Understanding National Culture and Ethics in Organizations

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A Study of Eastern and Central Europe



Table of contents

(16 chapters)

How should foreigners manage a partnership or an acquisition in Russia? We know a lot about Russian culture per se, but research on foreign companies having to deal with Russia remains scarce. To answer our question, we used the concept of nationally bound administrative heritage to identify how foreign practices are efficiently implemented in Russia in the context of partnerships and acquisitions. We interviewed 16 Russian managers working in the car industry about their perception of foreign practices and how things ought to be done. Our investigations show the maintenance of a strong national culture that generates a need to cope with uncertainty for foreign firms. For local people, Russia is a particular country, not comparable to others. When transferring practices, foreign managers need to organize hybridization processes in order to successfully import these practices. Hybridization means transferring but adapting in order to impregnate them with the Russian specificity. Such hybridization requires foreign managers to work and network locally for the implantation of practices.


Merger and acquisition (M&A) is a way to survive and succeed in a competitive global environment as a consequence of new political, monetary and regulatory issues. The complex phenomenon that M&As represent has received consistent attention from the research community over the last 30 years.

M&As are a strategic choice to grow quicker, enter new markets and maximize companies' capabilities, which otherwise would not have been possible. Within the automotive industry, this phenomenon has been seen repeatedly with examples like Mitsubishi-Daimler, Jaguar-Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, Seat-Volkswagen, Daewoo-General Motors and Land Rover-Ford. Although M&A activity has trended directionally consistent with automotive assembly volume, there are some failure cases within automotive industry M&As (e.g., Rover-BMW). In this chapter, the focus is on the intercultural issues of the M&A phenomenon. The underestimation of the cultural factors has significant impact on why M&A operations sometimes fail to achieve the predefined goals.

It is of vital importance for the automotive companies to understand and be aware of these intercultural issues in order to be successful in their merger or acquisition.

The phenomenon of M&A within the automotive industry needs further research and discussions due to the fact that some strategic alliances and M&A proved to be successful (e.g., Škoda-Volkswagen) and others not (e.g., Rover-BMW).


This conceptual chapter, based on literature review, aims to elaborate an integrative approach to the study of cultural differences/convergence within and across the borders of Eastern European countries, in order to conciliate the two theoretical perspectives prevailing in the debate on cultural diversity management: the emic and the etic theoretical stances.

This chapter tries to propose a ‘third way’ to cultural analysis that includes the two perspectives, within a wider and complex multiparadigmatic and pluralistic framework, with a specific focus on Eastern European cultures.

Eastern European countries represent a sort of ideal construction that includes several countries, characterized by different trajectories and heritages: Catholic versus Orthodox religions, Slavic versus non-Slavic identities, Capitalistic versus Former Soviet Union values, etc. In spite of the renovated interest towards the regional area of Eastern Europe, empirical data show that there are significant differences in the distribution of cultural values, among national clusters. On the other hand, it is very difficult to say that Eastern European countries should be considered separate sociocultural entities, without any point of contact among other.

The main assumption of this chapter is that to better understand sociocultural dynamics within and across Eastern European countries, it is necessary to go beyond cultural mapping, in search of a more complex theoretical and methodological approach.

This approach may help to conciliate the apparent paradoxes emerging from the comparison of data related to Eastern European national clusters, providing a more complex and deep view of cultural phenomena, within and outside organizational and national boundaries.


Conclusion of this chapter – the Eastern European countries are culturally not homogeneous. They are almost as diverse as the European Union (EU) in total.

Several publications about the three decades since the start of the transition in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 conclude that the convergence with, what they called, developed Europe was slowing down. This is alarming what was predicted right before the countries' access to the EU, it would take 31–80 years before they would reach average income per person in EU 15 counties.

We show that as a result of privatization without a firm legislation the superficial layers of culture were polluted. The necessary trust between authorities and citizens, between bosses and employees, disappeared. This affected the ‘rules of the game’. Slowly this trust is restored. The EU is helping because of the pressure put on the single member states in staying within the boundaries set by the EU for democracy and the rule of law.

It is interesting to look at the connection between culture and corruption: the saying is ‘power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Analysis of the rule of law shows that human rights as part of the law system is something that is ‘natural’ for individualistic cultures. In collectivist cultures, morality is in first place for the people of the in-group. It can be shown that enforcements of the EU laws have a positive influence in the eyes of the citizens. Recent research by Pew Research Center is confirming this.


In this chapter, we attempt to establish global leadership broadly and intercultural competence specifically as constructs of leadership that are essential in the global context and accessible and applicable within the Eastern and Central European context. We examine several international studies of global leadership and cultural differences and highlight the patterns of culturally bounded values and behaviours that can be found in Eastern and Central Europe. We also explore the dimension of intercultural competence, its development, and share two case studies where intercultural competence was either enacted or needed in an Eastern or Central European context. Finally, we share different frames that can and/or have been employed to examine glonal leadership in Eastern or Central Europe. By looking at the cultural differences that have been uncovered in the region and the concept of intercultural competence as foundational to success, we can see that leaders aspiring to global leadership work in this region can find the dimensions of global leadership that will support their goals. The development of intercultural competence specifically and global leadership acumen broadly can be a topic for a different chapter in a different volume.


This chapter prepares expatriates and businesses to live and work in Central Europe. It draws on intercultural relations, international relations, Central and Eastern European studies, interviews with people who are from or living in the region and the American author's experiences as an international student and expat in Kraków, Poland. It begins by introducing the concept of culture and cautioning that Central European culture is not monolithic but contains variety and layers. Second, it explains that the boundaries of Central Europe are hard to define and warns that the labels Central and Eastern European may carry significant meaning for locals. Third, it argues that history is essential to understanding contemporary life in the region and outlines major trends and patterns that remain relevant. It also suggests ways that outsiders can make sense of the relationship between the past and present, with advice on how to talk to locals and a list of questions they can use to integrate and advance their learning. Fourth, it uses Hofstede Insights' (n.d.) model to explore three key dimensions of Central European culture, including indulgence, power distance and uncertainty avoidance. It also presents additional cultural tips from locals and expats for how outsiders can adapt when they move to the region. It concludes by noting that although expats and businesses may find certain elements of Central European culture challenging, they will also likely find their time here moving and memorable.


This chapter intends to reveal the leading questions regarding doing business in Eastern Europe. The chapter uncovers the most important cultural issues applied to business ethics in order to improve the knowledge concerning business in Eastern Europe. We envisage, also, the nexus between intercultural elements and business ethics issues. This chapter aims at practitioners and management scholars, serving as a starting point for deepening the understanding of cultural and ethical issues in Eastern Europe.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the economic, social and political conditions have changed radically, especially in Europe. During the last two decades, Europeanization has become an attractive research area and an integral part of the study of European Union (EU) politics.

National cultural values provide a context for discussing ethics and ethicality, but not an explanation of why there are differences in ethical values. The organizational culture is quite homogeneous among Eastern and Central Europe (ECE) countries, but the national cultures remained different.

Organizational cultures in ECE are characterized by: highly centralized structures, dislike of uncertainty, preferences for formality and strong collectivist attitudes.

Professional ethics is not a special type of ethics but the application of ethical judgement in professional practice. This application can be difficult in business settings as conflicting demands can arise. In areas where professional practitioners are employed, there is potential for a conflict.


Roma form the largest ethnic group in Europe. Currently, between 10 and 12 million Roma live in Europe, 6 million of which live in the European Union.

In this chapter, the authors analyze the socioeconomic and health problems faced by the Roma population, their causes and the barriers to Roma access to adequate medical care.

Roma population is generally younger than the general population, but with a lower life expectancy, due to poor living conditions and the increased prevalence of chronic and acute diseases. There are numerous barriers to accessing medical services by the Roma patients, such as language, low education, lack of information, discrimination in medical institutions, lack of medical insurance or identity documents and the relationship with medical staff.

Health mediators represent the link between communities and medical staff, with the role of reducing the negative consequences of the language barrier, sociocultural differences and tensions between ethnic groups.

The authors also present the results of a study conducted in Romania that aimed to analyze the role of health mediators as intercultural facilitators who contribute to increasing the quality of medical care provided to Roma patients and their ability to respond culturally appropriate to the health needs of the Roma patients.

The authors conclude that the medical staff has an ethical obligation to provide culturally sensitive medical care, since the ethnic origin, the level of education, the language proficiency and the cultural values of the patients are essential for a functional doctor–patient relationship. The activity of the health mediators is an important element in the health policies aimed at increasing the cultural competence of the medical staff and improving the medical care provided to the Roma population.


The aim of this paper is to create the nexus between political culture, citizens' perception of the political system and democratic order. In academic literature, one of the most important determinants of the democratic order is considered the cultural dimension. Beyond the political institutions and economic indicators, democracy is based on historical heritage, cultural patterns, political attitudes and behaviours. In correlation with all these premises, this article aims to (1) identify associations between social values and political participation; (2) estimate the impact of the political participation in creating premises for tolerance and democracy and (3) observe the relation between political beliefs, ideological position and political participation. Data are collected from secondary sources as World Values Survey, Wave 6. We use as research method the comprehensive case study for post-communist Romania. Empirical results demonstrate weak statistical correlations between personal values and active membership in political and civic associations (r = −0.150, p < 0.001). Traditional dimension of the Romanian post-communist society could be observed in three main variables which reflect personal values and preferences: family, work and religion. Low rates of tolerance are related with the inactivity in the social or political sphere, generating a syndrome of political apathy and alienation. In correlation with personal values, social implication and tolerance we have emphasize the respondents' cognitive bias regarding the meaning and directions of the democratic order.


The multipolar configuration of the current economic context has led management scholars to reconsider the existing theoretical perspectives that explain drivers and effects of mergers and acquisitions (M&As).

The combination of structures, systems, processes and people imposed by M&A is a complex process that needs to be properly managed. This process can be divided into three phases of pre-combination, combination and post-combination. It evidences the dilemma of integrating two distinct firms and preserving their specific identities. In cross-border M&A, differences in organizational cultures increase the complexity of the integrative process and make it difficult for the companies that proceed to the merger to reach the preordained synergies, where the problem linked to the diversity of the national culture is added. A successful integration process allows to treat the elements of diversity as opportunities and not as obstacles.


This paper will explore the implications of identity for ourselves and for our society from an intercultural practitioner's point of view. It will address the role of socially constructed and mediated narratives in shaping and maintaining identities as we know them, highlighting the importance of identity formation by self and with others in the contemporary environment which is experiencing new challenges posed by the flood of news media and the tools now available to create and disseminate it, as well as the challenge posed by developments in Artificial Intelligence that are potentially invasive of privacy and even threats to personal autonomy. This is increasingly important in a globalized environment where rising populism and nationalism are fostered both by unconscious stimulation of fear of the other and by deliberate control of popular narratives through the efforts of cultural mediators. The paper will explore and describe five successful areas of practical activities or exercises in which identity and social connectivity can be used to refresh identity and the narratives that support it. These are focused private journal writing, personal name creation and exploration, cognition and self-talk, individuation vs. connectivity and the potential of gamification. The role of art in exploring what is normally hidden in everyday life will be briefly explored and expressed via the inclusion of several poetic reflections on identity challenges.


In the past few decades, service offshoring industry has been developing globally, and in the past few years its dynamic growth has been observed in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Intensive process migrations have been influenced by the primary goal of minimizing operational expenses, at the same time improving service efficiency and gaining access to wide talent pools. The chapter summarizes current state and key development trends of the offshore service delivery sector in the CEE region. Moreover, it aims at contributing to the understanding of corporate culture at the CEE service delivery organizations, which has been the dominant factor influencing their effectiveness and quality of delivery. The exploratory, pilot study conducted at the sample of three organizations from three countries in the region was supposed to examine the organizational culture at CEE nearshore delivery centres, by applying analysis based on seven factors, broken into 26 cultural artefacts. With minor exceptions, the results highlight positive perception of key organizational culture's elements across employees (e.g. communication, goal setting, team work, reward orientation, innovativeness standards). The only negatively assessed element is the performance standards, including their clear definition, coaching for personal improvement of employees and emphasizing good performance of the organizations. The quantitative study is limited to only three sample companies from three countries, therefore extending the research scope is recommended, as well as exploring the link of national culture elements to the employees' perception of organizational relations and culture.

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