Globalisation of Corporate America and Its Implications for Management Styles in an Arabian Cultural Context

By Anwar, Syed Aziz; Chaker, Mohammad Naim | International Journal of Management, March 2003 | Go to article overview

Globalisation of Corporate America and Its Implications for Management Styles in an Arabian Cultural Context


Anwar, Syed Aziz, Chaker, Mohammad Naim, International Journal of Management


Recent years have witnessed globalisation of business with astonishing speed. The US multinational corporations, in particular, have ventured rapidly to enter markets all over the world. This kind of trend poses great challenges for managers as they have to interact with different cultures. The management styles that prove effective in the western world may not produce the desired results in other cultures. This paper highlights the differences between the American and Arabian cultures and examines how the American management philosophy and styles are adapted to suit the cultural context of the United Arab Emirates

1. Introduction

A formidable body of research has been built up in recent years focusing on the dynamics of globalization of business ( McLuhan and Powers 1983; Ritzer 1993; Ger, Belk and Lascu 1993; Sklair 1993, among others).Interestingly, the natural benchmark for thinking about globalization of business is to consider how Corporate America has shaped the world in which markets for goods, services, and factors of production are getting integrated. There is compelling evidence to suggest that US multinational corporations ( MNCs ) operating in areas such as transportation, mass media, tourism, publishing, sports, consumer durables and non-durables, and information technology, among others, have been contributing immensely to make the world a "global village" (McLuhan and Powers, 1989). With Ronald McDonald leading the way by proliferating restaurants with astonishing speed in various parts of the world, US MNCs are now breaking down all sorts of barriers far and wide.

In view of the proliferation of Corporate America in various parts of the world, Ronald McDonald, Mickey Mouse, Colonel Sanders, Big Bird, and the Michelin Man, among others, have come to be popularly perceived as world ambassadors of Corporate America (Kottak, 1981). In fact, stylised American shopping malls, retail outlets, hotels, educational institutions, banks, Internet cafes, and cultural organisations have come to exist all over the world (Home, 1992) . A greater number of Americans are now managing overseas operations . These expatriates obviously bring with them the American cultural styles to manage the foreign operations. However, these styles need to be used with flexibility and adaptation. Otherwise, they may not prove effective in different cultural contexts ( Harrison, 1994). While the interaction of US management styles with different cultural contexts has been given serious consideration in contemporary literature (Thanopoulos and Leonard, 1996)., the use of these styles in the context of an Arabian culture has not been subjected to a rigorous analysis. This neglect may be attributed mainly to the non-availability of empirical evidence. Therefore, an attempt is made in this study modestly to fill the gap in existing literature with the help of some empirical evidence from United Arab Emirates (UAE). The study addresses the following questions.

1. Is there a link between national culture and corporate culture?

2. What are the main differences between the Arabian and American cultures and management styles?

3. To what extent are the American management styles adapted to suit the cultural context in the UAE?

4. How do the Arabian and the US management styles affect employees in terms of job satisfaction?

The paper progresses logically as follows. Section 2 examines the link between national culture and corporate culture. Section 3 explains the Arabian and American cultures and management styles. The penultimate section reports the findings of the survey. The final section discusses the implications of this study for decision making.

2. National Culture and its Relationship to Corporate Culture

Since this study is concerned with the interaction of cultures, it is important to understand the linkages between national culture and corporate culture. Figure 1 shows the influence of US national culture on organisational culture and management styles. …

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