In this paper we call for a better understanding of cultural distance and its importance to managers across borders. We report on the structuring and interpretation of cultural distance by managers from Germany, the UK and Poland. In particular we are interested in the German/Polish, and the UK/Polish contrast. We examine how managers living within these contrasts create and interpret frameworks within which they can understand one another, and also explain their failures of understanding. We argue that differences, which are understood, are differences that can be managed. The paper is based on empirical data collected during 63 face-to-face interviews with managers from Germany, the United Kingdom and Poland. The findings are the result of qualitative, interpretive analysis. We argue that cultural distance should be treated as relative and not absolute and that it should be treated on a bilateral basis. This approach contributes to a better understanding of when cultural distance matters, and when it does not, and it should be treated as complementary to the objective measures which have been predominant in cross-cultural management literature.
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Keywords: Cultural distance and psychic distance; Managerial perceptions; Poland and Germany; Poland and the UK 1. Introduction
considered as relative and not absolute, and that it should be treated on a bilateral basis. This approach contributes to a better understanding of when cultural distance, as measured by objective measures, matters. We argue that this can be achieved by using relative measures as supplementary to objective ones, which have been predominant in cross-cultural management literature.
In this paper, we are discussing two pairs of countries—Germany/Poland and the UK/Poland. We first give a brief account of the historical interactions between these two pairs of countries. We do this because we believe that these historical interactions, as they...
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