RESEARCH AND PRACTICE
IN HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Book Review:
International Dimensions of Organisational Behavior
Authors: Adler, Nancy J. & Gundersen, Allison

Adler, N.J. & Gundersen, A., (2008). International Dimensions of Organisational Behavior, Case Western Reserve University: Thomson

Reviewed by: T V Ram Raj

It is a known fact that the world is going through a transition. But the big question is whether the managers operating on the global scale are preparing themselves for facing the resultant dynamics. Global changes are happening on all business fronts such as information technology, management processes, and organisational dynamics. In the book titled, International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior, the authors, Nancy J. Adler and Allison Gundersen, have used their rich professional background to ‘shape up’ their ideas on how organisations should behave in the present day scenario. These authors argue that only those managers will survive who understand the international sophistications specifically with reference to the organisational behaviour.

The reader can trace out the feelings of the authors when seeking an international orientation in understanding organisational dynamics. The book addresses various issues relating to personnel by the multinational companies. According to the authors, for global companies, assigning international tasks to their employees needs a huge exercise including, understanding their family dynamics (spouse’s and other family members’ behaviour), cultural effects (particularly cross cultural issues), motivation (just travel abroad may no longer be a motivation), global careers and many more related aspects which are dealt with separately in each chapter. I read somewhere that the term MANAGEMENT can be broken into ‘Manage Men Tactfully’. But after reading the book I get a feeling that in the present scenario of scarce manpower capable of operating on the global scale, the global organisations should understand the term MANAGEMENT as ‘Manage Men Thankfully’, because, this orientation towards managing global HR is explained in the book with illustrations, examples, case studies and practical solutions.

The book is divided into three parts with Part I dealing with the impact of culture on organisations. Three chapters fully dedicated to cultural dynamics in global organisations are presented in the first part. Cultural diversity is the essential feature of the world. And a book enabling the managers to understand the international dimensions of organisational behavior should certainly start with addressing the cultural dynamics. This must be the main reason behind beginning this book with culture and its impact on international organisations. Chapter one begins with the general issues like the international competition, international business changes in the post World War II as well as how companies like Coca-Cola have grown globally. While the authors’ opinion might be to portray the benefits of operating on the global scale, the reader may get a feeling that he is over pursued about the benefits of international business (which can be avoided because everyone is convinced on this point). The authors then explain the link between global strategy and culture and various phases involved in going global. The book, that seems to be written mostly for the United States of America (U.S.) managers, illustrates how the American companies are Parochial in their approach. Parochialism means viewing the world from one’s own view point, which is a sort of global myopia where the people managing the global work force ignore the differences in cultural setups and have a short sightedness. This aspect is very well dealt with in the beginning of the book. Along similar lines, Chapter two and chapter three presents how the work force behaviour varies across cultures, different management styles are required to deal with such situations, and the essence of communication and its relationship with culture. Chapter three fully deals with the communication aspect, which is explained with diagrams, pictures, tables and examples. The item on ‘Americans as others see them’ provides a platform to the U.S. managers to understand themselves.

Chapters four through nine in Part 2 deal with various international management issues like, team management, leadership, motivation, decision making and negotiation. In chapter four, Adler and Gundersen urge global managers not to have cultural blindness or else they may encounter management problems. In this chapter the most crucial aspect of cultural diversity namely, strategies for managing cultural diversity, is addressed in detail. This chapter proposes ‘Cultural Synergy’ as an approach to managing the impact of cultural diversity. A three step framework is given to this extent illustrating the cultures of different countries. Chapter six deals with leadership aspect of global organisational functioning. This chapter reintroduces the classic leadership theories in the latest context. The authors stress on a point (probably a new way of expression) that the goal of a global leader (CEO & top manager) is to create a positive future for the organisation. The next chapter concentrates on motivation and inspiring international work force to contribute for the global success of the organisation. Though motivation is most important, the authors opine that inspiration is greater than motivation. The next two chapters, eight and nine, deal with multinational decision making and negotiating globally, respectively. Few topics like, decision making process, stages in negotiation, negotiation tactics appear to be older topics, but the authors have taken all care to present them in the modern context.

The last part of the book, Part 3, comprising of chapters 10, 11 and 12 deals with most important issues like managing global careers, family dynamics and understanding the gender specific (female) issues of global organisational behaviour. The authors have cleared many myths that have been prevailing relating to managing women employees on the global platform. When people travel across the world as a part of fulfilling global assignments, they pool up more managerial skills than the technical skills and become sophisticated individuals. Dealing with such ‘manpower’ is an altogether different ball game. The book closes appropriately with a chapter on managing global careers. The authors provide guidelines for people seeking global career regarding what needs to be done to reach the top. A check list is provided which can help the readers to assess and prepare for a global career. At the end the book is featured the reasons why future managers accept or reject the global careers, the text that provides better clues for the HR managers.

Nancy J. Adler and Allison Gundersen have attempted to address a number of issues relating to organisational behaviour in the global context. This can be a ready guide for not only the undergraduate and post graduate students, but also the practitioners. The case studies of The O’connors’ Story, and The Carpenter Case can be used for classroom discussion by the teachers. The ‘Careers in Global Management Questionnaire’, which is given at the end can help trainers to demonstrate the related issues in OB sessions. Overall, International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior from the house of Thomson is an attractively designed and packaged book that is certain to meet the needs of all types of readers.

Professor T V Ram Raj
ICFAI Business School
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
India