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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : European Management Journal, Volume 25, Issue 2, April 2007, Pages 132–145
Advocates for a social Europe are worried that the accession of ex-Eastern Bloc countries into the European Community would lead European corporations to emphasize a financial orientation rather than a societal orientation. We examined this question in a study of the values orientations of 3,836 managers in 16 countries representing established EU, new EU, and candidate EU country groups. Within-Europe managerial values convergence was found in a relatively high openness to change and low self-enhancement values. However, we found divergent values such that managers in established EU countries were more self-transcendent and less conservative than their counterparts in new EU and candidate EU countries. Implications for the convergence of future values within the Europe region are discussed.
In recent years, there has been an ongoing debate in Western Europe about the dangers of losing acquired social welfare benefits with the opening of the European Union (EU) to ex-communist Eastern Bloc countries in 2002 (Kramer, 2006 and Piazolo, 2000). One indicator of the success of critics’ arguments against further economic and political integration is evidenced by the “No” results in the 2005 referendum on the new EU constitution in various countries (Kramer, 2006). Is opposition to EU expansion based on an irrational fear of change (e.g, the influx of immigrants from Central and Eastern European countries) or is it values-based concern about different approaches to capitalism? To what extent do these concerns represent a conflict between the Western European Rheinish capitalism tradition that emphasizes social welfare and environmental sustainability concerns, and neo-liberal capitalism with its accompanying “ethical shortcomings” in the transitional economies of former Eastern Bloc countries (Morin, 2004)? To investigate the basis for these concerns within the EU, we examined the fundamental personal values of corporate decision makers. In respect to corporate strategic decision making, there are two primary schools of thought. One approach proposes that managerial decision making is a rational process that is disconnected from personal values and biases, whereas the other approach proposes that managers are agents whose processing and exchange of information are influenced by their subjective perceptions (Simon, 1955). In that personal values have a significant influence on the way managers view the world, these perspectives influence how managers decide and act (Meglino and Ravlin, 1998). As such, one’s personal values orientation has a direct influence on strategic decisions and therefore, ultimately, on societal or financial orientation. Depending on the prevailing cultural value system, some managers will favour a market approach whereas others will have a more social orientation. In terms of the financial and societal reference systems identified by Martinet and Reynaud (2004), a financial reference system provides a logic for corporate strategies that respond to the dictates of financial markets. Short-term profitability is the main objective of the firm. The strategy is adopted in order to satisfy the shareholders. In contrast, a societal reference system provides a logic that integrates economic motivations with social and environmental motivations. The aim of the firm is to survive in the long term and organizational stakeholders are taken into account. The European Union is sometimes considered as a homogenous market (e.g., Danone’s zones are Europe, Asia and the rest of the world; Carrefour’s zones are Europe, the Americas, Asia) which would suggest homogeneity in respect to business practices and managerial perspectives. However, previous European research on these topics has been limited to the founders of the European Union. For example, while Grand, Grill, Rousseau and Schneider-Maunoury (2005) found no significant differences in the ethical policies of firms in 14 European countries, we note that their sample did not include firms from Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. Similarly, Schlegelmilch and Robertson’s (1995) proposal that European Union affiliation would result in a convergence of European managers’ perceptions of ethical issues was limited to Western European countries. Other research has shown that there are significant economic, institutional (social and political), and cultural disparities within the EU region (e.g., Franzese and Mosher, 2002, Giannetti, 2002 and Inglehart and Welzel, 2005). In order to understand how the strategic orientation of European managers could be modified or at least how homogeneity will be reduced by the entry of new countries (or candidates), a comparative study of managers in established EU member, new EU member, and EU candidate countries is necessary. It is therefore legitimate to ask: are strategic decision makers more willingly societally-oriented in Western European countries and more market-oriented in CEE countries? What is the potential for a convergence of managerial values orientations within the expanded European Union? In order to answer these research questions, our review of the literature will consider the tensions between the financial and societal reference systems in societies. We will explore expected differences as well as homogeneity of the European Union in terms of these reference systems, and the influence of managerial values on the choice of a reference system. Then we present the results of a study conducted with 3,836 managers in 16 European countries. This study is innovative because of its scope that takes into account cultural diversities that are often mentioned but little studied. Our sample is representative of three groups of countries that constitute the Europe of tomorrow: established EU members, new EU members, and EU candidates. And finally, we discuss how this research will enable the evaluation of similarities or differences in terms of personal values and therefore ultimately in terms of strategic orientation (more financial or more socially and environmentally responsible) in Europe.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Advocates for a social Europe have expressed concerns that the accession of CEE countries into the European Community will inevitably lead European corporate strategies toward a stronger financial orientation (e.g., Morin, 2004). The results of our empirical study of 3,836 managers from 16 European countries provide more mixed predictions. On the one hand, we found that managers in the founding EU countries are more self-transcendent and less conservative which is consistent with a progressive societal orientation. However, no differences were found among the three groups of EU countries concerning the values of self-enhancement and openness to change. Hence, we found evidence of both values convergence and values divergence for managers in established EU countries compared to managers in new EU and candidate EU countries. How will this probably develop in the future? The democratization of CEE countries appears to have already served as a converging force for some values (openness to change and self-enhancement) across Europe. Our study indicates that economic development of CEE countries is the critical factor for achieving further values convergence in support of a societal orientation that reconciles the social and economic objectives of the European Union.