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Toward a Management Strategy for Optimal Recruiting: Potential Applicant Concerns on Goodness of Fit in the Corporate Culture

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Over the years a large body of literature has developed regarding cultural difference using Hofstede's cultural dimensions. In the course of studies regarding this literature attention has been placed on the differences between management and employees from a management perspective, yet little attention has been focused in the opposite direction. This study uses an in-basket laboratory experiment to determine if US students would prefer to work for a boss who shared cultural traits. The literature, methods and findings are followed by a discussion of the results and implications for entrepreneurs.

INTRODUCTION

Buntzman and Parker (2004) recently applied the Hofstede value system to an analysis of MBA student perceptions of CEO effectiveness and found evidence in a pilot study that their perceptions of CEO effectiveness might in fact be related to their internationally diverse cultural backgrounds. This study is in some ways a follow-on study. It examines the preferences of undergraduate students to possibly work for individuals whose philosophies reflect various cultural backgrounds typical of the USA and certain European, Latin American and Asian regions.

Currently a wealth of literature exists on the impact of culture on business operations particularly in the area of employer/employee relations. Much of this literature is useful in examining the role that cultural differences plays in the understanding of how business works. Culture though extends farther than just an individual's background; one must also consider the culture of business to which a new graduate will be entering upon completion of a degree program or an experienced worker might enter upon changing jobs. "Corporate culture is comprised of philosophy and mission, manner of internal communications and hiring practices. From the outside such things as dress code, flexibility of work schedules and level of volunteerism often form a company's public profile" (Pfister 1999).

This perception of corporate culture is particularly true in America. As one U.S. CEO stated: "I think the most important thing you can have is pride in how you dress, in how you act ... when you have facilities that are clean and painted, people take pride in that, and you end up with a better safety record, a better environmental record" (Pfister 1999). The philosophy of the CEO was reflected in how the employees reacted to it. One employee indicated that as a result of the CEO's attitude the company had become "extremely image conscious" and failure to adhere to norms would result in co-workers quietly pointing out violations (Pfister 1999).

The American value system as pointed out in a number of studies is not universally accepted. In an application of the Hofstede values (collectivism vs. individualism, high vs. low uncertainty avoidance, high vs. low power distance, masculine vs. feminine and dynamic vs. Confucian) Gouttefarde (1996) observed the interaction between Americans and French working in French companies. The comparison was justified given the cultural differences between the two nations. The Gouttefarde study showed the French are high on the power distance scale whereas Americans rate low. The study also showed French and Americans are at odds on uncertainty avoidance. Not surprisingly many of the respondents in the Gouttefarde study expressed frustration at their cultural counterparts. The Americans were seen as brash and too individualistic. The French were seen as micromanagers who stifled the creativity of American employees and were mired in bureaucracy. French bosses were seen as aloof from subordinates whereas the feeling was among French subordinates that the American supervisors got too close.

In other international studies (e.g. MacMahon 1996 and Channon & Dakin 1995) the importance of cultural understanding and identity was seen as a key to business success. In terms of hiring practices by small business owners in Ireland one entrepreneur stated: "I think that in a small company you have to be careful in selecting your workforce anyway--you try to make sure that people will fit in with your way of thinking, your way of doing things and the other employees" (MacMahon 1996). …