The idea we present in the book is simple: national culture, through its influence on corporate culture, has a powerful but often-invisible impact on the success of global companies. What’s more, the very same national traits that accelerated growth in one stage of the corporate lifecycle may derail that growth at a different stage or when an inevitable crisis hits. When you, as a leader of a global organization, become able to recognize the impact of national culture, you will be in a stronger position to lead your company. We will present you with two concepts, Richard D. Lewis’ renowned Lewis model and Kai Hammerich’s new Cultural Dynamic Model®.
In Chapter 1, we discuss how values, beliefs and assumptions are embedded in the organization, through the founders and leaders. We introduce the concept of business influencers and national influencers, and how they impact a company in different ways. We present the simple version of the Cultural Dynamic Model®, and use most of the chapter to discuss the effects of business influencers.
Chapter 2 will introduce the Lewis model, which triangulates national cultures between linear-active, multi-active and reactive national types. We use it to describe national traits and national types across the globe, and how the national influencers impact a company’s corporate culture through its history, the national types and the founders and leaders.
In Chapter 3, we discuss the key national traits of a few countries in more detail: the USA, Sweden, France, Japan, Italy, Germany and Great Britain. The main point being that no culture is perfect. All national cultures have different strengths and traits that may enable derail their success at each stage of their lifecycle.
Chapter 4 presents the full Cultural Dynamics Model® and introduces the key concept of a cultural dynamic. We use the Austin Motor case to demonstrate the idea of a cultural dynamic. A cultural dynamic describes the dynamic effect when the national and business influencers, through the company’s work practices, start interacting with each other and through this unintentionally can change the corporate culture, unless the board and management react in time.
Chapter 5 continues the detailed discussion of the lifecycle periods. We start with the embryonic period, which includes the early innovation phase and continues with the geographical expansion phase. We will present three cases (Nokia, Walmart and Kone.) that illustrate the dynamics of this period and the influence of the national culture which is often embedded through the founders.
Chapter 6 discusses the growth period as companies continue their geographical expansion, expand their product offerings and start focusing on efficiency and scale. The company needs different skills and capabilities to be successful, and thus different national traits will impact the success compared to the earlier embryonic period. This period is exemplified through the comparative case of Sony and Samsung, showing how their national heritage influenced their fortunes over the past 50 years.
In Chapter 7, we describe the maturity period with the efficiency and scale phase and the ultimate consolidation phase through the cases of Toyota, FLSmidth and P&G. Consolidation is the end game of an industry, with only a small handful of global or regional players in the segment. Again, this period requires different capabilities from the growth period and again different national traits will impact success. We will summarize the key learnings from the eight cases at the end of this chapter.
In Chapter 8, called “Whither the West”, we discuss how this new balanced global world will affect countries in the West and outline a few golden rules for dealing with people from reactive and multi-active cultures.
In Chapter 9, we discuss the crisis in more detail, in particular how the national culture influences the company during a crisis. No company and no leader can afford to ignore the effect of the national cultural heritage during a period of crisis!
In Chapter 10, we summarize our findings and present eight recommendations that the management, boards and investors should consider. Finally, we briefly discuss what countries may learn from these findings and what implications it could have for them if they want to strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship and deal more effectively with national enablers and derailers.