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Management in Developing Countries.

Management in Developing Countries. Edited by Alfred M. Jaeger and Rabindra N. Kanungo. London and New York: Routledge, Chapman, and Hall, 1991. xiv, 306 pp. $62.50.

In this engaging reader, Professors Jaeger and Kanungo of McGill University in Montreal seek to find and describe indigenous, rather than Western, approaches to management and to begin organizing them into a body of knowledge for use by the international management community. The editors and contributors are organizational behaviorists who reason from an open-system model and view work organizations as influenced by varying cultural environments.

Traditionally, most international business activity has occurred among the top 25 industrialized nations in which Western management thought (WMT) originated. As developing Third-World nations increasingly move toward free-market economies, they face heightened exposure to worldwide firms and WMT. The editors' key premise is that WMT-characterized as planning, leading, organizing, and controlling--often is unsuitable for developing countries because of differences in cultural values.

Cultural differences between developed and developing countries limit the effectiveness of WMT in the Third World. Economic and political events are less predictable in the Third World than in developing countries, and organizations in Third-World countries find it much harder to obtain needed resources from their environment than do their counterparts in industrialized nations. When measured by Hofstede's familiar dimensions, developing societies manifest relatively high uncertainty avoidance, low individualism, high power-distance, and low masculinity.

Further, assumptions about human nature among Third-World peoples differ from those prevalent among Westerners. Individuals in Third-World countries tend to feel they have less control over life's outcomes and that their creative potential is limited; they also tend to have a past-present orientation and short-term perspective. Behavior within Third-World organizations is often characterized by a passive/ reactive rather than proactive task orientation and an authoritarian rather than participative people orientation.

The book's 17 chapters are grouped into three sections. The first focuses on the macrolevel context and analyzes the different ways in which Third-World organizations need to respond strategically to their environment. Cases from Brazil, East Africa, India, and the global airline industry serve as specific illustrations.

The authors of the studies in the second section identify the limitations of Western practices for managing in the Third World, calling into question familiar notions such as Theory X/Y, MBO, Socio-technical systems, Matrix Structures, and OD. This section includes fascinating case studies of China and India.

The final section deals with attempts to develop indigenous perspectives at the micro level that will influence organizational members' behavior. Except for one study of charismatic national leaders, this section consists of studies of worker motivation and organizational leadership in India by Indian scholars. Although two of the chapters in this group are essentially laments over worker alienation, in his chapter, Sinha provides encouraging evidence for the effectiveness of "Nurturant-Task [NT] leaders." The NT leader cares for his subordinates, shows them affection, takes personal interest in their well-being, and is committed to their growth. Generally, in the Third World, directive styles of supervision appear to be more effective than non-directive styles, and traditional bureaucratic structures are more effective than innovative ones.

Finally, the editors identify turbulence in Third-World environments as a major problem for any form of management and recommend strategies to help buffer the organization-- specifically, linking up with other indigenous firms and governments, and participating in international corporate joint ventures.

This book is rewarding because of the stimulating diversity of its chapters, ably organized by the editors into macro, comparative, and micro examinations of Western management clashing with the cultures of the developing world. The approaches and tactics the authors describe, as well as the counsel they offer, encourage an understanding of management across cultures in an age of globalism and emerging markets.

Yet, I wonder if the gap between WMT and indigenous management is not greater than that portrayed here. For example, none of the authors mentions recent influences from the Japanese challenge, such as total quality management, continuous improvement, cross-functional teams, quickness of design, design for manufacturability, and responsiveness to customers. WMT is advancing rapidly and might become even more alien to indigenous cultures than it is now. The task for management scholars, then, is to take up the challenge set forth in this book--that is, to try to understand effective management in a variety of cultural settings. For management researchers, students, and global business managers, this book is an invaluable companion and point of reference.

George Weslacott

Associate Professor School of Management Binghamton University
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Author:Westacott, George
Publication:ILR Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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