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Hanken School of Economics Working Papers, Hanken School of Economics

No 502:
Finnish-French Fundamental Cultural Antagonisms in Organising

Martin Fougère ()

Abstract: Seeking to challenge the belief that within-West cultural differences should be seen as insignificant in organisations, this paper seeks to demonstrate how two given Western European ‘organising cultures’ (i.e. Finnish culture and French culture, as they are expressed in the process of organising) can contrast, if not conflict, with each other. Further, it aims to help the reader realise what kinds of fundamental ‘cultural antagonisms’ these contrasting organising behaviours may come from, to help her/him understand ‘the other culture’ better, and thus allow for a first step towards an improvement of Finnish-French intercultural interactions in organisational contexts. After shortly introducing what should be understood here as ‘cultural antagonisms’, the paper addresses four fundamental Finnish-French antagonisms, regarding the vision of the organisation (‘functionalist vs. personalist’), the relative importance of ‘consensus vs. dissensus’, the typical trade-off between reliability and flexibility, and the striking differences in communication, respectively. These four fundamental antagonisms are found to be closely interrelated and integrated, serving as explanation, justification and legitimisation for each other. That does not mean, however, that differences, however striking they may be, should merely be a threat to co-operation: some implications introduced at the end of the paper suggest that, provided people are aware of them, cultural antagonisms can also be seen as opportunities for a more fruitful work interaction.

Keywords: Cross-Cultural / Intercultural; Finnish; French; Antagonisms; Organising; (follow links to similar papers)

23 pages, May 3, 2004

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