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What Is the Difference between National Culture and Corporate Culture?

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  • Written By: Esther Ejim
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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The main difference between national culture and corporate culture lies in the area of expectations from these two separate but related concepts. The two concepts are separate because they represent two different concepts. National culture refers to the vales of a nation, which includes aspects like the issue of morality, dressing, food, dance, songs, languages and other related things. Organizational culture relates to the way an organization is structured and run. It includes factors like the kind of relationship between employees and management, the welfare package for employees, and the type of behavior the company expects of its employees.

The differences and similarities between national culture and corporate culture are becoming more intersected with the growth of globalization. The effects of globalization mean that organizations from various nations are setting up shop in different countries. In effect, the chances for national cultures and organizational cultures to negatively clash are magnified when organizations are situated in countries with vastly different national cultures. For example, an organization with an organizational culture that expects its employees to dress in smart business suits only may conflict with the culture of a nation in which the citizens are allowed to go to work wearing traditional robes.

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Another area where the national culture and corporate culture may clash is in the area of work hours. If a country has a national culture of observing a rest period or siesta in the afternoon for a little while, this may clash with an organizational culture that only allows its employees to have a 30-minute break for lunch. A national culture might expect an expectant mother to stay at home for at least a year after giving birth to care for the new baby. In contrast, the organizational culture might be for a woman to have only a three-month maternity leave.

The best policy for a company trying to establish itself abroad is to ensure that it chooses countries with national cultures that closely match its organizational culture. In situations where the country in question provides lucrative opportunities for the organization, such an organization might have to adjust its organizational culture to accommodate the national culture of the country. An example is an oil company that mostly establishes its offices in countries with reserves of crude oil. These type businesses often consider the difference between the national culture and corporate culture. This is because the oil reserves might be situated in places with national cultures that vastly differ from their organizational cultures.

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croydon
Post 3

@Mor - The problem is, if you give corporations too much control over who they can hire and fire, they will always do it with the bottom line in mind. And that doesn't mean they'll always hire the best person for the job.

The person who will work for the cheapest amount, in the least safe conditions, with the least job security, is best for their bottom line.

Our corporate culture needs to be better than that, and I wish it was because frankly, it means short term gain and long term loss and it's the reason we keep having recessions.

But, until that kind of culture can be changed, we need those laws, however imperfect, to stop us from having the terrible injustices they had 100 years ago when people still lived and died in coal mines.

Mor
Post 2

@bythewell - I don't believe that people should be fired without due process. But I do believe that sometimes they need to be fired. Sometimes you just need to accept that you've made a mistake and move on.

I've seen it in places in the West where unions have become so strong that it's almost impossible to fire someone who is a union member, and even impossible to hire someone who isn't a union member.

Thinking of the Actors' Guild in Hollywood for example. They make it extremely difficult to run a movie without working with them and if you work with them you can only use actors from their guild.

I think if someone is terrible at their job they

should be fired. It's not fair to all those people who would be wonderful at it, if only they could get it.

And it wastes money that could be used in better purposes. I know this makes me sound harsh, but it's the way the world should work.

bythewell
Post 1

Japan is often held up as a model for how they treat their employees although I'm heard mixed reports about how the national and corporate culture can clash there.

For example, one of the things that people say is that companies there will often make everyone, including the CEO, take a hit on their pay check, rather than fire even one employee. So, while in the States and places in Europe are having massive layoffs, Japan isn't suffering so much from that.

However, I've heard this isn't so much from a compassion or loyalty standpoint for the people who might get laid off, as it is a matter of pride. Whoever hired the person loses face if that person is

then fired. So, the whole company would rather take a pay cut than fire multiple people.

It's interesting as to whether this is a better route to take or not, but it certainly points to differences between the cultures of the East and the West.

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