Organisation cultures change management
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Organisation cultures Change management. MST326 lecture 10. Fons Trompenaars: “Riding the waves of culture - understanding cultural diversity in business ”. “International managers have it tough. They must operate on a number of different premises at any one time. These premises arise from

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Organisation culturesChange management

MST326 lecture 10


Fons Trompenaars:“Riding the waves of culture - understanding cultural diversity in business”

  • “International managers have it tough.They must operate on a number of different premises at any one time.

  • These premises arise from

    • their culture of origin

    • the culture in which they are working, and

    • the culture of the organisation which employs them”


The meaning of culture

  • A fish only discovers its need for water when it is no longer in it

  • Our own culture is like water to a fish

    • it sustains us

    • we live and breathe through it

  • What one culture may regard as essential,may not be so vital to other cultures

    • e.g. material wealth


Culture is the contextin which things happen

  • “If you are going to do businesswith the French, you will first have to learn how to lunch extensively” [FT].

  • Gross generalisation?:

    • Southern (catholic) Europe

      • people first, business second

    • Northern (protestant) Europe

      • business first, people second


Basic cultural differences

  • relationships with people

  • attitudes to time

    • a direct line to the future

    • a respect for past, present and future

  • attitudes to the environment

    • nature as a thing to be feared or emulated


Relationships with people

  • Universalism vs particularism

    • greater good or unique circumstances

  • Individualism vs collectivism

    • the individual vs the group

  • Neutral vs emotional

    • expression of feelings

  • Specific vs diffuse

    • direct approach or deep understanding

  • Achievement vs ascription

    • how status is accorded


Layers of culture

  • The outer layer

    • artefacts and products (explicit)

    • language, food, buildings, markets, fashion

  • The middle layer

    • norms - right or wrong behaviour

    • values - good or bad aspirations/desires

  • The inner layer

    • basic assumptions (implicit)

    • survival within the culture


Culture as a normal distribution

  • Not all people in a culture have identical sets of artefacts, norms, values and assumptions

  • .... but there is usually a patternspread around some average value

  • BEWARE of stereotyping

    • individual personality mediates the culture


Hard work?

hard work is essentialto a prosperous society


do not work harder than other members of the group because then we wouldall be expected to do more andwould end up worse off.


Cultural phenomena

  • Authority

  • Bureaucracy

  • Creativity

  • Good fellowship

  • Verification

  • Accountability

    • all experienced in different ways!



  • Pay for individual performance

    • NL, UK, USA

  • Recognition of benefits to colleagues

    • France, Germany, Asia



  • When in Rome ... ?

  • Some products seem to transcend cultures

  • consider dining at McDonalds

    • fast food for a fast buck in New York

    • a show of status in Moscow or Beijing


Verbal communication

  • Anglo-Saxon

    • when A stops, B starts

  • Latin

    • interruptions imply interest

  • Oriental

    • space to reflect on what the other said


Verbal communication

  • Anglo-Saxon

    • some rising and falling of tone

  • Latin

    • exaggerated changes in tone

  • Oriental

    • self-controlled monotone

    • lower flatter voice implies higher position


Non-verbal communication

  • eye contact

  • body language

  • personal space

  • touching


Corporate cultures

  • Familyperson/hierarchy

    • power-oriented culture

  • Eiffel towertask/hierarchy

    • role-oriented culture

  • Guided missiletask/egalitarian

    • project-oriented

  • Incubatorperson/egalitarian

    • fulfilment-oriented


Sustainable Leadership Grid comparing Rhineland and Anglo/US models


Change management






Hierarchy of change intensity










Attention from senior management

Intensity hierarchy

Organisational complexity


Kotter’s eight stages

  • establish a sense of urgency

  • create a guiding coalition

  • develop a vision and strategy

  • communicate the change vision

  • empower employees

  • generate short term wins

  • consolidate gains for more change

  • anchor new approaches


Kotter’s eight errors

  • too much complacency

  • under-powered coalition

  • under-estimating power of vision

  • seriously under-communicating vision

  • permitting obstacles to block change

  • failing to generate short term wins

  • declaring victory too soon

  • not anchoring changes in the culture


Kotter’s five consequencesarising from the eight errors

  • new strategies not implemented well

  • gains do not achieve expected synergies

  • long time-scales and high costs

  • down-sizing does not control costs

  • anticipated results not realised


How do you manage change?

  • In the words of Fred Nickols, "The honest answer is that you manage it pretty much the same way you'd manage anything elseof a turbulent, messy, chaotic nature…"

  • The first thing you do is jump in. You can't do anything about it from the outside.

  • A clear sense of mission or purpose is essential.

  • Build a team. "Lone wolves" have their uses, but managing change isn't one of them. On the other hand, the right kind of lone wolf makes an excellent temporary team leader.

  • Maintain a flat organizational team structure and rely on minimal and informal reporting requirements.

  • Pick people with relevant skills and high energy levels. You'll need both.

  • Toss out the rule book. Change, by definition, calls for a configured response, not adherence to prefigured routines.

  • Shift to an action-feedback model. Plan and act in short intervals. Do your analysis on the fly. No lengthy up-front studies. Remember the hare and the tortoise.

  • Set flexible priorities. You must have the ability to drop what you're doing and tend to something more important.



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