Crosscultural Management

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Human Relations
http://hum.sagepub.com/ Cross-cultural perception and power dynamics across changing organizational and national contexts: Curaçao and the Netherlands Coen Heijes Human Relations 2011 64: 653 originally published online 23 December 2010 DOI: 10.1177/0018726710386394 The online version of this article can be found at: http://hum.sagepub.com/content/64/5/653

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human relations

Cross-cultural perception and power dynamics across changing organizational and national contexts: Curaçao and the Netherlands Coen Heijes

human relations 64(5) 653–674 © The Author(s) 2010 Reprints and permission: sagepub. co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0018726710386394 hum.sagepub.com

University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Abstract In this article we study the role of power and power differences in cross-cultural perception. We do so by way of exploratory case studies in the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the police in the Netherlands and Curaçao. We demonstrate how crosscultural perception between two specific ethnic groups, European Dutch and African Curaçaoans, changes depending on the amount of power imbalance in the various organizational and national contexts. With this article, we follow the call for research on the impact of power dynamics on cross-cultural perception, an approach that goes beyond the traditional, dimensional approach that is prevalent in organization literature. Keywords comparative and cross-cultural HRM, comparative and cross-cultural management, culture, Curaçao, ethnicity, Hofstede, power dynamics, strategic and international management, The Netherlands

Introduction
Since the 1980s, there has been a canon of management literature that categorizes national cultures worldwide along a small set of standard cultural dimensions (e.g. Hofstede, 1980, 2001; Trompenaars, 1993). To this day, most research on international management takes this dimensional approach and its monolithic and rather static

Corresponding author: Coen Heijes, Fellow of School of Management, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Groningen, PO Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands. Email: c.p.a.heijes@rug.nl Downloaded from hum.sagepub.com at University of Hertfordshire on January 23, 2013

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description of national cultures as its basis (Tsui et al., 2007). Although Hofstede (e.g. 1980, 2002) himself repeatedly warned against expecting too much of these dimensions, many followers were less critical, applying his dimensions regardless of context. In particular, the supposed cohesiveness, pervasiveness and causality of the culture concept that underlies the dimensional, value-based approach has been increasingly challenged, with researchers arguing for a more contextual approach based on actual interaction. Osland and Bird challenged the ‘sophisticated stereotyping’ (2000: 65) by arguing that dimensions did not adequately describe the cultural complexities in cultures, where paradoxes abounded depending on the specific context in which one found oneself. Brannen and Salk (2000: 480) demonstrated culture to be a ‘dynamic and ongoing process of social negotiation’ and cited the importance of studying both the extra- and intra-organizational sources of influence. Fang (2006) introduced a paradoxical view of culture and human behaviour in which...
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