Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In the beginning...

The short version of the story is that today is the 22nd of March in this, the year of our Lord, 2011, and I have only begun work on my Capstone thesis.

"Why?" you ask.

Please, let us not dwell upon the past. A bright future is ahead of me--a future filled with long hours of research, many nights of writing and rewriting, editing and drafting, and copious amounts of Mountain Dew. Indeed, it is a future fueled by the singular hope of someday leaving behind the world of undergraduate academia. So despite my somewhat tardy entrance to the field of battle, my gaze is fixed and resolute toward the final prize.


Anywho, I did some research tonight on my topic. Right now my topic is still fairly general: the impact of regional cultures on multinational corporations. I know that's a pretty broad topic, and that notion has been reinforced to me as I've begun to research its various aspects.

So what part of regional cultures do I want to look at? Languages? Traditions? Attitudes? Religions?

How about the effects those things have on the operations of multinational companies? Am I interested in marketing strategies employed in various regions? Company policies for employees? Conflicts between corporate culture and local governments?

As I've been searching terms like "multinational companies", "regional culture", and "globalization", I find that the most common observations are those relating to language and marketing. While these are not really what I had in mind for my thesis, some are rather comical. For instance, one story has it that a slogan used by Purdue was supposed to say "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken," but instead reads (in Spanish) "It takes a sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate." Oops.

So yeah, I've run into a number of those, but I'm not really interested in looking at the marketing side of the issue. Of more interest to me would be how regional traditions and attitudes either help or hinder the internal operations of a multinational corporation. My instinct would tell me that the differences between the dominant or originating culture of the MNC (multinational corporation) and the regional culture that it operates within have the potential to clash in ways that challenge productivity, efficiency, and even stability within the local chapters of the organization.

More along those lines, I ran into an interesting article (link below), published in an issue of American Psychologist, titled "The Psychology of Globalization." The author, Jeffrey Arnett, discusses the rise of what he terms a "bicultural identity," which he believes is becoming more common today. He says that the bicultural identity exists when a person has the ability to identify both with their regional culture, as well as with the larger global culture. As an example, he talks about an Inuit boy who goes ice fishing and snowmobile racing, but who keeps up with televised national hockey games. Were this example to be brought a few more years into the future, I'm sure the author would have included something along the lines of "and plays video-games against peers in Korea."

The idea in the article is that we are able to adopt multiple identities and use them or even blend them together as necessary. He attributes this phenomenon, however, as almost exclusively a property of the generations currently in adolescence and post adolescence (until mid twenties)--saying that for most adults, globalization began after most were further set in their ways.

I'm not sure if I completely buy into every aspect of this psychology, but I think it's a good article and an interesting place to start.

Here's the link to the article:

And here's a link to the google doc where I'll be keeping an annotated record of all my many wanderings on the interwebs in my quest for knowledge (it's an annotated bibliography!):


  1. Glad to have you back on board, Matt. Work hard, post often, and let's see what can be done in the wee hours of the term.

  2. You ask a good set of questions and you've got a potential focused project. You made me think of my brother in law who learned Chinese and got an MBA and then worked in China for 10 years for a major business consulting firm. Just what kinds of bi-cultural knowledge did he employ.

    So now: read and read and read. When you've got 15 or 20 good articles you'll be able to start charting your course.