Configurations of Power and Cultural Explanations
Difficulties in working together and related trust issues in multinational companies (MNCs) are often ascribed to differences in national culture. Focusing on a mining project of a Chinese MNC in Pakistan, we argue that such issues are not actually cross-cultural in origin. Rather, archetypical configurations of power on corporate and global level create difference and distrust. These experiences are then interpreted along the lines of national–cultural difference, but are not specific to the cultures involved. On corporate level, the archetypical roles of power remain the same: Some occupy the centre state, others need to follow. However, what has changed is whether this claim to power is accepted or not: In our case, we can see how the Pakistani reject the Chinese claim to power because this claim is new and contradicts learned hierarchies of who should be the global rulers in today’s world order (e.g., Anglo-American companies). Also, as this case suggests, power becomes more contradictory for those who experience it as ‘rulers’ or as those who are ‘ruled’. The result is an ongoing struggle of forces compared with the stable equilibrium associated with accepted hierarchy.