HRM—case study of culture
What Are The Cultural Issues In This Case?
Culture has a huge influence on businesses. The influence of culture on businesses has particularly been felt over the last few decades due to globalization that has made it possible for companies to operate on a global scale. Culture refers to the set of norms, beliefs, traditions and values that are shared by a group. Culture also has to do with how individuals make sense of the world around them. Because culture affects how businesses are conducted, it is important that managers understand the cultural issues that might be involved in conducting a business in another country and respond appropriately to them so as to ensure success. This paper analyzes the case, ‘Not the Way We Do Business around Here’ to identify the cultural issues involved.
Geert Hofstede is one of the cultural theorists whose cultural dimension framework has helped managers in analyzing the cultural issues that might be involved when a company operates in more than one country. The cultural dimensions include power distance, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity, individualism, long-term orientation and indulgence versus restraint. Analysis of the case indicates that there are a number of cultural issues that arises during the conversation between Tapio and Per. The first cultural issue that emerges in the case has to do with differences in uncertainty avoidance. Hofstede defines uncertainty avoidance as the extent to which members of a particular culture feel uncomfortable with unknown or ambiguous situations. The case indicates that the people of Finland have higher uncertainty avoidance than Swedish people. For instance, the case clearly indicates that, whereas Swedish people are more willing to take risk, people from Finland are less willing to take risk. This became clear in the email that Per Jonson sent to Tapio where he lamented that it was risky to start up a Propre project at that point in time. This implies that Jonson was doing everything possible to avoid taking risk (Harzing and Pinnington 29).
The other cultural issue presented in the case has to do with short and long-term orientation. Short and long-term orientation is a cultural dimension that denotes the extent to which members of a particular group or society is oriented towards the future. In the case, it emerges that Finland have short-term orientation than Sweden and this affects how businesses in the two countries deal with their clients (Harzing and Pinnington 31). For instance, the case indicates that businesses in Finland wants to respond to customers immediately and in the moment, whereas Swedish it does not matter how long it takes to respond to a client as Swedish people are more oriented towards the future.
The other cultural issue that features prominently in the case has to do with how decisions and communications are made. In Sweden, most decisions are made through consensus that is reached after discussion and consultation with other people in a company. This is different from Finland, where individual decision making is common as this country scores highly on individualism dimension than Sweden. Jonson says, I can also mention that most of the decisions that we make in Sweden are based on consensus” (Harzing and Pinnington 33). Another cultural issue pertains to mode of communication. It emerges from the case that, whereas email communication are embraced as a mean of expressing opinion in Sweden, Finish people does not like expressing their opinions on emails, but instead prefer opinions to be expressed through face-to-face communication.
In summary, the case has highlighted the influence of cultural differences between countries on business operations. Therefore, Tapio, Per and the other Swedish employees need to understand the differences and respond to them effectively to ensure business success.
Harzing, Anne-Wil and Ashly Pinnington. International Human Resource Management. New York, NY: SAGE, 2014. Print.