Does National Culture affect Organizational Culture of Internet Companies? Compare and Contrast between Yahoo! Taiwan and eBay Seattle
From a wide array of studies, cultural differences are widely believed to have deep impacts on organizational cultures and environments. People from different countries have diverse national cultures which will in turn create completely different organizational cultures. Organizational culture is defined by the textbook to be “the shared social knowledge within an organization regarding the rules, norms, and values that shape the attitudes and behavior of its employees” (Colquitt, 2011, p 578). It is difficult to imagine the degree of differences between diverse organizational cultures from such a dry definition; words simply cannot influence individuals to understand “culture” unless one explores deep into these varying organizations to truly feel distinct environments. Thus, this paper will analyze through my personal work experience within two very similar internet companies located in two different countries - Yahoo! in Taipei and eBay in Seattle - to see if national culture influences the widely reputed “laid-back internet company” culture.
Yahoo! and eBay are both famous internet start-up companies that, together with companies like Google and Amazon, symbolize the internet revolution in the United States (Internet). Both started in a garage and simply transformed an idea into a profitable machine with nothing but a computer and a connection to the internet. This backstory revolutionized the assumptions of “work” culture and deconstructed the image of suits and ties from big corporations to t-shirts and jeans (Internet). With widely publicized workplaces from these companies, internet companies are famous for having lax dress codes and an interesting work environment. This cultural image of internet companies remains true within each of the locations. Both Yahoo! Taipei and eBay Seattle harbor decorated offices that symbolize the culture they wish to represent: young, innovative, and fun. With slogans like “Yodel like you mean it” from Yahoo! and “Buy it, Sell it, Love it” from eBay, the general atmosphere of both offices is extremely relaxed (eBay). Rarely did you ever see someone wear a tie around the offices and facilities included amenities designed for relaxation like an arcade or massage rooms. Both companies publicly inspire employees for equality to ensure the fostering of innovation, and promote the underlying value of creativity. These cultural similarities demonstrate that the organizational culture of companies is strong and can be powerful enough to influence beyond a nation’s borders (Colquitt, 2011, p 478). The organizational culture of both companies, regardless of location, is something drastically different from the common knowledge of a giant corporation. However, despite the efforts made by Yahoo! Taipei for a progressive culture, the general stereotype of “internet company culture” is still deeply affected by national culture. To better analyze the disparity between the two companies, it is important to note the differences in each culture. From Hofstede’s research about the dimensions of cultural values, people from different places have extreme differences culturally. Specifically, in the Individualistic – Collectivist dichotomy, Pan-Chinese countries are more collectivistic than the United States. The key difference here is that United States’ strong sense of individualism means that the people stress more on personal independence and autonomy; whereas Pan-Chinese countries prioritizes group goals over individual preferences, emphasizing interpersonal connections and obligations (Chang). Furthermore, it is also noted that Pan-Chinese countries generally accept imbalanced power distribution, whereas the United States generally demands equality. Lastly, it is also indicated by the study that the American cultural vision tends to be much more short-term than...
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