نقش فرهنگ در پژوهش مدیریت تکنولوژی: شخصیت ملی و چارچوب فاصله فرهنگی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|13520||2008||20 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||9860 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, Volume 25, Issues 1–2, March–June 2008, Pages 3–22
Management research exploring the role of national culture on topics such as management style, strategy, and firm performance can broadly be divided into two categories. Studies that attempt to compare and contrast the impact of culture on organizations in different cultures have been labeled as “National Character” studies. These studies attempt to determine how specific cultural attributes affect actions, strategies and performance. The second type of culture study focuses on the interactions between two firms embedded in different national cultures. These studies look at the impact of “Cultural Distance” on the ability of organizations to successfully interact. It is this latter area which is becoming increasingly important to technology management in the “Flat World” of the 21st Century. Research propositions for technology management for each of the two frameworks are developed.
Each of these companies is part of what Friedman (2005) has labeled the “flat world,” the seamless global economy that is producing, managing and, to a great extent, driven by technology. The ability to exploit (in the most positive sense of the word) the diverse global capabilities to produce, manage, implement and benefit from technology is essential to be able to function successfully in this flat world of the 21st Century. However, many examples exist of management or organizational techniques used in one national culture that have failed when transferred to a second culture (e.g., Calhoun et al., 2002 and Kim et al., 1990) or that, at a minimum, are less effective in other cultures (e.g., Gales et al., 2006 and Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, 1998). This paper explores theory and research on culture and management to better understand the necessary conditions for successful management of technology in this flat world. Technology may be the tool necessary to conduct business, it may be the process for producing, it may be the product that is produced, or it may be all three. Regardless, the processes must be managed in a global cultural context and that is what presents the unique challenge. Essentially, this paper addresses the question of whether national culture matters in the management and diffusion of technology in the new flat world. This paper will first review the dominant framework for understanding national culture. The focus then turns to a review of relevant research linking national culture to organizational actions. Although much of the cited research does not specifically address technology management issues, one can extrapolate that the same principles should apply. The paper concludes by using the two views on the role of culture – the “National Character” perspective and the “Cultural Distance” perspective – to arrive at specific research questions and prescriptions in the area of technology management. The approach taken in this paper is decidedly normative and prescriptive with respect to the management of technology. In the tradition of contingency or “fit” theories (e.g., Tushman and Nadler, 1978), the implicit prescriptions offered are directed at optimizing efficiency and effectiveness. However, the reality of managing technology in the multinational/multicultural world is that organizations and manager face many constraints that may have little to do with technology or management practices and that will produce sub-optimal (at least in conventional economic terms) results. The Airbus example that follows is instructive in that regard. Typical criticisms raise questions about managerial rationality and the ability of managers to effectively evaluate all contingency variables simultaneously in a constantly changing environment (Gales and Mansour-Cole, 1995). Others have also raised question about the rational nature of organizations in general (Pfeffer and Salancik, 1978 and Simon, 1976). The assumption, which is not directly challenged here, is that managers act out of bounded rationality (Simon, 1976) and accept less than economically optimal results to satisfy political objectives and personal preferences. However, rather than questioning the validity of theories and predictions of optimal effectiveness and efficiency, these criticisms point out the complexity of the problem and the limitations on optimal performance in a global environment. If managers could act rationally and if managers could obtain something approaching perfect information (doubtlessly big “ifs”), then they could attempt to create something approaching optimization. As Thompson (1967), Simon (1976), and others have argued, managers do not intentionally act in sub-optimal ways. Thus, even if pursuing optimization is like chasing a chimera, creating the parameters of optimality should be a useful exercise. 1.1. Technology as the bridge to the flat world: airbus as an object lesson of what can go wrong Until recently, airbus was regarded as a pan-European marvel that capitalized on expertise and government support in France, Germany, the UK, and Spain, primarily. Beginning in 2003, Airbus outsold Boeing in head-to-head competition for commercial jets. The A380 jumbo jet would revolutionize the aircraft and airline businesses, as well set the company apart from Boeing by offering a unique plane that offered greater capacity and lower operating costs to replace the aging Boeing 747. There has even been talk of beginning final assembly of planes in China to capitalize on the large and growing Asian market. Yet the company has been plagued by problems and delays in the production of the A380 jumbo jet that resulted in increased costs and unanticipated delivery delays now totaling 2 years. The delays and cost overruns have led to lost orders for planes and the resignations of several company leaders. From an organizational and cultural perspective, it is instructive to see how Airbus ended up losing its clear strategic advantage. In an effort to appease competing political demands, the company decided that final assembly of the A380 would be at company headquarters in Toulouse, France, this despite the fact that Toulouse is landlocked. Parts, particularly the wing assemblies, are shipped at least partly over land to Toulouse from remote production facilities raising costs and increasing complexity. One particularly troublesome component has been the wiring harness for the nearly 500 km of wiring that the plane requires. Design teams in Hamburg and Toulouse were using different and incompatible versions of the same CAD–CAM software – CATIA – for design and rendering of the wiring system. The German engineers used Version 4 of the software, while the French used Version 5. Part of the problem was that the file formats were incompatible. Managers in both locations knew about the software incompatibility but no one in either location was willing to raise the issue. Upon delivery to Toulouse, the assembly team found that the wiring design and plane components did not match. Changes to the design had to be made manually, which resulted in significant delays. After realizing that the wiring harnesses would need to be completely redesigned and remanufactured, the company delayed deliveries by one more year. This blunder seriously tarnished the company's reputation, resulted in estimated losses of 4.8 billion euros, jeopardized orders and resulted in resignations of two heads of Airbus in a period of a little more than 3 months (Clark, 2006). Technology can be essential for linking geographically separated members of a team, linking departments, divisions or outsourcing providers and allowing production to take place where the best combination of low costs, quality, resources and expertise reside. But technology must be managed. In the Airbus example, German and French managers argued about the software incompatibility but their company and national cultures are ones that try to minimize conflict. As a result, French managers at headquarters underestimated the potential extent of the problem. German managers did not want to force the issue and figured that the French managers and engineers would reconcile the problems. Despite the incompatible software, the problem at Airbus was not really a technology problem. It was a technology management problem (with the emphasis on “management.”) The software incompatibility highlights the mismanagement of the technology. For various reasons, managers in Hamburg and Toulouse were unwilling or unable to confront the problem of the incompatibility, even though the problem was known to managers. This mismatch merely provides the context for incompatible management systems and culture to come to the surface. Even if software is capable to do the intended tasks, that may not be enough to bridge cultural gaps. Managers and end users must understand the constraints and limitations of the software. Moreover, they must make certain that there is compatibility between technology, tasks, people and the organization. To do this, the managers must share similar cultural assumptions about the technology, management, and organization. Compatible technology is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for successful coordination.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In the flat world technology management problems will only become more important and more acute as organizations become more dependent on technology mediated links and seek to off-shore, outsource and form all manner of global alliances that will use and/or produce technology. As Friedman (2005) maintains, we are in a continuously operating, globally linked environment and it is technology that keeps things humming along. To create good theory, to conduct sound research, and to efficiently manage, we must do a better job of understanding the role of national culture in that environment. We must do a better job of measuring culture. The concept is intuitively appealing and extant research suggests that national culture and cultural differences between linked organizations are important, but in ways that are more complex and indirect than initially expected. Yet the conceptual and methodological weaknesses do not permit clear theorizing and have resulted in divergent findings. And we must do a better job of linking culture to technology management issues. In the past the focus has been on trying to understand which cultural conditions yield the best results. That approach is clearly too simplistic. It is likely that different cultural conditions are associated with different facets of the technology management task. As Nakata and Sivakumar (1996) suggested, some cultural characteristics may be associated with one aspect of technology management (e.g., R&D), while other characteristics may be associated with other aspects of technology management (e.g., implementation). Past research on cultural differences made similar assumptions: that increasing levels of difference were dysfunctional to technology management. It may be the case that some differences (i.e., those that are complementary) have positive effects on technology management.