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This volume explores the work environment in multinational corporations. To do so, it integrates studies on the organizational sciences, cross-cultural management, positive psychology and sociology within a single comprehensive framework. Twenty-two authors from six countries identify the challenges in multicultural workplaces, the positives of interactions, cultural clashes and their organizational preconditions. They add inter-organizational, institutional and critical perspectives to the analysis within the framework of multinationals and complex, hybrid cultural environments. The book addresses the needs of researchers in the areas of intercultural management, and those of practitioners in international human resource management.



Multicultural Environment and Intercultural Interactions: Theoretical and Research Framework


Understanding Organizational Intercultural Interactions in Corporations

The understanding of organizational interactions in corporations is based on the several definitions and typologies. There are many possible organizational interactions connected to different social processes, such as communication, power relations and control, tangible and intangible exchange and others.
The main objective of this chapter is the discussion of the cognitive values of the different ways of understanding organizational intercultural interactions in corporations.
After identification of the main common points in various definitions, the paradigms of organizational interactions in corporations are explained. The disciplinary paradigms of psychology, sociology, linguistics, political science and management are applied to the discourse. Moreover, the proposal of Burrell and Morgan is implemented and as a result organizational intercultural interactions in corporations are explained by neo-positivist and functional, interpretative-symbolic, critical and postmodern perspectives. Finally, the prospects for research into intercultural interaction, i.e. the positive and behavioral currents are suggested.
Łukasz Sułkowski

Positive Cross-Cultural Scholarship Research

Despite ongoing change, most cross-cultural management theory and research tends to emphasize problems and misunderstandings associated with cross-cultural interactions and at the same time deemphasize the positive role of cross-cultural interactions within organizations. We unpack positive features of cross-cultural dynamics by identifying the key processes, conditions and mechanisms through which diversity improves team outcomes by introducing the lens of “Positive Organizational Scholarship”. The goal of this chapter is to showcase research that sheds light on the positive dynamics but also the positive outcomes associated with cross-cultural differences in a wide range of organizational contexts. We are fully aware that this problem-oriented perspective on cross-cultural differences does have merits; nevertheless we would like to strongly indicate that cross-cultural differences may create numerous opportunities and benefits such as increased productivity and creativity, and better problem-solving quality.
Łukasz Sułkowski, Michał Chmielecki

Cognition of the Multicultural Work Environment in Multinational Corporations and Intercultural Interaction Outcomes

The aim of this chapter is to present how an individual cognition of the multicultural work environment of multinational corporations (MNCs) relates to the outcomes of professional interactions with culturally diverse people. The subject literature review and the empirical findings show that multicultural work environments pose specific requirements to individuals, such as cultural differences, multilingualism, a need for cross-cultural adjustment and a multicultural leadership style. Employees may classify these requirements either as barriers or challenges. The empirical findings reveal that this individual cognitive process is related to some outcomes of intercultural interactions, i.e. learning and satisfaction.
The data for the chapter was gathered via qualitative and quantitative research in subsidiaries of MNCs. The informants were managers and specialists working in those companies and involved in intercultural interactions while performing their professional duties.
Małgorzata Rozkwitalska

Cultural Dilemmas and Paradoxes in Dynamic Organizational Environments

This chapter discusses the limitations of traditional approaches in comparative research—cultural and institutional—in explaining dynamically changing environments. Cultural dilemmas and paradoxes are especially pronounced in organizations that operate in the context of wider social transformations. Such a context can hardly be explained by static cultural dimensions, which do not reflect its inherent complexity and contradictions. Observations are drawn from an extensive empirical research study that covered a broad sample of over 5000 respondents, and integrated surveys from two mainstream cultural methodologies—Hofstede and Trompenaars. It looks deeper into the internal tensions within the cultural dimensions of a specific transformation environment (the case of Lithuania). Various points of cultural tension are revealed, such as the inconsistency of individual and system-level preferences of the respondents, the pronounced gap in work-related values between the “traditional” and “innovative” parts of society, discrepancies between de jure and de facto situations in the dynamically changing context. Successful management of cultural complexity is regarded as a potential source of competitive advantage, but it calls for adjusting the mental and theoretical models, which are often dominated by simplistic linear thinking. The newly emerging cultural methodologies should embrace the approach to culture as a complex dynamic system.
Giedrius Jucevicius, Rita Juceviciene

Intercultural Interactions in Traditional and Positive Perspectives

The aim of this chapter is to integrate the negative and positive perspective on intercultural interactions by implementing psychological theories, which can help to explain the inconclusive results of prior studies. Social identity theory, the similarity-attraction paradigm, and, yet to the lower degree, social dominance theory are theoretical underpinnings of the negative view of the relationships between culturally diverse individuals. The positives of intercultural interactions have been interpreted on the basis of information-processing theory and intergroup contact theory. Recently, the Positive Organizational Scholarship lens has been applied to cross-cultural research as well to foster the positive approach to cultural diversity. This chapter moves further, since it attempts to elucidate intercultural interactions at work by referring to the theories that have been rarely implemented in cross-cultural studies so far. Thus, Bandura’s social learning and social cognitive theory, thriving, the Job Demands-Resources model and the transactional theory of stress are shown as the theoretical framework for the discourse.
Małgorzata Rozkwitalska

From Linnaeus to Darwin. From Cultural Grid to “Going Native”

Sociocultural evolutionary developments are games with no predictable outcomes and can be divided into two types from the viewpoint of cross-cultural, i.e. comparative and historical studies. Across the fields of cultural research, one methodological difference in learning about our understanding and awareness looms as large as a continental divide.
On the neo-neo-positivist side, theoretical grids are produced, and when applied to empirical—pre-baked data, they tend to generate comparative analysis of all the world’s cultures. Dimensions and rules are supposed to apply universally and one grid implicitly fits all cultures, close and distant, large and small, new and old. Comparative cultural studies are reducible to a library of area files gradually filling the cabinets designed by Linnaeus – for organizational or artistic, national or professional, generational or paradigmatic, religious or spiritual cultural artifacts. Characteristics or dimensions are as predictable as rules of bridge or poker, and dimensions can be gradually reduced to those most relevant for influencing human behavior.
On the humanist, qualitative, interpretative side of the methodological divide, often criticized as “soft” or “postmodernist”, a search for continually (re)negotiated values, for contingent and emergent ecologies of mind and for a humanist coefficient draws attention to open-ended cultural creativity and to the humanist attempt to “go native”. One size of theory does not fit all, a single typology does not hold true everywhere and forever, and the evolution of cultural species includes the evolution of knowledge production and use. What does it mean for the concept of a manageable evolution of complex knowledge democracies navigating our self-understanding and our identity-formation under the looming shadows of power struggles and emergent, aggressive genetic and data technologies?
Sławomir Magala

Intercultural Interactions in Multicultural Environment: Intra and Inter-organizational Perspectives


Individual Resources and Intercultural Interactions

The work environment in multinational corporations (MNCs) is specific and demanding including intercultural interactions with co-workers and clients and using a foreign language. Some individual resources can help in dealing with these circumstances. Individual resources refer to personal dispositions, competencies and prior experiences. With regard to previous studies, a caravan of personal resources, namely Psychological Capital (Luthans et al., Pers Psychol 60(3): 541–572, 2007), can reveal the source of inconsistencies in results in a multicultural work setting.
The aim of this study was to examine the relationships between positive psychological capital and other individual and professional resources (functional language, prior international experiences, age, and job tenure), which can help employees to deal with a demanding multinational work environment and particularly with intercultural interactions.
The results of a quantitative study among a Polish group of employees in MNCs have demonstrated that psychological capital was slightly correlated with their international experience and moderately correlated with proficiency in a foreign language used in the corporation as a functional language. The psychological capital of the respondents was not correlated with age, but was slightly correlated with their job tenure. The differences between the two subgroups depended on the job position, indicating that the supervisors had a higher level of psychological capital than employees (large effect size) as well as having a higher level of resilience, hope and optimism (moderate effect sizes).
Including some shortcomings of the study, the association between positive psychological capital and other individual resources was discussed and some practical implications were also indicated. The research suggests that organizations can reap benefits from the individual resources of employees and can play an active role in the development of psychological capital. Thus, they may create their competitive advantage on the labour market.
Beata A. Basinska

Thriving in a Multicultural Workplace

Thriving at work is defined as the psychological state that links both a sense of vitality and learning. The vitality component of thriving may be seen as positive energy, while learning enhances a sense of competence and efficacy. Thriving sheds new light on individual psychological functioning and the experience of growth in the work context. Thriving at work promotes growth through playing an active role in interaction with other people. In particular, thriving can offer a positive insight into social interactions at work and the subjective well-being of employees in a multicultural work setting.
The aim of the quantitative study was to examine the relationship between thriving (proximal factor) and subjective well-being (distal factor) including its affective and cognitive aspects in the model of intercultural interaction at work. Correlational design was applied.
The results of the studies conducted in a quantitative design indicated that learning is more salient than vitality in a multicultural work setting. The findings suggest that among these two components of thriving, learning is more salient than vitality. Thriving was associated with affective well-being, specifically, vitality was moderately associated with positive and negative emotions while learning was slightly associated with positive emotions. Additionally, the different role of the two components of thriving in the cognitive aspect of subjective well-being was revealed. Organizational satisfaction (overall satisfaction) was dependent on vitality. In contrast, job-related interpersonal satisfaction (satisfaction with work in a multicultural environment) was dependent on both components of thriving, vitality and learning.
To the best of the author’s knowledge this is the first study to empirically test thriving in the model of intercultural interaction at work. Specifically it focuses on proximal (vitality and learning) and distal outcomes (subjective well-being).
Beata A. Basinska

Job Satisfaction and Subjective Well-Being in the Multicultural Workplace

Although the interest in job satisfaction among scholars and practitioners is still significant, the subject literature that takes into consideration its links with the multicultural workplace is limited. Moreover, the results of prior research on the effects of cultural differences in the workplace on job satisfaction in multinational corporations (MNCs) are rather inconsistent. Thus, the aim of this chapter is to analyze how intercultural interactions relate to job satisfaction that is seen as an element of work-related subjective well-being.
The research was carried out as qualitative and quantitative studies in subsidiaries of MNCs. The data was collected from managers and specialists working in these companies, whose occupational duties involve intercultural interactions.
The empirical findings indicate that the thriving of those who participate in intercultural interactions was related to their job satisfaction and emotional balance, and as a result to their work-related subjective well-being. Thriving may play a mediating role in the relation between intercultural interactions and job satisfaction as well as in the relation between intercultural interactions and emotional balance.
Małgorzata Rozkwitalska

Managing Innovation in Multicultural Environments: An Imperative of Responsibility Within Interorganizational Networks

The complexity of environmental, societal, economic challenges, etc. and businesses need to address with their innovation strategies and practices calls for new underlying concepts to support sustainable business behaviors within increasingly multicultural business and consumer environments. We address the issue of responsibility and coordinated decision making innovation in multicultural networks, and define critical steps for managing innovation within inter-organizational networks via creation of long-term stakeholder engagement on the international scale. The research is based on the case study of R&D intensive innovation development within multicultural interorganizational network in highly vulnerable sector of medical engineering for intensive healthcare units worldwide.
Monika Petraite, Xavier Pavie, Jolita Ceicyte, Brigita Janiunaite, Daphné Carthy

Social Capital, Trust and Intercultural Interactions

The main aim of this chapter is to introduce readers to the idea of social capital. Then relationships between social capital and trust are analyzed. Finally, both these ideas are placed in the context of multicultural organizations.
The term ‘social capital’ appeared in the 1960s. Social capital is identified as symbolic common goods of a society, which foster the development of social trust and norms of reciprocity, which in turn leads to more effective forms of organization. Social capital is an aggregate of variables determining the nature of secondary relationships. It can also be seen as a skill of interpersonal cooperation within groups and organizations in order to realize common interests.
Interpersonal trust is an important factor determining relationships, both in the family and in the organization. Interpersonal trust is a reflection of a resource of experience and observation of a person, which would allow him or her to predict that confidence in the given person meets expectations.
The chapter draws clear boundaries between trust and social capital, at the same time explaining and exploring implications of these two perspectives on the issue of organizational management in a multicultural context.
Łukasz Sułkowski

A Cultural Perspective on the Emergence of Organizational Trust

Cultural factors play an important role in the dynamics of trust within a society, among all its diverse members, both individuals and organizations. Cultural diversity can be both an impediment as well as a catalyst to productive trust-based relationships between social actors. In this chapter, we present the theoretical framework that explains the development of inter-organizational trust in industrial clusters, its main stages, barriers and managerial factors behind trust development. The framework serves as the basis for empirical research that covered 109 professional cluster facilitators from 37 countries. We present the key aspects of the emergence of inter-firm trust by incorporating an analysis of multi-level factors of trust development in three different geographical and cultural contexts: Northwestern Europe, Central and Eastern Europe and Southern Europe/Latin America. This research has revealed the different challenges of trust dynamics depending on such aspects of cultural environment as the approach to authority, rules and group relations. The chapter argues for the need to adopt a non-linear approach to trust development in order to embrace the complexity of the modern organizational environment.
Rita Jucevičienė, Giedrius Jucevičius

Fostering Internationalization Through Networks: An Inter-organizational Psychic Distance Perspective

Because of the growth of international business integration, internationalization of firms has become necessary in order to try to remain and develop the business regardless the size of firm, managed resources, and type of the activity. Multinational companies seek to accelerate their internationalization because of the extremely rapidly changing environment, as well as in order to reach companies’ long-term goals. Especially small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), which are one of the most important market players, are seeking to internationalize their business activities quickly in that small businesses lack the financial, time and other resources. Involvement in networks becomes the main precondition for the rapid internationalization of SMEs. Due to the lack of resources, SMEs need to accumulate and acquire knowledge through networks and the prior experience of the founding or management team. The nature of SMEs conditions the internationalization pattern in foreign countries. Mostly in order to reach critical profit margins this kind of company competes in niche markets in a large number of different countries. This behavior of SMEs implies that psychic distance (PD) is likely to have a greater impact on SME’s internationalization through networking. Therefore, this chapter aims is to create a theoretical construct aimed at developing a greater understanding of fostering internationalization through networks by focusing on psychic distance at the inter-organizational relationship level of small and medium enterprises and their foreign partners. The study contributes to conceptualization of these constructs, by providing a conceptual framework from an inter-organizational perspective.
Jurgita Sekliuckiene, Rimante Morkertaite

Individuals and Interactions in Multicultural Environments: The Expanded Perspective


Workaholism and Individual Work Performance in Lithuanian and German Financial Sector Multinational Corporations: Differences Between Generations X and Y

This chapter aims to clarify the differences between generations X and Y regarding workaholism and to compare the impact of workaholism on the task proficiency component of individual work performance in financial sector multinationals in Lithuania and German-speaking countries.
The work cultures often lionize hard work, so the impact of workaholism gets a high degree of attention. The discussion on the nature of workaholism, its causes and effects, its addiction like nature and typology is still being emphasized by both academia and practitioners. However, there is a lack of research on intergenerational differences in multinationals and their attitude towards workaholism.
The quantitative empirical research method was chosen. The questionnaire was formed using the validated workaholism questionnaire created by Spence and Robbins and the task proficiency questionnaire by Griffin et al. The workaholism type is defined by variations on employee work involvement, work enjoyment and feeling driven.
The data was collected from a self-reported on-line survey. 198 respondents from Lithuania-based and 99 respondents from Germany and Switzerland-based financial sector multinationals participated.
The research reveals differences between generations X and Y and between Lithuania and German-speaking financial sector multinationals. The findings show equal distribution of workaholics (70 %) and non-workaholics (30 %) in Lithuania and German-speaking countries. Regarding the intergenerational differences, the tendencies are the same. Both X and Y financial sector employees more often tend to be workaholics than non-workaholics. On the other hand, individual work performance differs by country (more highly evaluated by the Lithuanian sample), but not by generation or workaholism/non-workaholism attitudes. The findings suggest that high individual work performance is achieved by both generations X and Y as well as by workaholics and non-workaholics equally. However, individual work performance is positively related to work enjoyment.
The financial sector multinationals should focus on the dimension of work enjoyment instead of emphasizing intergenerational differences in the workplace.
Raimonda Alonderienė, Juliane Fuchs, Miglė Pilkaitė, Margarita Pilkienė

Expatriate vs. Self-initiated Expatriate in the Multicultural Workplace of MNCs

The purpose of this theoretical chapter is to enhance the conceptual coherence of the notions of assigned expatriate (AE) and self-initiated expatriate (SIE). The proposed definitions are based on a set of conceptual criteria, which differentiates these types of international movers. In this chapter, the terminology and definitions of AEs and SIEs are ordered; the chapter also presents the advantages and disadvantages of hiring AE and SIE, and shows the dissimilarities in selected areas of the expatriate management (socio-cultural adaptation, career development, motivation and compensation).
Sylwia Przytuła

How to Educate Multicultural Managers? The Example of Luxembourg

This paper is the result of three different studies. The purpose of this study is to determine if the Luxembourgish trilingual education system prepares tricultural managers and in particular if it really educates the multicultural managers the country needs—considering the special cultural pattern following Hofstede et al. (Cultures and organizations. Software of the mind. Intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival. McGraw Hill, 2010) and Schein (Organizational culture and leadership. Wiley, 2010). First, 154 questionnaires were collected to identify Hofstede’s cultural dimensions. Second, 36 interviews were conducted to determine whether the multilingual education is a success story or a failure system. Third, a total of 46 interviews were conducted among four different categories of interviewees, namely: (1) Lux.Nat. (Luxembourgers with Luxembourgish Nationality), (2) Lux.Foreigner (foreigners who reside in Luxembourg), (3) cross-borderers (people who come to work in Luxembourg every day from Germany, France, and Belgium), and (4) the rest of the world (World). The following results were found: Lux.Nat. fervently defend trilingualism, in contrast to respondents of other nationalities, who are more critical about the trilingual education system’s effectiveness. Yet, the main subjects mentioned are ‘integration not separation of the population’, ‘high failure rate’, ‘insufficient command of English’ and ‘lack of talent’. Despite the contradictory results about the transmission of culture via language, respondents are in favor of the multilingual and multicultural approach, where all three official languages find their justification: Luxembourgish, French, and German. Some interviews are reprinted; discussion, conclusion, and future research follow.
Ursula Schinzel

Intra-organizational Negotiations as Cross-Cultural Interactions

Today’s economy is producing a competitive business landscape that is growing increasingly complex, dynamic and ambiguous for organizations operating across borders. As a result, negotiations within and between organizations become more and more challenging. Growing cultural diversity calls for abilities to adapt to the unfamiliar environment and to learn how to communicate and negotiate with people from different cultural backgrounds.
This chapter presents the unique results of in-depth semi-structured interviews with expatriate managers from the United States working in Poland. It contributes to the ongoing debates on intra-organizational negotiation between expatriates and local managers. While there is a large body of research that compares national negotiation styles, Poland’s presence in it is still rather scarce. Since Poland is rapidly becoming an important place where many expatriate managers perform daily operations, there is a strong need for that type of research. As the author’s research discovered, intra-organizational negotiation difficulties between expatriates and local managers in Poland were often influenced by the following factors: hierarchy, formality and context of communication, an approach to planning and improvisation, a division between personal and professional life, and many others. The research also stresses that since diverse cultures may lead to differences in cognition as well as understanding and evaluation, a single approach to negotiations cannot be applied everywhere.
Michał Chmielecki

Knowledge Sharing in MNCs

The success of economies in the future shall be based on how multinational companies or organizations acquire, use, and leverage knowledge effectively. Management in recent decades has seen knowledge sharing become a key tool for the success of a variety of institutions. Many international companies and other organizations have developed knowledge management programs as a key to their future development strategies. Yet despite its growing popularity, knowledge sharing in MNCs remains a complex and challenging task.
While there is a large body of research that analyzes knowledge sharing in MNCs, Poland’s presence in it is still rather scarce. Since Poland is rapidly becoming an important place where many of foreign companies invest, there is a strong need for this type of research.
This chapter seeks to answer the question how employees perceive knowledge sharing barriers. The primary data was collected by conducting 26 individual in-depth interviews with the employees of three MNCs operating in the Lodz region in Poland.
The chapter begins with a literature review on knowledge sharing, including barriers to knowledge sharing. Then follows an analysis of the role of culture in knowledge sharing. The final part is devoted to the research and discussion of the results.
Michał Chmielecki

Cultural Factors Influencing the Knowing of a Multinational Company

The aim of the chapter is to discuss the role of cultural factors in creating an organization’s knowing. This has been done trying to obtain answers to two main questions: what cultural factors influence the creation of an organization’s knowing in a multinational company (MNC)? Does the influence of cultural factors depend on the management efforts of the MNC, or is it predetermined by the national culture?
Both the theoretical and empirical approaches are applied in the research. A literature analysis is used to reveal and discuss the cultural factors influencing the knowing of an MNC. The methodology of empirical research is based on the application of case study strategy.
This chapter has three parts. In the first part, the conceptual approaches to a MNC and its management from the perspective of its interaction with the environment are presented. In the second part of the chapter, the peculiarities of knowing of a MNC are discussed. In the third part, the influence of cultural factors on the creation of knowing of a MNC are discussed using the data from theoretical and empirical research.
The research made it possible to find and explain the role of particular cultural factors in creation of an organization’s knowing. It also allowed some findings and generalizations to be made that could be important for researchers and practitioners in the field of knowledge and culture management. This is especially the case for those who are focusing on issues related to MNCs.
Palmira Juceviciene, Vyda Mozuriuniene
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