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Title: The competitive advantage of cultures : an inquiry into the effects of national culture on industrial competitiveness
Author: Haake, Sven
ISNI:       0000 0001 3523 2651
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2000
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In the wake of increasing global competition growing public attention has been paid to issues of national competitiveness and national differences in industrial perfo1mance. In particular the success of .high-technology industries has preoccupied the public mind. In this context, authors like Porter (1990) have contended that national competitive advantage is industiy-specific, i. e. that national competitiveness should be analysed on the level of particular industries and not of the national economy. At the same time, the end of the Cold War has fostered an awareness for the different shapes 'Western capitalism' has taken in different countries. Furthermore, the economic rise of Japan with her very different cultural roots has spmTed an interest in the economic effects of national culture. However, so far little is known about the link between different national 'host cultures', national institutional environments and the success of firms in different industries. The thesis therefore tries to investigate this relationship. It is based on the proposition that particular countries enjoy a competitive advantage in particular industries and that this competitive advantage can be related to the national cultural setting within which these industries operate. To address this question, the study will conceptualise a theoretical relationship between national culture and industrial competitiveness and illustrate this theoretical relationship empirically with a pattern recognition exercise. The pattern recognition exercise tries to use existing empirical evidence to identify a number of explicit affinities between patterns of national culture, national business systems and industrial task environments. This may suggest the plausibility of a link between national culture and industiy-specific competitive advantage and allow to formulate some tentative propositions for further research. The theoretical relationship assumes that national culture is enacted in national business systems, which in tum are seen to entail a differing ability to deal with the task environments of particular types of industries. Industrial competitiveness is thus conceived to arise out of a fit between patterns of culturally grounded business systems and patterns of industrial task environments. The pattern recognition exercise will deal with four countries and one competitive industry for each of the four countries. The four countries are the United States, Japan, Germany and Britain. The industries selected are the motion picture industry in the case of the United States, the photocopier indushy in the case of Japan, the machine tool industiy in the case of Germany and the financial services industry in the case of Britain. The results of this research suggest a relationship between individualistic, transformative cultures and national competitive advantage in knowledge-intensive industries with a high transferability of knowledge, i.e. in industries in which firms rely more on their flexible openness towards new sources of knowledge. They also suggest a relationship between communitarian, transformative cultures and national competitive advantage in knowledge-intensive industries with a low transferability of knowledge, i.e. in industries in which firms rely more on the accumulation of organisation-specific knowledge. These relationships may define a new programme of research, but also have practical implications in terms of the evaluation of policies at the corporate, sectoral or national level.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral