Culture in global business transformation projects : the discovery of a grounded theory

Reiter, Sebastian (2012) Culture in global business transformation projects : the discovery of a grounded theory. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Presently organisations engage in what is termed as Global Business Transformation Projects [GBTPs], for consolidating, innovating, transforming and restructuring their processes and business strategies while undergoing fundamental change. Culture plays an important role in global business transformation projects as these involve people of different cultural backgrounds and span across countries, industries and disciplinary boundaries. Nevertheless, there is scant empirical research on how culture is conceptualised beyond national and organisational cultures but also on how culture is to be taken into account and dealt with within global business transformation projects.

This research is situated in a business context and discovers a theory that aids in describing and dealing with culture. It draws on the lived experiences of thirty-two senior management practitioners, reporting on more than sixty-one global business transformation projects in which they were actively involved. The research method used is a qualitative and interpretive one and applies a grounded theory approach, with rich data generated through interviews. In addition, vignettes were developed to illustrate the derived theoretical models.

The findings from this study contribute to knowledge in multiple ways. First, it provides a holistic account of global business transformation projects that describe the construct of culture by the elements of culture types, cultural differences and cultural diversity. A typology of culture types has been developed which enlarges the view of culture beyond national and organisational culture including an industry culture, professional service firm culture and 'theme' culture. The amalgamation of the culture types instantiated in a global business transformation project compromises its project culture. Second, the empirically grounded process for managing culture in global business transformation projects integrates the stages of recognition, understanding and management as well as the enablement providing a roadmap for dealing with culture in global business transformation projects. Third, this study identified contextual variables to global business transformation projects, which provide the means of describing the environment global business transformation projects are situated, influence the construct of culture and inform the process for managing culture. Fourth, the contribution to the research method is the positioning of interview research as a strategy for data generation and the detailed documentation applying grounded theory to discover theory.

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ID Code: 63316
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Stewart, Glenn, Rosemann, Michael, & Bruce, Christine
Additional Information: The Faculty has granted an embargo of two years for this thesis.
Keywords: culture, cultural differences, cultural diversity, global business transformation projects, grounded theory, interview, qualitative research
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 14 Oct 2013 02:12
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2015 14:01

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