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Western Arrogance and the Multinational Organizations

I find it interesting that western civilization is seen as arrogant, dominating, and imperialistic (Rodges, 2011) when many countries embrace many of our cultural attributes. From my own experience, as an American I have been guilty in the past of assuming that some Europeans are very much the same way. Perhaps this perception is born out of those areas of culture that cause friction within our own view of the world? They do not measure up to what James Sire (1997, p 87) calls cultural relativism which does not rely only on is but on what its adherents think ought to be the case. The cultural difference between east and west is determined by the psychic distance or cultural distance between the home or existing geography and the new geography (Galbraith, 2000, p 49). Galbraith (2000) argues that the cultural difference is “greater for countries with different language, religions, political systems, economic systems, legal systems, levels of development, and education” (p 49). Simply put, it is easier for companies to operate within countries that have the smallest “cultural distance and the lowest learning curve; as companies accumulate experience, they expand by stages into more unfamiliar and distant countries” (Galbraith, 2000, p 49). Sire (1997) prompts us to consider our own worldview or presuppositions which we hold about the basic makeup of the world around us (p 16). Considering worldview helps us to understand the challenges multinational companies have in their integration of activities that take place in different countries (Galbraith, 2000, p 3). The American culture has been interpreted as being dictating, controlling, superior and egotistical (Rodges, 2011) because we likely have not taken the time to understand the cultural distances we must deal with. Because cultures do in fact assimilate western attributes it is arguable that there is not as much cultural distance as one might think.


Rodges, Phyllis (2011). Retrieved from her posting: Blackboard Dialogues for Doctorate in Strategic Leadership, Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA.

Sire, James (1997). The Universe Next Door. Madison, WI: InterVarsity Press.

Galbraith, Jay R. (2000). Designing the Global Corporation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass


Philip A Foster, MA is a professional leadership coach with Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.

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