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Popular ideas of culture in business may be misleading

Posted on 11/05/2011
Professor Brendan McSweeney

Prof. Brendan McSweeney

For variety of complex reasons the idea of ‘culture’ as a, or indeed ‘the’ key influence on managerial and business activities has gained immense popularity not only across academic disciplines but also amongst international agencies, management consultancy firms, and a host of other organizations. But according to Professor Brendan McSweeney the notion of ‘culture’ taught at many business/management schools – the ‘mental programing’ theories of Geert Hofstede, Fons Trompenaars, and others – “is an intellectual cul-de-sac, it lacks scholarly rigour, and is not merely useless, but is misleading”.  

Professor McSweeney recently elaborated various aspects of his critique at a number of inter-disciplinary gatherings in Europe. In February he spoke about The Myth of Common Cultural Values at The Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution, Department of Archaeology, Stockholm University. In early April he gave a lecture on Collective, Coherent, Calculable Values As Description and Explanation: A Critique at The School of Business, Stockholm University, and at the end of April presented a paper on A Post-Hofstedeian Notion of Culture at the Interkulturalität Centre at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, St. Gallen University, Switzerland.


Brendan McSweeney, Donna Brown & Stravroula Iliopoulou (2010), How Not to Do Cross Cultural Analysis: Predictive Failure and Construction Flaws in Geert Hofstede's Case StudySoMWP1004

Brendan McSweeney, Culture’ – Gold or Fool’s Gold?, Management Alumni Newsletter May 2011, p.6


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