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Laurent1983_cultural diversity of western management conceptions.pdf

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Soo Min Toh

Jnt Studies of Man S Org Vol XIII No 12 pp 7596ME Shaipc Inc 1983THE CULTURAL DIVERSITY OF WESTERNCONCEPTIONS OF MANAGEMENTAndre Laurent FranceBackgroundIn the last few years I have been looking at the process ofmanaging as an implementation process by which managerstranslate into behavior some of their basic implicit beliefsabout effective action in organizations This interest emergedwhile I was attempting to introduce managers to alternativemodels of managing and organizing I realized that any attemptto communicate alternative ideas about the process of management was headed for failure if it could not in some way firstaddress the implicit management gospel that managers carriedin their heads This became a growing conviction a few yearsago when I was for instance trying to communicate to groupsof French managers the potential interest of matrix organization design Laurent 1981 The idea of reporting to two bosseswas so alien to these managers that mere consideration of suchorganizing principles was an impossible useless exerciseWhat was needed first was a thorough examihation and probingDr Laurent is Professor of Organizational Behavior atINSEAD Fontainebleau France He was formerly 19671970Study Director at the Survey Research Center Institute forSocial Research University of Michigan Ann Arbor MichUSA and before that 19631967 served as an industrial psychologist in Guinea West Africa7576 Andre Laurent Franceof the holy principle of the single chain of command and themanagers recognition that this was a strong element of theirown belief system rather than a constant element in natureEvery manager has his own management theory his own setof representations and preferences that in some way guide hispotential behavior in organizations and it is critical for managers management researchers and educators to identify andunderstand these implicit theories of management better Thisconviction that every manager has his own management gospelprovided the initial ground for the research reported here research that was not originally designed to be comparativeIn order to elicit managers implicit theories of managementI had developed a questionnaire proposing 56 different statements about the management of organizations A fivepointopinion scale was attached to each statement to record the respondents degree of agreement or disagreement with thosestatements Owing to the bilingual setting in which the surveywas to beadministered the questionnaire was developed inboth English and French simultaneously rather than formallytranslated from one language into the other A great deal ofcare was taken to avoid words expressions or sentence constructions that could not communicate fairly equivalent meaning in both languagesThe questionnaire was initially administered to a group of60 uppermiddlelevel managers from various companies attending an executive development program at INSEAD a European management institute located in France This first groupwas composed of 40 French managers and 20 managers fromseveralother European countriesThe original idea was simply to use the recorded opinionsof the managers as an input in the pedagogical process Theobjective was to explore and discuss the participants implicittheories of managementSince I was aware of the work conducted by my colleagueGeert Hofstede who was at the time analyzing his bank ofcomparative sxirvey data from the Hermes multinational corporation Hofstede 1980a I decided to compare the results
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