Matching Culture and Strategy

We are sure that by now you have realized that our personal viewpoint in the First World/Third World debate stands diametrically opposed to the traditional unidimensional “ism”-based viewpoint of old. Rather, we view the matter from a cross-cultural standpoint, taking into account either an individualist competitive ethos, or a strong cooperative ethos, arising out of the local society. Our viewpoint therefore hinges around the matching of culture and strategy, in the broader sense, and around its appropriateness to a particular world.

For example, the strategic control system of a particular South African bottling company was highly centralized and mechanistic. Reporting layers were rigid with people waiting for “dead man's shoes” in order to advance. When a vacancy arose for a foreman on a particular line – bottling some 54,945 gallons per month – management thought it prudent, and in keeping with the so-called “Black Advancement” policy, to seek the most competent black worker from amongst the ranks to fill the vacancy. The man was given the appointment. Some three weeks later, however, the bottling line did not manage to cork more than 10,989 gallons. At that point the General Manager wondered what to do. In his view his workers were lazy. Instinctively, his consultant knew that it was not laziness but mismatching that was causing the problem. He promptly went to consult on-site and found that the workers were highly upset that they were not asked ...

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