The purpose of this study is to provide a better insight into the role of national cultures on the management and design of workplaces of multinationals in different countries.
This explorative study is based on an extensive literature review of dimensions of a national culture in connection to corporate real estate management, interviews with ten representatives of multinationals on corporate real estate strategies and workplace characteristics and a multiple case study of two multinational firms with site visits and observations at offices in The Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain.
Whereas all interviewed companies had their real estate portfolio to some extent aligned to the local national culture, none had a strict central policy about this issue. Differences in workplace characteristics were mainly caused by the involvement of local people in workplace design. Using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, the case studies showed relationships between masculinity of a culture and the expression of status and between uncertainty avoidance and openness to innovation; however, no relationships were found related to differences in power distance and short-/long-term orientation.
The case studies were conducted in three European Union countries. Due to practical reasons, most interviewees were Dutch. Additional empirical research including more different national cultures is needed to advance more unequivocal conclusions and to develop a clear set of guidelines for decision-making.
The findings stress the importance of finding a balance between aligning facilities to business purposes and meeting the needs of different (groups of) employees in multinational environments.
Although much has been written about national culture, not much research is yet available in connection to facilities management and corporate real estate management.
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