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EBR
22,2 Cross-cultural differences and
Italian firms’ internationalization
in Algeria
246
Exploring assertiveness and performance
Received 15 March 2009 orientation
Revised 13 May 2009,
13 July 2009 Francesco Calza
Accepted 28 July 2009
Università degli Studi di Napoli Parthenope, Napoli, Italy
Nadir Aliane
Université de Boumerdès, Boumerdès, Algeria, and
Chiara Cannavale
Università degli Studi di Napoli Parthenope, Napoli, Italy

Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of cross-cultural differences on
Italian firms’ internationalization in Algeria, and to determine if performance orientation and
assertiveness are perceived by Italian managers of local subsidiaries as important cultural dimensions.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper is a qualitative analysis based on a semi-structured
questionnaire and three case studies. All the questionnaires are submitted during an interview in order
to clearly explain their purpose and the terms used.
Findings – Cultural differences are strongly perceived by Italian managers operating in Algeria.
Algerian culture seems to be characterized by a low degree of performance orientation and a low
degree of assertiveness, with strong implications for Italian managers.
Research limitations/implications – The sample is still limited and in the future a quantitative
analysis on a larger sample should be done in order to evaluate the relationship between family and
religious values, on one hand, and performance orientation and assertiveness, on the other.
Practical implications – While entering Algeria, Italian firms have to be aware of cross-cultural
differences. Algerians’ low performance orientation and assertiveness discourage local workers to
reach higher standards and to improve performance, and they impact on Italian managers’ capability
to give instructions and to motivate local workers. The involvement of local managers is crucial in
overcoming these problems.
Originality/value – While interest towards Southern Mediterranean countries is increasing, there is
little written on this topic. The impact of performance orientation and assertiveness on firms’
internationalization has not been investigated so far.
Keywords Algeria, Globalization, Culture, Italy
Paper type Research paper

Introduction
European Business Review Algeria and other Southern Mediterranean Countries (SMCs), the countries situated on
Vol. 22 No. 2, 2010
pp. 246-272 the south shore of the Mediterranean Sea, do not represent a homogeneous whole of
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0955-534X
territories. On the contrary, they are characterised by different traditions, religions,
DOI 10.1108/09555341011023551 languages, customs, degrees of democracy and liberalization. Research produces many
examples of the differences existing among SMCs. For example, Drake (2006) explores Cross-cultural
the diversity existing between Morocco, Tunisia and Libya, highlighting how these differences
countries differ in terms of socio-economic development and cultural background.
While international statistics show that Libya is the most developed country, reality
shows that Morocco and Tunisia offer better life conditions. While Libyan economy is
based more on the energy sector, Moroccan and Tunisian economies are still based on
agriculture. While Libya and Tunisia were part of the Ottoman Empire, Morocco was 247
not. While Tunisia and Morocco came under French control during the Colonial period,
Libya came under Italian control. So, whereas all the countries are part of the Maghreb,
the westernmost part of the Arab world, they have very different historical
backgrounds, economic systems, socio-political structures, and educational systems.
Nevertheless, Algeria and other SMCs are now involved in the European Union (EU)
project aimed at enlarging the free trade zones and promoting a gradual economic and
social rapprochement between North Africa and the EU. EU enlargement poses both
opportunities and challenges for European firms. Opportunity lies in the possibility of
exploiting a larger market and gaining a cheaper access to production factors.
However, SMC firms, which can profit from low labour cost and lower environmental
and social restrictions, provide a challenge to European firms.
Our research aims to investigate cultural differences and the impact they have on
the internationalization of Italian firms in Algeria in order to highlight the cultural
values which deeply impact on management and performance of local subsidiaries. In
particular, given that many contributions exist on individualism vs collectivism,
uncertainty avoidance, or masculinity vs femininity, our research focuses on two
cultural dimensions which have been less explored: performance orientation and
assertiveness (House et al., 2004)[1]. Both of these dimensions have strong practical
repercussions on firms’ activities. Performance orientation can be connected to
partners’ capabilities to share strategic goals and to accept short-term sacrifices in
order to reach better long-term results. Assertiveness can impact on managers’
communication style and on co-ordination mechanisms used within the subsidiary.

Italian presence in SMCs


Italy has a strong commercial presence in Algeria and in the other SMCs[2]. It is the
second commercial partner of Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, the third partner of Turkey
and the fourth partner of Morocco. However, in foreign direct investment, Italy is
relatively weak. Statistics show that the countries in which Italy has invested the most
are Tunisia (second after France), Turkey (fourth after Germany, The Netherlands and
France), and Algeria (fifth after the USA, Egypt, France and Spain).
Italian investment in SMCs needs to improve to defend Italian firms’ competitive
position. Statistics show that Italy and SMCs specialize in similar industries. SMCs are
developing in machinery, textile, and agri-food sectors, becoming important partners
of Italian competitors, such as Spain and France. Italian direct investment in SMCs is
low because most Italian firms are small enterprises which do not have the financial
resources and the market knowledge necessary to invest abroad. Actually, Italian
investment in SMCs has been made by large firms, such as Fiat, Menarini, Cementer
and Bialetti in Turkey, Benetton, Fiat, Ansaldo, ENI in Tunisia and Italcementi and
STMicroelectronic in Morocco. Thanks to the consistency of their investment, these
firms can exploit local government interest in increasing employment and developing
EBR industrial sectors. Also, they are less affected by cultural diversities, thanks to a higher
22,2 standardization of organizational practices and a higher capacity to acquire market
knowledge and to reduce information asymmetry.
Italian presence in Algeria is increasing in all the main industrial sectors, including
the service sector, such as tourism. Italian investment started in the first years of
Algerian independence and has always been concentrated in the areas of Algeri, Orano,
248 Blida and Costantina. In 2007, 130 Italian firms had a stable office in Algeria and
developed business activities in the country. Most of them operate in energy, building,
and industrial plant sectors.
From an economic point of view, Italian interest towards Algeria is justified by the
richness of its energy resources and by the increasing demand of industrial plants and
machinery. But interest has increased, above all in recent years, thanks to the
improvement of Algerian economic conditions. Through the exploitation of energy
resources and increasing oil prices, Algeria has reduced the public debt, and today is
considered one of the “Emerging Countries”.

Hypothesis and methodology


While interest towards SMCs is increasing, there is little written on this topic. Some
scholars have analysed the effects of a higher liberalisation process in the
Mediterranean on European economies, but only a few have analysed in-depth what
operating in the SMCs represents for Western firms and the impact of cross-cultural
differences (El-Said and Harrigan, 2006; Kuran, 2005; Cone, 2003; Akacem and Gilliam,
2002). These authors have concentrated more on banking and financial matters than on
the effect that Muslim culture can have on managerial practices, organisational
procedures, communication and inter-organizational relationships.
Empirical evidence suggests that relationships between Italian firms and Algerian
players require a common understanding among the partners, which has to be based
on a deep respect of reciprocal diversity. That is, to have success in Algeria, foreign
investors have to develop a deep knowledge of local culture and traditions. With this
understanding, managers can avoid the possibility that the strong values and norms of
these contexts can become a barrier to international relationships. Even if some major
studies (Trompenaars, 1993; House et al., 2004) suggest a short cultural distance
between Italy and SMCs, cultural differences are strongly perceived by Italian
managers operating in the SMCs. This suggests the necessity to analyse cultural
dimensions in depth.
Our hypotheses are:
H1. Cultural differences impact on Italian firms’ success in Algeria, and
particularly on the capability to involve local people within the organization.
H2. Among the different cultural dimensions, performance orientation and
assertiveness have a key role in the management of local activities by Italian
firms.
The analysis has been conducted through a semi-structured questionnaire and three
case studies, which have confirmed the importance of national culture in business
relationships and the existence of cultural obstacles that Italian firms face while
entering Algeria and other SMCs.
Cultural dimensions have been explored through interviews posed to Italian Cross-cultural
managers of 20 Italian firms internationalized in Algeria. In three firms, the differences
questionnaire was offered to Algerian managers as well as Italian managers, in order
to verify their different perceptions. In the interviews, some of the questions used in the
GLOBE Project have been reported in order to verify the scores that performance
orientation and assertiveness have in Algeria. Other questions not included in
the GLOBE Project have been used to investigate cultural factors which can pinpoint 249
the difficulties Italian investors meet in their entry process into the region.

The importance of cross-cultural issues


As emerging countries, Algeria is characterised by a high degree of risk related to
unstable financial, political and economic conditions. Relationships with local partners
are of prime importance to reduce risks and to overcome information asymmetry and
uncertainty. But international relationships are deeply influenced by cross-cultural
differences, because culture can be a barrier to knowledge transfer and to trust building.
Foreign investors have to learn local cultures in order to understand the main beliefs
and to respect them while they establish managerial practices and organizational rules.
Actually, even though they are not a homogeneous whole, SMCs seem to present many
characteristics of the monolithic and pluricultural contexts[3], that is contexts
characterized by a low acceptance of diversity and a tendency to conflict while relating
to people coming from different cultural contexts. In particular, a monolithic context is
characterized by a strong homogeneity within itself and by a low propensity to accept
different cultural models. The cognitive process is based on self-identity and
self-categorization theories, according to which people are accepted, or not, more on the
basis of physical characteristics, like the race, the skin colour and the spoken language,
than on values and beliefs. When foreign firms try to enter into monolithic contexts,
they have to make a strong effort to overcome diversity, and embedment is necessary
to overcome difficulties in interacting with local players (firms, employees and
customers). Islam’s impact on all aspects of economic and social life enforces strong
internal integration, thus posing many barriers to the cooperation of people coming
from different cultural contexts.
The high level of homogeneity and the refusal to accept diversity in SMCs is
coherent with the results reached by Al-Khatib et al. (2002) and Najjar (2005). Al-Khatib
et al. (2002) have analysed in depth the influence of Muslim values on business ethic,
discovering the importance of interpersonal relationships and the strong cohesion
existing among the members of a group within an organization. According to the
authors, loyalty towards one’s group and colleagues is much more important than
loyalty to authority and to the law. Muslim culture places a strong emphasis on trust as
the focal point in forming interpersonal and social relationships: people are more
comfortable in manipulating rules than co-workers for example. Moral obligations are
more effective and more important than legal or formal obligation. In this regard,
Al-Khatib’s findings are not far off from the main GLOBE results. Local workers are
more comfortable in family-owned and family-staffed businesses because this type of
business is more common in Islamic countries, and it better represents the paternalistic
feeling of those countries.
Moreover, Najjar (2005) analyzes the reasons of some Arab’s prejudice towards
globalization and underlines that they can be found in the Arab perception of
EBR globalization as a threat deriving from the economic and social imperialism of Western
22,2 countries. That is, economic integration and the deriving tendency towards
homogeneity are seen as a danger because they undermine the distinctive personality,
heritage, authenticity and beliefs of national cultures.
In our opinion, the authors highlight important concepts for foreign investors
entering Algeria. A different business culture can discourage local workers to develop
250 a feeling of belonging in the foreign organization. It can reduce local peoples’ degree of
acceptance of rules and norms if the rules appear difficult to understand. This means
that foreign firms should well clarify the reasons behind their rules. Choosing local
managers can simplify the adaptation of local workers to organizational norms, above
all if managers are able to establish personal relationships, allowing the rise of moral
obligations.
Empirically, these theoretical suggestions have been confirmed by our three
cases-study analyses. The most successful Italian firms are those aware of the
importance of local culture and those which have preferred to involve local managers
in order to avoid cultural misunderstandings, showing respect of local customs and
overcoming linguistic barriers.

The state of the art


Many important cross-cultural studies have analyzed Arabic countries, in particular
SMCs. Hofstede (2001) included Turkey, Pakistan, Iran and what he collects under the
name Arab Countries, that is Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia and
United Arab Republic in his study. According to his findings, Italy, Turkey and Arab
Countries have a similar degree of power distance and uncertainty avoidance.
However, Italy is more individualistic and it is characterized by a higher degree of
masculinity, while Turkey and the other Arabic countries are more collectivistic and
feminine (Table I).
In conclusion, Italy, Turkey and Arab countries seem to be very different, even if
some similarities concerning the tendency towards uncertainty avoidance and power
distance exist.
Trompenaars (1993) considers various Islamic countries. Among the Mediterranean
countries, Trompenaars studied Turkey, discovering some important similarities
between Italy and Turkey: both countries show a middle-high degree of universalism,
a high degree of specificity, a low degree of individualism, a tendency toward ascribed
status and a tendency toward external locus of control[4].

Uncertainty Individualism- Masculinity- Power


avoidance collectivism femininity distance

Italy 75 76 70 50
Turkey 85 37 45 60
Pakistan 70 14 50 55
Iran 58 41 43 58
Arab countries 68 38 53 80
Table I.
Hofstede’s results Source: Hofstede (2001)
Another study comparing Italy (as a part of Latin Europe) and some Arabic countries Cross-cultural
(as Middle East) is the GLOBE Project. According to the GLOBE’s findings, Latin differences
Europe and Middle East present many similarities, above all in the “as is” scores, that
is the practices prevailing in a cultural context. In particular, they have similar degrees
of performance orientation, assertiveness, and power distance. However, Arab
countries are more collectivist, they show a higher tendency to uncertainty avoidance
and are less inclined to gender egalitarianism. 251
The review of the main literature poses some important issues:
.
different authors do not reach homogeneous results; and
.
even if not all SMCs have been studied, according to many cultural dimensions,
Italy and Islamic Mediterranean countries look to be similar; however, Italian
managers and entrepreneurs operating in Algeria perceive strong cultural
differences.

According to the sociological theory of collective identity formation, European and


Arabic people feel to be much more different than they really are because of the
different socio-political systems prevailing in the two areas, as well as the tendency to
protect cultural identity through differentiation from others (Haller, 2003). Cultural
differences between Italian managers and Algerian workers can be explained by
different historical backgrounds, degrees of economic development and socio-political
structures of the two countries.

Performance orientation
“Performance orientation reflects the extent to which a community encourages and
rewards innovation, high standards, and performance improvement,” (Javidan, 2004,
p. 239). Even though Javidan underlines the innovativeness of the GLOBE Project in
recognising performance orientation as an independent cultural dimension, the concept
of performance orientation is not new in managerial and cross-cultural studies. It has
been recognised as an important part of leadership (Fleischman, 1953; Halpin and
Winter, 1957; Hempill and Coons, 1957; House and Adyta, 1997) and as an
important managerial characteristic in many countries (Haire et al., 1966; Bass et al.,
1979).
The first author to consider performance orientation from a cultural perspective was
Weber in his study The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Weber, 1904). The
relationship between religion and performance orientation has been analyzed in-depth
by McClelland (1995), Kahn (1979), Hofstede and Bond (1988)[5]. Other scholars have
focused on various aspects of performance orientation, such as external adaptation
(Schneider and Barsoux, 1997), internal vs external locus of control (Trompenaars,
1993; Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, 1998), high- vs low-context language
(Schneider and Barsoux, 1997), and achievement vs ascription (Trompenaars, 1993;
Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, 1998).
According to Javidan, some attributes of this dimension can be included in
Hofstede’s dimension of masculinity vs femininity, especially challenge and job
recognition, advancement, importance of money, stress on equity and so on.
In our opinion, however, some characteristics of uncertainty avoidance, another
Hofstede’s dimensions, are present in performance orientation. Cyert and March (1963,
p. 119) write:
EBR Organizations that avoid uncertainty impose plans, standard operating procedures, industry
tradition, and uncertainty-absorbing contracts on that situation by avoiding planning where
22,2 plans depend on prediction of uncertain future events and by emphasizing planning where
the plans can be made self-confirming by control device (Hofstede, 2001, p. 147).
According to this assumption, it seems possible to affirm that uncertainty avoidance is
inversely related to innovativeness. van Den Bosh and van Proijen (1992) arrive
252 actually at the same conclusion when they affirm that uncertainty avoidance impacts
on a country’s competitiveness, because it strongly influences the openness towards
change.
The meaning of this dimension recalls some factors that are very important for
firms’ internationalization. Investing in a foreign and unstable country implies a high
degree of risk. A high performance orientation enhances firms to make changes and to
face risks, and consequently it impacts on firms’ inclination to internationalize. At the
same time, from an Algerian perspective, accepting to co-operate with foreign investors
implies a certain degree of unease. When local people work in a foreign subsidiary,
they have to accept a business culture that can be far off their own national culture.
A high performance orientation could encourage local people to get innovation and to
reach better results, can be an incentive to accept international relationships. Another
difficulty is that local employees must subordinate to a foreign manager who they
perceive to be an outsider. A high performance orientation could reduce Algerian
reluctance to accept foreign managers. If local people were performance oriented, they
would consider the outsider as a means to get innovation and new knowledge.
Performance orientation can be very useful to understand Italian and Algerian
business relationships. Algeria has not been studied in the GLOBE. However, Italy and
Islamic countries involved in the GLOBE Project show different scores in performance
orientation in regards to the “society practices” scale, but their scores become very near
in the “society values scale.” This means that some points of contact can be found
between Italian and Islamic cultures (Table II).
We can interpret these scores to show that:
.
Italy is not distant from SMCs;
.
both Italy and SMCs have a low performance orientation, and this can be a
barrier to international relationships; and

Society practicesa Society valuesa


Country Score Country Score

Iran 4.58 Iran 6.08


Egypt 4.27 Italy 6.07
Morocco 3.99 Egypt 5.90
Turkey 3.83 Morocco 5.76
Italy 3.58 Turkey 5.39
Notes: aThe scale is 1-7; in the society practices, Switzerland has the highest score (4.94) and Greece
the lowest (3.20); in the society values scale, El Salvador has the highest score (6.58) and South Africa
Table II. the lowest (4.92)
Performance orientation Source: The GLOBE Project – House et al. (2004)
.
the values score scale shows that Italy and SMCs are both moving to a higher Cross-cultural
degree of performance orientation, and this could facilitate future international differences
relationships.

Assertiveness
In the GLOBE Project, according to the definition of House et al. (1999), assertiveness is
defined as the degree to which individuals in organizations and societies are assertive, 253
tough, dominant and aggressive in social relationships (Den Hartog, 2004). From a
cross-cultural perspective, assertiveness is important because, as a cultural dimension,
it explains how the members of a community interact and how they adapt to the
external environment. At an organizational level, more assertive organizations will
tend to impose their decisions on their partners and to control their behaviour.
Assertive individuals think of others as opportunists and because societal scales are
quite confirmed even at an organizational level, organizations within assertive
societies will probably assume such a behaviour.
Den Horteg underlines some similarities among assertiveness and other cultural
dimensions, such as internal vs external focus (Trompenaars, 1993), and high vs low
context (Schneider and Barsoux, 1997). More assertive societies are expected to be
internally focused, that is to have a tendency to dominate, even in their relationship
with the environment. Also, assertive societies are low context, that is people tend to
adopt a low-context language, more direct and less ambiguous.
The GLOBE Project considers assertiveness as a characteristic of managers. In
addition, GLOBE is the first cross-cultural study to consider assertiveness as an
autonomous cultural dimension and to investigate the impact of assertiveness on
leadership.
However, assertiveness seems to be very difficult to measure. In the GLOBE Project,
the negative correlation between assertiveness practice and power distance values, the
negative, even if low, correlation between assertiveness and performance orientation
values, and the positive correlation between assertiveness and collectivism pose some
doubts about the possibility to correctly measure this dimension, above all
independently. Probably, difficulties arise from the term assertiveness, which recalls
different kinds of behaviours, and consequently different judgement by people that are
strongly influenced by the social and cultural environment in which they live. In
previous studies, assertiveness had been actually studied more as a behaviour deriving
from culture than as a factor determining it. Cultural affiliation is actually very
important to explain people’s inclination to assertiveness as confirmed by many
studies (Furnham, 1979; Fukuyama and Greenfield, 1983). Researchers show that
different cultures differ in accepting and evaluating assertiveness and that
self-assertive behaviour is affected by the social context of the interaction.
Assertiveness has been studied in the psychological literature in two ways. Some
scholars have studied it as a style of responding that people develop in certain societies
where the tendency is to dominate, even in the language, and to be tough and
self-affirming. According to this perspective, assertiveness is not a cultural dimension
itself, but a consequence of the social and cultural context in which individuals grow
up and live. Likewise, Hofstede sees assertiveness as a characteristic of masculine
societies (high importance is attached to earnings, recognition, advancement, and
challenge). Moreover, some feature of assertiveness can be connected to individualism
EBR (competition, self-decision making, taking responsibility and initiative). Other
22,2 psychologists consider assertiveness a personal trait and particularly a part of
extraversion, and positively related to career possibility and leadership achievement
(Goldberg, 1990).
In our opinion, assertiveness is a key-aspect of the relationship between foreign
managers and Algerian employees. When multinationals invest in a foreign country,
254 managers have to decide the managerial practices, and the control or co-ordination
mechanisms to implement in the subsidiary. If local workers are low assertive, they
would prefer a less direct communication style. Orders should be given considering the
mood of local workers and managers should be aware of showing a deep respect of
feelings. From an Algerian perspective, working in a foreign multinational can
represent an emotional effort because local workers are expected to accept managerial
practices to which they are not accustomed. If foreign managers come from an
assertive society, they may think that direct speaking and clear directives are much
more positive because they reduce the time necessary to understand aims. However,
the clash between such different behaviours can create a cultural shock and diminish
local workers’ feeling of belonging to the organization.
According to GLOBE’s findings, in the Society Practices Scale, Italy is more
assertive than Egypt, but less assertive than other Islamic countries, such as Morocco,
and Turkey. In the society values scale, Italy is more assertive than SMCs (Table III).
These scores highlight that:
.
important differences exist between Italy and SMCs;
.
these differences are not going to diminish in the future; and
.
Italy’s assertiveness can create many problems in the management of Algerian
subsidiaries and enforces the hypothesis that employing local managers is
necessary to overcome intra-organizational problems.

The role of religion and family structure in assertiveness and performance


orientation
Some crucial aspects of our research highlight the importance of cultural affiliation.
The GLOBE’s dimensions are not sufficient to understand SMCs. The inquiry has to go
deeper to understand other cultural factors that can explain cultural differences or
similarities between Italian and SMC cultures. In this sense, Florian and
Zernitsky-Shurka’s (1987) study on “The effects of culture and gender on

Society practicesa Society valuesa


Country Score Country Score

Turkey 4.53 Iran 4.99


Morocco 4.52 Italy 3.82
Italy 4.07 Morocco 3.44
Iran 4.04 Egypt 3.28
Egypt 3.91 Turkey 2.66
Table III. Notes: aThe scale is 1-7; for the first scale the mean is 4.14, for the second one it is 3.82
Assertiveness Source: The GLOBE Project – House et al. (2004)
self-reported assertive behaviour” is particularly interesting. The authors analyze the Cross-cultural
relationship between cultural affiliation, and gender and assertive behaviour in two differences
distinct socio-cultural groups: Israeli-Arab and Israeli-Jewish students of the
University of Haifa in the Northern Region of Israel. They pointed out a strong
influence of the ethnic group on individual assertiveness. Israeli-Arab students appear,
indeed, less assertive than their Jewish counterpart, thus reflecting a different cultural
background. While the Israeli-Jewish way of life and social interaction is pluralistic and 255
in many way similar to Western countries, the Israeli-Arab population is still very
traditional and homogeneous, as Sharabi noted in 1975.
The Islamic family is an authoritarian, extended family system, in which the family
members’ roles are clarified and children are taught to respect adults, leaders and
traditions. It is not unlike Italian family structure, very paternalistic and characterized
by the leading role of the father who cares for the family members. The father makes
all decisions and decides the direction of each action, trying to keep tradition intact.
In Patai’s (1973) sociological work, the author underlined some common values of
Islamic societies which have strong implications on the social life:
.
Courage-bravery, where courage refers to the ability of self-control in situations
of physical and emotional stress, and bravery to the individual readiness to take
risks in order to save his fellowmen.
.
Hospitality-generosity. Hospitality is required to accept others’ respect, while
generosity refers to giving to others through personal and family sacrifices.
.
Honour-dignity, which both imply unlimited loyalty to the family, defence of
honour, defence of individual social-image and respect of traditions.
.
Islamic identity, which is related to the belief that God is everywhere. This value
has strong implications on social life in terms of doing well and fatalism. It
encourages a pessimistic view of individuals’ ability to change their life condition
and reduces peoples’ inclination to take responsibility (Florian and
Zernitsky-Shurka, 1987).

The role of religion can be helpful to explain the scores SMCs and Italy reach in the
performance orientation scales. Italy’s low score in the society practice scale is coherent
with the hypothesis that Catholicism has a negative impact on performance
orientation. Probably, this relationship between religion and performance orientation is
effective also in explaining the low scores of many Islamic countries. Islam’s focus on
charity and richness sharing as essential values is actually very similar to Catholic
solidarity (Gaarder et al., 1999; Filoramo et al., 1998). Noland (2005) underlines that the
Qur’an includes economic rules: it forbids the Riba, that is people cannot earn interest
on loans because all rents have to be related to risk, and it imposes the Zakat (charity)
as a moral duty.
When we look at the society values scale, on the other hand, we do not see the same
negative impact. However, other aspects of Catholicism and Islam, such as “God’s
evaluation” and “doing well”, can work as strong motivation to improvement and to
goal achievement and therefore explain the higher scores both these countries have in
the society values scales. Analyzing religion’s influence on culture, it is possible to
highlight the great importance Islam has on all aspects of social life, and consequently
on business activities and work philosophy.
EBR Islam is the religion of affair and trade, without any distinction between men and
22,2 women and without any conflict between profit and morality (Cone, 2003). Actually,
the greatest part of the Qur’an is dedicated to economic and social conduct. Each
human action is evaluated according to the Qur’an teachings. In Arabic countries,
Islam is much more than a religion, it is a way of life, such as the term din, total
submission to Allah, well clarifies. Another basic concept is the Unmah, which refers to
256 the extreme importance Muslims give to participation in community life. These
principles are so important that in many countries they are more respected than the
official law. The Shar’ia, even if not applied by government, still influences people’s
way of life (Riverso, 2005)[6].
The importance Muslims give to the Unmah enforce the feeling of belonging and
can create prejudice towards people who come from different cultural contexts and
follow other religions. For a long time, union and even weddings between Muslims and
followers of other religions had been forbidden, and it was not allowed that a Muslim
could receive orders from a follower of other religion. Even if these restrictions have
been legally eliminated, they still influence local people who may find difficulties in
co-operating with people coming from other cultural contexts, and above all in being
directed by non-Muslim leaders or managers.
The empirical analysis shows that Italian firms reach better results when they
employ local managers, because this allows local people to feel more trusted and
respected and simplifies the intra- and inter-organizational communication.

The empirical analysis


Information on Italian firms operating in Algeria and in other SMCs was collected
through the National Chamber of Commerce, the databases of the firms, and the
Algerian National Agency for Development and Investment. Based on this
information, a questionnaire was sent to 78 firms operating in different sectors
(energy, industrial plants, agri-food, building and infrastructure). The questionnaire
investigates the development of the activities in SMCs and the impact of cultural
differences on their development. Unfortunately, until now, only 17 firms have
responded. In addition to these 17 interviews, the analysis has been conducted through
three case studies of Italian Multinationals operating in Algeria. The case studies
analysis has been based on the questionnaire, but it has been submitted to Italian and
Algerian managers in order to highlight their different points of view. Additional
questions on local managers’ perception of their Italian colleagues and on the
nationality of partners they prefer to cooperate with, have highlighted their preference
for Italian firms and managers.
The role of cultural differences has been investigated through questions concerning
the relationship with local employees, Italian firms’ tendency to delegate managerial
activities to local managers, and the feeling of belonging of local employees. It also
recalls some questions reported in the GLOBE Project to investigate the foreign
investors’ perception of local peoples’ performance orientation and assertiveness.
As for the first 17 interviews, most Italian firms seem to prefer strict control of their
activities and employ Italian or foreign managers. They find that the biggest problems
derive from bureaucracy and language barriers. Some of them talk more generally of
communicational problems, arising from work attitudes and behaviour and different
values (Tables IV and V).
Firm 1 Firm 2 Firm 3 Firm 4 Firm 5 Firm 6 Firm 7 Firm 8 Firm 9 Firm 10

Country Libya, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt Tunisia Many Tunisia Tunisia, Tunisia, Libya Many Tunisia
Algeria Morocco countries Morocco countries
Sector Energy Agri- Catering General Machines Machines for Plants Infrastructure Building Water Plants
plants food contractor for energy agri-food
(building and plants
water
infrastructure)
Managers Foreign Foreign Foreign Foreign and Foreign and Foreign Italians Foreign Italians Local
local local and local
Control vs Control Control Control Co-ordination Low control Control Low Control Control Co-ordination
Coordination control
Perception Very good Good Good Good, culture Not Not specified Not very Not specified Not very Not specified
of Italians is important specified good good
Main Language, Financial Communication Low Culture, Communication, Cultures, Language Culture,
difficulties bureaucracy services and quality competencies bureaucracy bureaucracy languages communication language
Communication
Local High Not very Should improve Very high High Not very high High High High High
employees’ high
involvement
Source: Our empirical inquiry
Cross-cultural
differences

Information concerning
the first ten firms
257

Table IV.
22,2

258
EBR

Table V.

other seven firms


Information about the
Firm 11 Firm 12 Firm 13 Firm 14 Firm 15 Firm 16 Firm 17

Country Libya, Egypt Many countries Tunisia Libya Morocco, Libya Tunisia
Tunisia
Sector Electricity plants Environmental Milk Building Industrial General contractor Agri-food
protection transformation plants (oil and water) plants
plants
Managers Italian and local Foreign Local Foreign Italian Foreign and local Local
Control vs Control Control Co-ordination Delegation and Control Low control Low control
coordination results control
Perception of Not specified Not specified Not specified Not so good Not very good Not specified Not very
Italians good
Main difficulties Security and Bureaucracy Bureaucracy Prejudice of local Culture, Low competencies Culture,
managerial practices people bureaucracy and information bureaucracy
Local employees’ High Low High Not very high High, but Not very high High
involvement opportunistic
Source: Our empirical inquiry
Italian managers underline that even if the organizational culture is strongly Cross-cultural
performance oriented, local people do not show a strong performance orientation and differences
they also show a low degree of assertiveness (Table VI).
While data concerning performance orientation are rather homogeneous, what is
surprising to us is the lack of homogeneity in Table VII, concerning Italian managers’
perception of local people’s assertiveness.
The varying results may depend on the low attention some of the interviewed 259
managers paid to the question, but they can also depend on the different activities
managers do and on subjective experiences, which always influence this kind of
analysis. The variation of results can also be affected by the educational level of the
local employees or local partners, to whom Italian managers refer, and by the
hierarchical position they have in the Italian subsidiary.
Finally, but not least important, the suggestion that foreign investors should adopt
an assertive behaviour in managing activities in these countries can be explained by
Italian managers’ stress deriving from Algerian workers’ low performance orientation
and from the difficulty to motivate them.

The case studies analysis


In order to better understand the varied results and to contextualize the analysis, we
have conducted a case-studies analysis involving three large Italian firms successfully
operating in SMCs and particularly in Algeria. These firms operate in the energy,
industrial plants, and plants engineering sectors. Information on these firms has been
collected through the National Chamber of Commerce, the databases of the firms and
the Algerian National Agency for Development and Investment, and through
interviews to Italian and local managers.
The interviewed firms are: Saipem, ENI Exploration and Ansaldo Transmissione &
Distribuzione. The three Italian companies seem to be satisfied with the activities they
have developed in the SMCs and particularly in Algeria. According to their experience,
they have successfully overcome cross-cultural differences, establishing a good work
climate and developing a deep capacity to interact with local institutions and firms.
Their experience can offer a key to understanding socio-political contexts within SMCs.
According to the companies’ experience, the involvement of local people at managerial
level is very important. Local managers can help to overcome the problems deriving
from a different work philosophy, and are more able to cultivate the personal
relationships that are so important in creating a good work climate within an
organization. At the same time, the involvement of local managers is a symbol of
equality between Italian and local employees. In order to improve local employees’
orientation to results, it is crucial to motivate local employees not only with good
revenues but also by communicating to them the importance of their involvement for
the success of the activity. The three Italian companies have been recognised by local
stakeholders and particularly by Algerian managers, as firms respecting cultural
diversity, thus improving the consideration of Italians with respect to other European
partners.
Even if involving local managers is positive for intra-organization relationships, it
represents a cost, too. Sometimes, Algerian managers have low managerial and
technical competencies. At the same times, the lack of knowledge encourages local
22,2

260
EBR

Table VI.

performance orientation
Some results concerning
The pay and bonus system in this The economic system in the host
organization . . . society . . . In this organization, employees . . .
Are encouraged to strive for Should be encouraged to
Is designed to Should be designed Is designed to Should be designed continuously improved strive for continuously
maximize . . . to maximize . . . maximize . . . to maximize . . . performance improved performance
Individual vs collective interest Individual vs collective interest Strongly agree vs strongly disagree

Firm 1 5 7 2 6 3 1
Firm 2 6 7 2 7 2 1
Firm 3 5 7 3 6 5 2
Firm 4 6 7 3 7 4 1
Firm 5 5 6 3 7 5 7
Firm 6 6 7 3 6 2 1
Firm 7 5 7 3 6 6 7
Firm 8 5 7 3 6 3 2
Firm 9 5 7 3 6 2 1
Firm 10 5 7 4 6 2 2
Firm 11 5 7 3 6 2 1
Firm 12 6 6 2 6 2 1
Firm 13 6 7 3 6 2 1
Firm 14 5 7 2 6 3 1
Firm 15 5 7 3 6 5 2
Firm 16 6 6 3 6 2 1
Firm 17 5 7 4 6 2 2
Notes: The scale is 1 to 7 for all variables; for the first two fields, it is 1 for maximum individual vs 7 for maximum collective interest; for the last field, it is
1 for strongly agree vs 7 for strongly disagree and 4/5 for neither agree nor disagree
Source: Our empirical inquiry
Cross-cultural
In the host society, foreign people should be
In the host society, people are generally encouraged to be differences
Assertive vs non-assertive Tough vs tender Assertive vs non-assertive Tough vs tender

Firm 1 5 4 2 1
Firm 2 2 4 1 2
Firm 3 7 5 2 1 261
Firm 4 5 4 2 2
Firm 5 5 3 2 2
Firm 6 4 5 2 2
Firm 7 5 4 2 2
Firm 8 4 4 2 2
Firm 9 4 4 2 2
Firm 10 3 3 2 3
Firm 11 3 4 2 2
Firm 12 4 5 2 2
Firm 13 2 3 4 4
Firm 14 5 4 2 2
Firm 15 7 5 2 1
Firm 16 4 4 2 2
Firm 17 3 3 2 2
Notes: The scale is 1-7 for all variables; each statement is repeated twice with different adjectives;
both for the first and the second statement, in the first column 1 refers to maximum assertive and 7 to
maximum non-assertive, and in the second column, 1 refers to maximum tough and 7 to maximum Table VII.
tender Some results about
Source: Our empirical inquiry assertiveness

stakeholders to accept co-operation: the need to acquire Italian market and


technological knowledge increases Algerians’ inclination to international relationships.
Saipem SpA (Saipem) is a subsidiary of ENI. The company is an integrated
engineering, drilling and construction entity, engaged in oil and gas exploration.
Saipem also constructs oil and gas pipelines, refineries, and chemical, petrochemical
and industrial plants.
Saipem is a world leader in the oil and gas contracting services sector, both onshore
and offshore. The new group is a truly global contractor, with strong local presence in
strategic and emerging areas such as West Africa and Former Soviet Union, Central
Asia, Middle East, North Africa and South East Asia. Its main subsidiaries are actually
located in Algeria, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, Georgia, Kazakhstan,
Russia, Argentina, China, India, Canada, Luxembourg, and the USA.
The offshore operations in the Mediterranean began in the early 1960s when the
company started offering its services to customers outside the ENI group. Saipem has
led the trend in boosting local context by developing impressive facilities in West
Africa and the Former Soviet Union. As a result, Saipem’s fleet and facilities are
perhaps the most technologically advanced and efficient in the industry.
Both Italian and local managers have emphasised the importance of improving
performance orientation. The main differences between Italian and Algerian managers’
perception concern assertiveness. Algerian managers do not feel the necessity to
improve this aspect of management. Actually, a higher degree of assertiveness would
not be coherent with paternalism and discouraged by the great importance of
EBR relationships and by the high level of respect people have for other members of their
22,2 group, particularly for the boss (Table VIII).
ENI Exploration is another ENI subsidiary which operates in the exploration and
production of hydrocarbons in Italy, North and West Africa, North Sea, Gulf of Mexico
and Australia. It also operates in areas with great exploration and production potential
such as the Caspian Sea, the Middle and Far East, India and Alaska.
262 The results of the interview with ENI Exploration (Table IX) are very similar to the
previous one. Although in this company Italian managers’ perceptions are higher than
those expressed by Saipem’s Italian managers, performance orientation is still
perceived as something to improve. In this company, the differences in Italian and
Algerian managers’ perceptions of assertiveness are similar, too.
Ansaldo Trasmissione & Distribuzione is an Ansaldo Energia subsidiary, Italy’s
leading producer of thermoelectric power plants, operating in international markets for
customers ranging from public administration to independent power producers and
industrial clients. Ansaldo Energia is a Finmeccanica Company, Italy’s leading
high-technology group and a major player worldwide. It is one of the world’s top-ten
aerospace, defence and security businesses, with products in aviation and helicopters,
defence electronics and space technology.
Ansaldo Tasmissione & Distribuzione has invested a lot in Algeria, where it has
built an important desalination plant for Sonelgaz (Societé Algérienne de l’Electricité et
du Gaz).
In this company, Italian and Algerian managers agree on the necessity to improve
performance orientation. They also agree on low assertiveness. As in the other two
companies, Italian and Algerian managers have different opinions on the necessity to
encourage local people to be more assertive. An important difference with respect to
the other two multinationals is that, in Ansaldo Trasmissione & Distribuzione,
Algerian managers perceive the organizational culture as low performance oriented.
This could be a sign of communicational problems within the organization: probably
the Italian top manager is not able to communicate to local managers the value of
results and performance which is embedded in Ansaldo’s corporate culture (Table X).
An interesting result derived from these three case studies is Algerian managers’
preference to work with Italian managers more than with managers coming from other
countries. This result seems to be coherent with the theoretical assumption derived
from the analysis of the family social values and of Islam influence on business
(Florian and Zernitsky-Shurka, 1987; Cone, 2003). The similarities between Italian and
Islam family structure could explain the preference for Italian companies, and some
similar principles between Catholicism and Islam could actually explain why Algerian
managers perceive a lower cultural distance towards Italy, than towards other
European countries.

Conclusion
Italian firms’ interest towards SMCs, and particularly towards Algeria, is increasing
due to the great opportunities these countries offer as potential markets for Italian
products and as destinations of foreign direct investment in the energy, agri-food, and
textile sectors. Even though researchers find that similarities exist between Italian and
SMCs cultures, Italian managers perceive many differences in the way of motivating
and involving people, and that these differences depend on culture. SMCs can be
Some questions about performance orientationa
The pay and bonus system in this The economic system in the host In this organization, employees . . .
organization . . . society . . .
Is designed to Should be designed Is designed to Should be designed Are encouraged to strive for Should be encouraged to
maximize . . . to maximize . . . maximize . . . to maximize . . . continuously improved strive for continuously
performance improved performance
Individual vs collective interest Individual vs collective interest Strongly agree vs Strongly disagree
Italian managers
Top manager 6 7 4 6 1 1
Middle man. 1 5 7 5 7 3 1
Middle man. 2 4 7 4 7 3 1
Middle man. 3 3 7 3 7 3 1
Algerian middle managers
A 2 7 2 7 4 1
B 2 7 1 7 5 1
C 1 7 2 7 5 1
Some questions about assertivenessb
In the host society, people are In the host society, foreign people should be encouraged to be
generally
Assertive vs Tough vs tender Assertive vs non-assertive Tough vs tender
non-assertive
Italian managers
Top manager 4 5 1 2
Middle man. 1 5 3 3 3
(continued)
Cross-cultural

Saipem
differences

Some results from


Table VIII.
263
22,2

264
EBR

Table VIII.
Middle man. 2 4 3 2 2
Middle man. 3 4 2 2 3
Algerian middle managers
A 5 2 4 4
B 4 1 4 5
C 5 1 4 6
Some questions posed to Algerian middle managers
Do you think the Italian partner can Which partner do you prefer among French, Italian, German and US and why?
transfer something useful to the local
community?
A Yes Technology Italian Innovativeness and reliability
B Yes Knowledge Italian Competence and respect of diversity
C Yes Know-how German Accuracy and organization
Notes: aThe scale is 1 to 7 for all variables; for the former two, it is 1 for maximum individual vs 7 for maximum collective interest; for the latter, it is one
for strongly agree vs 7 for strongly disagree and 4/5 for neither agree nor disagree; bthe scale is 1 to 7 for all variables; each statement is repeated twice
with different adjective; either for the first statement and the second one, in the first column 1 refers to maximum assertive and 7 to maximum non-
assertive, and in the second column, 1 refers to maximum tough and 7 to maximum tender
Source: Our empirical inquiry
Some questions about performance orientationa
The pay and bonus system in this The economic system in the host
organization . . . society . . . In this organization, employees . . .
Is designed to Should be designed Is designed to Should be designed Are encouraged to strive for Should be encouraged to
maximize . . . to maximize . . . maximize . . . to maximize . . . continuously improved strive for continuously
performance improved performance
Individual vs collective interest Individual vs collective interest Strongly agree vs strongly disagree
Italian managers
Top manager 6 6 4 6 1 1
Middle man. 1 4 7 3 7 4 1
Middle man. 2 5 7 3 7 3 1
Middle man. 3 5 7 2 6 2 1
Algerian middle managers
A 3 7 2 7 3 1
B 3 7 1 7 4 1
C 2 7 1 7 4 1
Some questions about assertivenessb
In the host society, people are In the host society, foreign people should be encouraged to be
generally
Assertive vs
non-assertive Tough vs tender Assertive vs non-assertive Tough vs tender
Italian managers
Top manager 4 6 2 2
Middle man. 1 3 4 2 3
Middle man. 2 6 4 2 2
Middle man. 3 3 5 1 3
(continued)
Cross-cultural

exploration
differences

Table IX.
Some results from ENI
265
22,2

266
EBR

Table IX.
Algerian middle managers
A 5 1 4 4
B 6 2 4 4
C 7 2 5 4
Some questions posed to Algerian middle managers
Do you think the Italian partner can Which partner do you prefer among French, Italian, German and US and why?
transfer something useful to the local
community?
A Yes Knowledge, Italian Flexibility, Humanity
technology
B Yes Know-how German Competence and quality
C Yes Money Italian Respect toward local culture
Notes: aThe scale is 1 to 7 for all variables; for the former two, it is 1 for maximum individual vs 7 for maximum collective interest; for the latter, it is one
for strongly agree vs 7 for strongly disagree and 4/5 for neither agree nor disagree; bthe scale is 1 to 7 for all variables; each statement is repeated twice
with different adjective; either for the first statement and the second one, in the first column 1 refers to maximum assertive and 7 to maximum non-
assertive, and in the second column, 1 refers to maximum tough and 7 to maximum tender
Source: Our empirical inquiry
Some questions about performance orientationa
The pay and bonus system in this The economic system in the host In this organization, employees . . .
organization . . . society . . .
Are encouraged to strive for Should be encouraged to
Is designed to Should be designed Is designed to Should be designed continuously improved strive for continuously
maximize . . . to maximize . . . maximize . . . to maximize . . . performance improved performance
Individual vs collective interest Individual vs collective interest Strongly agree vs strongly disagree
Italian managers
Top manager 7 6 5 7 2 1
Middle man. 1 3 7 4 7 5 1
Middle man. 2 5 7 4 7 4 1
Middle man. 3 4 7 5 6 5 1
Algerian middle managers
A 3 7 2 7 6 1
B 2 7 3 7 5 1
C 2 7 2 7 6 1
Some questions about assertivenessb
In the host society, people are In the host society, foreign people should be encouraged to be
generally
Assertive vs Assertive vs
non-assertive Tough vs tender non-assertive Tough vs tender
Italian managers
Top manager 3 6 1 1
Middle man. 1 3 6 1 1
(continued)
Cross-cultural

and distribuzione
differences

Some results from


Ansaldo trasmissione
Table X.
267
22,2

268
EBR

Table X.
Middle man. 2 4 5 2 2
Middle man. 3 3 5 1 2
Algerian middle managers
A 6 2 3 3
B 6 1 3 4
C 7 1 4 4
Some questions posed to Algerian middle managers
Do you think the Italian partner can Which partner do you prefer among French, Italian, German and US and why?
transfer something useful to the local
community?
A Yes Work culture Italian Reliability
B Yes Development Italian Openness
C Yes Technology German Efficiency
Notes: aThe scale is 1 to 7 for all variables; for the former two, it is 1 for maximum individual vs 7 for maximum collective interest; for the latter, it is one
for strongly agree vs 7 for strongly disagree and 4/5 for neither agree nor disagree; bthe scale is 1 to 7 for all variables; each statement is repeated twice
with different adjective; either for the first statement and the second one, in the first column 1 refers to maximum assertive and 7 to maximum non-
assertive, and in the second column, 1 refers to maximum tough and 7 to maximum tender
Source: Our empirical inquiry
rightly considered as high-context cultures. Foreign investors have to understand local Cross-cultural
cultures and to respect diversity in order to favour the establishment and longevity of differences
business relationships.
Our research has investigated the importance of two cultural dimensions:
performance orientation and assertiveness for the strong, practical repercussions they
have on the capability to implement strategic decisions, to promote changes, and to
motivate local workers. The empirical qualitative analysis has confirmed our 269
hypotheses: cultural differences have a strong impact on Italian firms’ success in
Algeria, and both performance orientation and assertiveness are perceived by Italian
managers as important features in the management of Algerian subsidiaries. Algeria,
like the Islam countries studied by the GLOBE, is characterised by low performance
orientation and low assertiveness. This has important implications for foreign
managers’ capability to implement innovation and changes, and to establish effective
coordination and communication systems. At the same time, our research has shown
Algerian managers’ preference to work with Italian firms, and this is coherent with the
similarities between Italian and Algerian family social values and religious principles.
Our research about cultural values influencing performance orientation and
assertiveness has highlighted the importance of family social values and religious
beliefs. It has also revealed some reasons behind the similarities existing between
Italian and Algerian culture, thus explaining the good image Italian firms have in
Algeria.

Notes
1. The Global Leadership and Organizational Behaviour Effectiveness Research Project is a
multi-phase, multi-method project in which researchers investigate 62 countries, grouped
into ten cultural clusters, in order to analyse in depth their different cultures. Cultural
contexts are examined through nine dimensions (power distance, uncertainty avoidance,
institutional collectivism, in-group collectivism, gender egalitarianism, performance
orientation, future orientation, human orientation and assertiveness) which explain the
different perception and acceptance of leadership within each context. Each dimension is
studied at two levels in order to understand the practices and the values prevailing in each
context, in order to highlight the main cultural tendencies emerging within them.
2. All economic data derive, from the Italian Ministry of International Trade and from the
Country Guides published by Italian Chamber of Commerce.
3. According to Cox and Blake’s (1991) classification, Calvelli (1998) applies the concepts of
monolithic, pluricultural and multicultural contexts to the external environment, in order to
understand the relations among organizations coming from different national contexts. The
typologies of national cultural contexts are identified according to: (1) the cognitive process
adopted by the dominant culture in a given area; and (2) the level of interaction among
different cultural groups within the same area.
4. According to Trompenaars, (1) universalism vs particularism refers to individuals’ tendency
to believe in general rules and norms or, on the contrary, to rely on obligations deriving from
specific relationships or circumstances. (2). Individualism vs collectivism refers to
individuals’ inclination to perceive themselves primary as individuals or as part of a group.
(3) Neutral vs affective relationships refers to peoples’ tendency to keep objectiveness and to
hide emotions and feelings or, on the contrary to accept feelings, and expression of emotions.
(4) Specific vs diffuse relationships refers to individuals’ tendency to keep their private life as
separated from their public life or, on the contrary, to reduce the barriers between their
EBR private and public space. (5) Achievement vs ascription refers to peoples’ inclination to
recognize award based upon accomplishments or, on the contrary, as dependent on social
22,2 status and ascribed positions. (6) Internal vs external locus of control refers to peoples’
tendency to control their lives or to accept the pressure of external forces.
5. Along the same lines as Weber, McClelland analyses the relationship between protestant
education and protestants’ need for achievement; Kahn, Hofstede and Bond focus on the
270 relationship between Confucianism and the economic growth of Southeast Asian Countries,
finding a strong relationship between some Confucian teachings such as patience and
perseverance, and Southeast Asian peoples’ tendency to hard work, skills’ improvement, and
consequent economic growth.
6. According to the Shar’ia, the main economic and social precepts are (Cone, 2003): Unity –
Allah is the element that unifies all the universe and everybody finds his place in the
universe by respecting the Koran principles – Responsibility – everybody must care about
the world they live in – Equilibrium – between personal desires and necessities and those of
the community; equilibrium can be reached only if people live attending the ultra-life, all
human actions must be a means to reach religious aims – Free Will – it does not means that
people can act as they prefer, but they have to do their best, according to their capabilities.

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Further reading
Bartlett, C.A. and Ghoshal, S. (1993), “Beyond the M-form: towards a managerial theory of the
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About the authors


Francesco Calza is a Full Professor of Business Management and Corporate Strategy at the
Università degli Studi di Napoli Parthenope, Italy. He has written many articles on logistics
management, rightsizing strategy, innovation and international business. Francesco Calza is the
corresponding author and can be contacted at: francesco.calza@uniparthenope.it
Nadir Aliane is an Associate Professor of Management at the Université de Boumerdès,
Algeria. His research focuses on marketing and human resource management. Particularly, he is
interested in the influence of cross-cultural differences on customer behaviour and work
philosophy.
Chiara Cannavale is an Assistant Professor of Business Management at the Università degli
Sudi di Napoli Parthenope, Italy. Her publications focus on firms’ internationalization in
emerging countries and cross-cultural management issues.

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