Corporate vs. Country

One video. Eleven minutes. auf Deutsch

Folks, country culture runs deeper than company culture. Let me to make the case for this:

Which came first? Literally. Which existed first, the company or the country where it was founded, where it has grown, where it currently exists? Formulated differently: which existed first the company or the culture of the people who founded and run the company?

Let’s get concrete: Which existed first Siemens or Germany and the German people? General Electric or the United States and the American people? Who existed first Werner von Siemens, the German or Werner von Siemens the engineer? Thomas Edison, the American or Thomas Edison, the inventor? How about Apple Computer: first Apple then the United States? And Steve Jobs: entrepreneur first, then an American? Was Jobs an entrepreneur, who happened to be an American or was he an American who became an entrepreneur? Let’s take BASF, the biggest chemical company in the world. Is that company more chemistry or is it more German? If you’re not sure, ask non-Germans who work for BASF.

Another way to ask the question is: Of the great, iconic American and German companies how many years – or decades – were they primarily a domestic company meaning operating in the U.S. or in Germany before then became a truly global company?

Ok, let’s take another approach to answering the question which runs deeper company or country culture: When it comes to the fundamentals to the foundation, to the deepest levels: in how we think, therefore in how we work who has more in common: a German mechanical engineer at Daimler in Stuttgart and an American mechanical engineer at Ford in Detroit in other words: two mechanical engineers, both in the auto industry or a German mechanical engineer at Daimler and a German marketing specialist at BASF, both Germans or an American mechanical engineer at Ford and an American working in finance at DOW Chemical, both Americans?

Asked in a different way: if you had five Germans and five Americans in a room and in each group was one person working in the disciplines of: engineering, manufacturing, service, marketing, sales so, a German engineer, a German in manufacturing, a German in service, a German in marketing, and a German in sales and the same on the American side and you asked each of them individually, separate from each other to respond to a handful of questions about foundational topics such as: communication, decision making, leadership, processes, etc. would their responses run along the lines of discipline or country culture in other words, would the Germans and the Americans in their respective disciplines, for example, engineering have the same or similar responses or would the Germans and the Americans respectively and independent of the disciplines in which they work have the same responses?

We are trying to get to an answer, to a truth what is the deeper driver, country culture or company culture, discipline, size of organisation, business sector, etc.

Let’s look at this from another angle: If it is true that after an agreement has been entered into Germans seldom do follow-up with each other whereas Americans do frequent follow-up with each other does that change based on: the company they are working for in which discipline they work, for example, in engineering in which business sector the company is operating whether the company is large, mid-sized or small? In other words do the American and German approaches to follow-up change based on the culture of the company they are working in?

What exactly is company culture? What does it mean? What would be examples of company culture? Is it plausible that such examples run deeper than national culture?

Even inanimate objects, like buildings, are cultural in their character can there be German office buildings which are not German in their character? Is there such a thing as architecture in Germany which is not fundamentally German? If it is the case, that even inanimate objects are based and driven by culture is it not the case that how people think, work, and interact is also based on and driven by culture?

Start-ups are start-ups, right? Wrong. An American start-up in Silicon Valley and a German start-up in Berlin are not the same. Because a start-up in Berlin or Munich is German first, then a start-up. They are German start-ups and not American start-ups.

A German engineer is a German first, then much later a German engineer. An American in marketing is an American first, then much later an American marketing specialist. Does anyone really believe that German engineers and Americans engineers think and work in the same ways? Well, if you’re not sure ask both American and German engineers who have significant experience in collaborating with each other.