CROSS CULTURAL COMMUNICATIONS CASE STUDY
The Missouri Computational Company
MCC, founded in 1952, is a very successful American company. It develops, produces, and sells medium- and large-size computers. The company currently operates as a multinational corporation in North and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Middle East. Sales activities are regionally structured. The factories are in St. Louis and Newark (NJ); the most important research activities take place in St. Louis. Production, R & D, personnel and finance are coordinated at the American head office. Business units handle the regional sales responsibilities. This decentralized structure does have to observe certain centralized limitations regarding logs, letter types, types of products, and financial criteria. Standardization of labor conditions, function classification, and personnel planning is coordinated centrally, whereas hiring is done by the regional branches. Each regional branch has its own personnel and finance departments. The management meets every two weeks, and this week is focusing on globalization issues. Internationalization
Mr. Johnson paid extra attention in the management meeting. As vice-president of human resources worldwide he could be facing serious problems. Management recognizes that the spirit of globalization is becoming more active every day. Not only do the clients have more international demands, but production facilities need to be set up in more and more countries. This morning a new logo was introduced to symbolize the worldwide image of the company. The next item on the agenda was a worldwide marketing plan. Mr. Smith, the CEO, saw a chance to bring forward what his MBA taught him to be universally applicable management tools. In addition to global images and marketing, he saw global production, finance, and human-resources management as supporting the international breakthrough. Johnson’s hair started to rise as he listened to his colleague’s presentation. “The organization worldwide should be flatter. An excellent technique for this would be to follow the project approach that has been so successful in the USA.” Johnson’s question about the acceptance of this approach in southern Europe and South America was brushed aside with a short reply regarding the extra time that would be allotted to introduce it in these cultures. The generous allocation of six months would be provided to make even the most unwilling culture understand and appreciate the beauty of shorter lines of communication. Finally, all of this would be supported by a strong pay-for-performance system so that, in addition to more effective structures, the employees would also be directed towards the right goals. Johnson’s last try to introduce a more “human” side to the discussion concerning the implementation of the techniques and policy instruments was useless. The finance manager, Mr. Finley, expressed the opinion of the entire management team: “We know that cultural differences are decreasing with the increasing reach of the media. We should be world leaders and create a future environment that is a microcosm of Missouri.” Mr. Johnson frowned at the prospect of next week’s international meeting in Europe. (p. 15-16) Background: Missouri Computational Company
Since the late 1970s MCC has been operating in more than 20 countries. As its foreign sales have grown, top management has become increasingly concerned about international coordination. Overseas growth, while robust, has been unpredictable. The company has therefore decided to coordinate the processes of measuring and rewarding achievement worldwide. Greater consistency in managing country operations is also on the agenda. There is not a complete disregard for national differences; the general manager worked in Germany for five years, and the marketing manager spent seven years in the Singapore operation. It has been agreed to introduce a number of...
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