Individual interactions between partners are recognized today as playing a central role in the evolution of cooperative interorganizational relationships. Most theoretical treatments of interactions have been made at a macro-level, with reference to constructs such as trust, outcome expectations, process and outcome discrepancies, and communication. Relationships are analyzed at the level of organizations seen as collective actors, and their international aspects are reduced to the comparative analysis of macro-level dimensions of culture. In the past two decades, research in social science has progressively revealed the complex and multiple natures of culture and identity in organizations. Surprisingly, the monolithic vision of organizational and national cultures is still dominant in the strategy field and has tended to use organization-wide or nationwide classifications (one organization – one culture/one country – one culture) and seeing top managers as the most reliable source of information on the topic. The paper suggests substantial modifications in our approach to culture and argues that the mapping and codifying of different management styles and cultural dimensions may not be enough to understand the dynamics of international business encounters. The main issue is not the existence of differences per se, but rather the way behavioral differences are perceived and interpreted by members of other managerial/organizational/national cultures, and particularly how the interactions – the “contact” across these cultures – are socially constructed and managed. We propose a research agenda putting perceptions and communication processes at center stage and introduce the concepts of Communication and Cultural Dissonance – rooted in the field of cross-cultural management and intercultural communication – as an important factor in the development of cooperative processes. Perceptions of cultural differences and problematic behaviors are grounded in the different cultural interpretations of a proper way to communicate intent, relations and business strategies to be implemented. These respective and often divergent interpretations will be fundamental in the way individuals assess the quality of the cooperation process, the reliability of their partners and of the knowledge they want to transfer and the trustworthiness of the partner. We use data from a longitudinal study of several post-merger integration processes to illustrate some of our theoretical conjectures.
Irrmann, O. (2005), "Communication Dissonance and Pragmatic Failures in Strategic Processes: The Case of Cross-Border Acquisitions", Szulanski, G., Porac, J. and Doz, Y. (Ed.) Strategy Process (Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 22), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 251-266. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0742-3322(05)22009-0Download as .RIS
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