National cultures and corporate cultures

One representation dominates the common vision of the relationships between corporate cultures and national cultures: both would appear to involve the same order of reality: common ways of acting based on common values. Consequently, one supposes, when a company establishes itself in a country, that the question is raised as to which one will win: the culture of the country or the culture of the company.
Yet the encounter between the company and the country is of a quite different nature. The unity of a national culture involves a general framework of meaning. It is compatible with a great diversity of practices, associated with extremely diverse values.
Consequently, the encounter between a corporate culture and national cultures does not involve a competition where the question is to know which one will win. A company that wishes to disseminate its culture, meaning by this the values to which it is attached, should not seek, in the places where it establishes itself, to attack the key references within which life in society takes on meaning. But even more so, it must build on these references. This also remains true when the company’s action leads to an operating method that is very different from what is most commonly seen in the country in question.

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