Cultural constraints in management theories
Geert Hofstede, University of Limburg, Maastricht, the Netherlands
Management as the word is presently used is an American invention. In other parts of fhe world not only fhe pracfices but the entire concepf of management may differ, and the theories needed to understand it, may deviate considerably from what is considered normal and desirable in fhe USA, The reader is invited on a trip around the world, and both local management practices and theories are explained from the different contexts and histories of the places visited:
Germany, Japan, France. Holland, the countries of the overseas Chinese,
South-East Asia. Africa, Russia, and finally mainland China.
A model in which worldwide differences in national cultures are categorized according to five independent dimensions helps in explaining fhe differences in managemenf found: although the sifuafion in each counfiy or region has unique characferisfics fhaf no model can accounf for. One pracficai appiicafion of fhe mode] is in demonstrating the relative position of the U.S. versus other parts of the world. In a global perspective. U.S. management theories contain a number of idiosyncracies not necessarily shared by management elsewhere. Three such idiosyncracies are mentioned: a stress on market processes, a stress on the individual, and a focus on managers rather than on workers. A plea is made for an internationalization not only of business, but also of management theories, as a way of enriching theories at the national level.
In My View
Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland contains the famous story of Alice's croquet game with the Queen of Hearts.
Aiice thought she had never seen such a curious croquef-ground in all her life; it was all ridges and furrows; the balls were live hedgehogs, the mallets live flamingoes, and the soldiers had to double themselves up