Corporate Culture of a Hotel vs. National Culture

According to Hofstede, national culture is the combined mental programming of an explicit group of people that are distinct to a particular geographic location. Some examples of national culture include Australian, American, Sri Lankan, and Indian.

Conversely, corporate culture is a set of cultural attributes explicit to a particular organization. Corporate culture is also used in reference to the commonly-held and comparatively stable values, beliefs, and attitudes that exist in a corporation.

Additionally, Mwaura and Sutton et al. have opined that organizational culture is portrayed in organizational manners, communication, social rules, norms, dress code, and role models. With respect to the hospitality industry, scholars have strongly argued that in the United States, organizational culture has been dominated by American corporation values. It is the belief of such scholars the hegemonic hold of American institutions on production and distribution of knowledge, as well as the setting of standards in the hospitality and tourism industry, practices that tend to ignore the non-western world needs.

In a service industry, for example, employees get introduced to the attitudes, values, and behaviors of the organizational culture by way of normative practices. These would often include selection, orientation, training, and evaluation of performance, customer care initiatives, and a reward of staff. In light of the differences between organizational culture and national culture, the two forms of culture tend to be in conflict with each other as a result of both a value difference and the overriding corporate culture that overwhelms the national culture of employees in an organization.

The corporate culture is often depicted as the “glue” that holds corporations together by providing coherence and cohesiveness among the parts. The culture has often conflicted with the national culture of a country, especially when the company is a multinational corporation. We have many hotels doing their businesses in countries that are not their parent countries. As such, conflict arises due to the fact that the parent hotels would like to promote their corporate culture in their subsidiaries located in other countries so as to improve coordination, control, and integration of the subsidiaries. What they fail to realize is that these subsidiaries are embedded in the local, national cultures of different countries. These national cultures and the basic assumptions about people and the world may be totally different from the national and corporate culture of the multinational hotel industries.

The above can bring negative consequences to the hotel industry. The conflict may hamper the acceptance and implementation of the desired human resource practices, including selection and recruitment, appraisal and compensation systems, career planning, and socialization processes. For example, the corporate human resource policy of MacDonald’s Corporation, a US multinational in the hospitality industry, has often brought confusion and conflict in its Germany and UK subsidiaries as regards the composition of the workforce and the levels of unionization and participation by the workforce.

The conflict between the national culture and the corporate culture in the hotel and hospitality industry has also influenced an assortment of variables, including satisfaction, trust, and leadership style. The management and leadership style that the corporate culture may want to instill in the hotel may not be in line with the national culture of the country of location. For example, many hotels with origins from India have never been able to penetrate the African markets due to their corporate management and leadership style towards the Africans. Many Africans consider their corporate management style as demeaning and hostile to the Africans. Due to the perception, many Indian hotels lack credibility and trust within the African consumers and thus end up closing shop. A closer look will often reveal that their inability to access African markets is occasioned by the conflict between their corporate culture and the national cultures of respective African countries. Where they have been successful, they have never been able to bag in the African clientele due to the fact that the Africans are unsatisfied with their corporate culture.

Nevertheless, there are indications in the literature that suggests how social institutions have actively resisted considerable changes to national culture, especially in the face of prevailing external forces. An opposing point of view, however, is with respect to multinationals, which dispels the arguments that globally powerful players are responsible for the growth of the corporate culture. Based on these arguments then one can then opine that the conflict between national culture on the one hand and that of an organization, say, in the hospitality industry, is bound to cause conflicts in the hospitality industry. Nevertheless, the proper harnessing of a national culture also aids in the growth of a corporation. While there are features of the national culture that cannot be totally or fully overridden or evaded, the value and meaning of the national culture in many countries is consistently and continually being eroded and undermined by the pressure of such corporate cultures.

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