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A reassessment of national managerial profiles: A case study of Italian companies.

Ciferri, Massimiliano (1996) A reassessment of national managerial profiles: A case study of Italian companies. MPhil thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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As organizations are experimenting with new approaches and structures which cut across national borders, the free movement of human resources has come to be regarded as necessary to achieve competitive advantage. Yet the process of international integration is limited by a major stumbling block; national managerial differences. There is little sense in harmonizing accounting systems in all the different subsidiaries of multinational companies or developing global products when the people involved in these projects perceive them differently and therefore are unable to work effectively together. Many researchers and academics, especially in the 1970s and early 80s, demonstrated the endurance and strength of different national managerial characteristics. These were attributed primarily to their different cultures and backgrounds. Most of the evidence provided, as far as most Western European countries were concerned, served to confirm established national stereotypes. According to this "culturalist" thesis, the British encourage delegation, the Italians are very autocratic, and so on. The aim of the thesis is to challenge such assumptions about different managerial cultures by putting the culturalist thesis to empirical test. The principal hypothesis is that these national managerial differences are less relevant than was previously thought, and, above all, remain quite difficult to identify. The research focuses primarily on Italian managers, and compares them to UK managers. While the Italians are described in the literature as autocratic, paternalistic and politically oriented, the UK managers are said to rely on logic, encourage delegation and value adaptability. The research was carried out with a questionnaire distributed in 2 multinational companies' Italian and UK operations (Unilever and Electrolux/Zanussi) and two business schools (Ashridge and Bocconi). The questionnaire elicited opinions on work-related values and perceptions of practices on questions such as superior/subordinate relationships, career progression and decision-making. A set of interviews was carried out with a sample of managers from each of the 4 companies in order to obtain qualitative data on the above issues. The results of this research provide few 'national' managerial differences. Managers from Italy and the UK seem to have more in common than previously thought. When the research focuses on the organizational level, these 'national' differences are also not confirmed. The two organizations from Italy provide significantly different results. Managers in each organization of this study in fact display individual characteristics, which may be related to the organizations' history, geographical location, product area, business environment, and so on. What emerges from this research is that the organizational as well as the national environment in which managers operate is a variable which must be looked at closely. Failure to analyze the data at the organizational level may result in the perpetuation of national managerial profiles which do not conform to reality.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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