Culture, Motivation, and Work Behavior

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Culture has always been considered static; however, it can be altered through external influences. The process of cultural change can be categorised into two main concepts: shift, and transformation. For instance, if an organisation shifts from one state to another, it will reflect a “doing” culture. In other words, this type of culture proceeds with actions and changes in performance in order to reorganise the current state. However, if culture transforms from A to B, it will represent a reshaping of a “being” culture. It means that cultural properties and features were altered, therefore, distinguishing the given culture from its original shape. Moreover, companies undergo several steps of developments, which are essential elements of the mechanism of change.

These steps can be divided into three major stages: birth and early growth, organisational mid-life, and organisational maturity. Throughout each phase, the company is put under the influence of various stimulating factors, which are responsible for driving the change of corporate culture (Bourrier, 2018). In the beginning, companies highly rely on a source of identity, which is strengthened with the “glue” of commitment. These elements play a determining role during the succession phase, where the company at its early stages must decide if it is willing to change or keep its current culture.

Some companies allow their organisational cultures to naturally evolve and develop by retaining what works best. This approach involves a minuscule amount of stress due to the fact that no one forcefully imposes these alterations (Petriwskyj, Parker, Wilson, & Gibson, 2015). Self-guided evolution focuses on “unfreezing” the organisational culture, thus, allowing it to change where needed (Petriwskyj, Parker, Wilson, & Gibson, 2016). The given approach balances between complete freedom and control, because self-governance is granted. However, some companies influence the organisational culture only by orders from key directors (Gibbons & Kaplan, 2015). This mechanism diminishes the amount of resistance shown for a proposed change because key insiders possess power and respect (Monahan & Greene, 2017). This is an effective approach only if a head manager imposing change is highly regarded and deeply respected in the organisation. Enforced and natural approach needs to be used by accounting the specific features of an organisation and market they are in.

In conclusion, every culture undergoes through a substantial amount of changes in the form of shift or transformation. Cultural shift mostly emphasizes alterations in activity and performance, whereas cultural transformation concentrates on the reshaping of the current state. In addition, all organisations undergo several stages of company growth, which are accompanied by corresponding factors of influence. New and emerging firms are mostly positioned at birth and early growth phase; thus, their main structure revolves around the source of identity. Strong companies at early stage fully rely on their commitment to the common goal, which acts as a “glue” for the given small organisation. There are three main approaches in order to implement organisation culture change: natural, self-guided, and managed. All these types of alterations allow companies to properly adjust to their environment.

Cross-cultural communication has always been a critical determining factor of the successful exchange of ideas. Two individuals with a significantly diverse background will have a number of both language and non-verbal barriers to overcome because there several elements preventing their free flow of conversation. During cross-cultural communication, the most obvious obstacle to overcome is a language difference. Although nowadays, there are professional translators and technological advancements, which allow people to solve the problem of language, it remains as a major barrier for an open global exchange of ideas. In addition, there are issues of stereotypes and predetermined perception, which results in cultural appropriations and assumptions.

However, even if two individual shares the same language, they still might not fully comprehend each other due to cultural and ethnographic differences. For instance, both British and American people speak the English language; however, the communication style and mannerism are highly distinguished (Jenifer & Raman, 2015). Therefore, the possession of the identical language does not directly lead to the unhindered flow of ideas. Every process of communication takes the form of a message sent from A to B; nevertheless, the A’s information decoding is determined by B’s cultural background (Stahl, Miska, Lee, & De Luque, 2016). Moreover, when a message sender wants to compile a piece of information, he encodes it in a form that is appropriate for his/her culture.

Furthermore, many people assume that verbal language is the main part of the exchange of ideas. However, it is suggested that as much as 70% of communication among people of the same language is nonverbal (Hall, Horgan, & Murphy, 2019). It can be categorised into several approaches: body movements, facial expressions, the tone of voice, space, and eye contact. Body movements diversity can be demonstrated through various meanings of the same gesture. For instance, Asian cultures usually use bowing as a sign of respect for elders, whereas in the West is rarely applied (Kim, 2017a). Facial expressions are also differently used because Asian people usually show fewer emotions and they tend to hide them by smiling (Kim, 2017b). On the other hand, Western people are more in tune with their feelings, and they are inclined to openly express them. Moreover, stereotyping is an additional barrier to overcome, which is the result of ethnocentrism – perceptions based on one’s own culture. This is a common occurrence among all societies due to the lack of necessary education and people’s natural tendencies to make effortless assumptions.

In conclusion, the process of communication among different cultures is greatly hindered due to barriers, which diminishes the freedom of information exchange. These obstacles can be represented as verbal, nonverbal, and perceptive. There are a high number of languages in existence, which poses a challenge for cross-cultural communication. Nonverbal cues also act as a communication barrier due to the difference in cultural background. Stereotyping is common across all cultures because every individual perceives others through the lens of his/her societal background.

Leadership styles and motivation source are tightly linked with cultural and societal elements. Motivation has always been a topic of numerous hot debates due to the importance of this concept in everyday life. It directly affects and determines a person’s or company’s successful performance, because motivation is a desire to initiate and continue a work-related behaviour. There are several theories proposed to properly define and analyse the roots of motivational energy. Content theories of Maslow and Herzberg attempt to give structure for human needs and factors that influence motivate personality. Expectancy theories concentrate more on the flow of work or desired activity, whereas process theory aims to emphasize the importance of fairness.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a highly popular model for classifying and categorising human necessities from the most basic towards the most complex. The base of the pyramid starts with physiological needs and proceeds with safety needs, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization (Wigfield et al., 2015). Safety and physiological needs illustrate basic human necessities, such as food, water, shelter, security. Belongingness and esteem needs are psychological ones, who are friends, intimacy, and feeling of accomplishment (Minola, Criaco, & Obschonka, 2016). Self-actualization needs are the highest human necessities, which are fulfilled by achieving one’s potential, such as creative activities (Quantz, Cambron-McCabe, Dantley, & Hachem, 2016). Herzberg’s two-factor theory categorises influencing elements into extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Extrinsic factors include working environment, salary, co-workers, whereas intrinsic factors consist of responsibility, recognition for work, advancement.

Furthermore, Lawler’s expectancy theory states that an individual is mostly motivated by expected results. In other words, there is a certain degree of belief that one has control over possible outcomes; therefore, specific action can lead to desired rewards (Steers & Sanchez-Runde, 2017). For example, individualistic nations mainly focus on self-actualization and calculative perspective, whereas collectivistic cultures aim for security and moral expectations. Moreover, equity theory emphasizes the significance of fairness and equality in input and output of actions invested (Frederic, 2016). Thus, employees are motivated only if they experience that there is no imbalance between the amount of effort they put in and reward received. Both Lawler’s and equity theories are based on the assumption that expectations and suppositions of a worker are realistic and practical; however, he/she might possess unattainable or effortless goals. In these cases, the human judgement fails to support the theories or make them viable; thus, Maslow’s pyramid and Herzberg’s model are more solid and less conditional.

In conclusion, all these motivation theories and models are greatly useful tools to apply them in an organisation. It is highly important to understand the underlying factors, which determine a person’s attitude towards work and career. In addition, the given knowledge can assist employers in adjusting their approaches depending on cultural context. Knowing the most valuable and motivating goals of an employee has the potential to eliminate laziness and lack of ambition in the workplace. Furthermore, informed managers can adapt to the increasing global workforce, which is bringing professionals from all over the world.


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Minola, T., Criaco, G., & Obschonka, M. (2016). Age, culture, and self-employment motivation. Small Business Economics, 46(2), 187-213.

Quantz, R., Cambron-McCabe, N., Dantley, M., & Hachem, A. H. (2016). Culture-based leadership. Journal International Journal of Leadership in Education, 20(3), 376-392.

Steers, R. M., & Sanchez-Runde, C. J. (2017). Culture, motivation, and work behavior. The Blackwell Handbook of Cross‐Cultural Management, 21(8), 190-216.

Wigfield, A., Eccles, J. S., Fredricks, J. A., Simpkins, S., Roeser, R. W., & Schiefele, U. (2015). 16 Development of achievement motivation and engagement. Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science, 52(11), 143-151.

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