An empirical investigation of the relationship between organizational and national cultures in the United States, Brazil, and India

Suresh Gopalan, Louisiana Tech University


The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between national and organizational cultures in the United States, Brazil, and India. While extensive research has been done on organizational cultures, the influence of national culture in determining organizational cultures has been ignored. Given that organizations operate within the context of a national environment, it is conceivable that organizational cultures are isomorphic with national cultures. Most organizational cultural studies have been confined to United States and other Western nations. By including India and Brazil, this study extends the scope of inquiry to the Asian and South American continents.

Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck's (1961) value orientation schema was used to describe the national cultures of the United States, Brazil, and India. Nelson's (1989) Culture and Value Analysis Tool (CVAT) was used to gather organizational culture data. The CVAT measured both descriptive and normative organizational culture data on sixteen cultural dimensions using a forced-distribution procedure. A total of 358 responses were obtained, of which 76 were deemed invalid as they were incomplete. Of the 281 valid responses, 100 were from the United States, 81 from Brazil, and 100 from India. Analysis of the data included (1) One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) on descriptive means of the 16 cultural dimensions across the United States, Brazil, and India; (2) Breakdown of national samples using the CONCOR grouping algorithm; (3) Comparison of descriptive-normative mean scores for the United States and India; and (4) Comparing organizational cultural mean scores with national cultural descriptions.

The descriptive mean scores on Effort, Sociability, and Flexibility for the United States, Brazil, and India were significant (p =.05). Data analysis revealed that (1) Brazilian organizational culture was isomorphic with Brazilian national culture, (2) Indian organizational culture exhibited isomorphism with Indian national culture, and (3) American organizational culture rejected American national culture. The CONCOR grouping algorithm revealed the cultural profiles of four groups within each national sample; one subgroup exhibited isomorphism with national culture, one subgroup rejected national culture, the two remaining subgroups displayed mixed characteristics. These results suggest that national cultures cannot be ignored when studying organizational cultures.