Critique of Heijes paper on Cross- cultural perception and power dynamics across changing organisational and national contexts: Curacao and the Netherlands
This article begins with an evaluation of the theoretical underpinning used by Heijes which provide the foundations for his proposed research. This is followed by an in depth analysis of the research methodology employed throughout the study. The article concludes with an examination of the wider implications of the study, which will look into the role of stereotypes and organisational structure and their impacts on multi-cultural teamwork. Heijes explores the role of power and power differences in cross-cultural perception. The research addresses the gap within the literature on the impact of power dynamics on cross-cultural perception, and goes beyond the traditional, dimensional approach which is prevalent in organisation literature. Through using a case study comparison to analyse the cross cultural perceptions between European Dutch and African Curacoans, Heijes identifies that power imbalance is a critical variable in cultural perception in both cultural and national contexts.
Heijes literature review addresses the historical development surrounding culture and the shift from a homogenous view towards a dynamic and heterogeneous perspective. Heijes identifies theoretical breakthroughs in anthropology and historiography in the 1960-1970s as the catalyst to changing perspectives of culture (Geertz, 1973). The key theme within the literature review is the rejection of stereotyping; cultures are instead viewed within a “context” (Osland and Bird, 2000). The literature suggests that the “objective” measures of culture need to be supplemented by careful contextual studies (Chapman et al., 2007). Context attempts to match actions with the time and place in which they occur, rather than viewing them independently. Fang (2006) views culture and human behaviour to be an environment of dynamic interaction, suggesting that cultures shift over time. Through supporting the notion of context, Heijes as well as Hofestede (1980, 1992) warn against following a set of standard cultural dimensions. Fixed sets of dimensions create the risk of attempting to explain what the culture is, rather than why it functions in the way it does. Heijes answers the calls of multiple researchers for studies to be conducted which address the gap in the literature into the role of power and power imbalances in cross-cultural studies between two specific ethnic groups in varying national and organisational contexts, each of which was characterised by different power dynamics (Jackson and Aycan, 2006; McSweeney, 2002). The literature review provides a strong theoretical justification for the research to be conducted.
Heijes’s exploratory article examines the interaction between culture and power, and as suggested previously, takes a heterogeneous stance on culture. This is represented through the layout of the findings which are placed within distinct categories i.e. IRS in the Netherlands, rather than being generalised. The research studies perception alongside two changing axes: external national context and internal organisational context, which embraces Brannen and Salk’s (2000) perspective on both intra and exta organisational variables. Heijes conducts primary research through a case study comparison of two organisations that hold prominence in the home countries of the Curacaoans and Dutch: the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the police. Using organisations which are similar in both structure and activities provides an effective means on which to develop cross cultural comparison. Many authors contend that case study approaches are useful when the topic is broad and highly complex, and when “context” important, both of which are true within this research area (Dul and Hak, 2012). The increasing notion of globalisation...
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