Cultural Dimensions In Management And Planning
ABSTRACT The nature of management skills is such that they are culturally specific: a management technique or philosophy that is appropriate in one national culture is not necessarily appropriate in another. The paper describes the scope of (workrelated) cultural differences as they were revealed by research in more than 50 countries around the world and discusses how these differences affect the validity of management techniques and philosophies in various countries within the functioning and meaning of planning.
Management deals with a reality that is man-made. People build organizations according to their values, and societies are composed of institutions and organizations that reflect the dominant values within their culture. Organization theorists are slowly realising that their theories are much tess universal than they once assumed: theories also reflect the culture of the society in which they were developed. In this respect, the notion of a "Western" culture which justified universal "Western" modern management methods is also crumbling, tt has become more and mo~re clear that managing in different Western countries like Germany, France, Sweden or U.K. is not the same activity and that many usual generalizations are, in fact, not justified. By the same token, speaking of an "Asian" or "Middle-Eastern" type of management is not justified. There is a need among international managers and management theorists for a much deeper understanding of the range of culture-determined value systems that, in fact, exists among countries, and should be taken into account when transferring management ideas from one country to another. Managernent in its broadest sense consists in the co-ordination of the efforts of people and of the use of economical and technical resources in order to obtain desired ends. Management is a socio-technical activity in the sense that it implies dealing 'with people (the human or "socio" side) and with non-human resources (the technical side), as well as with the interaction between these two. Some kinds of management focus more on the human side - - say, leading a football club; others more on the technical side - - say, leading an air traffic control centre, but neither the technical nor the human component is ever completely absent. The technical side of management is less culture-dependent than the human side but because the two interact, no management activity can be culture-free.
* The authoris with the Institutefor Researchon InterculturalCooperation,the Netherlands.This paper is a shorter version of the first part of a report MAN DEV/28, "Culture and Management Developmenr', written on behalf of the UNDP/ILO Interregional Project "Co-operation among Management DevelopmentInstitutions"and published by the InternationalLabour Office, Management DevelopmentBranch, Training Department, Geneva 1983. Asia Pacific Journal of Management,January 1984
CULTURE AND M A N A G E M E N T
"Culture" has been defined in many ways. My own preferred definition is that culture is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or society from those of another. Culture consists of the patterns of thinking that parents transfer to their children, teachers to their students, friends to their friends, leaders to their followers, and followers to their leaders. Culture is reflected in the meanings people attach to various aspects of life; their way of looking at the world and their role in it; in their values, that is, in what they consider as "good" and as "evil"; in their collective beliefs, what they consider as "true" and as "false"; in their artistic expressions, what they consider as "beautiful" and as "ugly". Culture, although basically resident in people's minds, becomes crystallized in the institutions and tangible products of a society, which reinforce the mental programmes in their turn....
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Asia Pacific Journal of Management, January 1984
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