Emmanuelle Sauvage (Université de Bordeaux)


Course description
Globalization seems such a familiar and mundane –though often unprecise - word: whether Economics, societies and social questions, global warming or political topics are mentioned, the term is used. Still, it is one of those words that everyone uses but that no one thinks of defining. We talk about it as if we knew what it was about, without bothering to specify what it refers to in our mind, nor even without taking the precaution to check the etymology that often nobody masters either (one of the reasons being people think they “know” what it means, they do not even question the fact that they may ignore the real roots, origins, and therefore meaning). Hence we hardly check either that the person we are talking to shares the same meaning, and refers to the same definition with the same borders and here we go…we start a conversation that very often relies on people’s opinions and feelings (irrational) rather than on arguments and facts (rational, scientific). Same goes with the words “identity” and “heritage” or, maybe we shall change the word “same “for “worse”: it is worse with “identity” and “heritage”. The problem with catch-all terms is that they often are subjects of controversial understandings. And because Identity and Heritage could lead to hundreds of thousands of personal interpretation, and because they are intimately related to one’s deep personal affects, blood, mind, ideas, humanity, it seems very difficult to be able to forge a basis for thought and talks that would not be a source of potential strong divergences, epidemics reactions not to mention true ire. Still, the world goes on, and particularly the Economics and Business world. We propose, in this course, to rather focus on human interactional processes and on the creation of synergies, rather than on trying to identify what is identity and heritage and on how each person “find that ” , “think that” or “believe in” . Individuals are made of intertwined dimensions that are difficult to separate for some, not so difficult to separate from others. We will therefore explain why culture must be clearly distinguished from identity, why the two concepts have got nothing in common and why, logically, within the seminar, the latter will not be tackled (just like the psychological dimension of an individual is another constitutive dimension of an individual, and will not be discussed either).
Top managers and international actors of the global economy must be able to understand the complexity of the current world, the geostrategic scope as well as how human interactions can generate business dynamics. Therefore, they should develop specific skills that will enable them to identify the potential fertile strengths and to take advantage of the encounter of cultures. Those skills consist in developing mental reflexes that will make them go beyond obviousness and that will help them manage and decide in a meaningful way, thus leading to operational efficiency. Because if everyone agrees on (and declares) being ready to make efforts when facing cross cultural situations, experience proves that the good will is not enough. I suggest turning towards Human Sciences and applying them to international cooperation.
The core attention is placed on understanding how culture influences Management Practices (managing people and also how management tools are appropriated by actors coming from different cultural universes from the one that developed those tools).
This course seeks to highlight management practices as they are practiced in different countries around the world. It therefore approaches management and organizations from an international perspective. We propose culture as a thread for understanding and comparing different management practices. In other words, to what extent does culture influence both the organizations a company sets up and the management that runs and operates them? The culture of a company is the result of collective experiences more or less shared by its members over time. In this sense, culture can be an instrument for understanding and explaining the management methods used, but also a concept capable of interpreting the consequences of the administrative actions implemented for both the organizations and society. The main goal is to develop skills, such as Understanding a complex world, Identifying the fertile strengths between people, Taking advantage of the encounter of cultures, Going beyond the invisible evidences and eventually Managing and acting in a meaningful way. Lastly, international and multicultural teams’ management are tackled. The part of this sub-course sheds light on the specificities of those teams, and unveil the scope of their dynamics. A typology of teams is presented, some practical exercises illustrates how dynamics are generated, what sort of traps shall be avoided, and how those sorts of teams shall be managed altogether.

Learning outcomes of the course
• Identifying cultural differences (National, Corporate, or Professional culture) ;
• Understanding the articulation between national culture and organizational culture ;
• Understanding the origin of the differences between national cultures, decoding the frameworks of meaning and reference systems they rely on ;
• While respecting these differences and the company’s strategic imperatives simultaneously, developing tools that will improve international cooperation ;
• Linking men and projects by understanding the intelligence of reality as well as its potentialities;
• Helping the HR department prepare international managers to deal with cultural diversity in all the fields covered by the company ;
• Decoding and managing pre and post-merger-acquisition situations ;
• Within a negotiation context or when facing a field situation, identifying the reasons of such or such brakes that prevent efficiency ;
• Anticipating pitfalls thanks to a step-by-step follow-up of the culturally diverse personnel’s reaction when faced with the implementation of a new tool or when having to deal with management coming from another cultural area.

The course will enable students to:
• Understand, through the interplay of cultural differences, the importance of culture in the economic, commercial and financial development of a society.
• Show how management models are culture-dependent.
• Understand and analyze cultural differences between societies based on anthropological, sociological or historical models;
• Identify the basic elements of intercultural learning from the examination of selected management practices.
• Distinguishing cultural, economic, and social specificities of the different partners involved in a project;
• Identifying the eight different typologies of multicultural teams and their specificities;
• Preventing and managing multicultural conflicts occurring within temporary or permanent working teams;
• Raising team-members’ awareness regarding remote multicultural teams ‘particularities;
• Preparing staff to collaborate and work within multicultural teams or to face meetings abroad, understanding and taking into account local specificities to adapt practices;
• Shedding light on the hidden or less visible reasons of conflicts taking place within multicultural projects or operational teams.

Course evaluation
Teaching on this course will incorporate a variety of different methods. There will be lecture style input from the tutor to introduce the core concepts from the different themes which you will study.
These will be followed with opportunities for discussion and debate on these themes. We will also use videos, simulations and case studies in order to consider how these academic theories can be put into practice in international business.
Concretely, it will be organized as follows:
*All or nearly all material (slides, readings, and data) will be made available before the start of the course
*Frontal classes (lectures) and in‐class activities will be alternated quite regularly, with a prevalence of the former at the beginning of the course and of the latter towards the end.
*Lectures will be based on slides, interrupted by in-class exercises such as case studies.
*In‐class activities will consist in discussing some lecture‐related materials, books extracts provided by the lecturer, or watching a video
*Discussions of will be an individual activity (Q&A in class).

The evaluation of students will be entirely based on their regular participation and involvement in class together with a case study to be done in duos.



Barmeyer, Christoph , Davoine, Eric & Stokes, Peter; “When the ‘well-oiled machine’ meets the ‘pyramid of people:’ Roleperceptions and hybrid working practices of middle managers in a binational organization – ARTE- International Journal of Cross Cultural Management 2019, Vol. 19(3) 251–272
Barmeyer, Christoph,
Chevrier, Sylvie, “Cross-cultural management in multinational project groups” Journal of World Business 38 (2003) 141–149
Iribarne (d’), Philippe, "National cultures & organizations: in search of a theory. An interpretative approach". IJCCM International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 2009
Iribarne (d’), Philippe, “”conceptualising national cultures: an anthropological perspective”. European Journal of International Management, Vol.3, N°2, 2009
Iribarne, Philippe (d’), The Usefulness of an Ethnographic Approach to the International Comparison of Organizations, International studies of management and organizations, vol 26, n°4, winter1996-1997
Sackmann, Sonja A. and Margaret E. Phillips, 2004 ‘Contextual Influences on Culture Research; Shifting Assumptions for New Workplace Realities’, International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, Vol. 4 (3): 370-390.
Sauvage, E, 2018 - The Hidden Dimension of Happy Cultural Cooperation, Management International, 23 (1), 91-102

Adler, Nancy, “International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior”, Kent Publishing Company, 1997 (3rd edition).
Barmeyer, Christoph,
Boyacilgiller, Nakiye A, M. Jill Kleinberg, Margaret E. Phillips, Sonja A. Sackmann, 2004. “Conceptualizing Culture: Elucidating the Streams of Research in International Cross-cultural Management”, Handbook for International Management Research, B.J. Punnett & O. Shenkar (Eds.), Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press
Geertz, Clifford, 1973. The interpretation of culture. Basic Books, New-YorkHofstede, Geert (1984). Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values (abr. edition). Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.
Iribarne, Philippe (d’) and Alain Henry (2007), Successful Companies in the Developing World: Managing the Synergy with Culture, Notes et documents AFD.
Iribarne, Philippe, & al, Cross Cultural management revisited, OUP, 2020
Meyer, Erin,


Last updated: May 11, 2023


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