The Grey Chronicles


Making Sense of Managing Culture

During my visit to India, I brought along a pocketbook by David Cray & Geoffrey R. Mallory entitled Making Sense of Managing Culture and it became sort of my in-flight reading material.

Between the flight from Manila to Singapore, I was able to read most of the book and found some insightful passages worth sharing here.

Chapter 1: A larger and smaller world

Passage: One of the key issues for managers in international organizations is the problem of integrating employees from several cultures. . . . For example, an organization . . . which gives considerable deference to leaders may encounter difficulties in promulgating policies in a country in which consultation among supervisors and subordinates is the norm. [p. 7]

Remarks: Consultation was the way NSC before made decisions. Whereas, some GSPI expats are prone to act as the holy cows in management.

Chapter 2: Traditional approaches to comparative research

Passage: Hofstede (1980) itemized the four underlying dimensions of culture: power distance, an indicator of the extent to which a society accepts the unequal distribution of power in organizations; uncertainty avoidance, indicated the degree to which the members of a culture tolerate uncertainty or ambiguity; individualism, the degree to which the culture emphasizes personal initiative and achievement rather than collective group-centered concerns; and masculinity, indicates the extent to which the dominant values in a society reflect tendencies toward assertiveness, the acquisition of money and property, and not caring for others. [p. 50]

Remarks: Anyone saw how GSPI is organized? The more number of managers, the better! There are about nine (9) managers directly under the Managing Director. Compare this to NSC’s quest for 1:7 in 1997.

Chapter 3: Strategy and culture

Passage: Directive strategy . . . is controlled by a small group at the top of the organization . . . based on the conviction that the environment can be manipulated to accommodate the organization’s strategy . . . For organizations embracing a reactive approach, strategic adjustment is more an ongoing task which links forward [p. 68] with the future and back in the past. [p. 69]

Remarks: Managing Director, this title alone connotes directive strategy. GSPI only looks at the future, and never looks back at the past–particularly NSC’s past!

Chapter 4: Culture and cognition

Passage: People tend to use simple rules of thumb rather than exhaustive calculation as a basis of making judgments. [p. 95]

Remarks: Need I say more?

Chapter 5: People and culture

Passage: There should be an emphasis on the development of a strong corporate culture to ensure that behaviours are consistent with the values and philosophy of management. [p. 117]

Remarks: Corporate Culture? GSPI initiated a Culture of Management and a Culture of People, signed by most managers, who have since resigned their positions. Compare this to NSC’s Corporate Philosophy

Chapter 6: A cognitive approach to international management

Passage : Only when available alternatives have proven inadequate does the search for new information and new processes of assessing it begin. [p. 155]

Remarks: When will this happen?

By the way, I finished the book on my way back from Singapore to Manila.


Cray,David & Geoff Mallory (1998), “Making Sense of Managing Culture” London, UK: International Thomson Business Press, 1998. back to text

Hofstede, G. (1980), “Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-related Values” Beverly Hills: Sage, 1980. p. 313 back to text


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