Cross cultural management: Poland – Pt2

/ March 31st, 2011/ Posted in Management Innovation / No Comments »

Frédéric Chopin - Grzegorz TurnauIn Part1 of this briefing for managers posted to Poland, we covered language, culture and travel advice. The underlying theme is indicated in the images shown left: the traditional and the new. (Gzegorz Turnau is a wonderful musician. Memorizing song lyrics is a great way to practice foreign language skills.) The traditional and the new are streams that run through Polish culture and the Polish workplace.

How, generally, do people manifest cultural traits in foreign work settings? There are levels – or layers – of culture in the individual psyche, and these are called up by the situation. Awareness of this mechanism can help managers in a foreign setting to assess the type of pressure bearing upon employees as they engage with a training program or other corporate initiative.

For example, group members working in a new situation will naturally gravitate to culture-specific ways of communicating, but this will attenuate as group members see how others’ expertise is contributing to the project. In situations where new technology must be dealt with, “people tend to respond in accordance with cultural prescriptions under conditions of uncertainty and ambiguity” (Leung et al. 2005).

In a previous post, we reviewed the elements of cultural intelligence, which can serve as a sort of self-test when you are operating in a foreign environment.

In a study of certain values across 4 nations (Woldu et al. 2006) the authors conclude that “Poland has a unique culture which fits neither the East nor the West”; however, they confirm their prediction: “There will be no significant cultural differences among value orientations of individuals working for similar professional organizations in the four national contexts.” In other words, there is considerable convergence seen in corporate cultures; yet this is “visible among managers and less in the cultural attitudes of non-managers”, for example, employees working in local service-based organizations.

Gender differences in the workplace are fairly marked in certain respects. While men and women desire many of the same things, the number one priority for Polish women is that the job encourages the development of skills and knowledge, while for men, it is the ability to earn high income. Striking discrepancies are seen in the categories of independent work (priority #6 for men, but way down the list #15 for women) and ability to work for supervisors you admire and respect (#13 for women but #24 for men). In summary, despite congruence in several of the top-chosen characteristics, results show  discrepancy between males’ desire for top pay and independence vs. desire for a secure place of respectful cooperation among female employees (Frankel et al. 2006).


Frankel, R; Tomkiewicz, J.; Adeyemi-Bello, T. and Sagan, M. 2006. Gender differences in job orientation: the case of Poland, Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal,13:3.

Leung. K.; Bhagat, R.; Buchan, N.; Erez, M. Gibson, C. 2005. Culture and international business: recent advances and their implications for future research, Journal of International Business Studies, 36:4 357-378.

Woldu, H.; Budhwar, P.; and Parkes, C. 2006. A cross-national comparison of cultural value orientations of Indian, Polish, Russian and American employees, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 17:6

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