Cross Cultural Management: An
Vol. 14 No. 1, 2007
# Emerald Group Publishing Limited
National culture, business culture
and management practices:
Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, and
The Melbourne Business School, Melbourne, Australia
Purpose – This paper aims to trace the evolution of nationality-based business organisations in
Malaysia and review whether national culture, as determined by the nationality-based work values,
beliefs and orientations of the owners and managers of organisations, influences the values,
orientations and practices of organisations.
Design/methodology/approach – In-depth literature review and ‘‘key-informant’’ surveys, based
on which a structured questionnaire was developed. After pre-testing and finalisation, questionnaires
were administered by fax on 1,248 Malaysian organisations selected through systematic sampling.
The survey generated 376 usable responses. After testing for non-response bias, usable responses
were subjected to common factor, reliability and canonical correlation analysis.
Findings – Even though there are significant differences in how business entities (delineated on
the basis of the national culture of owners and managers) organise and conduct their operations, these
differences cannot be attributed to the beliefs and orientations of the owners and managers of these
organisations. Significant ‘‘cultural’’ differences are evident across organisations owned and managed
by individuals of one nationality and significant ‘‘cultural’’ similarities are evident across organisations
owned and managed by individuals of different nationalities. Many other factors such as the legal,
economic and regulatory context of the organisation influence its values, orientations and practices
more profoundly than the national culture of its owners and managers.
Practical implications – Interfacing managers should not stereotype the values, orientations and
behaviours of organisations with which they interact based on knowledge about nationality-based
beliefs, behaviours and orientations of the owners and managers of organisations.
Originality/value – Provides a challengingly different perspective from the conclusions in some of
the most authoritative studies on nationality-based organisational beliefs and culture.
Keywords National cultures, Management culture, Business analysis, Selection,
Employee behaviour, Malaysia
Paper type Conceptual paper
The underlying thesis in several seminal studies on national and organisational culture
is that there are nationality influenced differences in work values, beliefs and
orientations of organisations across different countries (Hofstede, 1991, 2001; Inglehart
et al., 1998; Trompenaars, 1994; Black and Mendenhall, 1989). Discourses regarding the
culture of business entities and how culture influences the behaviour of business
entities can often be a complex and contentious. To start with, there are obvious
inconsistencies and even contradictions regarding what constitutes a business entity’s
culture (Menon, 2004). According to Kroeber and Kluckhohn (1952) an entity’s culture
is the predominant values and behaviours of its members and such values and
behaviours are acquired through a common history and experience. Munter (1993)
defines culture as the dominant and continuing values, attitudes and behaviours of a
group. Schein (1997) canvasses that a group that has shared important experiences
would adopt shared views of the world around it and its place in the world. Past studies
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at