Culture, Communication, and Collaboration in Established MNEs : A Qualitative Analysis of the Influence of Culture
Abstract: Culture is a social phenomenon that affects the daily lives of individuals. How we view the world is often reflected by our national culture forming our values, beliefs, and assumptions about what reality looks like. Since the globalization trend has paved the way for organizations to broaden their horizons, and because markets are no longer bound to geographical locations, culture plays a bigger role than ever before. For organizations being introduced to an increased number of cultures, the requirements of flexibility and adaptability drastically increase for both management and individuals working within these organizations. The organization further creates its own organizational culture, which is present alongside the different national cultures, and guides employees in their daily operations. Further, culture, to a great extent, determines the behaviors of individuals, and thus how one chooses to communicate and collaborate. In previous research, the emphasis on culture is extensive. The influences culture has had on large, international organizations have been widely debated in the academic world, and many practices in global organizations make use of the findings of such research. In addition to cultural research, communication and collaboration have been debated as correlated with culture in separate ways. Since the emphasis on culture has been great, additions have been made of how culture determines how one communicates or collaborates but not enough focus has been on the two and their relationship, and the combination of the three topics. There have also been calls within the academic world for more research on the phenomenon of culture. The authors of this thesis aimed to contribute to research with an attempt to fill this gap, increasing the existing knowledge on culture, communication and collaboration, which individuals and organizations can find useful. This thesis contributes with interesting results that confirmed, added to, and contradicted existing theory. The findings suggest culture as significantly impacting the multinational enterprise through its paradoxical influences, simultaneously affecting the organization in both positive and negative ways. Within the topics affected, communication and collaboration, four central themes were identified. These themes were decision-making, hierarchical and power structures, managing emotions, and managing change. In combination with the theoretical framework of this thesis, a conceptual model of the influences of culture on the topics of communication and collaboration, and on the four themes, was created. In the model, whether the paradoxical influences of culture are primarily positive or negative, is determined by the management of such influencess. This thesis further hints at directions for future research, as interesting findings can benefit from being further researched in detail. The findings of this thesis can be utilized in several ways, applying to an individual as well as an organizational level. By bringing cultural differences to light, one can overcome barriers and benefit from insights and different perspectives in operations, resulting in an increase of effectiveness and reproduction of positive emotions in the workplace. As understandings of culture could diminish barriers and increase humbleness towards individuals' dissimilarities, one seeking development could be greatly enlightened through such understandings.
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