Monocultural to Multicultural

Chapter 14 of Organizations and Organizing poses a challenge to many of the organizational theories discussed throughout the book by highlighting the limitations that the reliance on past theories can have on the analysis of modern organizations. In particular, the chapter highlights academia’s current transition from monocultural to multicultural studies. The monocultural analyses that have plagued academia have “culturally circumscribed” our knowledge due to its almost sole focus on the study of contemporary American organizations created by mainly American scholars. Although it is true that American organizations have been extremely influential and innovative, it is entirely biased for organizational theory to rest solely on the study of one culture.

However, signs of progress are beginning to emerge that are helping to dissolve this myopic view of organizational theory. Multicultural studies are beginning to pervade academia as there is a rise in cross-cultural studies as well as in global scholars. This trend can be attributed to the increased attention directed towards China, a nation that is becoming quickly integrated into the globalized economy, and Japan, a nation that continues to dominate the world with innovative and efficient organizations. The rise of these Asian powerhouses has stimulated research in their part of the world.  In addition, the understudied parts of the world including Latin America, India, the mid-East, and Africa are slowly beginning to be recognized by the academic world as a rich environment for organizational studies. These studies are focused on a variety of trends ranging from, “the broad range of scholarship devoted to the development of transnational institutions, to studies of broad political-economic differences in organizational contexts related to differing world regions, to studies of different ‘recipes’ for organizing in particular societies or regional areas, to studies of the density dependence processes in populations of organizations operating across national boundaries, to studies of the ways in which institutional factors in local contexts shape structures and strategies for responding to global economic pressures, to studies of how leadership strategies must adapt to different cultural contexts” (Scott and Davis, 375-376).

Other important indicators of this development are revealed in the reports that illustrate how although U.S. membership remains dominant in the Academy of Management, the leading professional association of management and organization scholars, the percentage of non-US members has been gradually increasing since 1980.

This trend from monocultural to multicultural studies was also highlighted in chapter 6 of Organization and Organizing although it was embedded in a foundation of technology and structure. The concept of cross-cultural studies that is discussed in this chapter emphasizes the different roles that technology plays in global organizations due to their diverse cultures. The cross-cultural studies reveal that new technologies adopted in U.S. organizations serve to affect the structure of the organization much more so than similar technology would in a Japanese organization of the same type. This disparity reveals that in Japanese organizations, “the design of the organization becomes detached to some degree from the technology process and more attuned to the needs of the human workforce” (Scott and Davis, 138). Studies performed by Hofstede reveal that different cultures “lead to different preferred modes of organizing” (Scott and Davis, 139). Another example is how the French prefer a more hierarchical model, the British a more “village market” model, and the Asians and more extended family model. All of these different manners of organizing will have an effect as to how technology is incorporated into an organization.

Ultimately, the movement towards multi-cultural studies spurred by our globalized economy represents ways in which “scholars are moving in the direction of ‘a more contextualized approach to the study of organizations and management’” (Scott and Davis, 376). The academic world will gain a richer and deeper understanding of organizational theory by taking a more global approach to their research and analyses.

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