Running head: COMMUNICATION IN CROSS-NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
Cultural Values, Management Practices, and Climate: Communication in Cross-national Organizations
University of California, Santa Barbara
John C. Lammers
University of Illinois
John C. Lammers, Associate Professor
Organizational and Health Communication
University of Illinois
Department of Speech Communication
702 S. Wright Street, Room 244
Urbana, Illinois 61801
(217) 333-8912 (phone)
(217) 265-0859 (fax)
This work is supported by grant No. 745A-8701-S2893 from the Public Health Institute to the second author entitled "Cross Cultural Leadership Models Study."
This paper reviews how varying cultural values may interact with organizational communication practices (including leadership practices) to positively or negatively impact the climate of cross-national organizations in multicultural settings. Potential outcomes for organizational members, organizational goals, implications for leadership, and increased organizational effectiveness are discussed. We propose a theoretical model that places cultural values and communication in the context of inter-organizational research.
Keywords: Cultural values, organizational models, organizational practices, climate, organizational outcomes.
The growth of multi-national corporations and the operation of western-based donor bureaucracies across the globe has given rise to concerns about cross-national value differences and (mis)communication resulting from a meeting of those values in multicultural organizational settings. Communication practices act as tools to facilitate organizational process, and, hence, are central to the production of internal organizational climate (Poole, 1985). This paper discusses how varying cultural values may interact with organizational communication practices (including leadership practices) to positively or negatively impact the climate of a multi-cultural organization. Additionally, potential outcomes for organizational members, and organizational goals, as well as implications for leadership, and increased organizational effectiveness are highlighted. A theoretical model of the relationships between these components is proposed as a framework for future empirical research in this important area.
Over twenty years ago, Lammers and Hickson (1979) suggested that culture can have a significant effect on organizational structures and outcomes because:
…outside agencies set cultural constraints for an organization; because dominant élites in an organization design and redesign organizational life in terms of culturally given models of organizing; because members themselves unofficially tend to organize and counter-organize in ways derived from sub-cultures. (p. 403)
Despite this observation, U.S. scholars in the fields of leadership, organization science, and communication have paid scant attention to the issue of how member cultural values may impact leaders' organizational communicative practices, organizational task outcomes, as well as outcomes for organizational members (Kirchmeyer, 1993; Yammarino & Jung, 1998). Instead there has been a tendency to simply export U.S. based organizational theory to intercultural settings (Hofstede, 1991, 1999; Smith &Peterson, 1988). By contrast, a proliferation of work, emanating from organizational practitioners, consultants, and intercultural communication scholars, has explored how intercultural miscommunication can be minimized within organizations, and how intercultural communication competence may be fostered (cf. Gallois & Callan, 1997; Hajek & Giles, in press; Reardon & Spekman, 1994; Storti, 1999; Trompenaars, 1994).
With regard to organizational goals and task outcomes, it is important that the impact of cultural values on organizational practices is explored especially in diverse cultural and cross-national contexts. Cultural diversity is said to influence the communication dynamics of group leadership, norms, roles and types of conflict (Bantz, 1993). Additionally, there is evidence that the work group members' cultural values influence task outcomes in terms of increasing or reducing production, variability of ideas, methods related to problem solving (Erez & Somech, 1996; Ling, 1990), and levels of cooperation (Landis & Bhagat, 1996).
However, research shows too that cultural minorities in North America tend to contribute less in a group setting, feel less attached to their work groups, and experience doubts about their level of communication competence (Kirchmeyer, 1993; Kirchmeyer & Cohen, 1992). In a study of U.S. business organizations' communication practices in Thailand, Stage (1999) found that fundamental differences between parent organization requirements and culturally accepted ways of conducting business caused "pressures" and "constraints" on local employees who had to negotiate some way of accomplishing the parent organization's expectations. Some resulting employee outcomes were high staff turnover, feelings of loss of face, tension and embarrassment.
Although little empirical research tracks the relationship between organizational leaders and employees' national cultural values, organizational communication practices, organizational climate, and outcomes (cf., Jung & Avolio, 1999), a considerable body of research has examined the prevalence of specific values within discrete national cultures, and how those values impact organizational cultures (Hofstede, 1980, 1991; Lammers & Hickson, 1979; Smith, Dugan, & Trompenaars, 1996; Schwartz, 1999; Trompenaars, 1994). Therefore, we begin by discussing specifically how national culture affects values, and then move on to highlight how national cultural values affect organizational communication practices, climate, and, outcomes. The paper concludes with an explication of a theoretical model detailing the relationships between these components.
National Culture and Values
Hofstede (1991) defines cultural values as mental programming or "software of the mind,” a set of meanings and beliefs shared by people from specific national backgrounds. A value serves as a criterion to determine choice from existing alternatives. Trompenaars (1994) suggests that: "All cultural groups whether national, ethnic, or socio-economic develop sets of rules to determine what is good and what should be. Values, on the other hand, determine the definition of good and bad, and are therefore closely related to the ideals shared by a group…values give us a feeling of 'this is how I aspire or desire to behave' " (p. 24).
Additionally, Schein (1992) argues that group learning always reflects someone's original values, when "someone's sense of what ought to be is distinct from what is" (p.19). In relation to the workplace and within organizations, cultural values provide the foundation for rules about the distribution of power and rewards, procedures and practices, and types and level of communication. Hofstede (1998) delineated five dimensions of national culture -- power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation.
Power distance is the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations within a particular society expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. Therefore, in some societies, it is expected that there will be a very strict hierarchy, based on ascribed status or written rules. In others, the hierarchy will be much "flatter," power is negotiated or achieved.
Individualism is the opposite of collectivism. Individualism characterizes a society where ties between individuals are loose; individual responsibility is paramount. The individual expects to garner rewards based on achievement or merit. Collectivism characterizes a society in which people are integrated into strong cohesive ingroups, and loyalty to those groups is paramount. In collectivistic societies, accolades, achievements, and rewards are due to the group, not to the individual (Jung & Avolio, 1999).
Masculinity, as opposed to femininity, characterizes a society in which social gender roles are clearly distinct; men are supposed to be assertive, competitive, and focused on material success while women are supposed to be nurturing and concerned with the quality of life. Femininity describes a society in which social gender roles overlap, and where men and women display modesty, tenderness, and concern for the quality of life (Hofstede, 1991, p.82).
Uncertainty avoidance is defined as the extent to which members of organizations within a society feel threatened by unstructured or ambiguous situations. Therefore, societies where uncertainty avoidance is high, people will expect to follow rules, will avoid taking on ambiguous roles, and feel uneasy about risk taking. In societies where uncertainty avoidance is low, individuals are likely to feel more comfortable in unstructured contexts and in taking new initiatives. Also, they will exhibit more risk taking behaviors.
Long-term orientation, as the opposite of short-term orientation, describes a society fostering deferred gratification, in particular perseverance and thrift. Short-term orientation describes a society fostering virtues related to the past and present, in particular respect for tradition, preservation of "face," and fulfilling social obligations.
Broadly speaking, Western societies such as the U.S. tend to be individualistic. They score low on uncertainty avoidance, moderately on masculinity, power distance, and long-term orientation. Collectivistic societies (e.g., Eastern and Third World, countries) tend to score low on individualism, high on uncertainty avoidance, power distance, masculinity, but vary considerably on long-term orientation. For example, the Five Dragons of East Asia (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea; see Chen & Chung, 1994) score high on long-term orientation (Yammarino & Jung, 1998). By contrast, African countries such as Zimbabwe and Nigeria score low on long-term orientation (Hofstede, 1991). In Asia the long-term orientation is said to be related to aspects of Confucianism that stress values associated with the future such as perseverance and thrift (Hofstede, 1991; Bond, 1988). However, some collectivistic societies exhibit values related to the short-term orientation such as respect for tradition, protecting "face," and reciprocation of greetings, favors, and gifts (see Stage, 1999).
If certain cultural values prevail in specific societies, then they may be expected to impact organizational structures within those societies. Hofstede (1991) delineated a typology of four organizational models emanating from the cultural dimensions described above (see also Lammers & Hickson, 1979; Trompenaars, 1994). In countries where high power distance and high uncertainty avoidance prevail, the organizational model will resemble a pyramid with the leader at the top communicating authority, and each person below holding a designated position associated with specific communication practices. In societies exhibiting low power distance and high uncertainty avoidance, established procedures or rules ensure that organizations can run like machines with only minimal interference from leaders. Where low uncertainty avoidance and low power distance prevail, flat hierarchies as well as negotiated roles and power will characterize organizations. A team approach to organization best describes this organizational model. Finally, in societies exhibiting large power distance and weak uncertainty avoidance, an organization may resemble a family where the leader acts as a father figure, and communicates final authority when it comes to rules or procedures.
Hofstede’s four models of organizations are derived from only two of his five dimensions (uncertainty avoidance and power difference). He observes (1991) that these dimensions are more relevant to our thinking about organizations, while the other dimensions--masculinity and individualism—relate to our thinking about people in organizations (the dimension of time horizon had not been added at the time of his model developments). We would argue that each of the five dimensions might be considered important in analyzing interaction at the small group or team level, where both features of formal organization and individual characteristics are salient. Including all measures would certainly be more complicated than only two (yielding a 25 cell differentiation rather than a 4 cell classification), but might be more helpful at the group level.
Culturally related organizational models may operate well in their place of origin. However, transplanting such organizational models to nation states not sharing the same value orientations, or to where there exists a significant level of cultural diversity among organizational members may be problematic in terms of organizational climate and task outcomes.
An Example: Cultural Values in Africa
According to the work of Schwartz (1994;1999; Munene, Schwartz, & Smith, 1999), despite the distinctiveness of cultures across the African continent, there exists a cultural association between African nations. Schwartz found that the concepts of embeddedness, hierarchy, and mastery are more important in Africa than in Western Europe. The concept of embeddedness broadly parallels Hofstede’s collectivism whereby people seek self-identity through group membership as opposed to seeing themselves as autonomous entities. Hierarchy corresponds to Hofstede’s power distance. In other words, societies that value hierarchy emphasize the legitimacy of unequal distributions of power maintained by ascribing status on the basis of attributes such as gender, age, or caste. Finally, mastery overlaps somewhat with the concept of masculinity in its emphasis on asserting control over the natural and social world in order to further group interests.
Munene, Schwartz and Smith (1999) showed that African managers are loath to act without consulting their superiors, and prefer to work by the rule book as opposed to acting on initiative. This suggests that members of organizations in African societies may score high on uncertainty avoidance. Munene et al argue that African nations have been labeled “economies of affection” whereby "the main purpose of work and acquisition is to service immediately the needs of perceived dependents including friends" (p. 12; italics added). We can speculate, therefore, that African national cultures are likely to score low on long-term orientation. And based on these findings, African organizations may well take on Hofstede’s structure of a patriarchal family or a rule-based pyramid.
In sum: Evidence provided by a variety of researchers suggests that cultural values affect the structure of organizational models indigenous to specific societies. Organizational models are, in turn, described by the kinds of communication practices taking place within them. The value dimensions described above impact these communication practices; that is, the ways that organizational members communicate levels of power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation. Culturally bound organizational models tend to be most effective within their indigenous societies. How well they operate when transferred to other cultural settings is dependent upon the types of communication practices characterizing organizations, to which we now turn.
Organizational Communication Practices
Communication practices within organizations are defined by organizational leaders' values (Hofstede, 1998; Schien, 1992). Individuals may have to conform to these practices as rules of membership, but they may or may not espouse the values from which they came. Leadership behaviors and organizational task goals show similarity across cultural settings, but the ways in which those goals are achieved may vary widely depending on leaders' cultural background (Jung & Avolio, 1999; Smith & Peterson, 1988; Triandis, 1993). For example, in a study of reported perceptions of electronic supervisors in Britain the U.S., Japan and Hong Kong (Smith, Misumi, Tayeb, Peterson, & Bond, 1986), findings indicated that leaders in each culture attributed importance to both performance (task) and maintenance (relational) aspects of their style, but the specific practices associated with those aspects differed significantly according to culture.
For instance, the Western participants, as compared to the Eastern participants, indicated that leadership communication practices used to pressure subordinates were seen as highly task related. By contrast, among the Eastern participants, as compared to Western participants, planning and goal facilitation were considered much stronger indicators of performance (task) practices. Therefore, in an individualistic society, pressure brought to bear to on an individual for the purpose of goal achievement is an accepted task-related practice; whereas, in a collective society working together to achieve the task goal is preferable. Indeed, Smith and colleagues found that among Japanese participants, a leader meeting with subordinates socially after hours was considered to be a performance (task) practice as opposed to a maintenance (relational) practice.
Jung and Avolio (1999) manipulated transformational and transactional leadership styles to determine whether they had different impacts on individualists and collectivists. Prior research has shown that transformational leadership is generally associated with a long-term orientation (Koh, 1990; Yochochi, 1989). Results showed that collectivists with transformational leaders (who help followers transcend their own self-interest for the sake of a group goal) generated more ideas. By contrast, individualists generated more ideas with a transactional leader (who motivated followers through reward-based exchanges). Also, the results confirmed that the same leadership style can be perceived differently, and can have different effects on motivation and performance for organizational members from different cultural backgrounds. For example, organizational members from collectivistic societies, where group interests supercede individual concerns, are more likely to be motivated by leaders' appeals to the common good, and group-based incentives than organizational members from individualistic societies (Erez & Somech, 1996). On the other hand, organizational members emanating from collectivistic cultures might feel insulted by leaders who try increase productivity by offering merit awards to individuals within a group (Yammarino & Dong, 1998). These assumptions are stated formally as our first proposition:
Proposition 1: Organizational models will reflect organizational members' expected organizational practices only when they emanate from cultural values similar to those of organizational members.
Leadership and organizational member communication practices such as those related to organizational structure, personal responsibility, risk-taking, rewards, social support, and conflict (Litwin & Stringer, 1968) will vary according to cultural values. Structure relates to the communication of power in an organization, the constraints upon it, and the level of information available about organizational roles. Responsibility and risk refers to organizational communication about expected levels of individual responsibility related to initiative and risk-taking. Practices pertinent to reward are associated with the display of approval or disapproval within an organization -- who gets rewarded, why, and how. Ways of showing social support and warmth to promote affiliation within an organization will also reflect leaders' cultural values. Lastly, forms of communication practices concerned with the management of and tolerance for conflict will vary within an organization depending on whether conflict is defined as desirable or undesirable.
Therefore, with regard to these organizational communication practices, we suggest that organizational members from individualistic societies may expect to consult leaders about their task, be allowed to take initiatives, offer suggestions, receive personal praise and merit awards (Hofstede, 1991; Wang, 1994), and respond assertively in a conflict situation. On the other hand, members of collectivistic societies believe in the desirability of rules, do not question leaders' decisions, prefer to abide by convention unless otherwise instructed, expect the relevant ingroup to receive praise and reward, always consider the face concerns of fellow group members, and avoid conflict (Gallois & Callan,1997;Trompenaars,1994). Such expectations about organizational communication practices may or may not be fulfilled within the setting of a multicultural organization. However, intercultural communication competence may mediate the effects of expectations about organizational communication practices.
Cognitive preparedness. Cognitive preparedness (Hajek & Giles, in press) affects levels of intercultural communication competence. It may include "unlearning" (Kim, 1995) certain cultural practices for the sake of increased communication effectiveness. Additionally, cognitive preparedness affects the ability or inclination to accommodate outgroup characteristics, and involves openness to change, as well as the cognitive skills of mindfulness, sense of presence, and situational awareness.
The cognitive state of mindfulness (Langer, 1989) is a condition of active awareness, a process of forming new categories, and viewing situations in new ways. A "sense of presence" (Fontaine, 1993) presupposes involvement and immediacy with respect to one's environment, and the ability to show attention to a wide range of environmental cues and features. Finally, situational awareness requires that individuals avoid habitual behaviors or one-dimensional attention that are inappropriate in intercultural settings or may sabotage intercultural communication. Hajek and Giles (in press) suggest that by developing the skill of cognitive preparedness, individuals—including both leaders and organizational members--may avoid communication practices inappropriate to culturally diverse settings like multicultural organizations.
According to communication accommodation theory, individuals adapt their speech, language, and non-verbal communication as a way of showing liking and approval for the other group’s culture (Giles, Coupland, & Coupland, 1991; Gallois, Giles, Jones, Cargile, & Ota, 1995). This may involve changing language, accent, or other behavior to be similar to our interaction partner; this is called convergence (Giles & Coupland, 1991). On the other hand, individuals show dislike or disapproval for the another group’s culture through divergence, or accentuating communication differences (Giles, Mulac, Bradac, & Johnson, 1987). We argue that the process of convergence in cross-cultural communication interaction results in a positive organizational climate and, ultimately, positive outcomes for both organizations and organizational members. This argument and the preceding observations are formalized in the proposition 2.
Proposition 2: Organizational communication practices related to structural salience, personal responsibility, risk-taking, reward, social support, and conflict will be mediated by organizational members' levels of cognitive preparedness.
The organizational practices discussed above generate organizational or social climate (Hofstede, 1998; Poole, 1984; Schneider, Parkington, & Buxton, 1980). Schein (1992) defines climate as the "feeling that is conveyed in a group by the physical layout and the way in which members of the organization interact with each other, with customers or with other outsiders" (p. 9). Similarly, Schneider (1990) views climate as "shared perceptions of organizational policies, practices, and procedures, both formal and informal." There is an evaluative dimension to climate. In other words, organizational climates can be good or bad, positive or negative, pleasant or unpleasant, productive or unproductive (Hofstede, 1998). Therefore, organizational climate reflects the comfort level of organizational members with organizational practices (Schneider, Brief, & Guzzo, 1996). This will be influenced by the cultural values driving organizational practices, and those of organizational members as well as the levels of cognitive preparedness exhibited by organizational leaders and members.
Some affective components of climate are satisfaction (Hofstede, 1998; Litwin & Stringer, 1968), perceptions of warmth, open-mindedness, trust (Glick, 1985), and feelings of motivation (Litwin & Stringer, 1968). In addition, some other important aspects of climate are levels of commitment (Mowday, Steers, & Porter, 1979), identification with the organization (Mael & Tetrick, 1992), and communication issues (Montgomery, 1991). Therefore, we expect to see a relationship between the valence of organizational climate and organizational and membership outcomes. Individuals from different cultural backgrounds may prefer different ways of interacting in relation to task outcome. Employees from a collectivistic environment may wish to carry out their work in a group context, and exhibit higher motivation and performance in such a context. Organizational members from individualistic cultures may be more motivated by a competitive environment where rewards on based on individual achievement (Erez, & Somech, 1996). Thus we posit our third proposition:
Proposition 3a: Organizational communication practices (including leadership practices) and organizational members' cultural expectations about organizational practices impact organizational climate with regard to commitment, identification, satisfaction and motivation.
Proposition 3b: Organizational climate valence -- positive or negative -- is dependent on the relationship -- positive or negative --between the organizational model (embodied in organizational practices), and organizational members' expectations about organizational practices.
In general, organization scholars expect climate to influence organizational outcomes (Schneider et al., 1996). For example, Kopelman, Brief, and Guzzo (1990) cite evidence of strong relationships between satisfaction (a climate dimension) and absenteeism as well as turnover (organizational outcomes). They argue that "productivity-relevant behaviors have been proposed to be influenced differentially by …motivation as well as by how people feel at work, or more specifically, by their job satisfaction" (p. 302). Gouran and Hirokawa (1996) utilize the concepts of affiliative and egocentric constraints as potential sources of poor decision-making or performance in groups. Affiliative constraints (similar to the cultural value of collectivism) characterize situations where concerns about relational issues come to dominate task groups and, hence, derail performance. Egocentric constraints (similar to the cultural value of individualism) occur where one or more members of a group exhibit a high need for control. Again, domination by an individual or a group may impact overall performance, and perhaps turnover.
In the context of multicultural groups (that is, groups whose members are drawn from more than one culture), research shows that cultural minorities members are less likely to contribute to decisions (Kirchmeyer, 1993; Kirchmeyer & Cohen, 1992). This may result from a climate reflecting the individualistic tendency to encourage assertiveness and competition -- values at odds with a collectivistic perspective, and likely to lead to low motivation or satisfaction among some organizational members. Relatedly, Poole (1984) states that "…a primary determinant of performance seems to be compatibility of climate with the person's needs, tendencies, or expectations" (p. 95).
In a ground breaking study involving three simulated business organizations (Litwin & Stringer, 1968) found that organizational climates have a significant effect on performance (productive effort), and subsequent field studies (e.g., Putti, 1989; Rose & Wooley, 1992; Wagar, 1997) support these findings. Litwin & Stringer concluded that in order to motivate organizational members, the leader should:
…sit down and carefully assess the basic needs of his (sic) people. Then he will have to stay up nights dreaming of ways to manipulate the tasks, the climate, and his own leadership style to satisfy certain of those basic needs in order to generate the desired behavior. (Litwin & Stringer, 1968, p. 192)
Similarly, Stage (1999) found that in U.S. subsidiaries based in Thailand, Thai employees said that organizational practices often contradicted their cultural values, particularly with regard to relationships (politeness, face concerns, social interaction), and that they had to either develop a "thick face" (p. 261) or move on to other organizations. Many employees did just that. For example, one employee commented: "There is a joke about this [business] being a university, they train people and you graduate and go get another job" (p. 261). Conversely, cultural values and practices prevailing in host countries may contrast with expatriate managers' cultural values, leading to the eventual decision to return to their own country (cf. Guzzo, Noonan, & Elron, 1994).
Therefore, two other important outcomes in multicultural organizational contexts would be the level of employee turnover and objective evidence of cultural sensitivity to differences in minority, majority, and host culture communication practices (i. e. levels of nonverbal and verbal communication accommodation). Culturally sensitive practices include using culturally accepted forms of speech or terminology, and nonverbal signs of respect (Gallois & Callan, 1997), accommodation to concepts of timing (Yammarino & Jung, 1998), acceptance of religious icons in the work place, procedures for "winning hearts" (Stage, 1999, p. 266) of employees and host clients such as gift giving and socializing outside work hours. Based on these assumptions, we offer our final proposition:
Proposition 4: Organizational climate, reflected in organizational members' affect with regard to commitment, identification, satisfaction, and motivation, impacts organizational outcomes such as performance, turnover, and cultural sensitivity.
A Model of Cultural Values, Organizational Practices, and Outcomes
The preceding discussion of the cultural and organizational components relating to communication in cross-national, multicultural organizations leads us to propose a theoretical model explicating the relationships between those components (Figure 1.). This model applies across a range of situations within multicultural organizations. That is, it may be used to illuminate situations where leaders are of one nationality or culture and organizational members are of another, regardless of whether they are operating in a parent country, in a host country, or in a third country (Yammarino & Jung, 1998). Cultural values, as truly antecedent variables, provide the basis for subsequent facets of the model, and are described by means of Hofstede's (1998) cultural value dimensions of power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and long-term orientation. Leaders and organizational members' national cultural values may be positively or negatively correlated.
In turn, leaders' values provide the basis for the operating organizational model, and communication practices (related to the salience of structure, emphasis on responsibility, willingness to take risks, the perception of rewards, perceived support, and tolerance of conflict) provide the facets of the organizational model. The communication practice of cognitive preparedness -- as a form of intercultural communication competence -- mediates other organizational communication practices (including leadership practices). Levels of intercultural communication competence will determine how much or how little organizational leaders and members will be inclined to converge toward each other in terms of organizational communication practices.
Organizational members have expectations about organizational models and organizational communication practices based on their cultural values. These include members' expectations about how structural salience, personal responsibility, risk taking, rewards, social support, and conflict are communicated in an organizational setting and how they are mediated by cognitive preparedness. Organizational members' expectations may be correlated positively or negatively with the operating organizational model. Both the operating organizational model and the organizational members' expectations about organizational models will be related positively or negatively with the organizational climate. Climate comprises members' feelings of satisfaction, motivation, and commitment to and identification with the organization. Finally, organizational outcomes will include levels of performance (in terms of task accomplishment), turnover of organizational membership, and levels of cultural sensitivity. Organizational climate will be positively or negatively related to organizational outcomes.
Much of the discussion and research centering on intercultural relationships and organizations has dealt with similarities and contrasts between Eastern and the Western cultures (cf. Graen & Wakabayashi, 1994; Peterson, Brannen, & Smith, 1994; Xin &Tsui, 1996). Less research addresses how cultural values prevalent in developing countries, such as the African states, meld or conflict with Western values inherent in large U.S. and European companies and donor bureaucracies. However, based on the work of Schwartz and colleagues (Schwartz, 1994; 1999; Munene, Schwartz & Smith, 1999) it would appear that there may well be a mismatch between African host members' cultural values and those of Western leaders in cross-national organizations.
Indeed, in this context, Munene et al. comment that: "The values of mutual help that worked in indigenous organizations wreak havoc on the operation of Western bureaucracies in Africa. They impose particularistic obligations to office holders, perpetuate localism, and undermine the emergence of a cosmopolitan outlook" (1999, p.12). Organizational effectiveness may assume a special imperative in such contexts because goals impact human life as opposed to bottom line considerations. For example, it is important that future research addresses how national cultural values and organizational communication practices impact outcomes in Third World locations like Africa where HIV/AIDS threatens to devastate whole countries (Masland & Nordland, 2000, January), and where poverty and chronic malnutrition mean vitamin A deficiency (Coutsoudis, Bobat, Cooovadia, Kuhn, Tsai, & Stein, 1995), and blindness resulting from it, is depressingly commonplace.
The model we propose here should be useful in studying both proprietary and public organizations in cross-national and multi-cultural situations. Future research in this project will test hypotheses derived from the model and the propositions imbedded in it. Our initial focus will be on African, Asian, and South American donor bureaucracies concerned with children’s and family health outcomes. We expect, however, that our findings will also be applicable to global market based organizations throughout the world.
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Figure 1. Cultural Values, Organizational Practices and Climate