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Modern Workforce: The Influence of Culture on Decision-Making Process

The influence of culture on decision-making is carried out mainly through shared beliefs and values that form a stable set of underlying assumptions among members of the organization. The individual’s perception of organizational reality is mostly determined by the fact that colleagues share the same views. Culture influences this process by providing members with a common interpretation of their experience (Rausch, Lindquist, & Steckel, 2014). In Eastern culture, the main focus is on understanding the essence of the problem and the feasibility of solving it based on consensus. Western decision-making culture is based on justifying options for action and implementing them as soon as possible. The emphasis is on individual decision-making and specific responsibility for their implementation. The desire of companies to expand the boundaries of their activities and become large multinational corporations and the participation of organizations in various forms of international cooperation have revealed new problems of organizational behavior related to different cultures. The influence of culture on ethical deliberation becomes an object of study and is a subject of great interest in the business. This paper will examine various aspects of cultural impact on the contemporary workforce.

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As a first example, the ethical philosophies of managers in the United States and Korea will be considered. According to the study of Paik, Lee, and Pak (2019), in this pair, the cross-cultural influence is asymmetric. Before the Asian financial crisis, Korean organizations used to utilize mainly Japanese business practices but, eventually, the US approach gained legitimacy as being more advanced and effective (Paik et al., 2019). Nowadays, Korean managers utilize more rule utilitarian than act utilitarian philosophy for moral decision-making. This finding contributes to the convergence of the US and Korean ethical philosophies (Paik et al., 2019). However, the Korean workforce does not adopt all the patterns typical of the United States. Particularly, it seems to accept relatively weak environment-related community norms. This fact indicates that interchange and adoption are not only asymmetric but also heterogeneous. Furthermore, Korean managers have a strong tendency to collectivist behavior and tend to have dual ethical standards, one for their personal life and another for professional activity (Paik et al., 2019). Most of the US managers do not correspond to this manner of thinking.

Certainly, these differences in ethical views can lead to different decisions related to business ethics issues. Korean managers’ strategy is based on situationism and acting in the interests of their company. They are less likely to listen to personal needs and concerns, while US managers take an individualistic approach, which resonates with the philosophy of act utilitarianism widely used by Koreans before the crisis. It should be noted that, according to Paik et al. (2019), this demeanor forces Korean managers to make more unethical decisions. Thus, although Korea borrows practices from the United States, it adapts them to its own cultural characteristics and attitudes. In both cases present, the factor of particular perception takes place, and a decision made by one side may seem unethical to the other. Nevertheless, business ethics is determined mainly by the company’s productivity and efficiency since it reflects the quality of international interaction and cultural collaboration.

In Vietnam, national culture also significantly influences people’s behavior and decision-making in the organization. The differences in the Eastern and Western decision-making systems have been explored for decades (Vitell, Nwachukwu, & Barnes, 1993). In fact, the principle of operation in Vietnam is similar to the Korean one. The Vietnamese approach is characterized by the presence of a single understanding of the solution for the entire team. Here, the Communist political system is blended with the long-term influence of Confucianism (Truong, Hallinger, & Sanga, 2017). Both provide a common view of the problem being solved. However, there is a tendency among managers to be less interested in the process itself and not even expect to participate in it (Truong et al., 2017). This happens primarily due to the authoritarian style of government in the country and a strict hierarchy in society. In comparison, for example, with Australia, Vietnam is not associated with criticism of leaders or free promotion of ideas for discussion (Truong et al., 2017). It is the result of many years of building a strong, unique system of values and leadership.

Undoubtedly, this kind of decision-making system implies its limitations for international interactions. Thus, since the interests of the company are represented by the ruling elite, the more progressive and effective initiatives of young employees are ignored, and often not brought up for a discussion at all. The business structure in the country represents an unequal distribution of power and autocracy in the decision-making process. Despite these features, the team’s harmonious and trusting relationships are of great importance due to the influence of Confucianism. Because of such combination, a tolerance towards authoritarian leaders occurs. In addition, hierarchy and adherence to traditions ensure continuous support for the existing system. Eventually, Vietnamese culture both preserves its own identity and barely adapts to the order of more progressive partners from other countries. There is no opportunity for full freedom of action and innovation due to the significant influence of politics and Confucian philosophy on all spheres of activity. Internal decision-making processes always remain conditioned by cultural background, even though Vietnam participates in international business relations.

In recent years, the number of international transactions is growing, and companies are hiring representatives of different nations and cultures to understand the target audience. However, to reach the goals needed, it is essential to establish internal processes, including interaction with the new employees. If particular workers or even companies act separately in terms of decision-making, and there is no exchange of knowledge between them, they do not learn from each other’s successes and mistakes (Shaw & Barry, 2015). It may be useful to organize cooperative training programs to share experiences and work together on projects in order to achieve an effective partnership. If the contradictions between cultures become too distressing and critical to work with, it is worth trying to organize a discussion workshop where the disputes will be identified, and ways to overcome them will be found. Methods of this kind can be applied both within the company and outside it. Moreover, the company can use intrinsic analysis to detect specific rules or principles that prevent full-fledged multinational integration and review them.

The recommendations mentioned would help adhere to moral decision-making while embracing diversity since they do not require a radical revision of the individual’s concepts. The employee remains entitled to appreciate their own system of values and priorities and is only expected to be willing to cooperate in a mutually beneficial way. The worker should not be subjected to any moral pressure since the cultural background initially plays a fundamental role in the formation of personality. In order to break through cultural misunderstandings, the company should nevertheless respect their presence because they are unavoidable in international interactions. It is completely unacceptable to take a radical approach to the problem since, as a result, cooperation becomes dysfunctional and may be interrupted. Despite the commercial nature of the business, the culture of the people who create it has a significant impact on the ethics of decision-making. Cultural cognition is closely linked to each individual and influences how the work process is finally organized.

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International business is an issue fraught with complications, especially when it comes to shared ventures or lengthy business negotiations. In addition to practical and technical aspects, managers have to face problems of national psychology and behavior involving difficulties beyond a simple agreement between accountants, engineers, and other specialists. It has become evident that the effectiveness of a particular company depends on its ability to adapt to other nations’ cultural differences. This paper examines the diversity mainly between Western and Eastern views on the ethical decision-making process. Thus, in the US, employees are more driven by their own thoughts and ideas, while in Korea and Vietnam, the collective interest matters. When a Western capitalist company implements into the economy of a socialist country, the risk of conflict increases significantly. Nonetheless, finding a solution in such circumstances is almost always possible since, in the end, the goal of both interacting companies is to get mutual benefits and profits. The presence of an advantage for each party makes the situation perspective and allows using various tools and methods to reach an agreement.


Paik, Y., Lee, J. M., & Pak, Y. S. (2019). Convergence in international business ethics? A comparative study of ethical philosophies, thinking style, and ethical decision-making between US and Korean managers. Journal of Business Ethics, 156(3), 839-855.

Rausch, A., Lindquist, T., & Steckel, M. (2014). A test of U.S. versus Germanic European ethical decision-making and perceptions of moral intensity: Could ethics differ within Western culture? Journal of Managerial Issues, 26(3), 259-285.

Shaw, W. H., & Barry, V. (2015). Moral issues in business. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Truong, T. D., Hallinger, P., & Sanga, K. (2017). Confucian values and school leadership in Vietnam: Exploring the influence of culture on principal decision making. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 45(1), 77-100.

Vitell, S. J., Nwachukwu, S. L. & Barnes, J. H. (1993). The effects of culture on ethical decision-making: An application of Hofstede’s typology. Journal of Business Ethics, 12(10), 753–760.

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