Cross-cultural influences on organizational learning in MNCS : the case of Japanese companies in China

Fok Loi, Jacky HONG, Robin Stanley SNELL, Mark EASTERBY-SMITH

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

28 Citations (Scopus)


This paper draws on the social construction perspective and on social learning theory to examine the cross-cultural influences on organizational learning in MNCs. Social learning theory suggests that constructive engagement and member solidarity are key constituents of organization-based collective learning. Literature suggests, however, that cross-cultural differences in assumptions about social participation by organization members may impair organizational learning. The paper also reports a qualitative study, conducted at five Japanese-invested manufacturing companies in the Pearl River Delta, China. The research found that managers perceived Chinese frontline workers as lacking constructive engagement and member solidarity as compared with their Japanese counterparts, thus limiting organizational learning, and attributed these perceived differences to deep-seated cultural values. Attempts in two of the companies to 'Japanize' the workforces were reported to have had some impact, but appeared not to have substantially changed this picture. Urging caution regarding cross-cultural stereotyping and home country bias, we consider the implications for organizations with international manufacturing operations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-429
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of International Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006



  • Cross-cultural influence
  • Organizational learning
  • Social construction

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