Cultural analysis is important for international managers because they need to be able to predict what behavior is typical of the cultural group they are working with. Research into cultures is needed to establish a scientific to give managers valid tools for conducting an analysis.
Most cultural analysis models are based on comparative models. These models measure one culture against another. This method is useful for managers because it can help managers answer important questions such as:
- Where should I build a new factory, office or research facility?
- How can I adapt our company’s Japanese incentive plan to our Indonesian workforce?
- Will the matrix structure that works well in Denmark work in Bolivia?
As the world continues to globalize these questions will become ever more important. However, the use of comparative analysis in cultural studies is not without controversy. In particular the following concerns have been raised:
- Can one culture really be measured against another?
- When you ask a question about , for example, individualism, do the cultures have the same definition of individualism?
- How do members of the culture adapt their values to those of other cultures they interact with?
- Is bi-lateral analysis relevant to organisations that work in multi-cultural environments?
While these concerns are valid, they should not stop the manager from using comparative analysis in her tool kit to help he be a more effective international manager.
Major contributors to cultural analysis
The following researchers are discussed elsewhere on this site
Trompenaars ( 1997)
Schwartz (1994, 1999)
House et al (2004)