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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Pioneers Meet Vikings: American Managers’ Perceptions of Cultural Differences in Scandinavian Companies Operating in the United States
by Deuerlein, Silje U., Ed.D., Pepperdine University, 2020, 188; 27995897
Abstract (Summary)

With increased globalization, many businesses interact with other cultures in some capacity (Adler & Gundersen, 2007). In global companies, a lack of cross-cultural competence frequently results in misunderstandings, conflict, and lost business opportunities (Beugelsdijk, Kostova, Kunst, Spadafora, & van Essen, 2018; Briscoe, Tarique, & Schuler, 2012; Hendon, Hendon, & Herbig, 1996). Cultural dimension models provide a framework for understanding national cultures and cultural differences (Adler, 2003; Gundling, 2003). Hofstede (2001) is one of the most significant contributors to the field of cross-cultural research. According to Hofstede (2001, 2011), Scandinavian and United States cultures share many characteristics, but differ significantly on the masculinity dimension, the degree to which a culture emphasizes achievement, competition, and differentiated gender roles. The purpose of this study was to explore how American managers in United States subsidiaries of Scandinavian companies experience the culture differences within these companies. Phenomenography is a research method which seeks to identify how people experience and understand a phenomenon (Marton, 1986). For this study, a phenomenographic methodology was utilized in order to capture the participants’ relationship to cultural differences within their company. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews with 10 participants. In phenomenography, the unit of description is a conception (Marton & Pong, 2005). A thematic analysis of the data revealed three conceptions: (a) Scandinavian culture as promoting equality, (b) Scandinavian culture perceived as superior, and (c) Scandinavian culture as affecting interpersonal relationships. Four themes, which were prevalent in the participants’ descriptions of their experiences, informed the conclusions of this study: (a) American managers enjoy representing Scandinavian companies and products, (b) Scandinavian leaders need to acknowledge that their actions are perceived as arrogant and close-minded by American managers, (c) American managers expect structured and decisive performance management, and (d) Work-life balance in Scandinavian global companies places American workers at a distinct disadvantage and creates inequitable employment practices. Based on a review of literature on Scandinavian culture, the study was expected to center around cultural differences in attitudes towards compensation, self-promotion, and competition. However, a surprise finding was the participants’ perception of Scandinavian leaders as arrogant and close-minded.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mather, Barbara
Commitee: Davis, Kay, Schmieder-Ramirez, June
School: Pepperdine University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 81/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Management, Business administration, International Relations
Keywords: Cross-cultural competence, Cultural differences, Cultural dimensions, Culture, Hofstede, Scandinavia
Publication Number: 27995897
ISBN: 9798607393663
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