Organisational cultures in transborder regions


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Title Organisational cultures in transborder regions
Period 12 / 2001 - 12 / 2005
Status Completed
Research number OND1307390
Data Supplier Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)


Economic activities in the cross-border areas of East and Southeast Asia represent an excellent research focus to generate a profound understanding of processes of identity formation in organizations. These cross-border areas represent transnational spaces. The organizations, which are located in these spaces, are both multinational and domestic companies which operate first and foremost in a regional market. The economic arrangements that emerge in cross-border areas are comprised of elaborate network relations, public-private partnerships, forms of subcontracting and outsourcing, and franchising; and these relations of economic co-operation bind together large-scale and small-scale enterprises, multinational corporations and small and medium-scale enterprises. Multinational corporate identities and business cultures become exposed to local organizational cultures and management styles. The research - focussing on Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia on the one hand, Cambodia/Vietnam/Thailand on the other hand, and on network relations between Southeast Asian ethnic Chinese businessmen and mainland Chinese counterparts - deals with rather diverse societies in terms of culture, religion and ethnicity. In particular in terms of ethnic composition, these countries offer challenging domains of research. Singapore is basically Chinese diaspora society, whereas Malaysia is dominated by ethnic Malay (adhering to Islam), while these countries are economically dominated by Chinese diaspora communities and businesses). In order to maintain peace and quiet in the area, the Singaporean government attempts (successfully so far) to maintain good relations with its Malay neighbours through strengthening co-operative ties and downplaying ethnic, cultural and religious differences. Creating transnational spaces for economic co-operation is a pivotal strategy in this respect. Within these transnational spaces the cultural diversity is socially engineered. Transborder business networks dominated by ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs are operating in a culturally and ethnically highly explosive context in Southeast Asia. Given the importance of ethnic and religious differences, one may expect that these differences play a crucial role in the way alliances and coalitions are formed among Chinese (intra-ethnic) and between ethnic Chinese and Malay (in Malaysia) or Khmer (in Cambodia) (inter-ethnic). As government intervention in economic life differs in the countries providing the institutional background of this research (strong in Singapore, Malaysia and China, weak in Cambodia), this research addresses the role of the state in transborder business networks and its consequences for the organizational culture. Central question: What processes of identity formation can be identified in business networks in Southeast Asian cross-border regions and in what ways are organisational cultures and management strategies intertwined with politics of identity within these networks? The research will raise three closely related sub-questions: a) In which way does economic restructuring affect the formation of coalitions and partnerships among enterprises of diverging cultural and ethnic backgrounds in transborder regions in Southeast Asia? b) How does economic restructuring in these transborder areas affect the organizational culture and processes of identity formation

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Researcher Dr. H.N. Kopnina
Project leader Prof.dr. H. Dahles


D61000 Sociology
D70000 Economics and Business Administration
E13000 Development studies

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