Globalization Was Just Coming Into Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

g., Hofstede, five different cultural dimensions), and the other one is the Cultural Standards Model (e.g., Alexander Thomas):

1. In a general sense, cultures and differences among cultures can be described and measured along cultural dimensions (Hall, 1990, 2000; Hofstede, 1980, 1993, 2001; House et al., 2004; Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck, 1961; Rokeach, 1973; Schwartz, 1992 and Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 1997).

2. In a more detailed and more descriptive sense, the cultural standard method deals with differences in the kinds of perceiving, norms of sensing, thinking, judging, and acting that can cause critical incidents in cross-cultural encounters (Thomas, 1996; Fink & Meierewert,


Due to significant developments in this field and the available range of value dimension studies, it is better to understand the possible impact of similarities and differences among cultures. Dimensions, which are quantitatively measured, can be used in statistical models (regression analysis) as well as to help explain and predict behaviors independently (SOURCE).

Nevertheless, there are areas that remain unanswered, for example how the different dimension models work together, or whether the different concepts substitute or complement one another. It also remains unknown whether replication of the methods in different contexts or over time would yield different or similar results.

Two particular aspects make it worthwhile to complement the value dimensions with more detailed knowledge about actual norms of behavior, specifically in the context of innovation. If individuals are looking for an appropriate solution to a problem, they would usually choose from a set of behaviors that are based on their value system. However, while values may be the same across cultures, available norms of behavior may be different (Fink & Neyer, 2005)

Value dimensions do not directly predict the actual problems emerging in business and management encounters. Nor do they explain how business encounters are perceived and how and why managers and staff react in a specific way. Guided by values, these reactions are chosen from the available repertoire of behaviors, but ill chosen modes of behavior may produce undesired conflict and counterproductive results if the valid norms of behavior of counterpart cultures are not adequately considered.

To confront these issues Thomas (1996) developed his "cultural standard method" to generate more cultural specific and actionable knowledge. It is based on Jean Paul Piaget's (1962, 1976) developmental psychology and Ernst Boesch's (1980) cultural psychology and concept of action: "An acting person is always considering possible views and judgments of their counterparts as well as own experiences and assumed experiences of others" (p. 135).

The cultural standards model looks at differences that are valid only when making comparisons between two cultures. Cultural standards are based on an applied approach aimed at identifying the characteristic guidelines relevant for cross-cultural interactions. Specifically in the field of innovation, this is very relevant; this is presently observed in a significant increase of cross-border research projects or development undertakings in both government and non-government sectors, which require people in different countries to collaborate on a much deeper level than ever before. The opportunities of communication tools in the 21st century may have leveled previous obstacles in such interactions, such as time-zone, language, geographical distance and real-time sharing of information of any form, but at the same time it has increased the potential of behavioral differences or cultural misfit of projects leading to undesirable results in such interactions.

For the purposes of this study, Thomas' cultural standard method will be applied as the primary methodology.


Theories of innovation in business have stemmed mainly from the work of economist Joseph a. Schumpeter (1934). He viewed innovation, ideas applied successfully in practice, as distinctly different from invention, an idea made manifest. A broader definition of Schumpeter's "setting up of a new production function" was suggested by H.G. Barnett (1953), who alluded to innovation as the basis of cultural change and defined innovation as "any thought, behavior, or thing that is new because it is qualitatively different from existing forms. Innovation takes place via a process whereby a new "thought, behavior, or thing," which is "qualitatively different from existing forms," is conceived of and brought into reality (as cited in Barnett, 1953, p. 7; Robertson, 1967, p. 14)

Further, the economist Bengt-Ake Lundvall (DATE) pointed out that innovation can be found in all parts of the economy and at all times. He stressed that innovation is both gradual and cumulative and the process is not linear but "involves continuous interactivity between suppliers, clients, universities, productivity centers etc." (Feinson DATE, p. 17)

That is, innovation is a process that cannot be reduced to an invention / development of a new technology or a new product, but exists in every part of the enterprise value chain. Therefore, it is often aptly referred to as an "innovation value chain." (SOURCE)

There are different ways to differentiate types of innovation. For the purpose of this study, it will be sufficient to use a simplified model that distinguishes between "disruptive innovation" and "sustained innovation" as noted by (SOURCE). Sustained innovation is progressive and appears in the existing infrastructure. It is based on the knowledge of the current market but does not challenge the fundamental hypothesis of market. Disruptive innovation is more revolutionary than sustained innovation. It breaks through current market or technology boundaries and redefines the market, techniques and rules of the game, which in turn brings a fundamental change to business methods (Jui, 2010).

Primary Hypothesis

Based on the available experience of many multinational companies the following hypothesis can thus be formulated:

There is a significant correlation between the existence (or non-existence) of specific cultural standards and the type of corporate innovation that is suited best in this cultural context.


It is explained above that general cultural concepts, measuring cultural behavior along a fixed number of cultural dimensions, are limited in their predictive value on bi-lateral interactions between individuals from different cultural backgrounds. This is based on the assumption that:

1. The differences between cultures have to be seen from the perspective of the observer (from the perspective of an Indian, for example, East Germans and West Germans act similar; from the perspective of an East German, the West Germans are too assertive); and

2. It is necessary to distinguish between specific norms of behavior, which may -- though very different -- lead to exactly the same result. (example)

What is required is a research methodology that is able to identify different norms of behavior and so-called "critical incidents" that describe a person's critical contact situation (SOURCE). The potential best way to capture the perplexing behavior of others, the insecurity and its impact on critical projects, is with qualitative interviews of managers, researchers and other employees of multinational companies. These persons should have experienced critical situations that can be analyzed and enable the identification of the corresponding cultural standards.

It should also be kept in mind that critical incidents are not necessarily about negative experience. "Critical" in this context merely means "not compatible with one's own familiar value system." Unexpected, positive experiences can also be considered critical incidents and are just as valuable for the identification of cultural standards.

Therefore, cultural standards have a clearly relative and bilateral character and cannot be generally used in comparing one particular culture area to a variety of others.


The analyzed cultural standards can then be tested against a metrics of innovation measures, along the above systematic of breakthrough innovation (e.g., measured by spin-offs, successful new product launches and product patents) or sustained innovation (measured by number of process ideas, continuous improvement projects, process patents). WHERE IS THIS NOTED "ABOVE?"

Corporate Example

The key study object would be SAP AG and its globally distributed R&D centers, or the SAP Labs. SAP AG is a German software corporation that globally provides enterprise software applications and support to businesses of all sizes. Headquartered in Walldorf, Germany, with regional offices worldwide, SAP was noted the largest enterprise software company in the world in 2009 by the publication "Software Top 100." SAP AG is also the largest software company in Europe and the fourth largest globally. The company's best known products are its SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (SAP ERP) and SAP Business Objects software.

The benefit of using SAP for this present methodology is that the organization has a clear strategy to distribute innovative projects across the globe and to leverage the talent diversity from all its Labs to the maximum possible (SOURCE). Therefore, newly acquired companies usually get integrated into the network of SAP R&D locations, but the centers are not closed down. As a result, SAP has one of the broadest R&D center structures in the software industry, with significant (> 500 engineers) SAP Labs in the United States, Canada, Brazil, France, Israel, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Russia, India and China.

Despite SAP AG's global thrust, however, cultural conflict situations do arise that prevent multi-locational projects to succeed with the desired efficiency and speed; frequently,…

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