¶ … national culture on project control: emirates project manager in *xyz company case study
This work addresses effects of national and international culture upon business, using a corporate organization in the UAE as an example. Theoretical aspects of culture are discussed and a detailed research program is outlined, with data from a Pilot Study being presented, as a basis to plan and delineate the best approach to the overall research protocols.
The goals of this manuscript are to evaluate the XYZ organization in the UAE in terms of the effects of national and international culture upon a business.
The various aspects of a given national culture are used to develop theoretical hypotheses concerning the manner in which culture influences corporate actions.
This work offers a contribution to the field through data-provision and analysis focusing on common presumptions that corporate actions are modified according to the 'home country' cultural background. Particular aspects of national culture may impact upon both appreciation and adoption of cultural diversity, while other aspects of the 'home country' culture appear to have a lesser impact. Therefore, corporate initiatives that seek to develop upon and enhance innate cultural traits may bring about a positive diversification enhancing corporate and programmatic success.
The culture of the individuals in a corporation has a significant impact on business activities, and this has become increasingly important, even critical, as companies either hire employees from different cultures or begin to do business outside their home culture. The cultural milieu and the adaptation of individual members of a corporation to cultural diversity become far more significant when one considers the global marketplace; organizations that can handle cultural variances and diversity of style, thinking, and business approach have a strong advantage in competition. Conversely, inability to address cultural differences either within the company or in terms of the overall market can not only decrease productivity but also limit global success. Thus for the XYZ Company manager in the UAE, it is important to manage and understand internal and external cultural differences.
Every corporate culture handles issues such as accountability, authority, bureaucracy, and creativity differently. Management of human resources in organizations requires an understanding of both external and internal environments. Whereas ownership (stockholders for example) is a significant factor of the external environment, organizational culture is the basis of the internal environment. When a foreign-based multinational company (MNC) establishes a UAE presence, this links the MNC's home base culture to the UAE culture. Because companies reflect cultural attitudes (Hofstede et al., 1991), this means managements must learn how to interact with different cultures, as it is impossible for any management to be free of cultural-bias.
Using a hypothetical XYZ company based in the UAE, this study, based on qualitative interviews and literature review, focuses on the impact of culture upon performance management.
Research problem: Cultural Differences and Project Success
The precise definition of 'culture' varies. That of Hofstede et al. (1991) is 'the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes one group from another.' Hofstede and colleagues divide culture into four dimensions: individualism/collectivism, masculinity/femininity, power distance, and uncertainty avoidance, and use these as the foundation by which the particular cultural organization and management can be evaluated. In contrast, for Holden (2002) culture is seen as the diverse types of 'common knowledge'. In this case culture becomes a resource for organizational knowledge, and extension to a cross-cultural milieu is simply knowledge management. Other aspects of culture are more broadly defined, such that culture is seen as something which can change over time, shapes behavior, and is traditional, symbolic, learned, and shared (Barthorpe et al. 2000, Loosemore 1999).
Trompenaars (1993) studied the nature of cultural differences and assigned seven dimensions: environmental awareness, time-awareness, achievement-aspiration, neutral-emotional, diffuse-specific, universalism-particularism, and collectivism-individualism. The literature for project management has studied successful projects extensively. Project success is traditionally measured in terms of quality, cost, and time investment, although these criteria may not be wholly sufficient (Yu et al.2005, Atkinson 1999)....
Other criteria include the customer's benefit(s) and client satisfaction (Wang and Huang 2006). As stated by Hyvari (2006), to date project management literature have not presented a consensus definition for project success.
Studies of business culture have been increasing. Whether an organization works nationally or internationally, cultural differences can have a significant effect on daily business. In their study of a British/Russian joint venture company, Murray-Webster and Simon (2004) explored how cultural differences impacted project success. Their research discovered that project success was impacted by cultural differences between the British and Russian partners. In the study by Tukiainen et al. (2003), a global engineering project was the subject of a study investigating outcomes and process as impacted by cultural dynamics. These researchers proposed that a catalyst was required in order for perceived cultural differences to emerge. In contrast, Nummelin (2005) reported that cultural differences had no impact on project success.
The goals of this investigation are to address corporate and management practices in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and to consider how both Islamic and National culture, as well as environment, affects practices of management. Management practices with respect to culture in Arab Middle Eastern countries are considered initially, followed by presentation of the research approach, results, discussion, and conclusions. The key question in this study is: how both Islamic and National culture, as well as environment, affects practices of management?
Both culture and environment are fundamental topics in management studies. Comparative management systems for Western and Eastern cultures result in their differentiation. Middle Eastern society is strongly influenced by its culture, with specific cultural emphasis on interactions, authority, and control that are derived from religious, social, and historical traditions that are unique. In the UAE, the civic and religious Islamic traditions impact the entrepreneurial culture, based upon deeply seated beliefs, attitude, and enculturated behavior. Thus, management requires a deep understanding of a culture's inner motivations and their outer expression.
Management practices -- culture relationship
The culture-management relationship has been studied empirically. In the case of team performance, success is often a result of congruency between National Cultural values and management practices (Horii et al., 2005). Hofstede (1991) proposed 'preferred coordination mechanisms' through which the use of nationally preferred management practices by each individual culture resulted in better performance. Analysis by Neman and Nollem (1996) of the 'five national culture dimensions' of Hofstede et al. (1991), and their correlation with management practices, suggested that when management practices are congruent with culture, they are most likely to have a positive impact on business performance.
Management practices in the Arab Middle Eastern countries
At present, most textbooks for business management are translations of American textbooks, which follow theories from both U.S. And European management. In some cases, textbooks have attempted to adapt the management practices to better suit an Arab Middle Eastern culture; this has been called 'Arabization'. In this study, literature review provides evidence that the management style in Arab Middle Eastern countries is coherent, albeit varied. Indeed, the management practices are well correlated with the historical, environmental, religious, and cultural features of the Arab Middle East. These data demonstrate that the 'local' culture is as important to management styles as is the cultural impact from outside.
Management practices and experience for the Arab Middle East are described using a 'Fourth Paradigm', according to Weir (2000). The dominant patterns of social organization and belief are derived from the Islamic culture and the Arab influence upon the population. Cultural practices historically derived from the Bedouin life-style have impacted social organization, even including an impact from the desert environment. Simultaneously, perhaps, changing technology, industrialization, and global influences also impact management practices (Al-Rasheed (1994).
'The Arab Executive' (Muna, 1980) addressed the styles of management found in the Arab Middle East. This relatively small sample included managers from Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon. Indigenous culture was found to have a strong impact upon management practices and organizational characteristics by Badawy (1980). Attiyah (1993) studied how managerial organization was impacted by culture in an Arab context; in general the style was consultative and participative, although managerial style varied. Dadfar (1993) also studied identity and management in the Arab world, and found socio-cultural influences to be significant within context.
Arab management practices are significantly influenced by government intervention, Islamic religion, tribalism, and Westernization. Ali (1990) defined three groups of Arab management: Islamized, Arabized, and Westernized. Specific culture-related management practices and/or culture-related organizational planning and actions, from the perspective of the Arab Middle East, have not been analyzed in detail. While some initial and in-depth studies have begun to explore attitudes and behaviors of managers in Arab Middle Eastern countries, further empirical studies are needed with a more specific focus.
Jaegar and Kanungo (1990) assert that culture impacts performance management. They stated that there is a negative impact from reliance on bureaucratic practices (high individualism), distrust of environment (low uncertainty avoidance), and 'status quo' (high power distance), all of which lead to maintenance of specific cultural attitudes in both climate of belief and management…
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