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The Emergence of a Global Work Culture in Multinational Organizations

Multinational organizations (MNO) are a major actor in the global work environment (Bartlett & Ghoshal, 1994). MNOs face the need to create a "common language" across cultural borders, and at the same time respect the local customs of their subsidiaries (Reade, 2001). Two indications for a common language are the acceptance of the MNO's global work culture, and the creation of a global identity (Shokef & Erez, 2006). Until the current research, these concepts had no existing measures. The objectives of the research were:
(1) Define the construct of a global work culture of MNOs;
(2) Assess the extent to which MNO's employees across different subsidiaries share the global work values and agree on their importance;
(3) Identify factors that affect the importance attributed to global work values, including
     (a) involvement in global activities,
     (b) national culture,
     (c) global identity.
Participants were 392 managers and employees from 4 subsidiaries of one MNO (Israel, Italy, Singapore, and South-Korea). First we developed new measures for the study's concepts based on existing literature, interviews with employees in the participating subsidiaries, and a number of pilot tests. Interviews were used to examine the different meaning attributed to each wording in order to develop meaningfully equivalent measures across languages. Next, the measures were examined by representatives of the participating subsidiaries, translated, and back translated, and were programmed to an electronic version.

Recently, we completed the statistical analysis. Three criteria were used to test the agreement among countries on the content and importance of each value:
(a) level of meaning equivalence,
(b) relative importance attributed to each value,
(c) the distance between the relative importance: low distance indicating high agreement.
Results point that within value related to task, high agreement is found for outcome orientation, competitive performance orientation, and customer orientation. Different than expected, the agreement on innovation and change was low. The agreement on quality was also low in the specific MNO. Within value related to interpersonal relations, high agreement was found for trust. Moderate agreement was found for interdependence, indicating local influence. Within value related to people, high agreement was found for openness to diversity. Finally, as expected, organizational social responsibility and people orientation obtained moderate to low agreement, as they are highly influenced by the local environment. Results showing that employees with a high global identity attribute significantly higher importance to these values support the importance of these values in the global work environment.

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