International Management in selected Countries

It is interesting to know some of the differences in managerial practices in selected countries. This discussion however is illustrative rather than comprehensive, and it is based on generalizations. There are, for example, great differences among US managers; the same holds true for managers in other countries. Furthermore, a society is not static and changes do occur over time. For instance, the traditional authoritarian style of German managers is slowly giving way to a more participative approach.

In France, government planning on a national scale (legal-political environment factor) helps coordinate plans of individual industries and companies (managerial function of planning). The government’s aim is to utilize most effectively the country’s resources and to avoid expansion in uneconomic areas. Although governmental planning which is also extended to regional areas is carried out by relatively few, but competent people, cooperation and assistance are provided by other governmental departments, employers’ organizations, unions, and consumers.

The plan, which is generally revised every 5 years, attempts to obtain economic growth, price stability, a balance in foreign payment and a favorable employment situation. Managers then are not only constrained by “Le Plan” but also aided by it, since it produces a great deal of information upon which they can draw for preparing plans for their own enterprises.

At times, the plan becomes a global strategy helping specific industries. For example, the French government attempts to integrate the electronics industry into a whole so that it can overcome its weakness in information processing consumer electronics, microelectronics and automation. To implement the strategy, the government plans to support several national projects such as speech synthesis, mini and microcomputers and large mainframe computers. Clearly there is a close relationship between government planning and firms, especially those that are owned and directly aided by the government.

In the past, and to a lesser extent today, the German cultural environment favored reliance on authority in directing the work force, although it was often benevolent authoritarianism (managerial function of leading). Even today, while managers may show concern for subordinates, they also expect obedience.

It is almost a paradox that, on the one hand the managerial style is characterized by considerable use of authority while on the other hand labor by law is represented by and actively involved in managing large corporations (legal political environment). In 1951 a law was passed that provided for codetermination, which requires labor membership in the supervisory board and the executive committee of certain large corporation. Furthermore a labor director is elected as a member of the executive committee. This position is a difficult one. Labor directors supposedly must represent the interests of the employees and, at the same time, must make managerial decisions that are in the best interest of the enterprise.