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This is the truest measure of a highly effective project manager as well, the ability to be transformational and manage the potentially divergent, even divergent and disruptive force of stakeholders on project performance (Keegan, Hartog, 2004). The skills necessary for orchestrating traditional constraints of projects including cost and time considerations, the ability to keep focused on the overarching strategic objectives, while also keeping stakeholders vested and taking ownership of the project is a true test of project leadership (Khang, Moe, 2008). This level of performance is one that can also emerge as a competitive advantage for Coca-Cola over time, as the triad of these three skills in the context of global projects is rare yet highly valued (Barczak, McDonough, Athanassiou, 2006) (Khang, Moe, 2008). Paradoxically taking this approach to creating project leadership as a core competency may force the internal training and development, project management, and related departments to go through significant organizational change as well. While organizational change is hardest for the most successful organizations given their level of economic and strategic success, Coca-Cola needs to challenge itself to grow more project leaders is long-term global strategies are going to be accomplished.
When Coca-Cola considers the many geographies it is competing in today and the ones showing the greatest potential for growth, China emerges as a very high priority. The challenges and potential for conflict are fertile however in this nation from a project management and leadership perspective. The Chinese traditional values and hierarchy are on many dimensions diametrically opposed to the American approach to managing projects, which will make expansion and operations in this nation very difficult for Coca-Cola. Companies' who have succeeded in operating within China have concentrated on finding a balance between the Chinese traditional values and beliefs that include the dimensions of strong hierarchy, family consciousness, and boss orientation (Wang, Liu, 2007). In an extensive empirical study undertaken by Wang & Liu (2007) the strongest correlational values were achieved when Task/Boss orientation was used in Joint Ventures (a correlation scale of 3.76 with a Spreaman Rho of .283 at the .01 level of significance) (Wang, Liu, 2007). This signals that Join Ventures, despite being comprised of two cultures, is still dominated by an autocratic, highly authoritarian-based management philosophy that reflects the strong Personal Distance Index (PDI) values as shown in Figure 1, Hofstede Cultural Dimensions Model Analysis, China vs. U.S.
Figure 1: Comparing Cultural Dimensions, China vs. The U.S.
The wide variation in PDI values shows how China is much more tolerant of differences in position in organizations and culture than Americans are. It is hard-wired into the American culture that will be an element of egalitarianism and equality in even the most formal organizational structures. Most significant are the differences in Individualism (IDV) and Long-Term Orientation (LTO). These differences in cultural values are so significant that Coca-Cola must anticipate need not only transformational project leadership but the ability to invest in project managers who are immersed in the culture itself. Only by making these investments will the company be able to succeed in China and regions of the world that show such a significant level of variation in cultural values relative to the U.S.
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