Effect Of National Culture On Organisational Learning: Perspective On Quantity Surveying Firms

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Effect Of National Culture On Organisational Learning: Perspective On Quantity Surveying Firms


Abstract


Learning remains one of the significant tools for improving performance of the construction sector. Individual quantity surveyors practicing across the globe in an enclave of a firm tend to tailor their organisation structure to reflect their national culture. This feature in a way is postulated to influence, the interaction interface during learning. This study evaluated the effect of national culture on organizational learning with focus on quantity surveying firms in Akwa Ibom state. The objectives were to assess national culture mechanics of quantity surveying firms, determine factors affecting organizational learning, and to evaluate the effect of national culture on organizational learning. Empirical data collected using mainly questionnaire were used to explore the causal relationship between national culture and organizational learning. The results of the study indicated a strong interdependency between national culture and organizational learning. Further result indicates that; organizational learning performance is significant determined by a group interrelated factors that developed from the culture of the organisation. Based on the foregoing findings, the study concludes that, national cultural orientation of a firm’s principal strongly affects the learning performance within quantity surveying organisations in Akwa Ibom state. To improve performance within quantity surveying firms therefore, the dimension of power distance and individualism must be curtailed to benefit organizational learning.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Quantity surveying firms are service based firms that manage financially related issues for clients in the construction industry (Abidin, 2011), using infrastructural cost and value management expertise (Olanipekun, Aje and Abiola-Famemu, 2013). In quantity surveying firms, employee Quantity Surveyors provide the expertise, acknowledge and skill relied upon for service delivery. This indicates their importance to the performance of quantity surveying firms which is in line with Espejo (2000); Lawrence and Lorsh (1967). The quantity surveying firms are organizations where the Quantity surveying is being practiced. One of the contexts in which organization can be studied is their cultural effect. As opined by Zhang and Liu (2006), there are factors that are seen to permeate organisation life and influence every aspect of organization operation and one of such is organization culture. National culture defines the way employees’ tasks and interact with each other in an organization. The cultural paradigm comprises various beliefs, values, rituals and symbols that govern the operating style of the people in their company.

Corporate culture binds up the workforce together and provides a direction for the company. In time of change, the biggest challenge for any organization may be to change its culture, as the employees are already accustomed to a certain way of doing things (Ojo, 2003). The dominant culture is organizations depends on the environments in which the company operates, the organizations objectives, the belief system of the employees and the company’s management style. There are many national culture such as highly bureaucratic and well-structured organizations typically follow a culture with extensive controls. Employees follow standard procedures with strict adherence to hierarchy and well-defined individual roles and responsibilities.

Numerous factors are converging that make teaching and learning in cross-cultural and multicultural contexts more commonplace. Expanding world trade and globalization of industry, finance, and many professions are creating a world in which cross-cultural interactions occur more frequently than at any time in the past (Friedman, 2007). As well, increasing specialization within many professions has led to a widely dispersed audience for targeted education and training. Professionals wishing to stay current or students wanting to develop specialized skills that match the needs of a rapidly changing world demand access to proper educational opportunities, even if this requires international travel or distance learning approaches (Berge, 2007). Simpler and cheaper telecommunications, in particular, fuel a growing willingness to teach and learn across cultures. Advances in Internet technologies and applications make open and distance learning a fully viable alternative to traditional education, creating a natural environment for the development of effective virtual learning communities.
But contrary to the growing flatness that Friedman (2007) reports, cultural diversity remains apparent among learners, perhaps owing to deeply rooted cultural values and modes of thinking that are difficult to separate from learning processes (Nisbett, 2003). A growing appreciation of cultural diversity is demonstrated by more than its acknowledgement and tolerance, but also by a desire to preserve that diversity as a valuable asset for addressing the many challenges faced by the global community now and in the future. Additionally, one can recognize a strong desire to preserve diversity in response to the threat of loss of cultural identity in the face of globalization and because of the benefits of community cohesiveness through unique cultural expression (Mason, 2007). The growing need for educational access leads students rightly to demand culturally adaptive learning experiences that allow full development of the individual (Visser, 2007). As noted by Pincas (2001), students entering into professional education in a multicultural context not aligned with their own culture can experience significant conflict. This conflict arises not only in regards to incompatible teaching and learning styles, but also because the growing “professional self” struggles to maintain both a connection to the local culture in which the student eventually intends to work and a connection to the learning environment. Accordingly, instructional providers, including instructors and instructional designers, especially those working in online environments and struggling to maintain sufficient presence and student engagement, should develop skills to deliver culturally sensitive and culturally adaptive instruction (Gunawardena & LaPointe, 2007). This article provides a summary and consolidation of useful existing literature to aid in developing these skills. Although culture has begun to be addressed in the field of Instructional System Design (ISD), it is still too often overlooked or undervalued (Henderson, 1996; Rogers, Graham, & Mayes, 2007; Thomas, Mitchell, & Joseph, 2002; Young, 2007). If education and instructional design are inherently social processes (Schwier, Campbell, & Kenny, 2004), then instructional providers can no longer take a neutral position in developing their courses and materials. For instruction to do the best for students, instructional providers must be cognizant of the cultures of their learners and how those cultures manifest themselves in learning preferences (Nisbett, 2003).

Cultural sensitivity is not just one-way, however. Instructional providers should be acutely aware of their own culture because their world views cannot be separated from the training that they develop (Thomas, Mitchell, & Joseph, 2002). They should become cognizant of how their own cultural perspectives are represented in the design decisions they make. Furthermore, instructional providers should examine the assumptions they hold about how learners will and should respond, keeping an open mind for potentially unexpected responses. Moreover, they must balance the need to help students adapt to specific professional, academic, and mainstream cultures (which instructors, by proxy, represent) and the need to embrace the culture in which the student is embedded (Henderson, 1996). This is no small challenge; this study therefore seeks to evaluate the effect of a firm’s principal national cultural orientation on organisation learning.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Generally, behaviour patterns of employees towards organisation performance are most strongly influenced by the leaders of the organization. The words and actions of the quality control and production managers reflect the values and beliefs of senior management. Performance management is the process of creating a work environment or setting in which people are enabled to perform to the best of their abilities. According to Cascio (2006), performance is the degree of an achievement to which employees fulfill the organisation mission at workplace. The author added that the job of an employee is built up by degrees of achievement of a particular target, mission that defines boundaries performance. According to Ojo (2008), despite the Plethora of studies on national culture in the last few decades, the empirical evidences emerging from various studies about the effect of national culture on performance have so far yielded mixed results that are inconclusive and contradictory. Ojo (2008) further states that researches concur on the fact that there is no agreement on the precise nature of the relationship between national culture and performance. Because of these results, the question of whether national culture affects employee’s performance is however worthy of a further research. Hence, this study seeks to analyze the effect of national culture on the performance of quantity surveying firms in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.


1.3 Research Questions

  1. What are the national cultural elements affecting organisation learning in quantity surveying firms?
  2. What are the factors affecting organisation learning within quantity surveying firms in Akwa Ibom state?
  3. What are effects of a firm’s principal cultural orientation on organisation learning?

1.4 Aim and Objectives

The aim of the study is to evaluate the effect of a firm’s principal national cultural orientation on organisation learning in quantity surveying firms in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state with a view to improve efficiency. The general objectives of the study are to:

  1. To examine elements of national culture affecting organisation learning in quantity surveying firms in Uyo.
  2. To investigate the factors affecting organisation learning in quantity surveying firms in Akwa Ibom state.
  3. To evaluate the organisation learning performance of varying national cultures in selected quantity surveying firms in the study area.
  4. To evaluate the effect of national cultural orientation on organisation learning in quantity surveying firms in Akwa Ibom state.

1.5 Hypothesis of the Study

Ho: There is no significant relationship between the natural culture and the performance of organisation learning in quantity surveying firms in Akwa Ibom state.

Hi: There is significant relationship between the natural culture and the performance of organisation learning in quantity surveying firms in Akwa Ibom state.


1.6 Significance of the Study

The study on the factors affecting performance of quantity surveying firms in Akwa Ibom state is significant in the following ways. It will enlighten Quantity Surveyors and their Stakeholders in Nigeria on the need for better national culture as the result from this study will guide them in selecting and adopting better national culture for better performance. This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of national culture and factors affecting performance in quantity surveying firms in Akwa Ibom state, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future search in the subject area.


1.7 Scope / Limitation of the Study

This study on the factors affecting performance of quantity surveying firms in Akwa Ibom state covers all the quantity surveying firms in Akwa Ibom state by carefully examining their national culture and their organisation performance. The study will also cover factors hindering organisation performance.


Chapter Five


Conclusions and Recommendations

In this research, national culture has been affirmed to influence the performance of QSFs. Explicitly; the financial performance of QSFs is solely influenced by reward culture. Both stability and reward cultures influence business process re-engineering, employee and customer satisfaction and value creation in QSFs. The competitiveness of QSFs is influenced by stability, innovation, social responsibility and competitiveness cultures. Competitiveness and stability culture influence the value creation of the QSFs. Service rendered in the QSFs in terms of service quality and flexibility as well as the innovativeness is influenced by performance orientation culture. Therefore, the main research question of this study has not only been answered; the types of organisational culture that influence each of the performance areas in QSFs have been made explicit. While it is reasonable to conclude that the QSFs should give emphasis to these cultures in enhancing their performance drives, it is suggested that priority should be accorded to both reward and stability cultures due to their broad based influence on the performance of QSFs. This findings of this study also implicate that against the backdrop of QSFs playing the latter/rear game in organisational effectiveness and performance in the construction industry, a new course has been channelled not only to see improved QSFs but also a performance sustaining one. With the immense contribution of culture to organisations, the management of QSFs is not expected to give sole consideration to organisational culture in driving performance but embrace an all encompassing organisational strategies so as to remain competitive in the global marketplace.


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