Globalization, Transformation and the Diffusion of Management Innovations

Article excerpt

This paper suggests a shift from the discourse on transfer and transition with regard to CEE societies towards one focusing on transformation processes that come with globalization. Since globalization can be interpreted as the spread of ideas, informations, practices, goods and techniques, the perspective of the diffusion of management innovations is introduced and enlarged by including power relations, the interests of actors and cultural aspects of change. The argument of culture as barrier for the adoption of innovation is challenged in favor of one that sees it as a chance for contributing to innovation and globalization.

Dieser Beitrag schlagt eine Verlagerung der Diskussion in bezug auf die osteuropaischen Gesellschaften von der Betonung des Transfers and der Transition hin zu einem Fokus auf den mit der Globalisierung einhergehenden Transformationsprozess vor. Da Globalisierung als Verbreitung von Ideen, Informations, Praktiken, Gutern and Techniken verstanden werden kann, wird die Perspektive der Diffusion von Managementinnovationen eingefuhrt and durch Machtbeziehungen, die Interessen der Akteure and kulturelle Aspekte des Wandels erweitert. Anstelle der Argumentation, dass Kultur als Barriere fir die Ubernahme von Innovationen wirkt, wird darin vielmehr eine Chance fair eigenstandige Beitrage zu Innovation and Globalisierung gesehen.

Key Words: Globalization / Diffusion / Management Theories / Transition Economies / Intercultural Transfer

1. The Changing Nature of the Enterprise

Our era is characterized by profound changes in the ways we are guided to think about work, working life, firms, markets and states, and they spread across national borders, across societies and cultures in the wake of the process called ,,globalization". In this process the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries and the enterprises within these have very specific conditions because of their recent histories as compared with their Western counterparts. They have undergone a process of transformation from a socialist to a market system and almost simultaneously have had to cope with the globalization impact as well.

1.1. Transfer, diffusion and institutional change

The influence of Western principles and ideas on the transition process in CEE countries has been very strong especially on the enterprise level as Martin (1999: 150) remarks: ,Western companies are a major influence on the development of CEE enterprises. They represent the major source of innovation. New technologies, new methods of production, and new products are transferred to the region by multinational corporations, both by internal transfer and through their influence on suppliers and customers in the region." Because of the EU membership aspirations especially Western European firms have functioned as models for the transition economies. But due to investment activities US influences have had great importance too. Commentators pointed also to the applicability of East Asian, especially Japanese models to the transition of CEE economies (Dickie 1991; Ross 1996). The discussion has been led under the heading of ,knowledge transfer" and has resulted in a vast literature on the subject (e.g. Ardichvili, Cardozo/Gasparishvili 1998; Bjorkman/Ehrnrooth 1999; Cyr/Schneider 1996; Gatian/Gilbert 1996; Lyles/Salk 1996).

The transition to a market economy in Eastern Europe has involved such a process of transference of management ideas, practices and techniques to a great extent. And the studies reflect this while at the same time pointing out the difficulties encountered due to cultural barriers as will be seen below. The studies on the transfer of management principles were mostly case studies centering on joint ventures and problems encountered by foreign firms. The extent and speed of the diffusion of management innovations and business knowledge among the firms in the transition societies, however, have attracted very little attention. …