Impact of Cultural Differences on Business Projects between Germans and Swiss Germans: Unravelling Sub-Proximity HR Challenges of Cross-Cultural Projects


Based on Hofstede´s 5 cultural dimension we explored in a study among Germans and Swiss Germans that cross-cultural diversity and distance on a level of geographical proximity is more significant than literature has predicted. Its recognition, human resource management and assignment level holds the promise to leverage benefits of bicultural teams.
Therefore we formulated the following hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1: Cultural differences exist between Germans and Swiss Germans, and are perceived by the stakeholders in cross-border, cross-cultural projects in this region.
Hypothesis 2: The cultural differences between Germans and Swiss Germans have a negative impact on a common cross-cultural project in businesses.
The findings have been primarily elaborated from observations within the researcher's working field. Based on current research underlying, narrative semi-structured interviews were then conducted with managers of the intercultural project. Deducted from these evaluated results, a questionnaire of twelve cultural dimensions was administered to confirm the findings through a survey.
The study shows that cultural differences also in related cultures have vast impact on bicultural projects. To reduce the risk of culture related misunderstanding it is important that participants of a cross-cultural project and managers are trained in cultural learning by HRM in advance.The fact that the study was taken in a single branch and small size, shows that the results have to be confirmed by similar, maybe comparative studies. The survey cannot exclude bias due to organizational dependencies between both parties. Methodological limitations occur in part of the selection of the case study method.
Hypothesis 1 can be supported but hypothesis 2 only in parts. The findings verify the tendency of Hofstede and Trompenaars findings on behaviour and the GLOBE study findings on value.
Although there are greater cultural differences proven for nonrelated cultures, this study stipulates that cultural differences also matters in project of related cultures.

Author Information
Melanie Scherer, German Graduate School of Management and Law (GGS), Germany
Gabriele Suder, University of Melbourne, Australia
Christopher Stehr, German Graduate School of Management and Law (GGS), Germany

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2014
Stream: Cultural Studies

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