Playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “England and America are two countries divided by a common language.” In many respects, this quote can be considered an analogy for the issues we will discuss in this book. Every country has managers who manage, but when we define what that means, it is not unusual to see that although we speak the same language, what we mean by what we say is quite different. Obviously, as companies operate across borders and managers manage in other countries, the potential for problems is great. Organizational psychology provides a framework for understanding individual and organizational behavior. The discipline combines research from social psychology and organizational behavior, with an emphasis on leadership, teams, motivation, values, and attitudes. Cross-cultural psychology provides a framework for understanding differences and similarities in individual and social functioning across cultures. By looking at organizational psychology in a cross-cultural context, we can prepare individuals and organizations for the current challenges facing organizations today. These challenges include an increase in the cultural diversity of the work force, particularly in the United States and Europe; the growth in international business; the emergence of many more multinational companies; mergers and acquisitions across national boundaries; the role of government in regulating, deregulating, or privatizing organizations; and the emergence of high-technology and telecommunication systems (Erez, 1994). All of these challenges and changes have accelerated cross-cultural communications and exposed more companies and individuals to the different values, norms, and behaviors that are found in other cultures.
I learned at an early age that companies operating outside their homecountry environment can run into problems because of cultural differences. When I was a teenager in England, we lived near a major automobile factory. I always thought it was a British company but found out