Developing managers Essay

This essay has a total of 12153 words and 68 pages.

Developing managers

Developing Managers: The Functional, the Symbolic, the Sacred and the Profane [*].
Author/s: Ken Kamoche


This paper offers a new perspective on international management by examining the role of
culture and management development in creating international expertise, a sense of
identity and realizing organizational control. A critical analysis of the culture
transmission and management development philosophy and practice of a UK-based
transnational reveals how the transmission of culture accomplishes management development
objectives, while management development itself serves as a vehicle for the transmission
of the desired corporate values. This recursiveness is sustained by a corporate ideology
that urges the creation of integrative values and, in turn, is legitimized by the quest
for favourable functional and symbolic consequences.

Descriptors: management training and development, culture, ideology, functionalism, symbolism


Reconciling headquarter-subsidiary interests while maintaining a distinct identity
continues to be a major challenge for multinational firms, hence the think global/act
local paradox. For Ghoshal and Bartlett (1990) this problem can be addressed by
effectively handling the network of exchange relationships. Other solutions include
socialization and the management of expatriates (e.g. Edstrom and Galbraith 1977; Tung
1982); managing relationships between expatriates and host-country subordinates (e.g. Shaw
1990); creating cultural synergy (e.g. Adler 1980); fostering cooperative relationships
and developing conflict-resolution mechanisms (e.g. Doz et al. 1981); diffusing 'best
proven practices' (e.g. Rosenzweig and Singh 1991); reconciling organizational linkages
(e.g. Borys and Jemison 1989) and diffusing and leveraging knowledge (e.g. Gupta and
Govindarajan 1991; Kamoche 1996). Bartlett and Ghoshal (1989: 187) found that successful
transnational firms used management development 'to build cultural norms, sha pe
organizational processes and influence individual managerial behaviour in a way that
reinforced worldwide strategies and organizational objectives'. This implies a potentially
integrative role for culture and management training and development (MTD).

Going beyond the typical concern with 'better skills', this study offers a much more
complex and multi-faceted picture of MTD which reveals an intricate interplay between MTD
and corporate culture. We show how managers in a multinational firm disguised as
International Products (IP) account for their training and career development activities
and how they rationalize such activities in terms of an integrative corporate culture. [1]
Thus, MTD serves as a tool for the transmission of culture, while a putative integrative
culture in turn furnishes the rationale for MTD. This recursiveness finds legitimacy in
the ideological premise, promulgated by senior management, that it is in the joint
interests of the firm and the managers to absorb and internalize the organizational values
inherent in the corporate culture, because this helps managers to secure a high-flying
career. The legitimacy of this assumption is analyzed by adopting a two-pronged approach
which examines the functional and symbolic explanations for t he MTD-culture interplay.
Below, we set out the three components of our conceptual model.

Management Training and Development

MTD includes personal development, socialization and organizational change (e.g.
Margerison 1991; Mumford 1989) and the design and application of competencies to improve
behavioural outcomes (e.g. Boam and Sparrow 1992; Boyatzis 1982; Spencer and Spencer
1993). The concept of 'learning' has also been central to MTD, from 'action learning'
(e.g. Revans 1980), and 'experiential learning' (e.g. Kolb 1984), to the more recent
developments in the 'learning organization' (e.g. Argyris 1996). The dominant theme in MTD
is the development of managerial expertise to enhance organizational functioning. Thus, it
has been argued that managerial expertise can be a source of strategic value through
effective teamwork (e.g. Hambrick 1987), in so far as managers with superior skills can
generate rents (e.g. Castanias and Helfat 1991), and given the experiential aspect of
international networking and expatriate assignments (e.g. Roth 1995).

Others have attempted to demonstrate how managerial and professional competencies support
organizational strategies (e.g. Boam and Sparrow 1992; Sparrow 1994). While there seems to
be some evidence that MTD can positively affect organizational performance, especially
when linked with strategy (Winterton and Winterton 1997), the difficulty of establishing
such a linkage has led some to accept the value of MTD as an act of faith. In
international management, the MTD agenda has to go beyond skill formation and competence
creation to embrace the diffusion and transmission of knowledge across borders and
cultures. The uni-dimensional view about the functional value of MTD is ripe for critical
analysis. Lees' (1992) theoretical analysis of why much of MTD exists, even though there
is little evidence of improvements in corporate performance, is a useful starting point.
This paper goes further, to explore managers' explicit and apparent interests in MTD in an
organization that is well-known for developing internation al expertise.

The Transmission of Culture

The concept of culture is now a familiar theme and will not be discussed here (see e.g.
Deal and Kennedy 1982; Hofstede 1980; Schein 1985; Trice and Beyer 1993; Turner 1989).
Instead, we focus attention on the transmission of culture, a less understood issue. An
understanding of the processes of culture transmission is important because the acceptance
or absorption of culture by organizational members tells us something about the members'
commitment to the organizational objectives. This can be illustrated in Scott's (1987)
argument that 'strong' cultures sustain commitment to the organization through a belief
system. It is in this regard that Harrison and Carroll (1991) examine how organizations
seek to maintain the allegiance and loyalty of their members. Culture transmission
processes typically assume that culture comprises 'artefacts' and that it is the manager's
task to manage them in order to bring about desired changes in employee behaviour (e.g.
Trice and Beyer 1985). This encourages the view that man agers are the objective creators
and manipulators of a corporate culture that they are themselves immune to, and their task
is to inculcate the corporate culture in employees through selection, performance
management and socialization.

This paper therefore sheds new light on the culture transmission process by examining how
and why managers generate a culture for themselves. In their culture transmission model,
Harrison and Carroll (1991) consider three factors: (a) recruitment: selecting those who
best fit the organization's culture; (b) socialization: intensifying the enculturation of
employees, e.g. through orientation and reward systems, and (c) turnover: retaining highly
socialized employees and encouraging the departure of the rest. Thus, when the
organization is able to control the 'demographic flow' of its members by carefully
managing the entry, retention and exit phases, culture transmission is achievable.

The use of clearly defined manifestations of culture, e.g. metaphors, logos, stories,
rituals, totems, and so forth, has been found to reinforce cultural values, and lead to
the acceptance of organizational goals (e.g. Berg 1986; Kamoche 1995; Peters 1987; Pfeffer
1981; Wilson 1992). As for the tools of transmission, we argue that the role of training
has been ignored in preference to other HR activities such as selection and rewarding. To
the extent that training involves teaching and reinforcing desired forms of behaviour, it
is a potentially powerful mechanism of culture transmission. This is because whatever
organizational values are incorporated into the training courses, they assume legitimacy
by becoming part of the 'knowledge' required for job performance and career advancement.
This is captured in the words of an Argentinian manager at IP who said: 'the company
culture is spread by managers coming to the centre to take courses, and by having
expatriates at operating companies, expatriates from all co untries we operate in'.


In an effort to bring the ideological debate closer to organization theory, Bendix (1956)
sought to explain managerial ideologies in terms of historical, cultural, political and
economic factors, and, in particular, how ideologies are used to advance material
interests. Many writers have taken the over-simplistic view that ideology is about shared
norms and beliefs. Beyer (1981: 166) defines ideology as 'relatively coherent sets of
beliefs that bind some people together and that explain their worlds in terms of
cause--effect relations. Meyer (1982: 47) adopts Beyer's (1981) definition, but goes
further to suggest that the cause-and-effect is 'circular because ideologies also shape
their adherents' worlds'. Dunbar et al. (1982: 91) define ideologies as 'shared beliefs
which reflect the social experience in a particular context and particular time'; this
definition comes closer to locating ideas within a historical context, though the basis of
the contention amongst different groups is not developed further. Fo r Starbuck (1982),
ideologies are 'logically integrated clusters of beliefs, values, rituals, and symbols'.
Brunsson (1982: 38) takes a more simplistic view that 'ideology is a set of ideas' and
does not explore their socio-historical context.

The tendency to treat ideology as unproblematic ignores the contested nature of the
generation of ideas and thus legitimizes the assumption of 'shared values' supposedly
inherent in ideology. Stace (1996) falls into this trap by describing 'change ideologies'
without either defining ideology or examining its socio-political origins and/or
implications. In a critical analysis of the role of ideology in fostering American market
capitalism, Spich (1995) observes that ideologies are neither accurate nor honest
depictions of reality. For Spich (1995: 20), 'an ideology is a belief system and official
viewpoint created, expressed and maintained through institutions ... which offers
explanations for the world and its working'. This opens the debate to a more critical
examination of the motives and interests underpinning the creation and propagation of
ideology. Similarly, Weiss and Miller (1987) emphasize the need to analyze ideology with
reference to 'its central theoretical focus on contention among groups and ind ividuals
with different social positions and material interests' (Weiss and Miller 1987: 108). In
their conception of ideology as 'a set of beliefs about how the social world operates',
Simons and Ingram (1997: 784), recognize the role of power and politics in determining
what outcomes are 'desirable in a society'. In this regard, we examine the role of
ideology in legitimizing organizational outcomes and how managers are socialized to think
and act in ways that help to realize those outcomes.

A Conceptual Model

The key constructs are brought together to generate a model, as illustrated in Figure 1.
We analyze the model within the context of IP and then show how it is realized and
legitimized through functionalist and symbolic consequences. The importance of these
consequences emerged from discussions with managers and thus clearly reflects managerial
practice. To understand this process, it may be useful to recall Giddens' (1973: 69)
'duality of structure', which refers to the recursiveness of social life, in which 'the
structural properties of social systems are both the medium and the outcome of the
practices that constitute those systems'. We theorize that MTD activities serve as a
mechanism for the production of corporate culture; at the same time, the transmission of
culture is itself an MTD mechanism. The organization thus comes to be constituted and
reproduced through the managers' conscious efforts to realize cultural and personal
developmental outcomes. The formulation of this model is located firmly within the
organizational strategies and specific policies to train IP managers into competent, high
achievers. This is examined more fully in the sections below. The following section
characterizes the MTD culture dialectic at IP.

Management Training and Development at IP

This description of MTD was generated from documentary materials and discussions with IP
managers, in particular those who were involved in MTD planning and design (i.e. the
British training and assistant training managers, the British remuneration manager and the
Belgian training manager -- the key informants). MTD at IP is described as:

'The process by which managers are prepared by selection and experience to meet the
present and future needs of the concern and its constituent parts: companies, departments,
management groups.' (Source: Official Training Policy documents)

It includes courses at the company's prestigious training institute (IPI) and
international assignments involving the systematic rotation of managers around the world,
for 2-4 years at a time. International assignments are based on an evaluation of managers
slated for senior level positions. Managers aspiring to the top echelons must expect to
take 2-3 international assignments in their career, and a series of recommended courses.
The training programmes resemble a mini-MBA, with staff drawn from top American and
European business schools. There are four categories of courses: focused 'workshops' on
specific topics like new accounting regulations, quality standards, etc; 'awareness'
courses on new disciplines (e.g. introducing commercial managers to production issues);
'functional' for more specialized knowledge within disciplines, (e.g. advanced marketing
for marketing managers); and 'general management', covering an assortment of strategic and
policy issues for all managers. Evaluation criteria for career a dvancement include:
academic or professional qualifications, yearly performance measures, problem solving,
decision making, working under pressure, competency in key operational areas,
international orientation (language proficiency and international assignments undertaken),
leadership and individual potential. It also covers the extent to which they have
conducted themselves in line with corporate, i.e. cultural, values. For example, to what
extent has a manager upheld professional ethics?; how accessible are they to subordinates?
This is designed to internalize cultural values. Career planning therefore requires a
careful assessment of managers' developmental needs and aspirations, and the
organizational requirements. In this way, individual aspirations and organizational goals
become intertwined through the MTD-culture dialectic.

Culture at IP

It did not seem useful to measure the attributes of the IP culture. Following Sackman
(1992) on inductive research on subcultures as opposed to a priori hypothesizing, I sought
to infer the meaning of IP culture by observing managerial behaviour, listening to
managers' accounts of lived experiences and what they thought were the distinctive
manifestations of their culture. A thematic analysis revealed the following as the most
widely accepted features of IP culture: professionalism and business ethics; capacity to
see the 'whole business picture' (i.e. generalization rather than specialization);
cautious, risk-averse decision-making; highly bureaucratic procedures; non-abrasiveness in
communication and personal relations; minimal use of obvious perks and office status
symbols; accessibility to managers. [2] Views on IP culture evolved around the desired
behavioural norms, especially for those involved in international assignments. Virtually
all the managers interviewed reported that they 'felt at home' at oth er subsidiaries
because they recognized the IP culture, which indicates that the above values represent a
belief system that defines the identity of P. Culture transmission begins with
selection/induction and progresses through subsequent training and career management.
Managers can expect to advance through the hierarchy it by their behaviour, they
demonstrate an adherence to the above corporate/cultural values.

The Role of Ideology

Following Beyer (1981) and Simons and Ingram (1997), we draw from Apter's (1964)
contention that ideology is the link between belief and action (see Figure 1). This view
is developed further in Wilson's (1973) treatment of ideology in terms of how it engenders
understanding and at the same time serves as a guide for action. We adopt this view of
ideology to argue that the understanding of the reality of the social world of IP is
achieved through a conception of cultural beliefs. These beliefs are realized in part
through the actions of managers to achieve the status of an international organization as
well as their own career objectives through MTD. Therefore, while the cultural values
represent the belief system, MTD offers the opportunity for action. The belief system
stands for the set of ideas as to how the social world of IP operates, and more
importantly, what is considered to be the 'right' way to behave and act. Through the
analytical concept of ideology, we can begin to understand the assumptions abo ut the
'right' way to behave, whose interests are being served and why IP managers acquiesce in
the supposedly integrative values.

By embedding integrative values within the MTD system that determines career advancement,
the organization in effect emasculates potentially deviant and non-conformist individual
interests. The tendency for organizations to select and socialize members in order to
enhance ideological conformity or homogeneity has been observed (e.g. Dunbar et al. 1982;
Kanter 1977; Simons and Ingram 1997). Dunbar et al. (1982: 97) observe that if such
efforts are successful, 'ideologies may become valued as correct, familiar, and
beneficial, and the limitations of these ideologies may be unnoticed or denied'. At IP,
the search for ideological homogeneity through integrative cultural values secures an even
higher level of legitimacy because managers believe that MTD delivers a successful career.
In a similar vein, Spich (1995: 22) argues that 'the closer the ideology is to serving the
needs for knowing of individuals, the more likely they will turn to it as an explanatory
system, no matter how imperfect it might be'. To unders tand managers' acquiescence in the
corporate ideology, we argue that the dynamic recursiveness between MTD and culture at IP
appeared to serve two specific purposes: a functionalist one which allows managers to
realize career interests and networking, while at the same time serving the organization's
interests by inculcating culture and securing organizational control; secondly, it
facilitates a rite of passage and appears to possess a totemic quality. These two
perspectives were gleaned from in-depth interviews. We argue here that the IP ideology
that harmonizes MTD and culture, assumes legitimacy through the functional and symbolic
purposes it serves. Below, we detail the research process that generated these insights.


Data Collection and Analysis

Research, using multiple methods, was carried out over a twelve-month period (during
1993-94) in the London head office of IP, a multinational firm with interests ranging from
food processing to healthcare products. At the time of the research the entire group
comprised 500 (part-owned and affiliated) companies in 70 countries. It had $38 billion in
sales and $2 billion in profit. Initial contact took place through correspondence with the
key informants. Subsequent visits involved numerous meetings with the key informants and
an opportunity to analyze official documentation and archival records, MTD policies and
syllabi, including training, expatriation and socialization. However, access to the
training institute was denied, 'as a matter of policy'. While it would have been helpful
to interview managers taking courses at the time, this was not a serious handicap since 10
of the 25 informants were IPI graduates. The rest considered themselves eligible; a stint
at head office was thought to be a good omen. Also , I was satisfied that sufficient
training documentation was available at the head office.

The first phase of the research thus focused on making sense of the reality of MTD through
informal discussions with managers and other staff, studying the MTD literature, and
observing behaviour in the open-plan offices, seminar lounges and recreational areas. The
key informants frequently helped me to select other informants randomly and purposefully
(Patton 1980) -- thus obtaining a sample of managers from different backgrounds
(functional and national). The second phase comprised formal interviews, each lasting up
to 90 minutes. A total of 25 managers were interviewed, 10 from the European region and
based at the Centre. The rest were selected opportunistically from those on assignments at
the Centre; they were from Asia, Africa and South America. Four of the former and 6 of the
latter were IPI graduates.

IP has an integrated career development system that tracks and categorizes high-potential
management as follows: (A) 10 percent, senior managers, e.g. members of corporate boards
(directors), works managers of large companies; (B) 20 percent, upper middle managers,
e.g. marketing managers, production managers, management accountants; (C) 70 percent,
lower middle managers, e.g. departmental production managers. A profile of the informants
is summarized in Figure 2. It is not claimed that the respondents form a representative
sample. Rather than seeking generalizability at the level of populations, it was intended
that the data would facilitate the explanation of social phenomena at the level of
subjective experience using qualitative analysis. In this regard, Van Maanen (1983: 10)
reminds us that such data 'are symbolic, contextually embedded, cryptic, and reflexive,
standing for nothing so much as their readiness or stubbornness to yield a meaningful
interpretation and response'. Similarly, Gummesson (1988: 7 9, emphasis in original)
argues that generalizability in a single case should be seen in terms of achieving 'a
fundamental understanding of the structure, process and driving forces, rather than a
superficial establishment of correlation or cause-effect relationships'.

Formal interviews were followed up with subsequent visits and telephone conversations for
further information, clarification and corroboration. The interview checklist included
questions such as: what do you consider as the distinctive features of the way managers
behave here? What distinguishes IP from rival companies? What do managers need to do to
succeed? What kinds of people are most likely to have an exemplary career? How important
is an international assignment for career advancement? What are managers hoping to achieve
from MTD? What does the firm expect from managers undergoing MTD? What is it like to take
an assignment here? What is it like to take a course at IPI? What does a visit to IP and
IPI do for one's career? The key questions were explored with appropriate probing. This
approach has been successfully used in other inductive and qualitative research on culture
(e.g. Hofstede et al. 1990; Sackman 1992). Through a qualitative analysis, I was able to
piece together the commonly held values of IP culture and how these are linked to the
major objectives of MTD, as described in the training policies and interviews. These are
illustrated in Figure 3.

There was widespread consensus about the 'integrative' role of culture, the link between
culture, MTD and a successful career. As there were no significant differences in opinion
based on geographical origin, the views are treated as those of a fairly homogenous cadre
of high-flier managers. [3] For example, all the informants agreed that it was more
'prestigious' to visit IPI than the Centre. None of the 15 visiting managers expressed an
interest in a permanent position at the Centre. Only the Pakistani marketing manager
admitted that he would be interested in taking up a senior position at the Centre later in
his career. One noteworthy difference based on IPI status was that 'analytical thinking'
was rated the most important dimension of MTD by WI graduates (3 UK-based; 5 Other); for
non-IPI graduates, the most significant dimension was 'broad vision' (4 UK-based; 7

The functional and symbolic aspects were analyzed with reference to the conceptual model
and illustrated with selected quotes from the interviews. Following Ragin (1994), we adopt
an interpretive approach to facilitate theory building and the understanding of 'meaning'.
This, according to Ragin (1994: 92), is the 'key to in-depth knowledge.' This paper thus
achieves depth through an incisive and detailed analysis.

A Functionalist Perspective

'Functionalist' here refers both to the purposive use of policies/practices to achieve
managerially sanctioned objectives aimed at enhancing organizational performance and
effectiveness, and the quest for practically useful outcomes. In this regard, Burrell and
Morgan (1988: 26) argue that the 'functionalist paradigm':

'seeks to provide essentially rational explanations of social affairs. It is a perspective
which is highly pragmatic in orientation, concerned to understand society in a way which
generates knowledge which can be put to use ... Concerned to provide practical solutions
to practical problems.'

This rationality is a dominant theme in the management literature. Selznick (1948: 25)
articulated this by describing the formal organization as 'the structural expression of
rational action'. Thus Functionalism offers a plausible explanation for the
'commonsensical' purposes of acquiring and utilizing managerial expertise, and
disseminating corporate culture. The corporate objectives were to create a highly
competent cadre of managers who accepted and shared IP cultural values, while managers
sought favourable consequences in personal development and career advancement. These are
examined below.

Inculcating an IP Culture

According to one IP manager: 'companies drift a lot all the time, but not culturally. if
you can educate people about your culture, you'll stay afloat'. This perspective was
evident in interviews and training manuals. Assignments are held at the Centre and
business concepts are taught at IPI with a view to enhancing cultural values as
illustrated in Figure 3. Specific cultural training programmes and seminars are designed
to increase cultural sensitivity for international assignments. One aspect of business
ethics is their policy not to engage in corrupt practices, even if it means loss of
business. Various managers reported that training was not just about courses, but also
about 'allowing people to make mistakes' in order to create trust, a learning environment,
and an P perspective. According to one manager:

'By being at the Centre you learn about the long-term strategy and culture and eventually
become an IP man. Coming to the Centre has an aura of advancement, and it helps you to
bring together your thoughts and beliefs which are more in line with the company. I always
feel I move too fast for others, especially in Chile where the pace is really fast. But
coming here slows you down, gets you to see things from the company's point of view.'
(Chilean commercial manager)

The extent to which managers understand and absorb corporate values is measured through
regular performance evaluation and review on completion of courses/assignments. The review
involves reports on 'learning points' and a proposal on how to implement lessons learned.
Career management involves evaluating managers' capacity to train others and inculcate
corporate values. Managers realize, therefore, that their own advancement is partly
dependent on their ability to transmit the IP culture. One noteworthy outcome is that
manager turnover was described as 'close to nil'. This is attributable to, inter alia, the
firm's retention strategy, whereby managers accept the IP culture and can realize career
prospects. The use of financial, motivational and cultural instruments to secure retention
has been noted (e.g. Kamoche and Mueller 1998). The achievement of 'ideological
homogeneity' is therefore manifest in the way people opt to work for TP, or how IP
policies select people. Managers described how IP created and ta ught its cultural values
by 'teaching' managers and subordinates, tolerating mistakes to allow people to learn, and
building trust. The quotes below illustrate the diversity of these processes:

'We want to hire people who aren't too specialized and are excited by an international
career. I wouldn't, for example work for a UK firm, I think they're too narrow. They see
their world on very British terms, and you can't afford to do that if you're competing
globally, let alone in Europe.' (British commercial manager)

'We don't believe in hiring mavericks, you know, the types that really stick out. We want
team players who really support the IP style. Once they understand the IP vision, they can
respond to external pressures. So, as an IP manager, you have to be a part of this whole
culture to do your job.' (Pakistani marketing manager)

'How do you get people to be international? We move them around jobs across the world, get
them to see the world. That way they become flexible in their thinking, you get rid of the
stagnation. Those who are afraid of change phase themselves out, and you're left with the
real IP people.' (Zimbabwean marketing manager)

'While selecting graduate trainees, it's natural to look for those who look like
yourselves. It just happens, unconsciously. It can be very dangerous, you know --
discrimination, equal opportunities. And in South Africa, you see a lot of abuse
everywhere; for example the development of Black managers is quite franidy abysmal.'
(South African management accountant)

The transmission of culture is not a fait accompli. The problem of transmitting culture to
subordinates and those not fortunate enough to participate in high-flier MTD was widely
acknowledged. While teaching business ethics and leadership is easy enough, it is much
more difficult to appreciate the sense of an integrative corporate ethos second-hand.
Therefore, as implied by writers who are wedded to the idea of ideology as a shared set of
beliefs, the integrative capacity of culture cannot be taken for granted. There are
potential difficulties in the perpetuation of an integrative ideology through culture. One
West African manager said: 'you get to the top faster if you're British; for those not in
the culture, it's not so easy'. The manager considered this a source of resentment. For

'Culture is about perceptions, and you can never know how people deal with perceptions.
How do you communicate perceptions? Are people learning anything from you? You can never
know. Culture has to be experienced. It cannot be taught. The thousands who don't come to
the head office can only imagine what it's like here. You can't teach them. Impossible!'
(Brazilian technical director)

'It's hard to create culture, and even harder to teach it to others, you know, new people.
Of course we all know what values IP considers important, and by coming here we're making
a statement about these values. We agree with them and uphold them. But you can't have a
high-powered induction with really overt cultural signs. So I suppose IP gets the managers
it deserves.' (British production manager)

Evidently, the IP culture has been largely accepted as the 'correct way to perceive, think
and feel' (Schein 1985) in relation to international management. However, the critical
views and resentment are indicative of hidden multiple and possibly divergent interests.

Subtle Appeal To Managerial Self-Interest

This section considers the functionalist reasons why managers subscribe to the IP
ideology. We argue here that although they may well have a genuine sympathy with the
ideology, the functionalist analysis suggests that their own self-interest plays a central
role. It would seem reasonable to assume that an obvious incentive is remuneration.
Indeed, Ackers and Preston (1997) have noted the capacity of culturally sanctioned
management development activities to elicit the acceptance and compliance of managers
where tangible incentives are offered. This can ultimately lead to a 'culture trap' (Kunda
1992) which combines normative pressure with seductiveness and coercion, with the
potential for 'totalitarian control' (Willmott 1993). Normative control and seductiveness
would seem to have resonances with the experience of managers at IP. The remuneration
policy was described as 'internationally competitive', but confidential. In international
assignments, careful assessment is carried out to ensure that the manager is not worse
off. However, seductiveness did not appear to arise from financial reward. An alternative
explanation was suggested by frequent claims that managers who anticipated going to IPI
did not expect to learn much on the IPI courses; IPI graduates also reported that they had
acquired little new knowledge.

'I can't say I learned anything new on the course. The real training takes place at work
-- through years of experience. It's like jazz music, you train hard for years, and the
real test is when all the musicians are improvising together. Same thing with (MTD), we
all bring something to the course, and the test is how do we get it to work?' (Argentinian
Commercial Director)

'It's not what's on the course that really matters. It's the other things you do while
you're there, the people you meet, networking, learning from each other. It's the
interaction with colleagues from the whole of the IP group. So if you ask me what did I
learn about marketing, finance etc., that I didn't know before, I'll say, yeah, some new
concepts, cases ... but at the end of the day, it's the whole package.' (Dutch commercial

Watson (1994: 161) found a similar ambivalence about management courses in a UK firm:
managers were not sure what their courses were 'good for', and therefore sought to explain
them in terms of building confidence and networking. The question is why are managers
prepared to invest their time and effort on courses which, by their own admission, are
somewhat at variance with the official policy? The answer appears to lie in the promise of
managerial accomplishment. Managers are taught to expect rapid career advancement up the
scale in line with their own aspirations and are encouraged to pursue high-profile

'The development of people at every level of its business is of critical importance to
those individuals who have the potential to achieve positions in senior management.'
(Source: Official Training Policy documents)

'Personnel policies give people incentives to come up with their own track record rather
than just for the company. An excellent track record is the mark of a successful career,
and this is what we very much encourage.' (Belgian training manager)

'We encourage people, support them and do all we can to develop them into world-class
achievers. It's very important that you have an outstanding career, it says who you are,
and what you're doing for the firm.' (British remuneration manager)

Managers reported that IP offered the prospects of a very rewarding career; they felt
'valued', and in turn developed an obligation to 'make the operation work' in the words of
one manager. As such, the firm made a promise of success to those who were prepared to
internalize its values. This was frequently reinforced by exhortations to join 'fast
stream development' and become 'world-class achievers'. These exhortations appeared to be
consistent with managers' self-interests. They reported that they were attracted to IP by
the 'opportunity to succeed'. The task of disseminating IP ideology to people who are, for
all practical purposes, converted ab initio, becomes fairly unproblematic. MTD has been
shown in the literature to reinforce elitism, status and the organizational hierarchy
(e.g. Anthony 1986; Lees 1992). In addition, the status and ideological aspect of learning
to facilitate entry into a new role has been recognized (e.g. Holman and Hall 1996). The
search for exclusivity and status within the IP co mmunity was a widely shared value.
However, some managers questioned its long-term implications, as in the quotes below.

'There's scope to develop more people but they don't do it. They simply ignore the
benefits because they can't see them now and they think it's too costly in the short term.
So they focus on high-fliers and ignore the other 95 percent. These are the ones who don't
contribute to the culture because they've never experienced it. They don't believe in it.
So what happens to them? There's a lot of wasted potential. To release their potential you
have to invest-manage time, and allow them to make mistakes.' (Chilean accountant)

'The firm hasn't always been run by high-fliers. Teamwork has always been a part of who we
are. But now, by identifying high-fliers, I fear we'll eventually alienate those with
limited ambition. Not everyone wants to get to the top, you know -- even managers. I walk
around a lot and try to stay in touch with what's going on, see that people understand our
culture. No-one should be in a dead-end job ... it just creates resentment.' (Indian
General Manager)

The critics agreed, however, that career interests can override concerns about real or
potential inequalities if one continues to benefit from the system. This demonstrates the
role that managerial self-interest plays in sustaining the IP ideology. Next we examine
how managerial accomplishment is enhanced further through networking and socialization.

Networking, Socialization and Control

Networking is considered an essential career advancement and survival mechanism for
managers who are constantly on the move. Through a comprehensive system of company and
personal networks, managers share information and seek new ideas on personal and
professional matters, for example through the IP Expatriate Link. Practical outcomes of
networking include quick acclimatization and information sharing for inter-company
collaborations e.g. in product development. The key players in networking and
socialization are senior executives who act as mentors and are often informally referred
to as 'Senators'. [4] Careers hinged around the capacity to make oneself visible to
Senators, whose role was explained as follows:

'The head office is like a parliament with a lot of politicians planning and discussing
the future of the company. The key executives are like Senators. If you don't know the
Senators it's very difficult to advance. You have to constantly lobby, talk to people in
private, find out what's going on, get involved. Just don't get left out.' (Chilean
commercial manager)

'Life is fast in Argentina, and you've got to take risks all the time ... If you don't
take risks, you're putting the business at risk. Here in London, life is too slow. When
you come here, you feel like you've lost your job. Can be a bad feeling. You have no
business; you feel remote, removed from the real world of business. The good thing is you
make lots of contact with IP people, and share in the culture. That's really the good
part, because you'll need these contacts. You'll need the Senators.' (Argentinian finance

The mentors not only give advice, but also help to imbue their wards with a bigger sense
of what IP stands for and to help them identify their role within that community. This is
consistent with Trice and Beyer's (1993: 130) view that 'organizational socialization
consists of social processes through which organizations transmit to members the
expectations associated with their roles'. For Van Maanen and Schein (1979) this form of
socialization defines the individual's movement along 'inclusionary boundaries'.
Networking enables the IP manager to acquire the social knowledge necessary to be an
'insider', and to be accepted as a member of the cadre of high-fliers. Some quotes
illustrate this:

'Before I went to IPI I was actually told by my superiors to make contacts for the future,
to get people's business cards, and even photos if possible. They were really serious
about it. Business cards I could understand, but photographs! It seemed funny at the time,
but now I see what they meant.' (Nigerian production manager)

'Working in different countries and meeting different kinds of people certainly helps you
to learn about other cultures that you have to deal with in your career. Most managers
believe networking here at the Centre is even better, because it carries that special aura
... gives you an edge ... like one of the chosen few.' (Kenyan training manager)

Networking serves an unambiguous functional purpose in career advancement:

'In a place that's full of very ambitious people, there's a lot of competition. That's
where networking comes in -- you might need to get someone to notice you. It happens
informally, not deliberately.' (Pakistani personnel manager)

However, networking and 'being noticed' can be a double-edged sword:

'It can work both ways. You can have someone up there help pull you up. But also if you've
messed up sometime in the past, someone will remember, and it can hurt. This networking
can be tricky business.' (Ghanaian finance manager)

Sending managers from the head office to the subsidiaries, coupled with a systematic
process of socialization has long been identified as a control mechanism (e.g. Edstrom and
Galbraith 1977). This was attested to by IP managers. The official policy states that the
expatriate numbers should be kept at a minimum so as to develop local talent without
compromising the development of international expertise. This also serves to assure local
managers of career prospects at the highest levels in the country or region, in effect
reinforcing their acceptance of MTD by virtue of the promise of managerial accomplishment.

'Sending expatriates to operating companies serves to keep a London eye on things, to make
sure everything's fine. In some parts of Africa it's necessary, but when we have more and
more people coming here, it creates confidence, so the managers can be left to get on with
the job.' (Cote d'Ivorian production manager)

'It's inevitable that expatriates will be used as a form of control. Sometimes you need
the centre to remind people about ethics and standards, which in some places can get a bit
slack, to be honest.' (Nigerian marketing manager)

'Having expats is often essential at the beginning, but if you continue to have too many
it shows you're not developing locals. Locals get frustrated and leave since they don't
see a future there. Then the headquarters just send more because they don't trust you. The
thing to do is to get good locals, train them, give them the IP culture and let them get
on with their job.' (Pakistani marketing manager)

Control by sending subsidiary managers to the headquarters has virtually been ignored in
the literature. This form of control is more subtle, because managers perceive the stint
at the Centre as a privilege and reward for competence and loyalty. Visiting managers
reported that, despite the rigorous evaluation system which was monitored at the Centre,
it was not unusual for individuals to lobby their superiors to be 'nominated' for a course
or assignment. Most understand that it takes more than consistent high achievement to
'join the club'. This opens the way for political activity, which, in addition to helping
the politically adept influence the circumstances that lead to their selection, also
attests to their potential 'to network' -- a cherished quality at IP. Of the 15 visiting
managers 5 thought the choice was based in part on lobbying and the need to reward
perceived loyalty. However, an IPI graduate criticized those who spent all their time
lobbying and engaging in politics; according to him, the comp any was so big 'it was like
a paradise for those who don't want to work'. A non-IPI graduate reported:

'Sometimes the decision about when to train is flawed. The most important courses are
reserved for key people, rather than for those who really need them. And if you select
individuals on questionable criteria, it raises questions about whether you're creating a
capacity for the whole company. What sense does it make for someone who has been a
marketing manager for twelve years to go on an advertising evaluation programme? You can
only conclude that the company is trying to thank them or stop them from leaving.'
(Nigerian marketing manager)

The tangibility of these reward/retention mechanisms would appear to play a decisive role
in legitimizing the integrative ideology. The managers' loyalty is won because their very
presence at head office signifies that their potential for senior management has been
recognized. The complexity and dynamic nature of the ideology is such that the
star-performers help the firm, albeit inadvertently, to secure further control over the
behavioural outcomes of MTD.

The foregoing discussion has revealed the multifaceted nature of MTD at IP. On one level,
managers sought after and, in the main, achieved clear-cut career objectives which were
consistent with the firm's culture transmission strategy. This process is politically
charged: through networking, and socialization. By lobbying powerful executives,
individuals seek to influence the circumstances that determine their career. These
circumstances constitute and define the organizational structures, rules of behaviour,
forms of language and cultural manifestations which are reproduced in a structurationist
fashion. Riley (1983: 435) suggests that by using such structures again and again, people
're-legitimate what was past, provide a medium for the present and set the stage for the

The MTD-culture dialectic is thus legitimized by individuals' career aspirations, the
accomplishment of which subsequently reaffirms the functional value of MTD for both the
individual and the organization. This recursiveness illustrates the progressive
reconstitution of the social systems that comprise career management. We argue that the
firm's capacity to deliver on the promise of a successful corporate career restrains
managers from self-interested behaviour which would jeopardize the realization of this
dream. Thus, potential ideological conflicts are resolved. Normative control (Etzioni
1961) over managers' actions is in essence a fait accompli, since they willingly collude
in upholding the corporate icon of the MTD system within which the notion of a successful
corporate career is enshrined. Echoing Burawoy's (1979) 'hegemonic despotism', whereby the
firm achieves control through consent rather than force, we suggest that at IP, commitment
Continues for 34 more pages >>

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