Ideally ,it seems global managers should have the stamina of an Olympic runner, the mental agility of an Einstein, the conversational skill of a professor of languages, the detachment of a judge, the tact of a diplomat, and the perseverance of an Egyptian pyramid builder. And that’s not all. If they are going to measure up to the demands of living and working in a foreign country, they should also have a feeling for the culture; their moral judgment should not be too rigid; they should be able to merge with the local environment; and they should show no signs of prejudice.
According to Colby Chandler, the former Chief Executive of Eastman Kodak Company, “these days there is not a discussion or a decision that does not have an international dimension. We would have to be blind not to see how critically important international experience is.” International companies compete with each other for global executives to manage their operations around the world. Yet what it takes to reach the top of a company differs from one country to the next. For example, whereas Swiss and German companies respect technical creativity and competence, French and British companies often view managers with such qualities as “mere technicians”. Likewise, American companies value entrepreneurs highly, while their British and French counterparts often view entrepreneurial behavior as highly disruptive. Similarly, whereas only just half of Dutch managers see skills in interpersonal relations and communication as critical to career success, almost 90 percent of their British colleagues do so.
Global management expert, Andre Laurent, describes German, British and French managers’ attitudes to management careers as follows:
German managers, more than others, believe that creativity is essential for career success. In their mind, successful managers must have the right individual characteristics. German managers have a rational outlook; they view the organization as a co-coordinated network of individuals who make appropriate decisions based on their professional competence and knowledge.
British managers hold a more interpersonal and subjective view of the organizational world. According to them, the ability to create the right image and to get noticed for what they do is essential for career success. British managers view organizations primarily as a network of relationships between individuals who get things done by influencing each other through communicating and negotiating.
French managers look at organizations as an authority network where the power to organize and control others comes from their position in the hierarchy. French managers focus on the organization as a pyramid of differentiated levels of power. They perceive the ability to manage power relationships effectively and to “work the system” as critical to their career success.
As companies integrate their operations globally, these different national approaches can send conflicting messages to success-oriented managers. Subsidiaries in different countries operates differently and reward different behaviors based on their unique cultural perspectives. The challenge for today’s global companies is to recognize local differences, while at the same time creating globally integrated career paths for their future senior executives.
There is no doubt the new global environment demands more, not fewer, globally competent managers. Global experience, rather than side-tracking a manager’s career, is rapidly becoming the only route to the top. But in spite of the increasing demand for global managers, there is a potentially diminishing interest in global assignments, especially among young mangers. A big question for the future is whether global organizations will remain able to attract sufficient numbers of young managers willing to work internationally.
From International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior
Exercise 1. Reading tasks:
Which of these statements gives the best summary of the text:
a) A successful global manager needs many qualities.
b) The qualities required to become a top manager differ from country to country.
c) Many young managers are not interested in a global career.
Mark these statements T (true) or F (false):
a) International experience is essential if you want a global career.
b) Subsidiaries of a global companies use the same criteria when promoting managers.
c) Young managers want to work internationally.
Match the qualities from the list below to the nationalities mentioned in the text:
a) good communication skills
b) technical creativity
c) ability to net work
d) professional competence
e) entrepreneurial skills
f) knowing how to work within a hierarchical structure
g) good interpersonal skills
Exercise 2. Vocabulary:
1. Match these terms with their definitions:
1 stamina a) ability to think quickly and intelligently
2 mental agility b) physical or mental strength to continue doing something
3 detachment c) ability to be polite and careful in what you say or do
4 tact d) determination to keep trying to do something difficult
5 perseverance e) not becoming involved in things emotionally
2. Find a word or phrase in the text that has a similar meaning:
1 behavior which prevents things from working normally (para 3)