Ryan Patrick Bertenshaw: One short essay and two response

1 Discus three conditions that could moderate the influence of national (and local) cultures on the operations of a transnational company doing business in an African country.
Throughout this semester we have dedicated a significant portion of time researching socio-economic factors, local and native cultures, and modernization as hinderances to a transnational business operating in Africa. Of these three factors, the impact and influence of local/national African cultures on a transnational company is extremely alarming and worrisome for business executives and investors alike. When operating in a new market like Africa, one of the most important questions that must be answered by business executives is: To what extent will the influence of local/national cultures effect our company’s ability to do business? In Leung’s article Culture and International Business: Recent Advances and Their Implications for Future Research, the reader is provided with three distinct “moderators” that could help potentially mitigate the influence of African cultures on a transnational company. Whether it be social identification or “individual amplifiers”, “stage of group development”, or technological uncertainty (situational characteristics), research has proven that these three conditions help moderate the impact of culture on a transnational company (Leung 368-369).
The first condition mentioned above embraces the challenge of individuals socially identifying him/herself with a specific culture. The more involved and embraced a culture is by an individual, the more of an impact it will have on determining an individual’s values in comparison to an individual who indulge in other sources of self-identify (education or a given profession). To simplify things, social identification as a moderator of culture “only matters when a person identifies with the culture, for those who do not, culture is a less potent predictor of their values.” (Leung 369).
Another condition that moderates cultural influence “is the stage of group development that a group is at, powerfully amplifying or mitigating the impact of national culture on group member behavior” (Leung 369). This indicates the heavy influence of national culture on group members in the early stages of the groups life, but other predictors/attributes/characteristics (talent, expertise, knowledge) can change the impact of culture on groups behaviors over time. The most significant influence of culture on a group setting revolves around communication, but as employees grasp a better understanding of their job and the industry with time, other group-level characteristics will arise and ultimately determine the impact of culture.
The third and final condition used to mitigate the influence of African cultures is includes the advancement of technological uncertainty. With the development of new products, policies, and procedures in African businesses, there is a dire need for employees to create rules and regulations, as culture trumps confusion. In regards to the influence of culture on companies who need to address technological uncertainty, it can be noted that “When there are very specific rules, procedures or equipment for completing a task, national culture will have less impact. When the task technology is ambiguous, culture is more likely to be the default” (Leung 369).
The supplemental readings provided to us in class have done a wonderful job highlighting the significant influences national and local culture has on transnational companies, especially in a social/political/cultural melting pot like Africa. This essay provides further insight and detail into the three conditions (social, stage of group, and situational) that mitigate the many influences the local and national African cultures have on the transnational business operating there.
Word Count: 539
Works Cited

Leung, Kwok, et al. “Culture and International Business: Recent Advances and Their Implications for Future Research.” Journal of International Business Studies, vol. 36, no. 4, July 2005, pp. 357-378.

Trent Botha

1 Discus three conditions that could moderate the influence of national (and local) cultures on the operations of a transnational company doing business in an African country.
While Africa is home to diversity of cultures and subsequent strong heritage grassroots. The biggest issue for transnational companies is understanding the African environment, consequently manipulating their own values and business orientation around the African climate. The impact of modernization, cultural changes, and the persistence of African cultures will directly impact a transnational company can influence and succeed on the African continent.
As globalization and the sharing of innovation has modernized and continues to modernize and shape the expectation and ability of African landscapes. This environment was first instituted by the industrialization era which brought less dependence on nature. This impacted how many African cultural traditions saw nature, as unpredictable, uncontrollable forces or anthropomorphic spirits in which man would engage in. However, as times have seen, modernization is probabilistic. The economic development tends to direct a given society in only one predictable direction, but the process and path are unknown. This shift of direction has impacted how many African see life, before religion played a critical role in their meaning of life. Therefore, shifting away from the value norm and impacting their way of life. This has made many societies see indifferently, adapting to an economic development model, only persisting through their economic gain. This initiates a sense of expectation and need from African societies, conflicting to how transnational companies can execute their international business model (Ronald, pg.19-51).
Similarly, cultural change is brought about through the process of globalization. Whereby, cultures influence each other through change, but whether or not these changes will constitute to cultural convergence is dependent on how transnational companies are able to stabilize the diversity of African cultures. In saying, understanding the complexity of cultural change, as “culture reflects a relatively stable characteristic, reflecting a shared knowledge structure that attenuates variability in values.” Therefore, transnational companies will have a moderated business plan, continuing to adapt their model around cultural stability, entitling them to more control over expected behavioral outcomes of employees (Leung, pg. 357-378). As globalization continues to impact Africa as a whole, the postindustrial society has impacted a cultural shift from absolute norms and values towards a rational and tolerant postindustrial value. Whereby, African societies are directed in a linear direction of economic development control; as life becomes a “game against fabricated nature”(Bell 1973:147), one that is technical, mechanical, and rationalized through a world directed toward creating and dominating the environment (Ronald, pg.19-51). Therefore, the issues transnational companies face is to implicating a business plan and business image that African societies are onboard with.
In contrast, while the central claim of globalization and impact of modernization on African cultures is that economic development. This is associated with coherent and predictable changes in culture and social and political life. Following this tradition, (Huntington, 1993) argues that the world is divided into eight major civilizations or “cultural zones” based on cultural differences that have persisted for centuries. The zones applicable in Africa being Hindu and African shaped by religious traditions still powerful today, despite modernization. The distinctive cultural traits still apparent in African society’s, political and economic performance today. Therefore, the persistence of these value systems determines the how the African culture is path-dependent. This determines how transnational companies can actively do business in these societies, through the restriction and dependency on cultural dimensions of the African societies (Ronald, pg.19-51).
While Africa continues to adapt the ‘universal’ attributes associated with globalization. The writing is on the wall for transnational companies to adapt their business model around the African environment, and how the impact of modernization, cultural changes, and African cultural persistence has on its environment.
Word count: 598

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