Modern companies can not longer hold on to a go-it-alone philosophy in the modern networked business world. Global companies look for business opportunities outside their traditional boarders and have therefore to deal with cross-cultural issues in its everyday life. Human interaction in cross-cultural organizational contexts is more and more complex. Our case study examines the interaction between Denmark-based group Lego and one of its subsidiaries Lego Media in London. Lego is a notable example of how managing a cross-boarder venture may be difficult if cultural peculiarities are not fully understood by both protagonists. Through the comparison of values and attitudes of both Danish and British cultures, we will investigate the cross-cultural issues raised. Lego has a policy of playing down its national origins as a Danish company as far as its brand is concerned. However, managerial practices in the Group headquarters are strongly influenced by Danish culture. Lego Media's employees, mainly British, have their own national culture and sets of values. London managers are encouraged to compose with internal Danish way of working.
[...] So was the creation of a new venture: Lego Media International Lego Media International: the British subsidiary In 1996, Lego has ventured into a new and strategically important business area: media products for children. This expansion has encouraged Lego to set up a presence in countries outside Denmark. The venture Lego Media International was then set up in London as an independent company. The choice of the town is mainly linked to the fact that there was already a LEGOLAND park in Windsor. [...]
[...] What's more, the new coming Danes in the British Lego subsidiary were having difficulties in getting used to social behaviours shown by their counterparts. The numerous parties taking place after work, where alcohol was omnipresent, upset them. A British manager claimed: had the idea that Nordic people were very liberal, but now I see I've been mistaken”. Actually, in terms of social norms, it is under a false liberal guise that Denmark is a country whose people at heart behave in a puritanical way. [...]
[...] The Danes working with the British Lego subsidiary had a rather strict ethic, and an orientation towards results and performance. Danish managerial values are based on an egalitarian democratic system: individualism is less noticeable than in Great Britain, and that was precisely one of the problems they had to confront. Hierarchy dimension: Power distance Cultural differences also included the sense of hierarchy, which pretty much differed according to the national culture. Whereas the Danish employees were used to a participative and co-operative management style, they felt the British ones as more hierarchical. [...]
[...] In the everyday life context From the very beginning of the setup of the new British subsidiary of the Lego Company, the Danish managers felt there were substantial differences between their English counterparts and themselves. As the time was going on, these differences were gradually appearing in daily life situations. For instance, the Danes were quite surprised to see that the British employees did not hesitate to speak their minds, even if and especially if they disagreed with their bosses: discussions and little quarrels were usual when it came to working, or simply to casual conversations. [...]
[...] Our case study showed how difficult was the set up of a British Lego subsidiary. As Hofstede cross-cultural comparison showed, Danes and British managers differ mostly at the level of cultural values. In order to improve managerial practices between Danish headquarters and the British subsidiary, Lego developed the concept of “millennium meetings” which take place periodically and involve managers from Denmark and from Great Britain. These meeting were the building blocks of new cultural understanding. Employees were encouraged to discuss cross-cultural issues. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee