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In this paper we will examine the concepts of culture and some salient cultural dimensions We will then explain why it is important to understand cultural differences and how firms can cope with andor manage such differences First of all we tried to find some definitions about the meaning of culture in the literature Culture has been defined in various ways by different people Kluckholn 1951 described culture as patterned ways of thinking feeling and reacting acquired and transmitted mainly by symbols constituting the distinctive achievements of human groups including their embodiments in artifacts Hofstede defined culture as the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from another We decided to combine these definitions with our opinion in order to form the following definition Culture is an progressing set of shared values thinkings attitudes and a logical process which provides cognitive maps for people within a societal group to perceive think reason act react and interact This definition implies that culture is dynamic In order to understand better this definition we would like to give an example of two American companies where two of us did an internship Organizational or corporate culture can be reinforced through a strong organizational mission commitment to organizational goals and other visible symbols such as company lapel pins and company songs in the case of many Japanese organizations Corporations such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard are reported to have strong corporate cultures where employees worldwide identify themselves closely with the organizational goals of the company Strong corporate cultures can have a homogenizing effect on cross-national culture Thus there may be more observed similarities among IBM employees in the United States and in Japan as compared to Japanese employees at IBM and Matsushita for instance After analyzing our interviews we decided to develop three illustrations of the impact of culture on organizational life These illustrations are the following Need
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