chapter  5
24 Pages

Cultural Hybridization: A Third Way between Divergence and Convergence

WithChan Kwok-bun and Peter J. Peverelli

INTRODUCTION The convergence-divergence debate is one that seems to have become an inherent part of the study of the influence of national culture on the operation of firms. The advocates of convergence believe that the increasing interaction between players of different parts of the globe will lead to the gradual emergence of a single business culture. This process is further facilitated by the use of similar technologies (Castells 1989). At the end of that road there will only be culture-free “global organizations” (Ohmae 1990). The proponents of divergence counter this belief by pointing out that cultural differences continue to exercise a strong influence on the way people interact, with no exception for business interactions. This group of researchers include scholars defining national culture in terms of values, like “power distance” between superiors and subordinates (Hofstede 1980), or the “ascribed vs. achieved nature status” (Trompenaars 1993). Another school in the divergence camp is Whitley (1993), who launched the concept of National Business System. This concept centers around the belief that firms do not act in a social vacuum, but are economic actors affected by numerous influences from the environment (e.g., the way firms compete, extent of interference from the government,

employer-employee relationship). Some researchers in the divergence camp try to formulate strategies to reconcilliate cultural diversity in cross-cultural contact. The contribution of Hampden-Turner in this special issue is an example of that school.