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Effect of National Culture on the Ability to Adapt Organizational Culture

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Effect of National Culture on the Ability to Adapt Organizational Culture

International Business Management

Table of Contents

Introduction        3

Literature Review        3

Culture        3

Dimensions of OC        5

Adapting to New OC        7

Methodology        7

Findings        8

 Examining OC Dimensions        12

1.        Power Distance        12

2.        Masculinity versus Femininity        14

Task orientation        16

People orientation        17

Individualism versus collectivism        18

Innovation and risk taking        19

Adapting to new Organization Culture        19

Example of effect of Omani culture (Positive or Negative)        21

Conclusion        23

Acknowledgment        24

References        25


There have been many definitions for the term culture and all are agreeing that each nation has its own distinct culture that is shared among its population. This also called the national culture. Another related term is the organizational culture which has been defined by many researchers as being shared believes, assumptions, and values among organization’s members. Many researchers have argued that organizational culture reflects the national culture in which it operates. Employees who work in organizations outside their countries face many challenges to adapt themselves to a foreign culture. The objective of this paper is to examine effect of national culture on the ability of employees to adapt organizational culture.  The paper examined the topic through conducting interviews with employees who are considered foreigners to the organizational culture. Results showed that Omani culture which is imbedded in the organizations had a positive impact on the ability of expatriate employees to easily adapt and fit to their organizational culture.

Literature Review


There have been many definitions for the term culture. Hofstede (2004) is the most famous researcher in culture and has defined culture as “The collective programming of the mind that distinguishes one group or category of people from another”. By this definition Hofstede (2004) tell as that culture is collective in nature and cannot be directly detected rather it is translated into one’s behavior and actions. According to Oxford Dictionaries culture has been defined as the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular social group.  Another researcher Kluckhohn (1961) has stated that culture is the way people translate their feelings and ways of thinking through symbols and behavior. He stated that essential core of culture composed of historical ideas and their attached value.

Culture definitions are different from one researcher to another, but they are more or less similar in the sense that they all evolve around culture being shared beliefs, values, and/or behaviors among group of people that distinguish them from others.

Trompenaar & Hampden-Turner (2005) as well as Hofstede (2001), have said that culture consist of layers and we need to discover each layer to be able to understand culture as a whole. Therefore, we cannot say that culture can have a fixed definition on which we can rely. Generally, we can say that culture affects how people behave in different contexts.

Hall (1976) defined culture in means to styles of communication and emphasized the importance of culture to time and space (Gupta 2018). Ali (2015) argued that culture features are learned rather than inherited.

Culture is dynamic and according to Tung (2008) and McSweeney (2009), they have pointed out that many researches have failed to display the change of culture within a nation.

Organizational & National Culture

National culture (NC) is determined through language, religion, norms, values and behaviors shares among a population of a particular country (Paijo & Vonheim, 2017).

The concept of organizational culture (OC) has been defined by Hofstede (1997) as a unique environment of a company that is a result of shared values, norms, and traditions. Schein (2004), Kotter and Heskett (1992) has described OC as shared believes, assumptions, and values among organization’s members (Fardin and Yaghoubi 2016).  OC gives the justification of how things are being done in the organization (Deal & Kennedy 1982). OC is acting like a bond on which all parts of the organization are hold (Schneider 1988). Other researchers such as Verhelst (1990) have included other aspects like; technical knowledge, thinking methods, social and political behavior, and decision-making methods under OC (Fardin and Yaghoubi 2016).

There are many types of OC that have been identified by researchers. Cameron and Quinn (2006) suggested four types in terms of employees relations (Belias 2014):

  1. Hierarchal culture, this culture is identified by formal rules and policies
  2. The market culture, this type of culture is characterized by high competitiveness while holding the organizational bond strong
  3. The clan culture, in this culture employees are all a family and they have friendly relation with each other.
  4. The adhocracy culture, known for innovation and risk taking.

OC and NC differ in the sense that the latter is deeper (Ali 2015). Additionally, there is a link between OC and NC as according to Hofstede (1991), he argued that OC is a mirror of the NC in which the organization operates. Meyer and Rowan (1977) have suggested that corporate structures are reflection of shared culture of a society (Sarah and Whelan 2017). Moreover, Hermes et al. (2007) have found that corporate governance systems in organizations are affected by domestic forces in they operate.

Dimensions of OC

Dimensions of OC are derived from the dimensions of culture that were identified by Hofstede et al. (2010). His research included over 50 countries and resulted in identification of six basic dimensions that are scaled from 0 to 100 and each country has been given a score on each dimension. The GLOBE study (House et al.2004) have derived its dimensions from Hofstede’s dimensions and the resulted with nine dimensions based on leadership styles; power distance, uncertainty avoidance, collectivism, in-group collectivism, humane orientation, performance orientation, people orientation, gender egalitarianism, and future orientation. (Gupta et al. 2018). In this paper both on Hofstede’s (2010) and the GLOBE study cultural dimensions are used.



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