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SBSF 8417- Foundation Research Seminar I

Human Inquiry and Science

Instructor: Dina Iordanova, Ph.D.


Summer 2002


Article Review:

Organizational Learning in International Joint Ventures



Steven R. Van Hook


 July 21, 2002


Walden University


Ph.D. in Education Program

Specialization: Transcultural Distance Learning


Iris Yob, First Year Advisor


Article Review & Analysis


 Berrell, M., Gloet, M., & Wright, P. (2002). Organizational learning in international joint ventures. The Journal of Management Development. 21 (2), 83-100. Retrieved April 14, 2002 , from http://clorinda.emeraldinsight.com/vl=17878921/cl=19/nw=1/fm=html/rpsv/cw/mcb/02621711/v21n2/s1/p83


This article uses a conceptual theoretical basis for investigating the impact of national culture on organizational learning in a global context, and the implications of this for international management development. Going beyond prior studies which demonstrate the existence of two cultures within an organization—“systems” and “organizational” culture—this article proposes that national culture too has a significant impact on organization learning in international joint ventures.

 As part of a deductive process, the article incorporates components of prior research (e.g., aspects of intellectual capital as a driver in organizational learning and management development), and then turns to an inductive process by way of a case study of Australian and Malay managers co-working in a collaborative venture in Malaysia. The case study provides an observational overview of the issues involved in cross-cultural management, from which generalized conclusions may be developed. The article uses the results of the case study to determine conclusions and recommendations regarding effective international and cross-cultural joint venture management.

 Using examples drawn from the Australian/Malaysian collaboration, the article explores ways in which organizational learning and management behavior are shaped by the often intangible influences of national culture. Using qualitative methods, the study gathered anecdotal data about managerial behavior via observation. With an analytical process combining methods of semiology and structural anthropology, the managerial behavior was quantified by cultural dimensions of individual/collective, hierarchical/devolved, universalistic/particularistic, and so on. The study found considerable differences between mindsets of the Australian and Malaysian groups of managers, and that the differences in national culture “ways of knowing” influenced the ways each cultural group performed in the joint-venture setting, and the successful harnessing of intellectual capital in the organizational learning processes.

 Based on the results of case study research, the article offers a model by which joint venture developers and managers can improve understanding of the impact of national culture through critical inquiry and reflection, as well as implications for the initial development of international management teams. Some of the model components include:

The article also stresses the importance of matching the dissemination of all information within a JV, including knowledge about national culture, with the preferred learning styles of the target group.

 This article concludes that while cultural ways of knowing can collide rather than converge, internal organization processes can have a positive impact on the operations of an international and cross-cultural joint venture. Some of the specific findings include:

 I believe one of the major strengths of the article is the apparent self-evidence of the findings and conclusions, especially to anyone who has been involved in international joint venture management. It’s a little surprising that these issues are still under investigation and open to question even at the recent date of this article’s publishing. However, because of the sweeping implications of the findings, and to better support these conclusions and recommendations, the article may have included case studies beyond the single referenced case if the authors hope to better support the authoritative posture they’ve assumed.

 To the authors’ credit, though, they do call for future research in directions including the ways in which culture drives management behavior, and the effects of culture on management learning and management decision making.

 The dynamics of intercultural relations are so complex, the need for better understanding of international management is so pressing, and the ultimate good to be gained from successful joint ventures is so high, that this area of study should become a priority for cross-cultural social scientists and management researchers.

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