This paper has been republished via the UN and is available here.
An intensely competitive world forces organizations to act ever more quickly. To enhance their capability to respond to change, organizations should seek to identify what are their core competencies and the competitive advantages which are their keys to success. The term “organizational learning” has become a term of interest to many academics and practitioners because this represents the organization’s ability to change. Simultaneously, organizations have to consider the cultural context in environments in which they act. This paper assesses the relationship between national culture and learning capabilities of a sample of organizations in Cambodia. The survey questionnaire, which received 417 responses, related to national culture and organizational learning. The study found that national culture had strong relationships with learning capabilities of organizations in Cambodia. The paper concludes by following some recommendations for Cambodian organizations to take into consideration to strengthen their levels of performance.
Keywords: Cambodia, Empirical assessment, Learning capability, National culture, Relationship
When it comes to management thinking, culture is usually defined as a set of factors that unite one set of people and exclude all other people – it is both inclusive and exclusive. The people involved may not always entirely agree on what the factors that constitute their culture are but they generally have a reasonable level of agreement that they share a cultural heritage with the other members of the group.
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As part of the paper presentation I gave at the recent International Conference on Thai Studies, I concluded by posing the question whether there was anything especially Thai about the industrial estates in Thailand. Since I only had a minute to conclude, I rather threw away this point and then, asked about it later, I did not have chance to develop a proper answer. Consequently, I will make a few observations here as to what I would have said, given additional time.
The question concerns whether there are cultural issues that differentiate industrial estates in Thailand compared to industrial estates anywhere else. My answer is no, on the following grounds:
– The industrial estate concept is an international one that has been put into practice in numerous countries around the world and essentially in the same method. It is a market-based model of operation and, as such, has little room for cultural variation.
– Most firms are internationally owned (primarily Japanese) and domestic investors are, these days, largely controlled and managed by executives who have received international business education. The success of the modern business school is such that best practice has become known, understood and used in schools in nearly all countries. Again, best practice – which largely comes from the USA with Japanese workplace and organizational management technology added – is technocratic in nature and has little scope for incorporating cultural aspects.
– Workplace conditions are largely based on international norms as espoused by the International Labour Organization and, even when important conventions on freedom of association and collective bargaining have yet to be ratified by the Thai government, employment conditions in modern manufacturing are conducted according to capitalist logic.
Industrial estates are spaces in which special forms (or relaxations of) law are put in place for the purpose of achieving specific developmental goals in the sphere of economics. If anything, therefore, cultural practices are more important outside industrial estate spaces than within them.
Culture is a set of values, beliefs and norms that unite one set of people and makes them different from other sets of people. In other words, culture is both inclusive and exclusive.
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I remember well one of my early respondents in the research I was doing for my doctorate telling me that a joint venture was like a marriage and that the most important things is to ‘know how you can get out of it before you go into it.’
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Congratulations to Dr Makararavy Ty, who was recently awarded her PhD at Shinawatra University for her thesis entitled ‘Impacts of Culture on Organizational Learning in Cambodia.’
In an intensely competitive world, each organization is supposed to find the most efficient and effective organizational strategy to cope with change. This pressure also forces organizations to act ever more quickly. To enhance their capability to respond to change, organizations should seek to identify what are their core competencies and the competitive advantages which are their keys to success. At first inspection, people might consider the knowledge and skills embodied in the organizational workforce because they are the most precious assets. The term “organizational learning” has become a term of interest to most academics and practitioners. Simultaneously, organizations have to consider the cultural context in environments in which they act. This study explored the impacts of culture (both national and organizational culture) on the organizational learning in Cambodia. The survey questionnaire, constructed on the basis of a solid literature review, was distributed to more than 2000 employees working in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 417 responses were obtained with reliability value of 0.895 calculated by Cronbrach’s Alpha, which is above the acceptable value of 0.70 (Zikmund, 2000) and analyzed by utilizing Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS). The questions related to culture and organizational learning were factor analyzed using principal component analysis followed by Varimax rotation before utilizing regression tools to test the relationship between independent and dependent variables. Generally, the results showed that culture had strong relationships with learning capabilities of organizations in Cambodia. Simultaneously, some subhypotheses were rejected and it is not surprising because the author created the questions based on literature reviews and logical thinking. The study concluded by following some recommendations for Cambodian organizations to take into considerations in order to strengthen their levels of performance.
Keywords: Cambodia, Culture, Impacts, Organizational Learning
In 1975, in response to the Emergency declared by Mrs Gandhi, VS Naipaul, a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, traveled to India to write the second of his three books on the subject. Naipaul is an ethnic Indian from the Caribbean who has been both drawn inexorably to his roots in the sub-continent and also repelled by many of the practices he found there.
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