Is culture a burden? if yes, how can we turn it to an opportunity


For the past decades, management studies and practices were stereotyped with cultural dimensions developed by some scholars such as Hofstede, Fons Trompenaar, the GLOBE project and lately Erin Meyer. These dimensions, although simplify the way we look at culture but are problematic at the same time and lead to serious dilemmas. Judging people based on their national background although seems an easy way to understand how people think or behave but might not be realistic. looking at others based on their geo-ethnic background means stamping them with static images that they can never get out of it. This approach contradicts with any change management theory or practice. If we consider culture as a static phenomenon means we can never change ourselves or others which is against human nature. The second factor that affects our understanding to culture, is what does culture include? Does it include values, habits, traditions, folklores, kitchens, eating habits, etc.. By putting everything on culture without any distinction is not fair and makes not good for us.

The impact that organisations and academic institutions suffered, and keep suffering, from following the above paradigm led to a lot of frustration and ineffectiveness in many of the training programs that they prepare for leaders for one simple reason; what individuals are taught differs from what they find on the ground. Especially in nowadays world where working outside ones homeland has become the new norm. Furthermore, as many organizations and educational institutions have decided to move into the digital space, treating culture the same old way would definitely won't work. Consumer behaviours need to be understood in an explorative manner. Judging how consumers may react to certain product need to be stopped and restudied to figure out what best suit them, etc.

The above questions I raise in this blog are basic and they are raised by both academics and practitioners and alternatives are proposed but how we accept those new alternatives, this is the 1 million dollar question. However, for this blog, I would stop here. The aim is shake our understanding and create a discussion about the subject before illustrating some working solutions.

Appreciate receiving your comments and see you soon.

By Ahmad M. Salih

Keywords: Change Management, Culture, Digital Transformation

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