparent and results-oriented organisation that promotes better leadership, management, advocacy, teamwork, knowledge sharing, learning and cultural sensitivity’ (UNFPA PAD Guide January 2011). Evidently, the UNFPA has accepted the premise of performance management that its use can lead to organisational success in terms of meeting goals, an institution that can deliver ‘results’. Performance management’s focus on dialogue between various concerned parties (not only hierarchically) can lead to better ‘institutional knowledge’ within an organisation, which ultimately can allow the organisation to keep up to date with its area of operation, and introduce a flexibility that permits it to operate with the maximum of cultural sensitivity.

The Guide outlines some immediate aims of the PAD process: to enable more focused coaching by supervisors through individual staff member competencies; to draw on a range of feedback sources from other stakeholders, not just team members (providing the ‘360 degree’ feedback that performance management encourages); and, ultimately, to align staff more closely with the organisation’s priorities and goals. The UNFPA’s PAD process is thus directly anticipated to provide a holistic marrying of individual employee performance with the organisation’s broader mission, as Richard Williams and other academic specialists on performance management have stressed.

The UNFPA’s PAD works in three stages: planning, a mid-year progress review and a year-end appraisal, and then the process is begun again in an on-going cycle of collaborative assessment and development. Throughout the working year, there is also the expectation of continual feedback and coaching. The planning stage is based on the UNFPA’s Strategic Plan, from which organisational priorities are established. Each individual organisational unit (i.e. particular branches or offices) at headquarters or in the field then elaborate their own Office Management Plan (OMP) as part of their ‘role in contributing to these high-level objectives’ (UNFPA PAD Guide January 2011). What is significant about these OMPs is that they do not only outline the expected outputs and activities for the organisational unit, but also they directly identify the individual ‘staff members responsible for their achievement’ (UNFPA PAD Guide Jaunary 2011). Reading this process back, it is possible to see that as a consequence individual performance is closely aligned to the organisational unit’s activities, and which, in turn, ultimately fit closely with the UNFPA’s overall organisational priorities. There is cohesion from the top-down and from the bottom-up. The management plans can, therefore, be understood as a lynchpin of the organisation’s activities, translating the UNFPA’s mission to its management strategy down to the activities of individual staff members. The result, as is anticipated by the literature on performance management, is that it helps ‘staff to understand their contribution in a wider context’ (the employee’s ‘clear line of sight’) and, echoing Houldsworth’s confidence that it can ‘harness the individual [employee] to the organisation as a whole,’ the OMP ‘makes them feel part of the organisation’ (UNFPA PAD Guide January 2011).

The UNFPA see the planning stage as essential for establishing ‘personal accountability’ and to ensure staff working in a complex bureaucratic entity nevertheless ‘focus on the desired [organisational] results’ (UNFPA PAD Guide January 2011). The planning can include emphases on internal streamlining initiatives, but the primary focus is the targeting of work specific to projects such as the preparation of a resource mobilisation strategy. Planning also encourages the innovation of new ideas, such as ‘knowledge-sharing ideas plans and networks’ (ibid.), which clearly reinforces the growth of ‘institutional knowledge’ and organisational best practice. During the planning stage, the benchmarks of output achievement are also defined in collaboration with supervisors, which are to be achievable, within the staff member’ responsibility and control. The emphasis is on both quantitative (‘hard’) and qualitative (‘soft’) indicators of achievement.

It is also during the planning stage that feedback sources are identified. The Guide states that these should not only be team-members but could include ‘other UN agencies with whom the staff member works closely to achieve the stated output.’ One other key feedback source is the ‘Resident Coordinator’ who directly oversees the entire UN effort in a given country such as Afghanistan. The Resident Coordinator meets regularly with all UN agencies, and other NGOs and civil society and political representatives, and so would be an excellent source of information about the performance of individual staff and teams of the UNFPA. It seems, though, that there is no provision for feedback from the direct beneficiaries of the UNFPA’s activities and coaching initiatives.

Thus in the planning stage, supervisors and staff agree on the individual staff member’s targets, competencies and feedback sources. This is conducted in an ‘atmosphere of trust’. It is expected that as a result, the supervisor has explained and clarified performance expectations, and that the staff member keeps track of their own progress in respect of individual and broader performance standards. This dialogue reinforces ‘mutual expectations between the staff member and the supervisor’ (INFPA PAD Guide January 20110, and, in particular, enables the supervisor through greater awareness of individual competencies to provide more focused coaching and development as the working year progresses.

The next stage of the PAD is the mid-year review. This allows flexibility and adjustments to be made to the original planning in the light of progress made and unexpected challenges and considerations. In dialogue with the supervisor, the staff member’s progress is assessed and priorities for the remainder of the year evaluated, and any changes to the original planned outputs, competencies and even feedback sources are agreed. This mid-year review can also provide an opportunity to discuss the provision of extra resources to meet new challenges. The last stage is the Year-End Appraisal; staff are assessed in terms of how fully they achieved their output aims and how proficiently they executed their competencies. The conclusions made and feedback acquired then form part of the next year’s planning, and so the performance management continues in a form of virtuous circle.

The Year-End appraisal also has very important implications for ‘organisational learning’ for the UNFPA as a whole. Not only does it provide senior supervisors with the means to recognise the highest calibre staff – in both qualitative and quantitative terms – whose promotion has benefits for the organisation’s on-going adaptation and performance, but it also allows the organisation’s leadership to draw conclusions and make changes in the organisation’s behaviour. The Year-End appraisal results are studied by the Performance Review Group of the UNFPA’s Executive Committee, during which the ‘emphasis shifts from reviewing and complementing the performance appraisal of the supervisor, to the implications of the appraisal results (UNFPA PAD Guide January 2011). The Review Group looks for ‘competency gaps on an organisational basis’; assesses the impact of work on the ground and as an organisation as a whole; areas for development to serve the needs of both individual staff and the UNFPA; and to stress the ‘importance of continuous learning and development’ (ibid.). The end result of the PAD process can be, therefore, the learning of lessons for the organisation as a whole, and substantial changes in strategic direction. This is an unexpected finding of the research for this dissertation, as the literature mostly stresses how performance management works to harness the individual employee to a business’s overall goals; at the UNFPA, though, performance management can also lead to significant institutional learning and high-level conclusions on adaptations and development.

The UNFPA’s Recognition and Rewards policy also promotes institutional learning and horizontal transfer of knowledge. The January 2010 policy document confirms the PAD’s emphasis on encouraging the meeting of its overall goals, to recognise those staff members who achieve ‘organisational priorities’. Recognition at the UNFPA also means providing opportunities to those seen as having ‘knowledge in a relevant area’ to be involved in ‘key meetings, missions or challenging assignments.’ This both spread knowledge throughout the organisation, but also gives the individual staff member the opportunity for further development. Another form of recognition, including for locally recruited staff, are to be invited to represent their office or team on certain projects and missions, all with the intended result of providing their ‘greater visibility within UNFPA (UNFPA, Policies and Procedures Manual, Rewards and Recognitions, January 2010). The UNFPA also has ‘Awards for Excellence’, the criteria for which are quite significant. These are given for ‘outstanding initiatives in delivering the organisation’s programmes and services’ which lead to ‘achievement of concrete results’ and ‘significant effect on external stakeholders’ (ibid.). Thus, the UNFPA rewards and encourages its staff to make lasting changes and impacts on those it works with and those it works for. This qualitative, client-focused emphasis surely encouraged staff to develop lasting relationships with the beneficiaries of its activities in Afghanistan, and to overcome its cultural obstacles.

Performance management at the UNFPA has clearly, then, reinforced a focus on organisational results and delivery, and bringing individual staff – local and international – into the organisation’s working culture and overall goals. But in addition to the employee behavioural focus of the literature, performance management at the UNFPA can also lead through the participation of the Executive Committee for lessons to be learned for the organisation as a whole, and different strategic approaches to be made and missing competencies filled. The PAD’s use of feedback from other UN agencies, and indirectly from other NGOs via the country Resident Coordinator must have highlighted the lack of inter-organisational cooperation and coordination, and may well have contributed to the recent inter-agency commitment to ‘Deliver as One’ in Daikundi. The PAD’s qualitative emphases may also have favoured the greater organisational move in recent years towards using life-skills and other socio-cultural ‘entry points’ in order to meet the UNFPA’s goals for lasting behaviour change in Afghanistan, in addition to its on-going remit of providing a national reproductive health strategy and basic services.

Chapter 6 The Results of the UNFPA’s Organisational Performance in the Afghan Cultural Context.

It is apparent that the UNFPA, as well as many other agencies at work in Afghanistan, did not initially make successful adaptations to the Afghan cultural context, and that this has had serious consequences for the efficacy of their first interventions and has even tarnished the image of such agencies to the point that the more culturally adaptive initiatives now being introduced may not go far enough to win increasingly deteriorating local popular support. The June 2011 report provided by the UN Secretary-General on ‘The Situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security’ indicates that even in the relatively secure eastern and central regions of Afghanistan, where the UNFPA is focusing the bulk of its efforts, increasing tensions are evident with the incidence of combined demonstrations in many mosques, universities and urban centres, which indicates a ‘wider public discontent’ and marks a ‘departure from the previous sporadic demonstrations against the international civil and military presence and raises serious concern’ to the point that there is the ‘possibility of orchestrated violent rioting against the international community.’(Report of the Secretery-General, General Assembly, 65th Session, Item 38, The Situation in Afghanistan, 27 June 2011, p. 7). Indeed, there has already been an increase in armed attacks in north and north-east regions by ‘infiltrators,’ who presumably need the shelter of a more supportive local population than hitherto; in the more unstable south and western regions it has also recently become apparent that ‘certain organisations that previously enjoyed good access [to local communities] have seen that access diminished’ (ibid, p. 11).

Organisational improvements have though been made in the area of inter-agency cooperation (which was lamentably absent during the first years of reconstruction), an emphasis on stakeholder dialogue that is encouraged by Performance Management and the UNFPA’s own current Personal Appraisal and Development (PAD) processes. As the Secretary-General reports, ‘notable improvements’ have been made in the area of ‘health, with progressive donor coordination processes resulting in the better leveraging of resources and more coordinated donor/Government policy dialogue’ (ibid., p. 8). A question mark remains, though, over the efficacy of the UNFPA’s key function of providing statistical survey data of the country’s population in order for effective health planning, and after a decade of work within Afghanistan. As a 2012 report into its own experimental census of one province – Bamiyan – confesses, there has been up until now a ‘vacuum of vital data’ on the Afghan population for planning and policy decisions (Bamiyan Socio-Demographic and Economic Survey, April 2012, p. 2). This survey of Bamiyan – while hardly throwing up significant variations on family size on so on estimated for the Afghan population on average – does, in its accuracy, detail and moreover geographical comprehensiveness – represent a significant belated success for the UNFPA and its health planning goals. Within this successful process, it is also clear that Performance Management principles have been deployed; around 500 local Bamiyan residents were employed as surveyors and controllers, who were trained closely by technical supervisors, and who clarified the ‘concepts and procedures’ of the survey (ibid., p. 4). It was from this well-managed, performance-oriented approach within the socio-cultural reality on the ground, incorporating local staff into the organisation’s priorities, that the UNFPA was able to succeed organisationally in providing accurate and complete information from albeit one part of a notoriously intractable country.

The UNFPA’s 2012 Report does illustrate that cultural lessons have now been learned, and that the organisation during this current, third (2010-2013) phase of activity, has begun a much broader series of culturally adaptive processes to realising its goal that either directly result from the kind of initiatives the UNFPA’s PAD encourages, or indirectly echo Performance Management (PM) approaches in how local staff, beneficiaries and other stakeholders are approached as cultural ‘entry points.’ Through PM, the UNFPA has thus made a transition from being culturally blocked in Afghanistan to now using the cultural situation to its advantage in raising awareness in support of its concerns on, women, youth and associated issues of Reproductive Health (RH). The UNFPA is now approaching this in three key cultural areas: working within communities to demonstrate the economic and health contribution of women, thereby empowering them while earning local respect; by using cultural norms – in particular the close referencing of the Koran in support of particular types of behaviour – to change the attitudes of cultural and community ‘gatekeepers’ such as religious leaders, tribal elders and even the police, and training them to act as internal cultural ‘agents of change’; and, finally, working in dialogue with youth, and training key figures to effect change on attitudes to women and sexual health. This approach, ultimately, embodies the key lessons on performance management which is to get close to the client, to train and work in dialogue, keeping the interests of all stakeholders in balance as much as possible.

One effective new approach that has been recently piloted in selected provinces is to encourage the ‘community ownership’ of midwifery services, which are intended not only to make a real difference on the ground in terms of access to certain basic health and knowledge, but also to empower the local women involved in this provision within the community. Local literate girls and women, particularly from the more outlying settlements are trained centrally in midwifery, and then on return to their villages are supported periodically by mobile health teams as well as a regional Afghan council (shura) on health. At the heart of this policy’s ‘conceptual framework’ (ibid., p. 16) is a typically PM focus on a ‘developmental approach for continued education i.e. on the job training, mentoring, and supportive supervision.’ The Report cites the experience of one young Afghan woman, Maliha Moserat, trained in midwifery, and who now works in a local health clinic, where ‘she helps an average 25 women from her village through their pregnancies and delivery each month’ (ibid., p. 14). This has had an empowering effect, as she comments that ‘it is a huge responsibility to give care to these women and save their lives, but I feel lucky to have this opportunity to help other women’ (ibid.). The Report states that ‘one important result of this initiative is the empowerment of women (trained as midwives) from remote rural communities, making them significant contributors to their communities rather than a liability’ (p. 18). Working within the Afghan cultural framework of household (namus) and community value, this role will ‘enhance their prestige and social status’ – maybe even perceptions of their honour, or ezzat – and ‘cause attitude and behaviour change… acknowledging [women’s] ability to be active contributors to their families and communities’ (ibid).

The UNFPA, ultimately, fully anticipates that there is cultural leverage to be made out of this training of local Afghan women: ‘the midwife’s familiarity with local culture, traditions and culture, traditions and customs, and community members will ensure her acceptability, and she will become an inspiration for others in her community symbolising in her person, the advantage of the education of girls’ (ibid., p. 18). The community ownership approach on rural midwifery support intends not only to improve basic health provision but also in the process have cumulative effects in cultural change, combining and making realisable two key organisational goals of the UNFPA: reproductive healthcare improvements and the recognition of the rights of women.

The Secretary-General’s Afghanistan Report of July 2011 highlighted on-going problems with the treatment of women by local authorities and Afghan social bodies. It noted that ‘where the justice system presence is weak, the authorities continue to refer most complaints of domestic violence and cases of running away from home to traditional dispute mechanisms’ (Report of the Secretery-General, General Assembly, 65th Session, Item 38, The Situation in Afghanistan, 27 June 2011, p. 6). Often the response of community leaders and police to girls and women running away from abuse is to treat such behaviour as the ‘crime’ of adultery. The Report noted that women still continue to be arrested and prosecuted for running away despite a new Afghan Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women. The Report even commented on the continued negative social attitudes towards such women on the part of those civil society groups responsible for running women’s protection centres, which ‘raised questions about… the extent to which women’s rights would be protected (ibid., p. 5). (The UNFPA report also suggests similar traditional attitudes and approaches still persist towards youth on the part of the personnel at youth and health centres.)

The UNFPA’s initiatives to meliorate the continued presence of negative cultural attitudes has been firstly to emphasise a more PM-related more holistic, client-focused approach to service providers within the community. The UNFPA has started training local healthcare providers to see violence against women not merely as a social issue but as one with a direct bearing on health, to question their own attitudes on the subject, and to act as a participant of the community. By raising ‘community awareness, especially among male community members and youth’ about the ‘ill-effects’ of violence against women it is anticipated that they will then in turn act as ‘agents of attitude change’ (p. 26). The UNFPA is also working to train staff in ‘youth friendly’ attitudes, as often the persistence of negative cultural assumptions has constrained the provision of needed health services or advice. The organisation supports Youth Information Centres to train ‘volunteers as peer educators for dispersing [sexual and reproductive health] information and awareness among their other youth’ (p. 45). This strategy is about reaching out more credibly via agents within the community as the ‘credibility within their target group [coming from the commonality in background and shared interests and experiences] is an important base upon which successful peer education is built’ (ibid.)

Also the UNFPA has tried to work leverage culture to its own advantage. Often the success of conservative social and cultural figures, and even earlier the Taliban, in obtaining a degree of popular support, has rested on narrow interpretations of the Koran, which is a central source of authority for behaviour and conduct for most Afghans. The UNFPA has attempted to use this cultural device to forward its own counter attitudes on the unacceptability of violence towards women, amongst those key groups responsible for maintaining such a social environment, namely local religious leader, tribal and community leaders, and the Afghan police. The UNFPA supported the formulation of training manual for Afghan police on the issues surrounding violence against women; significantly, ‘all content in the manual’ references ‘quotations from the Holy Quran and the ‘Ahadiths’ (teachings of the Holy Prophet Mohammed…)’ which, the Report claims, will make it ‘relevant and acceptable and usable in the local [cultural] context’ (p. 27).

The UNFPA 2012 Report states that one of its greatest ‘achievements in its partnership with [the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs] were in… the mobilisation and training of religious leaders for prevention of Gender Based Violence from the perspective of Islamic teachings from the Quran and ‘Ahadiths’ (life and teaching of the Holy Prophet Mohammed)’ (p. 31). The UNFPA and the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs expect this to ‘go a long way in educating local preachers and [thereby] common people for preventing different forms of violence against women, including early and forced marriages’ (ibid.) It seems that this is having a successful impact in line with the UNFPA’s organisational goals: the 2012 Report quotes one religious leader, Mohammed Ewaz Fahimi, who had attended a three day training on this matter, and said ‘we are a Muslim nation, and Afghan men should learn about how Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) treated his wives with respect and love. It is against Islam to inflict any form of physical violence on your wife, sister or mother’ (p. 32). It was his opinion that much of the violence stemmed from the fact that many men and women marry unwillingly, but that, as he stated, ‘Islam requires a woman and man to know each other and consent to marry each other’ (ibid.).

Thus, organisations such as the UNFPA in Afghanistan initially poorly adapted to the Afghan socio-cultural context, to the point that a general popular impatience towards the international community has recently begun to manifest itself even in the more stable parts of the country. However, through its own Performance Management emphases on stakeholder dialogue and qualitative as much as quantitative performance indicators, the UNFPA has begun to make a clearly more effective use of alternative cultural ‘entry points’ with whom the organisation also employs key PM techniques of training and coaching. Successes in creating new agents for change within traditional Afghan cultural frameworks, in particular that of the honour of the household and the economic contribution of women within the community, and training in UNFPA goal-supportive Koranic teachings, promise even greater results in the future. It is however unfortunate that it has taken a decade for such adaptations to be really made and felt, and hopefully this has not been at the expense of on-going tolerance by large parts of the Afghan population of the continued presence of international agencies in their country.

Chapter 7: Conclusions

[This is preliminary and indicative only; dependent on any additional findings that will be included]

It is clear from the findings of this dissertation and the description of the changes over time of the UNFPA’s activities, particularly on the basis of its self-confessed ‘lessons learnt’ that many organisations in Afghanistan, including the UNFPA, made a delayed adaptation to the Afghan socio-cultural context and that this had a significant impact on the UNFPA’s abilities to meet its organisational goals of a nationwide reproductive health strategy and to enhance the rights of women. This finding amply confirms a principal contention of this dissertation that the cultural context has a significant influence on organisational performance, and that organisations ignore it at their peril.

However, the analysis of the UNFPA’s more recent activity suggests that culture is indeed not a static entity, that it can be elastic, and even used and leveraged collaboratively by organisations in realising their goals and missions. The UNFPA’s ‘community ownership’ strategies and the seeking out of local cultural ‘points of access’ and ‘change agents’ from amongst literate women, religious figures, even policemen, work intelligently within traditional Afghan cultural frameworks, such as the honour of the household within the community or by grafting women’s rights onto Koranic teachings, to have a cumulative effect in influencing attitudes by example from within Afghan villages and society more broadly. This recent turn in UNFPA approaches – in conjunction with its longstanding skills in national surveying and health planning – promise long term changes for women’s rights in line with its organisational goals, provided the political environment remains broadly accepting of international humanitarian involvement.

This organisational adjustment has, finally, partly come about because of the Performance Management (PM) emphases within the UNFPA as an organisation. PM’s stress on mentoring and dialogue, the continuous development of staff and liaison with all forms of stakeholders, is evident not only in the training of ‘change agents’ and the results coming from culturally sensitive dialogue and advocacy with other key gatekeepers such as religious leaders, but also in the processes used to induct local staff, and those with mission experience in the field, into the organisation’s working culture and to spread knowledge and ideas horizontally and vertically throughout the institution. As the literature theorised, the PM approaches at the UNFPA were aimed linking individual work – in a qualitative fashion – to the organisation’s strategic aims, but a surprising finding has also been that, in contrast to the literature’s focus on how PM can harness the individual to the organisation, the UNFPA’s own PAD process can also in addition lead, coming from the executive leadership, to positive adaptations in behaviour and new strategic directions for the organisation as a whole.

Bibliography

Afghan Mission (2009) “UNFPA Draft Country Programme for Afghanistan, 2010-2013“, Executive Board Meeting of UNDP/UNFPA, New York: United Nations.

Aluko, M.A. (2003) “The Impact of Culture on Organizational Performance in Selected Textile Firms in Nigeria”, Nordic Journal of African Studies, 12(2): 164–179.

Armstrong, M. (2006) Performance Management, Key strategies and practical guidelines, 3rd Edition, New Jersey: Kogan Page

Armstrong, M. and Baron, A. (2004) Managing performance: performance management in action, London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Bevan, S. and Thompson, M. (1991) “Performance management at crossroads”, Personnel Management, 13, 118-132

Bernard, R. (2000) Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Blakinger, J. L. (2006) Creating a Performance Management Culture, New York, NY: Transformation Systems International.

Bratton, J. and Gold, J. (2007) Human Resource Management, Theory and Practice, 4th Edition, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Brown, M. and Benson, J. (2003) “Rated to exhaustionReactions to performance appraisal process”, Industrial Relations Journal, 34(1), 67-81

Bryman, A. and Burgess, R. (2004) Analyzing Qualitative Data, New York: Routledge

CIFP (2009) Fragile States Country Report: Afghanistan, Ottawa, ON: Country Indicators for Foreign Policy.

De Waal, A. (2002). “The Power of world-class performance management: Use It!” Measuring Business Excellence, 6(3): 9-19

DFID (2011) Multilateral Aid Review: Assessment of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Glasgow, UK: Department for International Development

Flapper, S.D.P., Fortuin, L., and Stoop, P.M.P. (1996) “Towards consistent performance management systems”, International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 6(7): 27-36

Hofstede, G. (1984) Cultures’ Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values, abridged edition, Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications

Hofstede, G. (1991) Cultures and Organizations: Structure of the Mind, London: McGraw-Hill

Hopkins, B. D., (2012) The Making of Modern Afghanistan, McMillan

Houldsworth, E., and Jirasinghe (2006) Managing and Measuring Employee Performance, Hay

Jalalzei and Jeffries (eds) (2011), Globalising Afghanistan, London

Kroeber, A. and Kluckhohn, C. (1952) Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum

Lane, J. (2000) New Public Management, London: Routledge

Lockett, J. (1992) Effective Performance Management, London: Kogan Page.

Meyer, W. M. (1978) Environments and Organizations, London: Jossey-Brass.

Mikhael, S. (2009) Understanding Afghanistan, US Institute of Peace

Miller, K. (2009) Culture Matters, New York: United Nations Population Fund, Available at: http://egypt.unfpa.org/pdfs/GENDER/Gender_in_the_context_of_islam/CultureMatters_2004.pdf [18 October 2011]

Mizutani, T. (2002) “Results-based budgeting and performance management in the United Nations system“, Online Research Paper, Available at: http://soc.kuleuven.be/io/egpa/fin/paper/slov2004/Mizutani.pdf [19 October 2011]

Mouton, A. and Marais, S. (1992) Research Methodologies, Handbook of academic methodology, Penn: Penn State University

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2003) Research Methods for Business Students, 2nd edition, London: Prentice Hall

Tomasello, M. (1999) “The Human Adaptation for Culture”, Annual Review of Anthropology, 28: 401-519

UN (2000) Regulations and Rules Governing Programme Planning, the Programme Aspects of the Budget, the Monitoring of Implementation and the Methods of Evaluation, Secretary-General’s Bulletin (ST/SGB/2000/8), New York: United Nations.

UNFPA (2009) Culture Matters, New York, NY: United Nations Population Fund.

UNFPA (2010) “UNFPA – About UNFPA“, United Nations Population Fund, Available: http://www.unfpa.org/public/home/about [18 October 2011]

UNFPA (2011) Report on Human Resources Management in UNFPA, Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Population Fund, New York: United Nations Population Fund.

Williams, R.S. (2002) and (2009) Managing Employee Performance: Design and implementation in organizations, London: Thomson Learning

Yin, R. (1984) Case Study Research: Design and Methods, Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications

Zakaria, Y. (1997) The Cultural Context of Business, A Study of Firms in a Northern

Nigerian Society, Stockholm: Gotab Press.

Categories
Free Essays

Analysis of Culture and Leadership Styles

1.1 Introduction

People expect their leaders to behave in a certain manner due to their bestowed status. Cultural forces play a major role in outlining the performance of its leaders. Several countries embrace concept of leadership in all organizational and political aspects (Zelden, 2006). This implies that leadership is a definite function of cultural differences in the USA and France. In addition, countries differ in exercising leadership concepts. France, for instance has, distinctly varied views about their culture and leadership style. France embraces two major traits among its leaders; based on their charismatic and ability to build consensus while the USA embraces two traits from its leaders: those who delegate authority and grant autonomy (Williams, 2009). The paper also takes an insight about the various clashing leadership practices in the economic and political sectors. In addition, the paper highlights the French culture in the domain of values orientation and dimensions. Stereotypes align the destiny of a country and changes the way people view their leaders. The paper highlights practical clashes in the ethical consideration in France and the US. The success of a given country stems from the imminent culture and leadership styles.

1.2 Brief Overview of French Culture

In France, the leaders stream from their management schools such as the Grandes Ecole, which is one of the elite schools. The colleges are the champion of intellectual rigor amongst the able youths in the country. This leads to a highly educated group of leaders with extremely high academic precision. The society also values intellectualism amongst the leaders. The management in French constitutes the leadership which is assigned the intellectual task of mastering and analyzing the concepts and information in a rational manner (Hall, 2009). The society also practices other pragmatic issues such as motivation to its followers. Decisions are made at senior levels progressing to the lowly rated leaders for implementation (Zelden, 2006). This is seen as a directive approach by those in a non-hierarchical background and from a consensus orientation. These groups of people view the leadership system insufficient of the required team building elements and being authoritative. France has a high level of power distance as well as high uncertainty avoidance. The French society values a collective culture and is keen on upholding women issues.

1.3 Clashing Values, Attitudes and Behavior between and France and American Culture

1.3.1 Power Distance

Power distance is a virtue used to measure ‘inequality’ acceptance level in a given society. Basically, all societies’ experience ‘inequality’ but at varied levels, for instance: legal, social, political and material differences (Alder, 2008). Societies differ at the level at which they accept inequality. USA, for instance, has a lower power distance as compared to France. Government leaders with power tend to act above other human beings just like President Nixon who made attempts to circumvent the law to justify his unruly behavior (Crunden, 2008). When we compare this trait between the US and France, several insights are established. Jacques Rousseau differentiated between inequality on intelligence and force. Rousseau asserted that all men ought to be considered equal despite devoid of privileges and superiority among human beings (Hall, 2009). In France, leaders have taken the power distance advantage and are exploiting people at personal benefit. This clearly explains why France is not successful when compared to other countries like the USA.

1.3.2 Uncertainty Avoidance

This virtue helps define an attitude forged on the unknown. It is evident that some societies exhibit more anxiety in coping with uncertainty over others. Deresky (2006) opines that the USA manifests lower uncertainty avoidance while France has a higher score of uncertainty avoidance. This implies that fear of the unknown in France may elicit people to take on in actions that have uncertain outcomes. In contrast, low uncertainty people tend to be innovative, are risk takers and they are never hampered by uncertainties that hinder one’s progress (Boehnke, 2012). It is also a factor which hinders understanding of the French culture due to various contradictions in the French culture. Countries with high uncertainty avoidance, acknowledge that employs are supposed to obey their leaders without queries about their decisions and motives. However, France manifests a different channel as employees have the power to understand the operations of the organization and decline to follow an order blindly as opposed to the case in the USA. Employees in France can withhold compliance and decide that the leaders or the supervisor does not have the right to request a certain issue from the employee (Miroshnik, 2010).

1.4 French Culture using the Values Orientation Dimensions

Yukl (2006) acknowledges that collectivism measures the socialization gained by an individual as part of a given group. The society believes that their livelihood is alleged to a given group considering its members and seeking support from the group. Individuals offer their products to a group in a collectivistic culture while individuals usually stand apart from a given group in an individualistic culture (Zelden, 2006). France has a mild individualistic culture (Alder, 2008). This implies that France has a consolidated collectivistic culture. Ties are very loose among workers, children and parents and among individuals. France finds it hard to manifest and respect decisions made by a certain ‘group’ but it prefers independent relationships (Adler, 2008).

Femininity is a measure by which states pursue attributes linked with women such as; quality of life, social harmony and safeguarding relationships (Williams, 2009). Feminine societies are characterized to put more emphasis on such traits. Masculine societies on the other hand, adhere to manly behaviors like wealth accumulation, quality of life and they value work as opposed to embracing social pursuits. Individuals in a masculine culture gain fame by the extent to what they have while feminine culture defines individuals based on who they are and as intrinsic beings. France has a lower score in embracing masculinity but it has performed well in embracing femininity. France is ranked number six in the world economy due to its adherence to femininity virtues (Yukl, 2006). For France to prosper in its economy, it has to join the USA by setting aside the quality of life and love for harmony. In addition, individual liberties and freedom has caused France to deteriorate in economic growth.

1.5 Leadership Style to be used in France

Charisma invokes an attribution element on the subjects as they envy personal costs and sacrifices made by their leaders in accomplishing their vision. Charismatic leaders have an extraordinary influence on their subjects. Such leaders exhibit dominance, extraversion and self-confidence (Hall, 2009). Charismatic leaders use emotional appeals as opposed to authority when eliciting compliance from their followers. Charisma may be easily adaptable by the French culture as opposed to the US culture. French culture is not limited to adhering to authority despite having a collectivistic culture (Deresky, 2006). In addition, French does not change their ways due to external forces. However, French subjects may be easily influenced by a charismatic leader as they might feel that they respect and adhere to his objections freely. French followers like the fact that they are free subjects with right to act in an appealing manner. This implies that the congruence between followers and leaders’ vision can merge with the followers and leaders’ values (Hall, 2009). ‘France’ ‘therefore’ is an outstanding state with all these traits in congruence.

1.6 Role of Stereotypes

Stereotypes play a huge role in the management of a company and a state. In the US culture, the subjects have been acclimatized to the natural rule of the land. For a long time, the Americans have shown respect to leaders who delegate authority to the juniors and grant autonomy. The Americans have been subjected to the norm rule and show much respect to risk taking and confident leaders. This has been exemplified by leaders such as John Wayne (Hall, 2009). The adoption of masculinity in US has led to its huge growth in economy. Masculinity is associated with creation and accumulation of wealth as well as value addition in someone’s life. Stereotypes in the French culture have made Mitterand and De Gaulle national heroes (William, 2009). This is based on the perceived good leadership skills such ability to build consensus and charisma. The French economy has deteriorated due to believe in femininity which is associated with love for harmony and quality of life.

1.7 Practical Advice

The adoption of a single and universal leadership style is quite vital in all sectors of life such as the economic, social and cultural. Policy makers have the mandate to ensure that all individuals adhere to the national culture. Achieving the adoption of policy both at national and company level helps asses the ways in which subjects react towards decisions made. It is difficult for strict measures to be adhered to in the US both at national and organization level. This is due to the pragmatic approach adopted in the analysis of varied situations (Adler, 2008). On the other hand, French tend to adopt philosophy in most of the decisions as well as protesting both at national and organization level. The French believe in liberty, equality and freedom. Knowledge about the importance of adopting a universal leadership style helps policy makers in transcribing other modes in devising policies.

1.8 Possible Clashes

Adoption of a universal leadership style may also help in the economic ‘sector’ especially the relationship between the employees and the boss. Adoption of a transformational system may sometimes be misleading a country like France may require tactics of more than just a transformational leader to convince the subjects accept his or her decisions (William, 2009). A company based in the US may find it hard to cope with French culture as the company may face several ‘riots’ however, a company acting in unison with the anticipations of the subjects’ values and vision will prosper. More so, understanding culture and leadership helps people with diverse culture such as American adopting French standards to cope and ignore differences between cultural values (Hall, 2009).

1.9 Conclusion

This paper has theoretically analysed the French culture in terms of the leadership style and culture. The study has also concluded that leadership emerges from influence. In the US, for ‘instance’ leaders propose the decisions that followers must adhere to for the country to achieve the set goals. Decision are made and at times not followed in the French culture as the followers claim that every decision must be in compliance with equality and freedom (Adler, 2008). France is therefore one of the states that ought to redefine its leadership style. The varied cultures in the two countries have forced one group to set up conditions to help express its freedom towards what is considered good as the other group has pursued what is aligned towards the perceptions of the individual. Thus, France and the USA have two varied national leadership and cultural traits.

References

Adler, N. (2008). International dimensions of organizational behavior, fifth edition. New York, NY: Thomson Learning.

Boehnke, K. (2012). Transformational leadership: an examination of cross-national differences and similarities. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 24(1), 5-15.

Crunden, R. M. (2008). A brief history of American culture. New York: Paragon House.

Deresky, H. (2006). International management: Managing across borders and cultures. (5th ed.). NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Hall, E. T. (2009). Beyond culture. New York: Doubleday.

Miroshnik, V. (2010). Culture and international management: A review. Journal of Management Development, 21(7), 521-544.

Williams, S. D. (2009). Personality, attitude, and leader influences on divergent thinking and creativity in organizations. European Journal of Innovation Management, 7(3), 187-204.

Yukl, G. (2006). Leadership in organizations (6th ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Zelden, T. (2006). The French. London: Harvill, Harper Collins.

Categories
Free Essays

Critically evaluate the extent to which an organisation’s structure and culture may determine its ability to transform itself

ABSTRACT

This paper discusses concepts of organisational transformation. Specifically, it examines how the structure and cultures of the organisation can either facilitate or reduce its capability to transform. In doing this, the paper highlights six theories of organisational transformation. It also highlights the various types of organisational change: planned, emergent and incremental. It later focuses on the impact of organisational culture and structure on the transformational ability of the organisation. It ends with a comprehensive conclusion of the issues discussed.

1.Introduction

The dynamism that characterizes present day organisational environments makes it imperative for organisations to embrace change and transformation. According to Dawson (2003), organisational change is defined as the adoption of new approaches in organisational processes. Another definition for organisational change was given by Burnes (1996), who referred to organisational change as the understanding of alteration within an organisation both at broadcast levels – among individual employees – and collective levels –in the whole organisation. However, there are many instances where change is resisted. Reasons for this include fear of uncertainties and the fact that change changes disrupt certain habits. There are several factors that can either facilitate or inhibit the implementation of change within an organisation. Among these factors are organisational culture and organisational structures. Organisational culture is made up of collective behaviours and values of members of a given organisation, and the factors that determine their actions (Alvesson, 2012). Organisational structure, on the other hand, is defined as the hierarchy of authority, communication and responsibility within an organisation (Daft & Murphy, 2010). From these definitions, it is evident that these two organisational aspects have an influence on the implementation of organisational transformation. This report will critically evaluate the extent to which organisational culture and structure can affect the ability of organisations to transform themselves.

2.Theories of Organisational Change

Insights about organisational change can be better developed by understanding the theories that govern these changes. There are six main models of organisational change. These are dialectical, life cycle, evolutionary, social cognition teleological and cultural theories (Kezar, 2001). The evolutionary theory is based on the assumption that transformations in organisations take place in response to external situations, or other circumstantial variables that are faced by all organisations. The teleological model, also referred to as the planned change model, assumes that organisational transformation takes place when stakeholders see the need for change (Bouckenooghe, 2010). This model’s linear nature is comparable to that of evolutionary theory, but managers are more involved in the teleological model. The life cycle model conceptualises change as a developmental process of an organisation over time. The dialectical theory visualizes organisational change as a process that occurs because of differences in ideologies and beliefs of people within the organisation. The social cognition model assumes that change is connected to learning and changing of behaviours among people in the organisation (Burnes, 1996). The cultural approach to organisational change assumes that change takes place in a natural way to respond to the cultural transformations that are always taking place.

Understanding these theories aids in the assessment of change in the macro-levels of organizations. They give reasons as to why, when, how and what changes are bound to occur in organizations (Dawson, 2003). Furthermore, every model that has been explained above stands for a unique ideology that relates with its assumptions about different aspects of the organization. Some of these aspects include the ease of implementing change in the organization. In literature and practice, it has been established that the teleological and evolutionary models are the most prevalent (Kezar, 2001). The teleological model is synonymous with planned change while the evolutionary model is synonymous with incremental change. These types of change have been explained below.

3.Types of Organisational Change

There are three types of organisational change, planned, emergent and incremental (Myers et al., 2012, p.58). Planned organisational change is constructed on the assumption that an organisation operates in an environment that is stable. Thus, transformations are pre-meditated and executed systematically. Emergent change is a continuous open-ended process that is characterised by unpredictability and an emphasis on the bottom-up approach to management. Incremental transformation tries to synchronize the performance of an organisation with the situations that characterise its external environment (Daft & Murphy, 2010).

4.Effects of Organisational Culture on its Ability to Transform

Organisational culture, as aforementioned, is made up of values and beliefs which shape the behaviours and norms within an organisation. Thus, it has an influence on the way organisational processes take place. One attribute of organisational culture that can be used to gauge the extent of its impact on the ability of an organisation to change is its capacity for risk taking (Kezar, 2001; Curran, 2005). According to Curran (2005), research has suggested that risk cultures facilitate adaptability and innovativeness in organisations. When changes take place within an organisation, there is always an element of risk and uncertainty that accompanies it. Organisations that have cultivated a culture of risk enable their managers and employees to comfortably make choices different to those which they might otherwise have made, without being afraid that their choices fail. The social cognition model of organisational change also stresses the need for organisations to create a culture that supports risk, allowing change in organisational processes without fear of failure. According to Kezar (2001), organisations that are characterised by risky and flexible cultures have the ability to make quick responses to sudden issues and crises. In addition to this, they are able to successfully adapt their business techniques to new trends, regardless of the outcome. A culture that can be described as dynamic and flexible is the ‘adhocratic’ culture. This is exemplified by companies like Google, whose abilities to develop new services to capture markets have made them leaders in their industry. This is a typical display of the evolutionary model of organisational change (Curran, 2005).

There are also other aspects and types of organisational culture which slow down transformation. Transformation does not take place until it is planned (Ford et al., 2008). Cultures that fit this description are those that are stable, orderly and are in control. These types of organisational culture tend to be predictable and mechanistic. They tend to believe that it is better to stick to the known than embrace the unknown. The advantage of these cultures is that they are consistent and sustainable, and offer higher levels of job security. However this type of culture can limit the organisation’s ability to transform. Such cultures do not encourage innovativeness and creativity amongst employees, and are slow to respond to changes in the environment. This type of organisation tends to be well- established, having been in operation for a long time.

5.Effects of Organisational Structures on its Ability to Transform

Like organisational culture, the effects that organisational structures have on change are varied. Some structures that support change, others do not. Organisational structures can be defined in several ways, for example the formalization, departmentalization and centralization frameworks, or in terms of the hierarchy levels within the structure (Covin & Slevin, 1982). All these frameworks have aspects that facilitate organisational change and other aspects which suppress or limit the change.

The centralisation framework suggests that centralized organisational structures are characterized by decisions being made at higher levels of the hierarchy. On the other hand, decisions in decentralized structures are made by people who are closest to the issues at hand (Carpenter et al., 2010). Of the two, the decentralized structure is likely to be more suitable for facilitating change.

Formalization in organisational structures refers to the extent to which explicit articulation of rules, procedures and responsibilities exist within an organisation. Organisational structures with high levels of formalization have more written rules and regulations than those with lower levels. Because of this, innovativeness and creativity reduce as formalisation increases within the organisation (Juillerat, 2010). Thus, since innovation and creativity are synonymous with organisational transformation, lower levels of formality increase the transformation capability of organisations.

The departmentalisation framework is divided into functional and divisional structures. Functional structures have departments based on responsibilities to be carried out., for example the marketing department. On the other hand, a divisional structure creates departments based on unique products in the organisation. Within each department is a replication of functional departments (Carpenter et al., 2010). Divisional structures facilitate organisational change more than functional structures, because they have increased innovation and creativity and reduced response time.

Structures that are divided into many hierarchies between top and bottom (tall structures) slow down the decision making process within the organisation. On the other hand, organisations that have flat structures, with fewer hierarchies, have more equality between employees (Carpenter et al., 2010). Therefore, there is more flexibility, innovation and facilitation of change.

As shown in all the frameworks above, organisational structures that delegate decision making to the larger employee body as opposed to concentrating it amongst a few managers at the top increase the ability of organisations to transform.

6.Conclusion

This paper has highlighted the necessity of embracing change in the contemporary business world. It has also examined models and theories that define organisational change. Organisational structures and cultures are vital components of any organisation and are considered to play a large role in determining the ability of organisations to transform. More stable, orderly and controlling organisational cultures tend to inhibit organisational transformation. On the other hand, cultures that are flexible and dynamic increase the capability of organisations to transform. With reference to organisational structures, those that delegate decision-making to employees are better suited for transformation than those that give a few managers the responsibility for decision making.

Bibliography

Alvesson, M., 2012. Understanding Organisational Culture. London: SAGE Publications.

Bouckenooghe, D., 2010. Positioning Change Recipients’ Attitudes Toward Change in the Organisational Change Literature. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 46(4), pp.500-31.

Burnes, B., 1996. Managing change: A strategic approach to organisational dynamics. London: Pitman.

Carpenter, M., Bauer, T. & Erdogan, B., 2010. Principles of Management. Flat World Knowledge.

Covin, J.G. & Slevin, D.P., 1982. The in?uence of organisational structure. Journal of Management Studies, 25, pp.217-34.

Curran, C.J., 2005. Organisational Culture. Journal for Nonprofit Management: The Path to Better Organisations, pp.28-40.

Daft, R.L., 2001. Organisation Theory and Design. Cincinnati: South-Western College Publishers.

Daft, R.L. & Murphy, J., 2010. Organisation: Theory and Design. Mason: Cengage Learning.

Dawson, P., 2003. Understanding Organisational Change: The Contemporary Experience of People at Work. London: Sage.

Ford, J.D., Ford, L.W. & D’Amelio, A., 2008. Resistance to change: The rest of the Story. Academy of Management Review, 33, pp.362-77.

Juillerat, T.L., 2010. Friends, not foes?: Work design and formalization in the modern work context. Journal of Organisational Behavior, 31(2-3), pp.216-39.

Kezar, A.J., 2001. Understanding and Facilitating Organisational Change in the 21st Century. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report, 28(4), pp.1-144.

Myers, P., Hulks, S. & Wiggins, L., 2012. Organisational Change: Perspectives on Theory and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Categories
Free Essays

The investigation into the impact of organisational culture on innovation and performance: A case study of Apple Inc.

Abstract

Innovation and performance are important elements of organisational culture as they help with business growth and development. As a result, it is vital that all businesses adopt and create an innovative culture in order to be successful. How this can be attained is unclear, yet many organisations attempt to instil innovation into their companies through the creation of various programs. Whether this works or not is a matter for debate, yet it is apparent that those organisations which lack innovation are unlikely to be as successful as those who have innovation. Apple Inc provides a good example as to how building an innovative culture and enabling internal systems to drive innovative behaviours leads to success.

The Proposed Plan of Work

Introduction

The creation of new products is at the forefront of economic growth, which is why the focus on innovation and performance within small and large organisations has greatly increased over the years (Hall and Mairesse, 1995, pp. 263-293); (Klette and Kortum, 2002). It has been said, nonetheless, that innovation creates productivity (Loof and Heshmati, 2002, p. 21) because of the fact that the growth rate of productivity only grows when new innovations are introduced. In accordance with this, it seems as though innovation and productivity are simultaneous and that organisational culture has a lot to do with the degree of novelty the innovations possess. Organisational culture thus has a significant impact upon innovation and performance and helps to determine how new methods, ideas and products are to be created. If an organisation fails to create a corporate culture of innovation, it is unlikely that the business will grow and the performance of individuals will effectively be stifled. Establishing a corporate culture of innovation requires the creation of teams sharing the same horizontal positions of power so that each person within that team can play a theoretically equal role. This is in comparison to the more traditional hierarchical organisation, which does not place individuals on an equal footing and leads to a lack of incentive to innovate (Barone, 2010, p. 1). Apple Inc is one the biggest organisations that have developed an organisational culture of innovation and performance and has recognised that “creativity and innovation skills are critical to future success in life and work” (ACOT, 2012, p. 1).

Research Objective

The objective of this study is to determine the effects organisational culture has on innovation and performance. A case study on Apple Inc will thus be provided in order to establish whether the creation of an innovative culture within any organisation is one of the most important parts of a business’s organisational structure.

Research Questions

Is innovation an important part of any businesses organisational structure?

Can innovation be created?

What impact does organisational culture have on innovation and performance?

Is innovation what drives a business’s success?

Do innovation programs work?

How important is it to build an innovative culture within an organisation?

Is the success of Apple Inc the result of the innovative culture that has been established?

What advantages does innovation bring to an organisation?

What does the innovation process consist of?

Is there a difference between innovation and invention?

Does innovation affect performance?

Key Words

Innovation

Performance

Organisational Culture

Apple Inc.

Innovative Programmes

Innovative Process

Innovation and Invention

Methodology

Secondary research will be used for this study so that existing data can be gathered and thereby analysed. This is the most appropriate form of research that is required for this study as the collection of primary data would be too costly and lengthy. In addition, it would be very difficult to collect data from large organisations such as Apple Inc and given the projects aims; it would be unwise to embark upon this type of study. Quantitative and qualitative research methods will be used so that the literature can provide a wider analysis of the subject matter. Quantitative research gathers information that is in numerical form, whilst qualitative research gathers information that is not in numerical form but which contains descriptive data. Whilst this type of data is a lot more difficult to analyse than quantitative data, a better evaluation of the topic in question can be made. The resources that will be used include text books, journal articles, online databases, government reports and applicable websites.

Main Body

Chapter 1 – Innovation and Performance Overview

Innovation is defined as “the introduction of new methods, ideas or products” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2012, p. 390). In accordance with this it is thereby evident that innovation takes place when something new is introduced into the market which subsequently leads to economic growth. Because of how important economic growth is, it is vital that innovation is part of any organisations culture. This is because, a lack of innovation will significantly affect the success of the business and the businesses’ overall performance will be impaired. How an organisation can improve innovation and performance is difficult to determine because whilst businesses want to be successful, they do not necessarily want to be innovative. Nevertheless, as put by Ryan (2012, p. 1): “A successful organisation achieves the goals and objectives that it sets itself. Innovation is simply a lever that delivers success rather than an end in itself.” However, it was further made clear by Ryan that whilst levers that can be used as a means of delivering success, it is important that innovation is placed in context with the objectives and aims of the organisation in question. Arguably, this suggests that innovation is the most important lever of an organisation that helps to deliver its success. Innovation should therefore be at the forefront of any organisation’s structure and should be promoted throughout its life cycle.

Chapter 2 – Organisational Culture and Innovation

Whilst it is vital for innovation to become part of an organisations culture, there has been much debate as to who drives innovation. It was traditionally argued by Schumpeter (1934, p. 65) that small businesses drive innovation, whilst large businesses simply dominate innovation by investing in its research and development. Not all agree with this, however, and instead it has been argued by Szirmai et al; (2011: p. 8) that innovation exists within the individual and that it does not matter whether the business is small or large. Regardless of this, small businesses are likely to be more innovative than large businesses simply because of the fact that small businesses have a greater desire and need to be successful. Essentially, small businesses are therefore more likely to embed innovation into their organisational structure by creating an innovative culture. However, as noted by MIT Sloan (2011, p. 8); “there are no quick fixes, panaceas or one size fits all solutions.” Not all businesses can successfully create innovation, but it is imperative that they make some attempt to create an innovation culture as innovative businesses generally yield high returns (Douhan and Henrekson, 2007: p. 2).

Chapter 3 – Apple Inc and Innovation

An innovative culture has certainly been created within Apple Inc., which is why this organisation has had so much success. Steve Jobs, the co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc, thus made it clear early on that innovation is what created his success: “innovation is what distinguishes between a leader and a follower” (Raup, 2012: 1). Although Jobs did not believe that innovation could be taught through innovative programs he did believe that it could be established by following his seven general principles (Gallo, 2010, pp. 15-209). He believed that the seven principles provided sufficient guidance to undertake innovative practices within any organisation and thus generate new ideas. This is because, it was felt by Jobs that innovation existed within all human beings. Conversely, innovation within an organisation could not be ascertained without the establishment of an organisational innovative culture. This is because; the whole of the organisation would need to possess an innovative mind, which would require a greater awareness and understanding of the innovative process: “Becoming innovative requires an organisational culture which nurtures innovation and is conducive to creativity” (Ahmed, 1998, p. 1).

Chapter 4 – Innovative process

The innovative process will depend entirely upon the organisational culture and climate that has been created. This is because, whilst innovation is present within all human beings it will depend upon the particular organisation as to whether the innovative attribute is to be triggered or not. The importance of “simultaneously introducing product and process innovations” was highlighted by Walker (2004, p. 1) when he made it clear that innovation plays a mediating role in the management-performance relationship of an organization. Nevertheless, whilst it became apparent just how important the creation of an innovative culture is, it could not be established how a strategy of organisational innovativeness should be pursued (Walker (2004, p. 1). Provided that businesses’ understand the innovative process; innovation will undoubtedly be created. In addition, as put by Brown and Frame (2003, p. 11); “in managing innovation, it is important for all groups to understand the subjectivity of each group’s value judgements.” If the subjectivity of each group’s value judgements is not fully understood, difficulties will ensue when trying to interact and integrate with each other and the growth of the business will be constrained.

Chapter 4 – Innovation and Performance Lessons from Apple Inc

Much can be learnt from the way Apple strives on innovation and performance within its company, which is clear from the fact that Apple has one of the most valuable empires of all time. Because innovation is the main driver of Apples organisational structure, it is apparent that innovation is the main attribute all businesses need if they want to be as successful. Nevertheless, “while experts remain optimistic about Apple’s future, they predict the strength of the Apple empire could be undermined by politically unrealistic growth expectations” (Bosker, 2012, p. 1). Whether this means that Apple’s future remains uncertain is questionable, but given the innovative nature of Apple’s business structure, it is unlikely that Apple’s success will fade as new products will continue to be introduced into the market. Thus, it does not matter that Steve Jobs is no longer with Apple since his innovative legacy will live on because of the innovative organisational culture that has been created. If innovation was not part of Apple’s business structure, it is likely that Apple would have been doomed from the start, which illustrates the importance of innovation. Consequently, as pointed out by Muller (1); “innovation and creativity have long been regarded as the lifeblood of organisational success.” In addition, it was also added that; “in the 21st century innovation practices and initiatives have become more important than ever due to a fast and unpredictably changing global business environment.” Essentially, innovation has never been more important and because of the continuous advances in society, it is vital that the principles of innovation management are being embraced by all. This is because, “organisations that do not innovate will not survive” (Swaim, 2010, p. 78).

Conclusion

Overall, it is evident from the above findings that innovation and performance are integral attributes of a business’s structure. This is because; businesses that do not create an innovative organisational culture will not be successful since innovation is the lifeblood of any organisation within today’s society. Because advances in technology are continuously being made, new products need to be introduced into the market on a continual basis in order to satisfy consumers. Therefore, organisations that fail to introduce new things will ultimately fail since they will not be deemed relevant in the 21st century. Whilst innovation cannot be created, however, it can in fact be instigated by following the seven general principles of innovation as laid down by Jobs. Provided that these principles are followed, all businesses will most likely be successful which is evident from the success of Apple Inc. Innovation was the main attribute of Apple and because of this, the Apple empire will continue to live on. How innovation can be effectively managed is open to debate but given that the general principles are followed, an innovation culture will be created.

Literature Review

Text Books

Ahmed, P. K. (1998) Culture and Climate for Innovation, Emereld 1.

Gallo, C. (2010) The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success, MgGraw-Hill, 1st Edition.

Muller, C. (2011) Apple’s Approach Towards Innovation and Creativity: How Apple, the Most Innovative Company in the World, Manages Innovation and Creativity, GRIN Verlag.

Oxford Dictionaries. (2012) Paperback Oxford English Dictionary. OUP Oxford. 7th Edition.

Schumpeter, J. A. (1934) The Theory of Economic Development, Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press.

Swaim, R. (2010) The Strategic Drucker, Singapore: Saik Wah, Press Pte Ltd.

Journal Articles

ACOT. (2012) Culture of Innovation and Creativity, Apple Classrooms of Today – Tomorrow, [Online] Available: http://education.apple.com/acot2/innovation/ [30 December 2012].

Barone, L. (2010) How to Create A Corporate Culture of Innovation, [Online] Available: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-create-a-corporate-culture-of-innovation-2010-6?op=1 [30 December 2012].

Bosker, B. (2012) Will Apple’s Empire Decline Like Microsoft’s, [Online] Available: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/apple-valuation_n_1819316.html [31 December 2012].

Brown, C. and Frame, J. (2003) Small Business Innovation Management, [Online] Available: www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/wbs/conf/olkc/…/brown__frame.pdf [30 December 2012].

Douhan, R. and Henrekson, M. (2007) The Political Economy of Entrepreneurship, 2nd Draft, Prepared for ISNIE Conference in Reykjavik.

Hall, B. H. and Mairesse, J. (1995) Exploring the Relationship Between R&D and Productivity in French Manufacturing Firms, Journal of Econometrics 65(1).

Klette, T. J., and Kortum, S. (2002) Innovating Firms and Aggregate Innovation, NBER, Working Paper No 9919.

Loof, H. and Heshmati, A. (2001) On the Relationship Between Innovation and Performance: A Sensitivity Analysis, Royal Institute of Technology, Industrial Economics and Management, [Online] Available: elsa.berkeley.edu/~bhhall/EINT/Loof_Heshmati.pdf [29 December 2012].

MIT Sloan. (2011) Top 10 Lessons on the New Business of Innovation, A Special Collection of Innovation and Management Insights from MIT Sloan Management Review, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Raup, M. R. (2012) Innovation Distinguishes Between a Leader and a Follower – Steve Jobs, PSEL, [Online] Available: http://www.personal.psu.edu/mrr18/blogs/psel/2012/06/innovation-distinguishes-between-a-leader-and-a-follower—steve-jobs.html [30 December 2012].

Ryan, A. (2012) Innovation Performance, Managed Innovation, [Online] Available: www.managedinnovation.com/Text/…/1150260519468-4125.pdf [30 December 2012].

Szirmai, A. Naude, W. and Goedhuys, M. (2011) Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Economic Development, Oxford University Press.

Walker, R. M. (2004) Innovation and Organisational Performance: Evidence and a Research Agenda, AIM Research, [Online] Available: http://www.aimresearch.org/Publications/working-papers/working-papers-1—10/wp-002—innovation-and-organizational [30 December 2012].

Categories
Free Essays

An Investigation of the Influence of Organisational Culture on Project Management

Research Objectives
To explore the link between organisational culture and project management.
To evaluate the impact of organisational culture on innovation and project management success.
To formulate recommendations on the impact of organisational culture on the management of projects.

Introduction

This literature review explores the main issues surrounding the influence of organisational culture in the management of projects within the National Health Service and financial institutions (banks). The literature review will also review the available guidelines that assist project managers in tackling the identified issues. To this end, this review will draw on a series of landmark studies in the current body of literature in order to facilitate a structured and critical analysis of the ways in which organisational culture influences project management. Firstly, in order to address this question, the term “organisational culture” needs to be defined. The enquiry into “culture” first began at the end nineteenth century (Deshpande and Webster, 1989; Reigle, 2003; Bertho et al., 2001). However, there has been no single, universal definition of organisational culture. Marshall and Marshall (1993) define organisational culture as a melting pot of beliefs, rules, actions, regulations, and attitudes that guide behaviour in an organisational context. In this way, every organisation has its own organisational culture that is formed by its members (Cleland & Ireland, 2006). An organisation’s culture can also be formed through the different rites, rituals and the expected patterns of communication and behaviour within the organisation (Mullins, 2007). A more conventional way of defining culture, however, is the procedure by which things are carried out and achieved in a given organisation. For example, Atkinson (1990) offers a definition of organisational culture as a set of underlying processes that influence the way in which work is performed. Researchers such as Kilman et al., (1985) and Sackman (1991) corroborate this view and see culture as “the way we do things around here”. In this way, every organisational culture carries its own modus operandi that has positive and negative aspects. For the purposes of this project, this will be the definition that shall guide the literature review and following study. Considerable research has suggested a significant influence of organisational culture on project performance, and the subsequent success of organisations (Yazini, 2009; Brown, 2008; Andersen et al., 2009). For example, a number of studies have shown that organisational culture influences specific project organisational culture, such as goal planning, employee commitment to project goals, and the performance of project teams (Stare, 2011). Organisational culture can also exert its influence on organisational processes that include decision-making, design, structure, motivation, job-satisfaction and management control (Pheysey, 1993). Moreover, organisational culture has also been found to influence the “sub culture” of a project team as indicated in research by Kerzner (2001) who found that organisational culture can impact the trust, connection and co-operation within a project team. Organisational culture can also critically influence innovation, group effectiveness and achievement, and the overall success of an organisation (Reigle, 2001). However, project management has also been found to play a critical role in an organisation’s success. For example, Tidd and Bessant (2009) found that the commitment level of top management is linked with the innovation of an organisation. Moreover, project management is important in maintaining a balance between a team’s culture and an organisational culture. In the current times of economic instability, project management is needed to allow individuals to accomplish their individual goals and aspirations as well as the objectives and goals of a project. Moreover, whilst an organisational culture can change, adapt and evolve over time, individuals are often more resistant to change, especially if organisational changes have not been adequately explained to them and they are ignorant of the benefits to the organisation (Cleland & Ireland, 2006). In these cases, a project manager is needed to step in and motivate his/her team so that the change takes place smoothly. Given the importance of both organisational culture and project management on the success of an organisation, a limited amount of research has indirectly drawn links between organisational culture and project management. For example, Shore (2008) hypothesised that the way in which projects are carried out is deeply influenced by both the project leader, but also the way in which the organisation performs its work. Schein (1991) also suggested that individuals within an organisation cannot create a new organisational culture, but can contribute to its evolution over time. Consequently, an organisation can learn to embrace a completely different modus operandi and adopt a novel way of doing things. However, these kinds of transformations demand high degrees of tolerance and acceptance of change. These changes also often require organisations to be open to deviating from traditional norms and operating in flexible and adaptive ways. In such cases, the role of effective project management is essential, as it is needed to equip others with skill-sets in which they can face changes in the organisational culture. Similarly, Mullins (2007) noted that every organisational culture differs from one region to another, and therefore, the project management must be formulated in such a way that it is able to adjust to these changes and explore opportunities for development. Moreover, for an organisation to be successful in the management of projects, the project team culture must hold values, principles, procedures and management philosophies that are in line with the organisation’s culture (Cleland & Ireland, 2006). In other words, there must be equality within the organisational culture. Cultural equality ensures that the management of projects is consistent with the organisational culture that supports a project’s advancement and success. However, this consistency will not exist unless senior managers are able to develop and communicate a vision that effective project management is important, worth doing, and actively supports the use of resources to accomplish project objectives, (Cleland & Ireland, 2006).Due to the aforementioned strong links between organisational culture and project management, some researchers have modified the definition of organisational culture to be a reflection of management authority (Cartwright, 1999). In other words, this definition proposes that an organisational culture that is widely accepted, can help employees align themselves with their organisation, internalise the organisation’s beliefs as their own and motivate employees to achieve the organisation’s objectives (Cartwright, 1999). This research therefore, begs the central question of whether organisational culture impacts the management of projects. In line with this question, research by Pinto (2010) has revealed four different ways in which organisational culture can influence project management. Firstly, culture impacts the ways in which teams and departments communicate and interact with each other when faced with tasks and goals. Secondly, organisational culture influences the attitudes that employees hold towards project goals. Thirdly, culture affects the planning that takes place in preparation for a project. Finally, culture impacts the ways in which managers evaluate project team performance and a project’s success. Using this research as a grounding framework, the current study addresses the paucity of research on the impact of organisational culture on project management and aims to delve further into an understanding of the different ways in which culture exerts its impact using an inductive approach. The findings may, in turn, make significant theoretical and applied contributions. In the former case, the research will provide support for a previously under-studied topic. In the latter case, a greater emphasis on project managers in relation to the organisational culture may challenge the “not invented-here” mind-set (Tidd & Bessant, 2009) in which organisations resist change and fail to see the potential of new ideas and inventions. By understanding the relationship between organisational culture and project management, this research will point to the mechanisms such as training of the necessary staff and effective communication that will accommodate changes and bring about enthusiasm, commitment and a sense of involvement for all employees and managers (Tidd & Bessant, 2009).

Extra References:

Andersen, E. S., Grude, K. V., Haug, T. (2004). Goal directed project

management: effective techniques and strategies. London: Konan Page.

Brown, C. J. (2008). A Comprehensive Organisational Model for the

Effective Management of Project Management. South African Journal

of Business Management, 39(3), 1-10.

Kerzner, H. (2001). Strategic Planning for Project Management: Using a Project Management Maturity Model. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Pinto, J. K. (2010). Project Management: Achieving Competitive Advantage. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Categories
Free Essays

Discuss the uses, meanings and social effects of commodities in contemporary culture?

Introduction

When Karl Marx spoke of commodities in the late Nineteenth century he imbued them with a central role in the life and purpose of modern society. They were not trivial things or easily understood by any means, but were instead the very stuff which gave society its meaning. I wish to argue that his theory of commodities, (and commodity fetishism in particular), have striking resonance for our contemporary culture. I aim to demonstrate below that these ideas still have relevance for our lives today and that commodities have not altered so much between his time and our own in terms of their uses, meanings and social effects.

Marx described how if someone produces an object, such as a textile, a piece of furniture and so on, that object, despite the investment of their personal labour, remains the property of their boss. This humble yet essential fact turns the item into a commodity, or merchandise. Throughout the Twentieth Century commodities such as home appliances, off the shelf clothing and semi disposable electronic gadgets have played an increasingly prominent role in all our lives, whether we want them to or not, and we are all ‘consumers’ now. But what exactly is a commodity Marx defined them as objects, usually but not exclusively inert, which have been imbued with many different kinds of social characteristics in the marketplace, the properties of which satisfy some human want or desire. At first sight there could be nothing more ordinary, but Marx wrote of them as being, “… very queer thing[s], abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties”. (Marx cited in Guins p 89)

Marx described the process whereby manufactured goods were presented to us in such a way as to hide the true story of how, and by whom, they were made. He described how societies involved in commodity production and exchange; experience their social relations as relations between the products of their labour – relations between things rather than relations between people, (ibid) in other words; commodity fetishism. He uses the term ‘fetish’ deliberately to invoke a religious sensibility, with which he believed modern society endowed the commodities which it produced. Can we transfer these notions of commodity fetishism to contemporary lifeIs it possible that his ideas, based as they were on the nineteenth century world of factory life and working class oppression, have any relevance for our contemporary ‘consumer’ culture of high-tech gadgets and high street shopping?

Raymond Williams (1976, p 78) reminds us that in “…almost all early English uses, consume had an unfavourable sense: it meant to destroy, to use up, to waste, to exhaust.” In contemporary culture our consumption of commodities is almost continual and unconscious, and the separation between what a commodity physically is and what its background, or history of production, is often remains invisible, or at best ambiguous. Advertising in print, on screen and online seeks to persuade the population that the road to personal fulfilment is paved with commodity consumption. This is an entreaty made directly to each person’s material self-interest. The relentless message is that collective considerations, outside the domain of commodity consumption, are unimportant. If you don’t aspire to own the latest phone, car or handbag you are somehow deemed to be failing as a human being. A notable exception to this is the rise of ‘Fair Trade’ commodities such as coffee and chocolate, for which the circumstances of production have become a major selling point. Given the choice between two commodities of equal monetary value, one of which has been produced in an ethical environment and the other of which conceals the circumstances of its production, it is reasonable to assume that most people would choose to buy the former. Such examples of ‘ethical’ commodity production and consumption are a relatively recent attempt to apply Marx’s thinking on commodity fetishism to the modern world, (though few would describe it as such), and they must surely be pointing the way forwards to a more just and fair society and culture, if not a “wholesale rejection” (Gilbert p 76) of the capitalist systems of production.

It is a truism to say that there is a coarsening effect on any culture which builds itself upon the labour of the exploited poor; indeed, the slightest whiff of third world child labour, (the kinds of working conditions with which Marx would have been extremely familiar in nineteenth century Europe), sends companies such as Apple, Umbro and GAP into paroxysms of denial and refutation. We have become adept at noticing this hidden aspect of the commodities we consume in the modern West, or at least adept at ignoring it: how many of us really want to know in detail about the conditions in which our mobile phone was produced, or the conditions in which our Sunday roast chicken was reared An increasing number to be sure, but not enough, perhaps, to make any significant impact on our contemporary culture.

However, it can be argued that such nicety of feeling is yet another example of the snobbery which exists at all levels of our contemporary culture about the commodities we use and enjoy. To be sure, there was no ‘golden age’ before the industrial revolution which made our modern consumerist world possible, and few if any of us would wish to return to a world lacking in the commodities which we take for granted today, but are we really so sensitive to the origins and potential consequences of our contemporary addiction to commodities Writing at about the halfway point between the nineteenth century world that Karl Marx knew and our own, Raymond Williams (1958 cited in Gray p 11) spoke of the power that such material inventions put in the hands of ordinary working people, particularly the benefits of steam and petrol engines for the people of the agricultural Wales of his childhood. He wrote of his disdain for those who would look down their noses at modern commodities such as contraceptives and canned food, knowing as he did of the world that such items replaced; the, “…four-mile walk each way to work, headaches, broken women, hunger and monotony of diet.” (ibid) All this is perfectly straightforward, but Marx’s ideas about commodities extend beyond the realm of the physical object; they pertain just as strongly to cultural activities and events which are also subject to our discrimination and taste.

Williams’ world was one in which ‘culture was ordinary’ in his famous phrase; a world in which it could be taken for granted that people would be interested in cultural activities and education, and that such pursuits were entirely natural to people of quite limited means. He was repelled by what F. R. Leavis seemed to be saying in 1930; that it was a, “…commonplace that culture was at a crisis” (Leavis cited in Storey p 14), and that the proliferation of mass art forms such as cinema would have a disastrous effect upon the culture of modern society. Leavis wrote that such broadcast media provide merely “passive diversion” (ibid p 15) and that the future held rapid developments in this direction. His notion of culture was an elitist one, in which a gilded few could expect to attain the necessary education and sensitivity to fully appreciate the higher arts, a notion threatened by the expansion of cultural activity into broadcast media for the ‘masses’. But who were the masses of which Leavis wrote so disparagingly but you and I, our family and friends(Williams p 99) It is amusing to contemplate what he would have made of the internet and Web 2.0.

Are we to follow Leavis (who took his cue from Marx) and condemn an entire culture on the basis of the kinds of cultural commodity it chooses to consume Williams would disagree with this analysis: he believed that one cannot prescribe or direct ways of thinking, writing or learning, and that any such attempts would be incompatible with an honest society. “A culture is common meanings, he wrote, “…the product of a whole people, and offered individual meanings, the product of a man’s whole committed personal and social experience”. (Williams cited in Gray p 6)

Conclusion

Our contemporary world and culture seems now very distant from Marx, Leavis and even Williams, and yet our relationship with the commodities we produce and the effects that their meanings have for us continues to give food for thought. Are we filling our homes and our lives with commodities produced by global companies, or are we choosing to live in a commodified world that these companies have created?

Bibliography

Gilbert, J. (2008) Anticapitalism and Culture: Radical Theory and Popular Politics. Oxford: Berg

Gray, A. McGuigan, J. (2003) Studying culture an introductory reader 2nd edition. London: Hodder

Marx, K. (orig. 1867) ‘The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof’ in Guins, R. and O. Z. Cruz, eds. (2005) Popular Culture: A Reader, London: Sage

Marx, K. (1867) Introduction to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy Available at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1859/critique-pol-economy/appx1.htm

Simon, R. (1990) Gramsci’s political thought: an introduction. Rev ed. London: Lawrence & Wishart

Storey, J. ed. (1998) Cultural Theory and Popular Culture. 2nd edition. Harlow: Prentice Hall

Storey, J. (2003) Inventing Popular Culture. Oxford: Blackwell

Williams, R. (1976) Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. London: Fontana Press

Categories
Free Essays

Culture-Specific Theories and Practices of Management

Introduction

In the prevailing business environment which is marked by high level of competitiveness and a challenging international free market economy, business managers are required to have global cultural understanding skills in addition to their domestic cultural ones alone. Chen and Eastman (1997 p.454) mention: “despite differences in the level of analysis and standpoints of organizations versus subgroups, both the integration and differentiation perspectives on organizational culture are inadequate to address cultural conflicts associate with demographic diversity.” Considering the importance of cultural understanding in business management, this essay embarks on a quest to understand the characteristics of Chinese culture, which are relevant to management. It will highlight the implications of those characteristics for business managers. The essay will incorporate the author’s reflection upon two videos regarding life in China. The first one is titled “Shanghai Quest” by Kim Taylor and the second is “Man Zou: From Beijing to Shanghai” by Ian Connors & Jason Reid

The Culture Concept

Culture is complex and multi-dimensional. Culture is far too complex to be defined in simple terms (Hall, 1976). Kroeber and Kluckhohn (1952) have identified more than 160 different definitions of culture in their study. One of the earliest definition of culture in academia in that of Tylor (1887) who defines it as a “complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, arts, morals, law customs and other capabilities, and habits acquired by a man as a member of a society”. A recent and widely cited definition is that of Hofstede (1980). He defines culture as “the interactive aggregate of common characteristics that influence a group’s response to its environment.” He redefined culture as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group or category of people from another…..Culture, in this sense, includes systems of values; and values are among the building blocks of culture” (Hofstede, 1984).

Culture and Business Management

The business culture of a society is not just an outcome of its economic system. More often, it is to the contrary i.e. the economic life is shaped by the cultural foundation of a society. The videos viewed as part of this work, lead to that conclusion. All the three individuals in the documentary “Shanghai Quest” were struggling and trying to be successful entrepreneurs in their respective fields of interest in Shanghai, China. Shanghai’s quest towards urbanization and industrialization was an important cultural characteristic of the city that helped them throughout their way in seeking out opportunities.

Geert Hofstede, a renowned management thinker was among the first researchers to conclude that culture impacts upon the management styles of different economies. According to Hofstede (1984, 1991), culture can be distinguished by five fundamental dimensions. Hofstede, who was a one-time employee at IBM, conducted a survey of more than 116,000 IBM employees across seventy two different countries spread across different regions in the world. He developed an index ranging from 0-100 for each of his five cultural dimensions in order to measure and compare cultural differences among different nations. His five cultural dimensions are: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism/collectivism, masculine/feminine and long-term versus short-term orientation.

Small vs. large power distance (PDI): The extent to which less powerful people accept that power is distributed unequally, that others have more power

Individualism vs. collectivism (IDV): Individualism is the tendency of people to look after themselves; collectivism to look after the members of their society in exchange for loyalty

Masculinity vs. femininity (MAS): Masculinity: dominant values are success, competition, and money Feminity: dominant values are caring for others

Weak vs. strong uncertainty avoidance (UAI): The extent to which people feel threatened by ambiguous situations and have created beliefs or institutions to avoid these feelings

Long vs. short term orientation (LTO): The extent to which people attach value to their future against their past or their present. Long term oriented cultures give more value to actions and attitudes affecting the future in contrast to the short term oriented cultures.[1]

China’s indices for these cultural dimensions are illustrated in the following figure (fig.1).

(Source: www.geert-hofstede.com)

Small vs. large power distance (PDI)

China scores high in power distance index indicating that the country has a high cultural tendency to accept differencees in individuals’ powers within their society. It implies that in China, the respect for elders is widely ingrained in their culture and both the leaders as well as the followers endorse society’s level of inequality. In term of business management, seniority demands respect and obedience. Elders are more likely to become leaders and considered as substantial role models. In doing business with Chinese people, it would be vital to win the confidence of authoritative and significant personals and appease them. While communicating with them, it would be ideal to use specific titles, with a high emphasis on respect and consideration for hierarchy and authority.

Individualism vs. collectivism (IDV)

On the individualism index, China scores only 20 points indicating the country is highly collectivist. It implies that Chinese people have great consideration for others; they keep the interest of others in mind while doings things and encourage the phenomenon of unity. They believe that groups are primary unit of survival rather than individuals. The connotation ‘we’ is deeply ingrained in their psyche, determining an individual to be in a surrounding which he/she owns and incorporates with. Chinese people tend to do everything collectively. The ‘we’ awareness persists in their workplace and they would be most happy in doing team work and group work. Hofstede (1980) mentions that in societies with a high level of collectivism, people tend to depend emotionally upon their outer circle. In business, themes such as loyalty, community relations, national identity, and family are of great significance. The Chinese collectivism is reflected in the Shanghai Quest video when ‘Benji’ speaks with Chinese fellows in their native language. He is often seen to be positively remarked upon that. The Chinese people value the idea that a foreigner speaks to them in their native language fluently, as for them it reflects a sense of familiarity and unity.

Masculinity vs. femininity (MAS)

Masculinity index is often seen to correspond with the power distant index. Societies with a high power distance index usually have a higher masculinity index in which more emphasis is towards success, competition and wealth. China, and specially Shanghai, is on a verge of mass industrialization and urbanization. As mentioned in the second video “Man Zou: From Beijing to Shanghai”, Shanghai is the city that China wants to portray to the entire world as the country’s face due to its contribution to the rapidity of China’s urbanization and industrialization. The forces of urbanization and industrialization incur a higher level of masculinity in the city and overall country’s culture.

Weak vs. strong uncertainty avoidance (UAI)

In uncertainty avoidance index, China scores a low of 30 points. It implies that Chinese people are generally risk taking people and feel less threatened by ambiguous situations. They are willing to wander in uncharted waters, try new things, and experiment. This is clearly reflected in the case on the three individuals from the first video. One of them is from US, who has also lived in England for 6 years, and Australia for 2 years, before settling in China. He wants to be an American-Chinese pop star and a performing entertainer, having his foot in TV, videos, modeling, commercial etc. He mentions that it is pretty unusual and for the first time that an American wants to be a Chinese singer. It brings an element of uncertainty and risks. The second person portrayed in the videos in from Paris and was raised mostly in Britain and he being all over the world. He wants to be entrepreneur, exporting of the self item to buyers across the globe. The third one is a dancer, who provides his services as a party entertainer along with his girlfriend. The provision of opportunities for all these individuals reflects that cultural characteristics of China in accepting new phenomena, changes, versatility, adventuring and experimentation. Chinese people are adapting and entrepreneurial. The commentary of the second videos also coincides with the same view. The commentator mentions that “China makes you present all the time. It’s a country on a fast track towards urbanization and industrialization. It’s a Place to be. It’s a happening place.”

Long vs. short term orientation (LTO)

China’s high score on long term orientation index reflects its focus upon persistence and perseverance. In economic terms, it implies that investments and business decisions tend to base on the provision of long term stability and benefits. Their thinking ways focus on either complete or no-confidence rather than on probabilistic views.

Conclusion

The aforementioned cultural traits have a deep impact upon the Chinese economic system. They also impact upon how Chinese people conduct business in the international arena and how global businesses should engage with them. Moreover, these cultural dimensions have implications for communication, leadership development, human resource management and decision making processes involving Chinese.

References

Chen, C. C., & W. Eastman (1997). Toward a Civic Culture for Multicultural Organizations. Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences, 33,454-470.

Hall, E. T. (1976). Beyond culture. Doubleday. New York

Hofstede, G. (1991). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind. London: McGraw-Hill.

Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work related values. Sage. Newbury Park

Hofstede, G. (1984). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work related values (Abridged ed.) CA: Sage. Beverly Hills,

Kroeber, A. L and Kluckhohn,C. (1952) Culture: A critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. Paper of Peobody Museum of American Archeology 47 (1)

Tylor, E (1871) Origins of Culture. Harper and Row. NY.

[1] These cultural differences are a representation of averages or tendencies and not the precise individual characteristics belonging to a society.

Categories
Free Essays

Impact of culture on cross cultural managerial practices:

Introduction

In this study the researcher has chosen to compare and contrast the managerial practices of British and Chinese managers in relation to their respective cultures and how their cultures affect their management.

Amongst the nations of the world, the People’s Republic of China stands out as an economic giant. Several decades ago the Gross Domestic Product of China had grown up to 10 per cent per year and in the twenty first century, China has become the third largest consumer in the world (The Economist, 1994; Davies, 1889; People’s Daily, 1998). Thus as the significance of China in the global market is gradually increasing, the managerial ideology of the Chinese business sector have also started being well-documented so that Western businesses can refer to them when interacting with the communist-influenced managers (Weiss & Bloom, 1990; Tung, 1988). The cultural and societal values of China include individualism, Confucianism and collectivism, the reflection of which can be seen in the practices of Chinese managers in addition to their paradoxical struggle to keep a balance between traditions and modernity (Bond, 1991; Boisot& Child, 1996; Redding, 1990; Ralston, Yu, Wang, Terpstre& He, 1996).

China’s coastal city Shanghai, has been an international trading and commercial centre for several centuries [Yeung & Hu, 1992]. Studies on economy, education and technology indicate that Shanghai was industrialized before the Communist revolution in 1949, Furthermore, the city also largely benefited from the economic reform in 1980s and is amongst the designated “fourteen open cities” of China. Shanghai and Beijing have the longest heritage of University qualified managers and these two cities of China have the highest emphasis on education. A comparison of the two cities has been elaborated below:

TABLE 1
Summary of the Historic, Geographic, Economic and Educational Characteristics of the Two Cities

NORTH CENTRAL [Beijing]EAST CENTRAL [Shanghai]

1LOCATION CHARACTERISTICS

A.Costal or inland locationINLANDCOASTAL
B.Located on navigable waterYESYES
C.Opened to foreigners after the Opium War-1840NOYES
D.Foreign commercial and trading center over the past centuryNOYES

2INDUSTRIALIZATION CHARACTERISTICS

A.1980s economic reform (one of the 14 open cities)NOYES
B.Industrialized pre- or post- Communist RevolutionPOST-1949PRE-1949
C.Level of industrial output in the region (1990)MODERATEHIGH
D.Increase in output per capita (1984-1990)MOD/LOWHIGH

3EDUCATION CHARACTERISTICS

A.Educational emphasis (students enrolled in college per 1,000 inhabitants)10.97.5
B.Beginning of educational emphasis (length of time that college education was available)1890s1910s

Table 1 (Ralston, Cheng and Wang 1996)

Based on these regional differences, and the focus of this report on the compatibility of regional values with Western values, a number of speculations can be made: the managers in Shanghai, due to their vast exposure to International markets have more probabilities of adopting Western-oriented styles of communication and negotiation, due to the higher level of technology, education, foreign trade and industrialization in Shanghai. Also, education has tended to make these individuals more inquisitive, and thus, more likely to be open to a new values orientation.

Chinese Versus British Managerial Practices:

Likemost of the Asian managers, the Chinese prefer establishment of a healthy working relationship while the main focus of their British counterpart is actually getting a contract signed (Pye, 1982). Due to the high amount of value placed in tradition and conformity, the Chinese managers tend to depend more upon an avoiding style, they tend to be indirect and formal in their speech and try to create a win-win situation while the British managers are frank and keep a light and open working environment (Salacuse, 1998). According to Liu (2000), the organizational commitment observed by the Chinese managers is a top to bottom social exchange between the employer and the employees with a focus on organizational development while according to Kanungo and Wright (1983) the British managers give more significance to autonomy and individual achievement. In the following figure, the cross-cultural differences are conceptualized. As shown below, the development policy of Chinese comes in the dimensions of social exchange and staying developed while that of the British management is more inclined towards economic exchange.

Liu (2000).

The European and Chinese negotiation styles vary in accordance with their region, language spoken, nationality, and other situational factors. According to a research the British negotiators are aggressive in their dealings while the Orientals stay surprisingly calm (Brett et al., 2001). Bass and Eldridge (1973) noted that the successful manger from U.K. placed great emphasis on the motive of profit building whereas their Chinese counterparts gave more significance to ending the deal with a good note. While studying the numerous value differences between managers from different countries including the United Kingdom and China, Ralston et al. (1992) revealed greater intra-cultural variance than inter-culture.

According to the survey research conducted by Salacuse in 1998, a number of factors have been brought forward in his research, on the basis of which the cultural backgrounds of Chinese and British managers differ in their conduct namely:

Aim of communication(contract or relationship)
Personal style
Agreement building process
Communication style
Negotiation attitude
Time sensitivity
Emotionalism

In the same research the author has drawn a comparison between the negotiating styles of Chinese and British managers, which as depicted in the results are very opposite to one another. Following are some of the enlisted differences:

Chinese NegotiatorsBritish Negotiators
Negotiation goal: contract45 percent47 percent
Negotiation attitude: win-win82 percent59 percent
Personal style: formal46 percent35 percent
Communication: Direct82 percent88 percent
Time sensitivity: high91 percent94 percent
Emotionalism: high73 percent47 percent
Form of Agreement: general27 percent11 percent

Salacuse (1998).

International Negotiation and Communications:

According to Ralston et al. (1992), in a global economy, it is crucial to understand the values and behaviour of managers, since most of the time the business philosophy of a country depends upon the values and cultures held by the managers. In addition to this, Tung and Miller (1990) also noted that in order to build a healthy cross-cultural working relationship it is necessary to understand the values and attitudes of the counterpart. A recurrent idea in international business studies is that problematic misunderstandings arise when culturally differing managers get together to resolve a conflict (Adler & Graham, 1989; Maddox, 1993, Hofstede, 1991).

Negotiation may be defined as an exchange of signals, and since different nations have different signalling languages, the opposite party can easily misinterpret or misread a message. According to Pye (1982, pp. 20-23), the Western managers often have problems communicating with the Orientals due to their diverse cultural backgrounds:

“Unquestionably the largest and the most intractable category of problems Sino-American (or European) business negotiations can be traced to the cultural differences between the two societies… Conscious efforts to take into account the other party’s cultural practices can eliminate gross misunderstandings but cultural factors continue to surface and cause problems in more subtle and indirect ways”.

References:

Adler, Nancy J. & Graham, J. L., 1989. Cross-Cultural Interaction: The International Comparison FallacyJournal Of International Business Studies, 20(3), Pp.515-37.

Adler, Nancy J. & Jelinek., M., 1986. Is “Organization Culture” Culture BoundHuman Resource Management, 25, Pp.73-90.

Bass, Bernard M. & Eldridge, Larry D., 1973. Accelerated Managers’ Objectives In Twelve Countries. Industrial Relations, 12, Pp.157-71.

Black J. Stewart & Porter, L. W., 1991. Managerial Behaviors An Job Performance: A Successful Manager In Los Angeles May Not Succeed In Hong Kong. Journal Of International Business Studies, 22(1), Pp.99-113

Boisot, M.& Child, J., 1996. From Fiefs To Cland And Network Capitalism: Explaining China’s Emerging Economic Order. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41, Pp.600-28.

Bond, M. H., 1991. Beyond The Chinese Face. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.

Brett Et Al. (2001). Negotiating Behavior When Cultures Collide: The United States And Japan. Journal Of Applied Psychology, 86(3).

Davies, B., 1998. The Biggest Market Retains Its Lustre. Asiamoney, 8(10), Pp.47-49.

Erez, M., 1986. The Congruence Of Goal Setting Strategies With Social-Cultural Values And Its Effect On Performance. Journal Of Management, 12, Pp.585-92.

Graham, John L. (1993). The Japanese Negotation Style: Characteristics Of A Distinct Approach. Negotiation Journal. Pp.123-139.

Hoebel, E. A., 1972. Anthropology: The Study Of Man. 4th Ed. New York: Mcgraw-Hill.

Hofstede, Geert, (1985). “The Interaction Between National And Organizational Value Systems.” Journal Of Management Studies. 22 (4), Pp. 347–357.

Hofstede, Geert, 1991. Cultures And Organizations: Software Of The Mind. London: Mcgraw-Hill.

Hofstede, Geert,. 1993. Cultural Constraints In Management Theories. Academy Of Management Executive, 7(1), Pp.81-94.

Kanungo, R. N. & Wright, R. W., 1983. A Cross-Cultural Comparative Study Of Managerial Job Attitudes. Journal Of International Business Studies, 14(2): Pp.115-29.

Lebaron, Michelle. (2003). “Culture-Based Negotiation Styles.” Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess And Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University Of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: July 2003 .

Liu, X. P., 2000. The Study Of Organizational Commitment And Its Developmental Mechanism. Unpublished Phd Dissertation In I/O Psychology, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou.

Maddox, R. C., 1993. Cross-Cultural Problems In International Business: The Role Of The Cultural Integration Function. Westport, Quorum Books.

Pye, L., 1982. Chinese Negotiation Style. Cambridge, Oelgeschlager, Gunn & Hain.

Ralstion, D. A., Holt, D. H., Terpstra, R. H. & Yu, Kai-Cheng, 1997. The Impact Of National Cultural And Economic Ideology On Managerial Work Values: A Study Of The United States, Russia, Japan And China. Journal Of International Business Studies, 28(1), Pp.177-207.

Redding, S. G., 1990. The Spirit Of Chinese Capitalism. Berlin, Walter De Gruyter.

Salacuse, Jeswald, W. (1998). Ten Ways That Culture Affects Negotiation Styles: Some Survey Results. Negotiation Journal. Pp. 221-239.

Tung & Miller, E. L., 1990. Managing In The Twenty-First Century: The Need For Global Orientation. Management International Review, 30, Pp.5-18

Tung, R. L., 1981. Selection And Training Of Personnel For Overseas Assignments. Columbia Journal Of World Business, 16, Pp.68-78.

Weiss, J. W. & Bloom, S., 1990. Managing In China: Expatriates Experiences And Training Recommendations. Business Horizons, 33(3), Pp.23-39.

Zartman, I. W., 1993. A Skeptic’s View. In Culture And Negotiation, Newbury Park, Sage.

Categories
Free Essays

What does Raymond Williams mean when he describes culture as being ‘a whole way of life’? What are the merits and limitation of this perspective?

Introduction

Raymond Williams’ assertion that culture is ‘a whole way of life’ formed the basis of his 1958 work Culture and Society. This was a book that was received by his peers as polemical and as a manifesto for the New Left. It was very much a product of the time, written in response to a burgeoning conservative reactionary stance against the extension of education to all children.[1] His primary motivation for writing Culture and Society was consequently refuting ‘the increasing contemporary use of the concept of culture against democracy, socialism, the working class or popular education.’[2] In other words the current interpretation of culture was being used as a means of perpetuating and shoring up social inequality. This opinion, as it will be made clear, is evident in Williams’ attempt to democratise the meaning of culture and the political climate in which he was writing is an important contextual consideration. In the following analysis first the phrase ‘a whole way of life’ will be deconstructed and its meaning explained. Proceeding this the merits and limitations of his perspective will be discussed.

Williams’ understands ‘culture’ as being made of two separate components; the first denotes a whole way of life, the second refers to the arts and learning. The former component represents the known meanings and directions which its members recognise and respond to, the latter represents new observations and meanings which are put forward and tested.[3] These components are reflected in every human society and render culture ordinary.

This interpretation challenges the widely held notion that culture means the high arts – theatre, literature, painting – that it is exclusive and access to it is restricted, predominantly through education, and is diametrically opposed to business, urban growth and individualism.[4] For Williams the idea that possession of culture rested on the narrow assumption outlined above was absurd. This definition placed culture firmly within the realm of the bourgeois and out of the reach of the working classes. Instead, whilst recognising the contribution the bourgeoisie have made to English culture, Williams argues that the working classes have their own institutions, common meanings, arts and learning and therefore participate in culture.[5] Consuming and engaging with culture arises through the very prosaic prerequisite of living; it is the ‘product of a man’s whole committed personal and social experience.’[6]

In The Long Revolution (1961) which followed on from Culture and Society Williams’ view on culture became distinctly relational in the sense that he champions the breaking down of a cultural hierarchy which separates literature and art from the everyday. [7] This position is the logical outcome of an argument which sees all facets of life feeding into the conventions and institutions which inform the meanings that are shared by the community. Throughout Williams’ career he was interested in the processes of cultural development and he devised a theory of cultural materialism.[8] The concept of culture as ‘a whole way of life’ should be seen as the first step taken by Williams in the construction of this dialectical understanding of culture.

The overriding merit of Williams’ conceptualisation of culture is its inclusivity. The recognition of the cultural worth of all human activity is socially equalising. Its destruction of the distinction between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture shuns the conservative view that mass participation in culture somehow devalues it and instead opens the way for its democratisation. This is decidedly progressive and his particular commitment to the democratisation of education has been inaugurated and accepted.

On the other hand one of the most poignant criticisms levied at Williams’ ‘a whole way of life’ premise is that it is politically charged and that as a Marxist he has a vested interested in attributing, say, the formation of a trade union with the same cultural value as Dickens’ Bleak House or Millais’ Orphelia. He has been criticised for assuming that all people are capable of achieving an intellectual engagement with the world around them that has the capacity to inform cultural progression. [9] Whilst this critique is somewhat condescending of the working classes’ cognitive prowess, it should be remembered that when Williams’ work was first published, growing tension between the West and the Soviet Union increased hostility towards opinions that displayed socialist optimism.

Williams’ view, as illustrated by the history of culture put forward in Culture and Society, is rooted in the analysis of past cultural change. He uses these observations to build a theory of progress, not only within this text, but also in his eventual propagation of cultural materialism. As with the historical materialism of Marx, such a view gives systems of production a central waiting and is consequently dialectical, idealist and more often than not proven wrong by actual events.

To conclude, the concept that culture is ‘a whole way of life’ challenged the compartmentalisation of culture into ‘high’ and ‘low’ and instead sought to create an understanding of the word which embraced the full range of human activity. Throughout his work Williams displayed a clear agenda. He sought, in San Juan words, ‘the democratisation of culture through mass participation in political decisions and the broadest access to education and the resources of communication.’[10] At the most basic level of this call for what was barely short of a revolution was the premise that culture was ‘a whole way of life.’ This left a bad taste in the mouths of many of Williams’ conservative and centrist contemporaries. Notwithstanding the hard to deny political overtones of his work Williams’ groundbreaking cultural critiques have merit enough to cement his position as the father of Cultural Studies.

Bibliography
Higgins, J., Raymond Williams: Literature, Marxism and cultural materialism, Routledge, London, 1999
Jardine, L., and J. Swindells, ‘Homage to Orwell: The dream of a common culture, and other minefields’, in T. Eagleton (ed.), Raymond Williams: Critical perspectives, Polity Press, 1989
San Juan, E., ‘Raymond Williams and the idea of cultural revolution’, College Literature, vol. 26, no. 2, 1999, pp. 118-136
Williams, R., Culture and Society 1750-1950, The Hogarth Press, London, 1958
Williams, R., ‘Culture is ordinary’, in R. Gable (ed.), Resources of hope: Culture, democracy, socialism’, Verso, London, 1989

Categories
Free Essays

Hofstede’s Model Of Organisational Culture

ABSTRACT
Organizational culture has become the buzzword in popular management with many experts suggesting it as an important determinant for organizational success. Management researchers have been quick to point out the impact that organizational culture may have on the effectiveness of the organization and have called for an increase in the attention paid to organizational culture. With more emphasis being placed on organizational culture, it becomes important to understand the appeal of this concept and examine its impact on management within the organization

This paper thus explores on the concept of “organizational culture” and examines its impact on behaviours and management of the organization. This will involve identifying one associated mode or theory and evaluating or determining the extent to which the chosen model plays a part in defining the style of management. A case study of Sony Ericsson will also be employed to help illustrate the application of hofstede’s model of organizational culture. The study will also identify limitations of this model and the strengths that have enabled it to be used as a basis for most research analyses.

INTRODUCTION

Organizational culture has become the buzzword in popular management with many experts suggesting it as an important determinant for organizational success (Schein 1999). While the association between organizational culture and organizational success is far from certain, it is obvious that each organization has its own unique social structure which drives much of the individual behavior within that organization.

Management researchers have been quick to point out the impact that organizational culture may have on the effectiveness of the organization and have called for an increase in the attention paid to organizational culture (Siehl & Martin 1998). With more emphasis being placed on organizational culture, it is important to understand the appeal of this concept and examine its impact on management within the organization.

This study thus explores on the concept of organizational culture and examines its impact on management style. This will involve identifying one associated mode or theory and evaluating or determining the extent to which the chosen model plays a part in defining the style of management. In this regard, Hofstede’s ideas will form the basis of our analysis of organizational culture.

WHAT IS..“CULTURE”?

The term culture has been given varied set of definitions by various scholars. Kroeber & Kluckholn (1952), for example, defined culture as consisting of patterns of behaviour acquired and transmitted through symbols, and which constitute distinctive achievement of human groups including their embodiment in artifacts. Hofstede (1980), on the other hand, defined culture as the collective programming of the mind which differentiates members of one human group in the society from the rest.

While Symington (1983) defined it as a complex whole which include belief, knowledge, morals, art, customs, capabilities and habits acquired in the society. These definitions suggest culture to consist of a set of value systems that are shared equally by members in the society and which binds people together. With the above conceptualization of culture, we can now define what we mean by organizational culture.

ORGANIZAITONAL CULTURE

Organizational culture can simply be defined as a set of values, assumptions and beliefs that define the behaviours and style of management in an organization (O’Reilly et.al, 1991). There are three main sources of influence believed to interact to create organizational culture. These are the beliefs and values held by the leaders of the organization, the characteristics of the industry in which the organization is within, and the broader society in which the organization operates (O’Reilly et.al, 1991).

The most influential model used by management researchers and which has formed the basis of most analyses of organizational culture is Hofstede’s model. While most noted for his groundbreaking work on dimensions of national culture, Hofstede also identified six dimensions of organizational culture which can be used in defining the style of management in an organization.

Process oriented vs goal oriented

The process oriented vs result oriented dimension is concerned with the effectiveness of the organization. A key feature of a process oriented culture is the means or rather the way in which work has to be conducted. While in a result oriented culture, emphasis is placed on the goals of the organization. That is, employees are primarily out to achieve specific organizational goals even if the risks involved are substantial (Hofstede 2001).

Parochial vs professional

This dimension reflects the internal and external frame of the organization (Hofstede 2001). In a local culture the identity of the employees is with the immediate manager. Hence employees within this culture are internally focused and directed and there is also a strong social control. The converse is true in a professional culture where the identity of the employees is largely determined by the profession and content of the job.

Open system vs closed system

The open system vs closed system dimension reflects the communication climate of the organization (Hofstede 2001). For an open system, new employees are welcomed and there is the belief that everyone fits well in the organization. While for a closed system, it is difficult to join and it is believed that only a certain kind of individuals may fit in the organization.

Employee oriented vs job oriented

This dimension relates to the management philosophy in the organization. In an employee oriented organizational culture, concern is mainly on employee satisfaction. The staff members feel that their own personal problems and welfare is taken into account by the organization. While for a job oriented organizational culture, work is characterized by heavy pressure to perform the specific task at the expense of the employee (Hofstede 2001).

Tighter control vs loose control

This dimension relates to structuring, control and discipline in the organization. A tight control culture is characterized by seriousness and punctuality while the features of a loose control culture are casual and improvisation (Hofstede 2001). Examples of organizations that are often found within tighter controls are banks and pharmaceutical companies while those found in loose control are research laboratories and advertising agencies (Hofstede 2001).

Normative vs pragmatic

This dimension reflects on the methods employed by organizations when dealing with the environment in general and customers in particular. It describes the level of “customer oreintation”. Pragmatic cultures are flexible and more market driven while normative cultures are rigid and often emphasize on following applicable laws and rules (Hofstede 2001). Hofstede labeled organizations involved in the sale of services as pragmatic while those engaged in application of laws and rules as normative.

CRITICISMS OF HOFSTEDE’S MODEL

Hofstede’s ground breaking work on culture has indeed provided valuable insights into the management styles and dynamics of cross cultural relationships. However, his highly influential findings have not been without criticisms. A number of academics have discredited his work in part or whole.

Critics have argued that survey was not an important instrument that could be used in accurately determining and measuring the culture of organizations (Jones 2007). A survey of a set of limited questions certainly cannot adequately and comprehensively provide an in-depth understanding of culture of an organization. In response to this criticism, Hofstede argued that survey was one method and certainly not the only method that was used.

Hofstede’s model has also been criticized on the basis that the five or six dimensions did not provide sufficient information about cultural differences (Jones 2007). In this regard, Hofstede agreed that his analysis was too narrow to credibly argue for the universal validity and sufficiency of the six dimensions of organizational culture that he identified. And in fact, suggested for additional dimensions to his original work. He also noted that some of the six dimensions that he identified may be less useful when analyzing other types of organizations in other countries (Jones 2007).

A third criticism is that Hofstede’s work is seen as outdated, especially with the rapid changes in the global environment (Jones 2007). This critique has further been put forward by Holden (2002) who points out that the data used by Hofstede in his dimensions of organizational culture seem to have been gathered over 30 years ago and is therefore no longer applicable to the modern day world. In response to this criticism, Hofstede (1998) pointed out that a number of recent replications had confirmed his findings.

Hofstede’s model is also criticized on grounds of his one company approach. Hofstede’s analysis supposed that a single IBM organizational culture could be used to make inferences about the entire world wide organizational cultures (Jones 2007). A study fixated on one company certainly cannot be used to make inferences about the entire world wide organizational cultures. The validity of his dimensions of organizational culture has thus been questioned and his model considered to be non-comprehensive as the study was based on data collected from a single company using questionnaires that lacked academic foundation.

Critics have also argued that Hofstede failed to recognize the diversity in his analysis of IBM culture (Jones 2007). He ignored extensive literature which suggested that there were multiple, dissenting and emergent cultures in an organization. If we are to ignore the assumption of a single culture in IBM and acknowledge the diversity in culture at IBM, then his analysis is likely to collapse.

After years of publication of his analysis on organizational culture based on the IBM survey data, Hofstede begun to acknowledge the presence of cultural diversity within and between units in the same organization. However, despite recognizing flaws in his work, Hofstede fails to admit error or weakness in his analysis. Accepting that organizations had multiple cultures as opposed to his assumption of a single culture would seem to undermine a crucial part of his analysis.

ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF HOFSTEDE’S MODEL

Despite these criticisms, Hofstedes work is widely acknowledged and used by many scholars and practictioners due to its mainly appealing attributes. Sondergaard (1994) noted that hofstede’s analysis on corporate culture received 1,036 citations in comparison with another highly regarded study by Miles & Snow (1978) which only received 200 citations. Moreover, a number of researchers have replicated Hofstede’s study including Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner (1997). Some of the strengths that have enabled it to be used as the basis of most research analyses include:

Relevance: – Hofstede’s discoveries came at a time when there was very little known about culture and businesses were just globalizing and were in need of advice (Jones 2007). Hofstede’s framework exceeded this demand and became widely accepted by many scholars and practitioners. His work offered guidance to managers who were expanding their businesses as cultures were clashing and creating difficulties (Jones 2007).
Rigour – Hofstede model is based on a rigorous research design with systematic data and is built on a coherent theory (Jones 2007).
Simplicity: – Knudsen & Loloma (2007) argues that hofstede’s model has remained influential and successful due to its simplicity of appliance. His analysis of culture offered a simple way of understanding organizational culture. The six dimensions that define organizational culture put forth by Hofstede made it easier for managers and researchers to understand corporate culture without the need of expert knowledge.
Relative accuracy: – strength of Hofstede’s model is also reflected in its level of accuracy. Majority of the replications conducted by other researchers have confirmed Hofstede’s findings. Four replications have concurred fully with Hofstede’s findings while fifteen showed partial confirmation (Jones 2007). Moreover, Hofstede’s framework has become very influential in management studies and is most widely cited in social sciences. His work remains instrumental in the implementation of various business systems in organizations including entrepreneurial behaviour, workgroup performance and dynamics, leadership styles, participative management and management control systems among many others (Jones 2007).
A CASE STUDY OF SONY ERICSSON

In order to explore on the extent to which hofstede model plays a part in defining management style, we will conduct a case study of Sony Ericsson, a joint venture between Sony and Ericsson. Sony Ericsson has its headquarters and all of its management based in the UK. The firm aims at becoming the most innovative and attractive mobile brand globally (Cooper & Ross 2007).

ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE IN SONY ERICSSON

Organizational culture has long been acknowledged as an important factor for driving behaviour, decision making and shaping management style at Sony Ericsson. With regard to the rules and procedures, Sony Ericson follows a certain procedure laid down by the firm (Cooper & Ross 2007). While it is not a requirement for employees to follow strict dress code and office timings, it is mandatory for employees at Sony Ericsson to abide by the business ethics and code of conduct (Cooper & Ross 2007). Since the firm does not follow a strict dress code and office timings, it can be concluded that the organization employs a loose control culture.

With regard to employee evaluation and performance, the staffs at Sony Ericsson are not differentiated on their individual performance and are allowed to participate in decision making except at the higher level which requires the executive management team only (Cooper & Ross 2007). Sony Ericsson’s corporate culture is also more employee oriented with managers more concerned on the welfare and employee satisfaction.

Sony Ericson’s organizational culture is also very professional as employees are subjected to scrutiny checks prior to their appointment to ensure that individuals hired are competent and have a certain level of experience deemed necessary for the position (Tayeb 2001). With regard to normative and pragmatic approach, the firm is seen in between, as its organizational culture is both normative and pragmatic oriented. While Sony Ericsson focuses on meeting customer and market needs, the firm also adheres to certain rules and guidelines in meeting these needs (Tayeb 2001). Clearly, Hofstede’s model plays a significant part in defining the management style and organizational behaviour at Sony Ericsson.

CONCLUSION

There is no doubt that Hofstede’s model is one of the most widely acknowledged and used piece of research. His ground breaking work on culture has indeed provided valuable insights into the management styles and dynamics of cross cultural relationships as evident in Sony Ericsson. A number of academics have however discredited his work in part or whole.

Although Hofstede’s work on culture has been heavily criticized on grounds of his one company approach, survey methodological approach, and for fewer dimensions and his assumption of a single organizational culture; majority of his findings have had remarkable effect on practitioners and researchers and continue to guide multi-national practitioners into the “global” future. While there is a high level of controversy in his analysis of culture, there is no doubt that his study is one of the most influential in the analysis of organizational culture.

REFERENCE

Hofstede, G., 2001. Culture’s consequences. 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage publications

Hofstede, G., 1998. “Attitudes, Values and Organizational Culture: Disentangling the concepts.” Organization Studies 19(3): 477.

Hofstede, G., 1980. Culture’s Consequences: International differences in work-related values. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

Hofstede, G., Neuijen, B., Ohayv, D. D., and G. Sanders, 1990. “Measuring Organizational

Cultures: A Qualitative and Quantitative Study across Twenty Cases”. Administrative Science

Quarterly, 35(2), 286-316.

Holden, N., 2002. Cross-Cultural Management – A Knowledge Management Perspective. Harlow: Prentice Hall.

Jones, M.L., 2007. Hofstede – culturally questionableOxford, UK.

Kroeber, A. L. and C. Kluckhohn, 1952. Culture: A critical review of concepts and definitions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University press

Knudsen & Loloma, 2007. The consequences of “culture’s consequences”. A critical approach to culture as collective programming applied to cross-cultural crews. Journal of Maritime Affairs. Vol . 8 (2), pp.105 -121

Miles, R and C. Snow, 1978. Organizational Strategy, Structure, and Process. New York, NY:

McGraw-Hill.

O’Reilly, C., Chatman, J., and D. Caldwell, 1991. “People and organizational culture: A profile comparison approach to assessing person-organization fit”. Academy of Management Journal, 34:487-516.

Rose, R., 2008. Organizational culture as a root of performance improvement: research and recommendations. Contemporary management research. Vol.4, p. 43-46

Schein, E., 1999. The corporate culture survival guide. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Schwartz, S.H., 1994. “Beyond individualism/collectivism”. In: Kim, U., Triandis, H.C. et al. (eds) Individualism and Collectivism: Theory, Method, and Applications: Vol. 18, Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage

Siehl, C. & J. Martin, 1998. “Measuring Organizational Culture: Mixing Qualitative and Quantitative Methods”. In: Jones, M.O, et al. (eds), Inside Organizations: Understanding the Human Dimension, Newbury Park, CA, Sage Publications, pp.79-103.

Sinha, 2000. Patterns of work culture. Sage publications

Sondergaard, M., 1994. “Hofstede’s consequences: A study of reviews, citations and replications.” Organization Studies 15(3): 447.

Symington, J. W., 1983. Learn Latin America’s Culture. New York Times.

Tayeb, M. H., 2001. International Business Partnership. New York: Palgrave.

Trompenaars, F. and C. Hampden-Turner, 1997. Riding the waves of culture: understanding cultural diversity in business. London, Nicholas Brearley.

Categories
Free Essays

Culture, ideology, politics and economics are linked in the output of media organisation in way that is true for no other sector of capitalist enterprise

Introduction

Although some might believe otherwise, the media is not a neutral or objective institution. It is rather a disputed space that can be manipulated to serve certain interests. McNair (2007:103) affirms that “culture, ideology, politics and economics are linked in the output of media organisation.” This statement is especially true of the UK newspaper industry. McQuail (2008:7) also argues that power structures social relationships and that this has an effect on the way the mass media is organized. Both historically and presently the influence of the media can be observed. Newspapers promote certain ideologies, create and reinforce cultural patterns, and greatly influence views on politics. Media products that are made for mass consumption are often controlled by a handful of wealthy owners. This is very similar to what Karl Marx calls the ‘bourgeoisie’ or the owners of the means of production. They are in control of factories and the livelihoods of workers. However, in much the same way, media production serves the interests of the few, and not those of the masses. The ruling class often determines the content of widely distributed newspapers. In support of McNair, I will argue that media output is very closely linked to culture, ideology, and politics, in a way that is advantageous to those who own the means of production. In order to show this, I will discuss all factors (culture, ideology, politics, and economics) in relation to each other and analyse the influence that the newspaper industry has had historically on political, economic, and cultural affairs. The paper will mainly look at 18th century, 19th century, and present press and media output in Britain.

Critical Analysis

The struggle over control of newspaper content is also an economic struggle between the bourgeoisie and the workers or the lower classes. This is a conflict that mirrors the Marxist notion of class struggle. Starting as far back as the 18th century, the UK ruling class has fought to destroy radical newspapers of the time, such as Poor Man’s Guardian, Twopenny, and Republican. The aims of the radical press were to promote class organisations through the development of a critical political analysis. Class organizations and unions were meant to earn workers better wages and more rights. Thus, by developing radical newspapers, the working class sought to improve their economic condition. This is an example of the struggle between the aristocracy and the workers who were criticising corruption and the repressive taxation which was impoverishing them (Curran 2010:13). Here, politics is also interrelated to the media and to economics. It was only through adopting a critical political analysis that workers could advocate for their rights. On the other hand, the politics of the right (or the wealthy owners) represent their economic interest of keeping the wealth and control of the press in the hands of few.

The emergence of more progressive publications in the early 1800s showed how the ideology of the ruling classes was in opposition of radicalism. Their politics served to prevent the workers from gaining more control of the media output. Between 1830 and 1836 there was an increase in circulation of radical newspapers. In London alone, the readership grew from half a million to 2 million. Dr Philmore, a member of Parliament, complained that “these infamous publications […] inflame working people’s passions, and awaken their selfishness, contrasting their present condition with what they contented to be their future condition- a condition incompatible with human nature, and with those immutable laws which providence has established for the regulation of human society “ (Curran 2010 : 14). In other words, the rich believed that it is their right to maintain their social and economic standing. In response to radicalism, they sought to pass regulations that would control the media output. This implied that they could promote the views that would benefit their own economic and social condition. As already seen, those who can control media output use this resource to promote their ideology, culture, and politics. In this way, they also maintain their wealth.

In order to silence the voice of radical newspapers in the 1800s, the government decided to introduce the stamp duty, which meant that publications were redefined to include political periodicals. Curran and Seaton (2010) also note that during those days, the government sought to increase press taxation. This was to ensure that those in charge of the press are wealthy men of high social standing. Curran and Seaton explain that the reason behind stamp duty was “to restrict the readership to a well to do by raising the cover price; and to restrict the ownership to the propertied class by increasing the publishing cost “ (Curran and Seaton 2010:11). This shows how economics plays a big role in restricting those who do not have the necessary means from promoting their own ideology, politics, and culture. The example clearly illustrates the link between economics, culture, and politics that McNair talks about. It also portrays, once again, how those who own the means of production can promote the ideologies that benefit them.

Over time, those who were financially in control of the media used this to their advantage and slowly began to take radicalism out of the picture. It became the norm that only those who have enough capital could have a say in politics and influence the ideology of the masses. In the late 19th century, when some control methods failed and stamp laws were repealed, the press establishment embarked on a “sophisticated strategy of social control”, where the radical newspapers were replaced by apolitical, commercial publications, read by mass audiences and controlled by capital (McNair 2009:87). According to McNair (2009), the radical publications of the end of the 19th century had either been forced out of existence, moved right politically, or become small specialist publications. As newspapers became cheaper and the market expanded, capital investment and running costs increased beyond the capacity of radical publishers. Thus, radical voices were once again silenced. This shows that the output of news is greatly influenced by the ownership and capital, as only the wealthy are powerful enough to determine the course of media production.

Currently, it can be said that media output in the newspapers is still dependant on who owns the enterprise, what are their politics, and what kind of ideology and culture they want to promote. Oftentimes, the output does not necessarily reflect the truth, but rather takes the form that is best suited to serve the interests of the few. It is not uncommon for stories to be censored or even not published at all. To illustrate this, Anthony Bevins (1997:47) argues that “Journalists cannot ignore the pre-set ‘taste ‘of their newspapers, use their own sense in reporting the truth of the any event, and survive. They are ridden by news desks and backbenches executives, have their stories spiked on a systematic basis, they face the worst sort of newspaper punishment –byline deprivation.”

Conclusion

The history of newspaper publishing in the UK shows that economic interests influence media output immensely. I have argued that, historically, culture, ideology, politics, and economics are all interrelated influences on the content of media. In order to show this, my paper has looked at historical events that have had an impact on the course that the media (especially newspapers) has taken during the past few hundred years. Starting with the 18th century, the press has been a battlefield between the rich and the poor. Radical newspapers fought to have a say in politics. Unfortunately, those who had more wealth and invested more capital were the ones able to take control of the press. With the control of the press also came the promotion of certain ideologies. The ruling class favoured the politics that went against the interests of the workers. Politicians and capitalists alike strived to protect their standing. The stamp duty is an example of measures that they were taking to ensure that radical media output does not grow enough to influence political views. Even though this measure did not last, the effect that commercialization has had on newspapers and media output, in general, is still evident. Those who own media corporations prefer an apolitical and commercial approach. Over time, the voices of workers with radical demands have stopped being heard in the mainstream media. Moreover, even the practices of journalists nowadays are influenced by this approach to media as a profit driven enterprise. The relevance of stories is often determined based on commercial appeal and sensationalism, rather than facts. Stories can be censored and facts hidden. Economics, as well as politics are mainly to blame for these developments. McNair (2009) sums up this interrelationship perfectly through his work. The fact that politics, economics, culture, and ideology play a big role in determining media output is undeniable. Although this is unlikely to change in the near future, it is important to know whose politics and interests influence what we read, hear, and see in the media.

Bibliography

Curran, J. and Seaton. Power Without Responsibility : Press, Broadcasting and the Internet in Britain. Routledge, Abingdon, 2010.

McNair, B. News and Journalism In the UK . Routlege, London, 2003.

McQuail D. Mass Communication. SAGE, London, 2008.

Tumber H. News : A Reader. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999.

Wahl-Jorgensen, K. & Hanitzsch, T. The Handbook of Journalism Studies. Taylor & Francis, Abingdon, 2009.

Categories
Free Essays

The Development of Multi-Faceted Literacy in American Culture

Though many theories have been formulated about literacy and how to apply proper education to it, few seem to grasp the fact that true literacy involves lots of different aspects. Though many educators have tried to put the term literacy into a strict definition, it is best understood as a complex educational aspect.

Literacy combines elements of culture, both nation and international. It involves picking up essential skills that can be taught in the classroom, as well. In addition to all of that, it involves a person learning the advanced art of articulation. Speaking well, writing well, and understanding how to get a point across are three things that should be included in that discussion, as well.

How a person understands literacy is dependent upon which of these theories that person accepts as being the standard. According to Dr. Robert Needlman, literacy needs to be understood in a broad sense, as it is very important to all other forms of learning. In a recent article on the matter, Needlman wrote, “Literacy is more than just being able to read and write. Literate children see reading as fun and exciting. They use reading to learn about a wide range of subjects, and they use writing to share their ideas” (Needlman).

This means that teachers must learn to teach their students how to read and write at the most basic level, but that is rarely enough. True literacy can not be gained without a wide application of many different principles. One position that has become very popular among educators in recent years is one that employs a strategy of teaching students to communicate. Learning how to frame words in sentences and paragraphs is not enough in order to truly teach someone to be literate. In order to be literate, a person has to be able to take those words and put them into coherent thoughts. This position is probably the one that most closely represents what today’s educators should be aiming for when they frame curriculums for students.

Skills based literacy is the building block from which all other things have to come. This is generally accepted by most educators out there. The problem is that some of these educators are not going beyond that. Though literacy starts with the basic skills, it certainly cannot stop there. It can only be effective if it is combined with a literacy program that teaches students cultural literacy and communications skills, as well. Teaching one without taking the time to teach the other is like teaching a person how to fish, giving them all of the equipment, and then forgetting to tell them where the pond is located.

Though learning the actual skill of reading and writing is obviously an important part of the process, the cultural aspects are even more important. Especially in the United States, cultural literacy has not been nearly as much of a concern as other aspects of education. This is partly because teachers have been teaching with their eye on standardized tests and partly because no real value has been placed on cultural literacy. Now, the value and importance of both understanding how to read and write and understand how to put those things into context is being stressed more and more in schools and to America’s youth.

Certain school districts have taken the initiative of instilling this sort of program within their curriculum for students. According to literature put out by the Poway Unified School District, cultural literacy is important to the development of students. Their website states, “The best lessons for cultural literacy come from the many students who sit in front of us each day in our classrooms. Their cultures, heritage, and stories formulate the most powerful cultural literacy curriculum” (Poway Unified School District). Elementary schools are not the only ones taking notice in this.

College writing programs have implemented strategies as well to give their students a chance to become fully literate. Reed College, for example, has an entire writing program that is dedicated to teaching students the proper rules for communicating in their writing. This program not only focuses on writing, but it also teaches the value of things like drama and other liberal arts. Hampden-Sydney College is another college in the United States that has put an emphasis on this type of education. Their rhetoric program must be completed by all students who come through the school, whether those students are business majors or history majors.

In the full context of a college liberal arts program, writing takes on a huge level of importance. Universities that offer these programs need to instill a writing intensive program across the board. This does not mean that just journalism or English students should have to concentrate on refining their skills. It means that in history courses, religion courses, philosophy courses, and other sorts of classes, a bunch of writing should be required. By incorporating writing into the curriculum of these other subjects, students will further learn how to communicate with their writing and they will become better at the other subjects, as well. Without an emphasis on writing, a liberal arts program is doomed to failure.

Successful communication is a necessary aspect of these programs, as well. That cannot be gained without learning how to write critically, though. As E.D Hirsch is quick to point out, the English language lends itself to much interesting diction for writers. In his book, Hirsch wrote, “Literature in English excels in every kind of writing. Its particular glory is its poetry. For historical reasons, the English language acquired a vocabulary that is unusually rich and nuanced, combining words of Germanic root (such as see and glimpse) with words of Latin root (such as perceive and envision)” (Hirsch).

There are quite a few different approaches to organizing a program such as this. Some colleges have started specific writing courses that teach students how to put their ideas into writing. More times than not, these classes are put into freshman year experience programs. These are the programs that teach students how to learn and how to be good college students. More times than not, these classes are taught alongside a study skills course. After all, most students are going to have to write multiple essays when they enter college and writing will be an essential part of their life. It only makes sense to preach the importance of writing from the very beginning of the college experience.

This is not enough, though. In today’s world, being able to write and communicate is essentially important. Just about everything revolves around it, including the business world. According to the Educational Testing Service, which handles much of the student testing in the United States, the situation is extremely dire. They state, “As society becomes more technologically advanced, the quantity and types of written materials are growing. Adults are expected to use information from these materials in new and more complex ways and to maintain and enhance their literacy skills through lifelong learning activities.

Literacy skills are critical not only for the personal achievement of individuals, but also for the social and economic development of each nation. These skills are no longer linked to a single threshold that separates the literate from the nonliterate” (Educational Testing Service). This quotation does much to state the overall importance of literacy in society and it also hammers home the point that literacy is becoming more important and more relevant, despite what some might think. In fact, it is dire, according to C.H. Knoblauch. In his Literacy and the Politics of Education, Knoblauch writes, “However, if literacy today is perceived as a compelling value, the reason lies not in such self-interested justifications but in its continuing association with forms of social reality that depend on its primacy” (Knoblauch).

In addition to that, there is sentiment from other literary sources about the American situation. The Formation of National Cultures states, “In America, the reality is that we have not yet properly achieved monoliteracy, much less multiliteracy” (Foundation of National Cultures). This means that the United States still has to work on both the simple parts of literacy, as well as the more advanced aspects.

One of the staples of any liberal arts program is a good history department. History courses are interesting because of the fact that they incorporate many different aspects of reading, writing, critical thinking, and lots of other skills. Students are not only forced to write and read critically, but they are often forced to do these things in a cultural sense. History courses not only teach what happened and when it happened, but they study cultural trends. Writing and reading have to be a huge part of any history course. Framing a history course with an eye on literacy is easy. In fact, it would be very difficult to even consider teaching any sort of history class without the inclusion of these things.

As far as the actual setup of a course is concerned, it would not be all that difficult to integrate. The course would need a strong textbook, which must be read each and every night. In addition to that, the instructor of the course would teach the class in a lecture/discussion format, where students have to get used to both critical listening and critical communication. During each class period, students would have to listen to an instructor and take notes on what that professor is saying. This is one way to not only teach students the art of writing, but it also teaches students to think about the most important things that they are hearing. From that, they will react to that knowledge.

The course would not be taught with only lectures, though. There would obviously be some grading that would be required. Writing would be integrated into the course in both essays and in tests. For the essays, students would be required to submit a number of them, depending upon length. This would give students a chance to not only explore the liberal arts staple of history, but it would also make them learn how to express themselves in a logical way. Essays would require proper writing skills, as well as good organization and good understanding of the material at hand.

This would be an appropriate test of the knowledge and a good way to further integrate literary skills into the course. When it came time to give the test, writing would be on that, as well. Some part of the test would include an essay, where students would have to prepare a concise thought without too much time to research the issue. By doing these things, writing, reading, and critical communication could take their rightful place of importance in the liberal arts field. Without them, the courses would be naked and barren.

By including writing and reading in liberal arts programs, a university would not be precluded from also offering advanced writing courses. Traditional definitions of literacy have come up with the conclusion that it is actually a skill that must be learned and mastered. Though the cultural literacy idea has become much more popular in recent years, the idea of literacy being a skill has still not been lost. With the right amount of instruction, students can learn how to both read and write at a very high level.

Like with other subjects in a curriculum, writing programs must take the opportunity to teach both the basics and the advanced aspects of writing and reading. Colleges would be well advised to offer a literacy major or minor within their course catalog. With this program, the university could offer tens of classes on writing and reading. Everything from critical writing to business writing could be offered within this major. With that knowledge, a student would be able to go on to many different careers, since it has been established that writing and reading is such a large part of the business culture today. As long as literacy is a skill, it is something that must be harnessed and taught in universities and in lower levels of schools, as well.

Elementary, middle, and high schools would be smart to adopt similar programs, which would further prepare students for the rigors of college literacy programs. In short, this would take a concerted effort at every level of academia if it is going to be successful. This is something that Allan Bloom takes very seriously in his book, The Closing of the American Mind. In there, Bloom writes, “I used to think that young Americans began whatever education they were to get at the age of eighteen, that their early lives were spiritually empty and they arrived at the university clean slate unaware of their deeper selves and the world beyond their superficial experience” (Bloom). The need for education at early levels is of the utmost importance to people like Bloom.

No matter what definition of literacy a person subscribes to, the fact remains that it is a very important part of education that must be addressed. At current standing, schools are not doing nearly enough to teach the skills and to instill the type of cultural knowledge that is essential in order to truly communicate. Literacy is far more complicated than many educators have been willing to give it credit for. The first step to truly teaching literacy in a correct way is to understand that it is a changing thing.

According to the folks at the Perkins School for the Blind, literacy includes many different aspects that must be accounted for. Their website reads, “The development of literacy is founded upon our experiences – beginning with birth – and our interactions with the world and those around us. Over time, these experiences enable us to develop the ability to connect meaning to words and letters. First, though, the path to literacy requires establishing communication and connecting meaning to objects, events and people in our world” (Perkins School for the Blind).

This means that literacy is constantly being learned by everyone, each and every day. With this sort of knowledge in hand, it is easy to conclude that literacy must be included in every aspect of education. When talking about a classic liberal arts education, this is especially true. No matter if the skills-based literacy interpretation is correct or the other interpretations are correct, one must concede that all aspects of the idea should be considered.

When shaping the plan for literacy training within a liberal arts program, lots of things must be considered. Luckily for those people who frame curriculums,  many liberal arts classes already require many pieces of literacy to be included to begin with. From critical writing to reading to other forms of communication, literacy will always be a part of history, philosophy, English, and the other subjects within liberal arts. With that in mind, the key is to highlight those skills and make sure that students are given an opportunity to enhance them.

Works Cited

Bloom, Allan. Closing of the American Mind.

Educational Training Service. What is Literacy? http://www.nocheating.org/portal/site/ets/menuitem.c988ba0e5dd572bada20bc47c3921509/?vgnextoid=2a8eaf5e44df4010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD&vgnextchannel=6773e3b5f64f4010VgnVCM10000022f95190RCRD

Hirsch, E.D. Cultural Literacy.

Knoblauch, C.H. Literacy and the Politics of Education.

Perkins School for the Blind. Perkins Panda Early Literacy Kit. http://www.perkins.org/literacy/panda/

Poway Unified School District. Cultural Literacy. http://www.powayusd.com/projects/edtechcentralnew/culturallit.htm

“Formation of National Cultures”

Needlman, Robert. What is Literacy? http://www.drspock.com/article/0,1510,5133,00.html